*Heads up – this is a huge blog post so you might wanna grab yourself a cuppa tea and raid the pantry for biscuits before you start… 😄
After an amazing day in Machu Picchu, we arrived back into Machupicchu (the village – also known as Aguas Caliente) absolutely knackered and so ravenous! Like so hungry you almost feel delirious as a result of it.
Thankfully, the restaurant at the Inkaterra was serving up a storm for lunch so we stayed there, had lunch, some pisco sours and a whole lotta spa time before going to catch our train back to Cusco.
As the train journey is in the evening/at night, you get probably 1 hour or so of being able to see the beautiful mountains and countryside before journey in the darkness. Suffice to say, I stowed my camera away and the four of us just relaxed with the ocassional card game and pisco sours until we arrived back on the Vistadome in Poroy (an even quicker drive at night as there was no traffic).
Back in Cusco, we headed straight for our hotel for the night – the Inkaterra La Casona – an absolutely beautiful hotel smack bang in the middle of Cusco!
Arriving at the Inkaterra was kinda like arriving into an oasis of calm in the city. You have a private courtyard in the middle of the hotel (the property used to be an old Spanish building) and you very quickly forget the hustle and bustle outside of your hotel walls.
Oh and the rooms, oh the rooms! They were absolutely amazing. We stayed in suites which felt like such an amazing reward after our morning hiking up Huayna Picchu.
First up, I’m a huge fan of the décor here but my biggest joy that evening was that huge bath and its promises to dull my aching muscles. Before all of that though – dinner time!
Like I mentioned, we arrived late and none of us were in the mood to venture too far for dinner so we just stayed in the hotel.
Thankfully, we caught the kitchen minutes before it was due to close for last orders and went for a rather elaborate avocado and prawn salad with a very hearty stew (can’t remember what stew we ordered now but it was really good).
On any given day, I would usually be vying for even more food to eat (or at the very least, dessert) but my tiredness got the better of me and so, with what was left of the wine, I headed upstairs for that much needed bath before flopping into bed for what was an absolutely amazing night’s sleep!
The next morning, I was in high spirits and thoroughly refreshed! I wolfed through breakfast at almost record speed (totally recommend having breakfast at The Inkaterra – those pancakes are absolutely perfect… and yes, I ordered two breakfasts – pancakes and eggs benedict – I was hungry 😀 )…
…before slowly taking the time to check out the Inkaterra in the morning light.
Thing is, this day was one of those days we had absolutely no plans – the original plan (way back when we were in London) was to explore Cusco on this but seeing as we’d stuck to the city centre on our first day and seen a fair bit of the city, we decided (over pisco sours) to get a driver and head out to check out some Inca sights surrounding the city.
A short drive from the city centre, we arrived at the Inca sight of Tambomach’ay, a place which apparently used to be a vacation hot-spot of sorts for the Inca.
I know, we’d just returned from Machu Picchu, which is one of the most famous Inca sights in all the land but I just couldn’t help being impressed by the Inca ruins here. It’ so impressive to think that so many many many years ago, people were capable of building such impressive structures.
Right next to Tambomach’ay is Puka Pukara – the military ruins. (Though not sure why the ‘holiday spot’ is right next to the military ruins – probably a question I should have asked at the time, eh? 🙂 ).
On leaving Puka Pukara, we headed off to Q’enqo – another amazing and interesting sight in the Sacred Valley.
Q’enqo is where sacrifices and mummification used to take place back in Inca times and has monoliths still standing there.
There’s also a great view of Cusco from up here.
On leaving Q’enqo, we headed off in search of two places – Cristo Blanco (the tall statue of Jesus Christ over looking Cusco) and the impressive UNESCO World Heritage site of Saksaywaman.
For some reason which I still can’t figure out till date, our driver decided to drop us off in the valley between both structures, which meant having to walk back uphill to see the Cristo Blanco statue – it’s like no one told him it’s twice as hard to walk up at high altitude 😀 .
Thankfully though, I was very distracted on the way up by some very cute alpacas and llamas! (You gotta pay the owner to get to cuddle their alpacas/llama – money well spent, I reckon… unless you end up with ticks, which we didn’t and I don’t think anyone we met actually did but I have to admit, I didn’t even consider until just now. 😀 ).
At the top of the hill, you’ll find Cristo Blanco – along with a spectacular view over all of Cusco and the surrounding mountains! This spot has definitely got to be the best place for a view over the city so remember to bring your camera with you when you visit.
Saksaywaman (which sounds like someone’s saying “Sexy woman”) is an impressive citadel and used to be the historic capital of the Inca Empire – which of course totally explains why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site.
One of the most impressive things about this (and I guess other Inca structures, including some in the city centre) is how the stones used to build the walls were cut so carefully that the fit, without the need to use any mortar (or adhesive substances – like we do with bricks now) to get them to stick together.
Even a mouse would struggle to find space to crawl into between these walls.
Sections of Saksaywaman date to over 1,000 years old and again, as with so many ancient Inca sights, it’s hard not to be impressed by the history and heritage behind this amazing structure. So much so in fact that, it wasn’t until we made our way to the car park to find our driver and head back to Cusco that we realised that in our excitement to see all these amazing Inca sights, we’d managed to skip lunch that day!
The tummy rumbling came on with vengeance, reminding us of how we’d ignored it all day and with that – we rushed back into town, rushed through dinner and packed our stuff again ready to head off to another exciting part of Peru!
More on that in the next post. 🙂