LITTLE CUSCO TREK
I would like to share with you an amazing trek I embarked on with a great friend & fellow guide for Peru Safari – Percy.
We both enjoy taking long treks into various locations, admiring the scenery, enjoying the wildlife, and hopefully capturing on camera some of the great moments.
During one of our Peru Safari trips, we had arrived into Cusco for a regular 3 day stop, an opportunity for our clients to enjoy the Inca capital, and to plan for their trip to Machu Picchu & Sacred Valley.
As guides we are tasked with prepping the vehicles for the next leg of our trip, buying in new provisions for the lunch & coffee breaks, and give the vehicles a thorough clean.
Once the chores have been completed, we have a full free day to go and explore the area & enjoy everything Cusco and the surrounding area offers.
Percy & I had decided we would like to take a trek across to the Sacred Valley!
The trek was going to be somewhere in the region of 15 kilometers walking, taking us from the Chinchero, around the Puray Lagoon. The climb from the trail head leads up to the mountain of Hatun Luychu, which is at an elevation of 12´631 feet above sea level. This would take us over the mountain towards Sacred Valley!
We got picked up early from Cusco by our local guide and drove to Chinchero to start our trek. The journey by car was around an hour, with a stop to pickup a little light breakfast snack before we started our walk.
Before we even start to walk the trail, the views around are stunning, and Lake Puray was shimmering with the early sunrise. With our daypacks comfortably shouldered, we start the first leg of the walk up the steep climb towards the plateau of the mountain, which is about 5 kilometers.
The climb is arduous, stopping every 15 or 20 minutes or so to take a breather, and take in the view behind us has we gradually climb. Along the route we see local peasant farmers herding their sheep up the hillside to the grazing areas far into the mountain.
Eventually we reach the level part of the climb where we can take a 10-minute rest. We take some coffee and take in the amazing views 360° around us. Breathtaking vistas in all directions, and further down in the opposite valley we see another lagoon – Lake Qoricocha!
Almost like an oasis in the vast baron land, but truly stunning views, with the snowcap mountain ranges in the far distance. We take some amazing photographs, and then it is time to start the next part of the trek.
After the initial climb it was good to give the calf & thigh muscles a little rest, because the next part is going to be over relatively flat terrain, with just a hint of a climb in between.
Every now and again we would spot Eagles & Andean Geese resting or feeding in the wide-open plains.
A surreal experience really captures everything about this trek for me! Whilst walking along the trail, right out in the middle of nowhere, and no civilization (so we thought).
We could see in the distance two very small dark dots towards our horizon. These were probably over 5 kilometers away, and on the same path we are to take during our journey.
After a few kilometers obviously the dots became more into focus, and we could see that it was a herd of sheep being tended by two people. We did not know if they were male or female at the time. So, we of course continued getting closer has we walked.
When we got close enough to see, it was two old ladies, with around 100 head of sheep grazing around them.
This was the most surreal part of this anecdote, as we approached them, they had laid out on the trail all their merchandise on a blanket for us to purchase.
We are over 10 kilometers in any direction from any civilization, on a route that is seldom used by tourists, and we have our very own market stall laid out before us.
I said to Percy that is the most bazaar experience I have ever encountered. He smiled at me, we smiled at the ladies sat there, and we really felt obliged to give them some money for all their effort.
I said I just wanted a photograph with them and would donate them 10 Soles for the privilege. They only spoke Quechua, and Percy could not convey what we wanted, so we made our best hand gestures with the camera & the Soles in our hand.
There are two women, so I said I would give them 10 Soles each ($7 USD total) for a photograph.
Now this is where I was enchanted by their actions because they would not let us leave until we chose something from their collection of weavings & embroideries.
It was their way of saying thank you, and where insistent that I choose something before I left. Eventually I had to accept their generosity and picked out a handmade scarf made from fine 100% Alpaca Wool.
Out in the middle of the Peruvian Mountains, this was to be one of two interactions with local peasant farmers.
Excitement over, we are now heading towards the trail which forms part of the Inca Trail from the Sacred Valley. The views just keep getting better with every kilometer that we cover.
We come across another old lady tending to her flock of sheep, and she looked to be well into her 70´s! She wanted to offer us some homemade cheese & bread rolls, but we declined.
We provided her with a couple of snack bars we are carrying and gave her 10 Soles to have a photograph with her. It was the least we could offer because she would not see many more people today on the trail apart from a couple of mountain bike we encountered on the trek.
We are now making a little descent down into the valley, and we come across a derelict village, probably abandoned when the children decide to move to the big cities to find employment, and the aged residents are too old to tend to the property anymore.
There are still a couple of residents close by, but much of the village is derelict and in disrepair.
We have now entered the prominent part of the Inca Trail, and this is evident with structures along the route, plus the well-preserved pathway leading from the valley below. Very picturesque scenery as we follow the mountain stream down.
We eventually arrive at the Sacred Valley and the Inca Ruins of “Little Cusco” (Huchuy Qosqo in Quechoa). This impressive site is built high into the mountain at 11´975 feet elevation.
This place is amazingly preserved considering it dates to 1000 -1400 AD, and it is all built from daub materials, like most of the current houses constructed around the area.
We spend half an hour exploring this amazing city before it is time to make our descent off the mountain.
This would turn out to be very demanding on the toes, and the upper thighs, because the trail is literally a sheer drop has it winds its way down into the valley.
Zigzagging for over an hour we finally make our way down to the town of Lamay, and it is time to take a well-earned rest.
This has been an exhilarating trek for me, and one which I will take fantastic memories away from. I would have like to have shared all my photographs in this post, but I have selected as many interesting ones as I could.
I will try to upload more in my Photo Diary which you can check out some of the few journey´s I have travelled.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read.
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