Day 5: Cusco to Sacred Valley
Explora was scheduled to pick us up from our Cusco hotel at 11:00, so we had a relaxed start to the morning. After packing up, we had breakfast and took in the amazing view we weren’t able to see last night in the dark. After breakfast, we still had some time, so we decided to walk around the neighborhood. We stumbled upon a shop selling alpaca wool sweaters, ponchos, hats, etc (it wasn’t hard, they are pretty common). We knew alpaca sweaters were on the list of things we wanted to take home, so we tried a few on and each bought a soft and warm sweater. We walked back to the hotel and hung out on our terrace until Explora came to pick us up. As expected, one person came to the door and we walked down to the van.
While the Sacred Valley is only 15 km north of Cusco as the Nazgul flies, the ride took about 2 hours. We enjoyed driving through the different towns and villages and seeing the views along the way. Soon enough, we arrived at Explora. We had time to unpack and have lunch before setting off on our first exploration, a short hike in Huertos de Yucay.
The hike followed the Urubamba River, through an area where prominent Inca leaders used to live. The Incan architecture and walls are still in place today (I think this will be a theme on this trip).
The land was, and still is, used as terraced farmland. We walked right along fields and saw some farmers working. On the way back down, the terraces were clear to see.
Some of the ancient architecture is still found in the area, but with no real use. The walls and water canals definitely have a purpose, but the huts on rocks, not so much.
When we arrived back at the hotel we had about an hour and a half before our orientation meeting, so we decided to check out the spa. We spent some time relaxing in the hot tub, then swam a few leisurely laps in the pool before showing and getting ready. We didn’t spend too much time there today, but it is very likely that we will be back.
We made it to the orientation talk where we learned a bit more about Explora and the surrounding area. Afterwards, we met with our guide to pick our exploration for tomorrow — which will be a full day hike down the Madras Plateau. Spending last night in Cusco will prove to be useful as tomorrow’s hike starts at 3732m (or 12,244ft). The good news is that it’s mostly downhill back to Explora. With our plans locked in, we had a delicious dinner and relaxed the rest of the night.