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Day 6 – Lima – Cuzco and the Sacred Valley

Tuesday August 27th

An early start today, with a pick-up from the hotel at 6:30. First complaint for the hotel – no butter at breakfast!!! Not the end of the world though.

Lima Airport

The bus was on time, and off we went to the airport for our flight to Cuzco. There is the start of a new road that will eventually go directly from Mirafiores to the airport – but it isn’t due to be finished for another 6 months. So we drove through Cuzco traffic. But it didn’t take that long. So one question – why do tour companies insist on getting you to the airport at least 3 hours early for an internal flight??

One reason in Peru might be the security. It was just as strict as anything we’ve seen at Heathrow or other international airports. One of our group virtually had to strip off to get through the metal detector! But eventually we were through. And there is one advantage to a long wait in the airport – I’m writing this diary up!

Cusco

Another thing to bear in mind when in Lima departures – there ain’t many eating establishments, and nowhere to get decent coffee. There’s a takeaway snack bar, and a café that was very busy, not set up for the row of travellers who wanted takeaway coffees (because there was nowhere left to sit in the café). Chaos! And the coffee was awful. With hindsight a juice from the snack bar would have been cheaper and tastier. Cuzco to the Sacred Valley

There’s not much to say about the flight – it’s a flight, with all the boring stuff that goes with one.

We were met outside the terminal by our guide, Juan, and piled into the minibus. Now I can’t say I was very impressed with the minibus - it was a bit cramped, as three of us had to sit on one seat so the one in the middle was a bit squashed. Plus the seat belts didn’t work. And as I’d heard dodgy things about Peruvian driving skills, I was a tad nervous.

We stopped briefly in Lima for a couple of things: One, for a new pair of sunglasses for Art. He’d broken his the previous day, and Juan insisted they were necessary as the sun could be very bright. This gave us the opportunity to look round a square, too. It looks like a pretty little town. Then we went to a ssmall park that looked towards The Sun temple. We didn’t go far, as we were going to see it fully when we returned to Cuzco after our visit to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Then it was back to the bus and onwards towards the Sacred Valley.

Next stop was something close to my heart – a small alpaca farm, obviously set up for the tourists, but still lovely to see. They had llamas of various sorts, both huacaya and suri alpacas, and also the wild vicuna. We were introduced to coca tea here too.

Tip: The coca leaf is indeed the raw starting ingredient for cocaine, but in the Andes of Peru (and other South American countries it is used to help contain the occurrence of altitude sickness. You can buy coca tea bags, but apparently the best way to make it is to purchase dried coca leaves, put 3-4 into a cup then add boiling water. It tastes very like green tea, and is quite pleasant.

Then a number of ladies in traditional Peruvian dress came out and gave us a presentation of spinning, dyeing and weaving. Of course there was the traditional shop with grossly high prices, but I did end up buying some alpaca yarn – talk about coals to Newcastle! But I’d managed to crochet up all the yarn I’d bought from home on the flights so needed some more to keep me busy.

One thing we didn’t like – it started to rain while we were at the farm.

Tip: Juan warned us that the weather can change very quickly here, and to be prepared for all weathers. He advised us to dress in layers, with a thin waterproof raincoat that could be put over everything. This turned out to be good advice.

The Sonesta Posadas del Inca Hotel

The Sonesta Posadas del Inca Hotel

Next stop was the hotels. We dropped the ‘upmarket’ group off at their spa hotel – 10 minutes down a dirt track. It looked vary posh (and they informed me the next day that it was! They had never seen anything quite like it). Then on to ours – the Sonesta Posadas del Inca. Well – we were impressed. It was a lovely room with a balcony looking over a courtyard and a small ‘hotel church’. It even had pet alpacas – bliss! Recommended. Juan took us to a restaurant just down the road – Juan is obviously a foodie. The food was excellent.

Tip: Our guide has warned us about eating in places that he doesn’t recommend, because the cleanliness in many leaves a lot to be desired. He’s quite paranoid about it. But it’s a good point. The last thing you need on holiday is the need to stay near the throne room. We visited the travel doctor in our home town and came supplied with Imodium, rehydrating salts and antibiotics. We’ve also brought a small bottle of hand cleansing gel, for use before every meal and after every trip to the throne room.

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