Pisac, in the Sacred Valley, is famous for its amazing market. Local women come down from their villages to trade and sell their goods. The market has about 120 different types of potatoes, a variety of grains, vegetables, fruits and the best avocados! The food market is a great opportunity to people watch. The market also has great souvenirs — lots of fabrics, furs (alpaca), sweaters, pictures, Peruvian music, etc. Wanting to support their economy, I got into a buying frenzy and to this day, I immensely treasure the unique items that I bought high above the town tower the Pisac Inca Ruins. It is a steep but beautiful hike from the valley floor to the amazingly well preserved ruins.
While in the Sacred Valley, I went horseback riding on a Peruvian Paso. These are unique horses to Peru and they are known for their smooth gait, just like my own Tennessee Walker.
It is quite an experience to ride through the very simple villages – there are dogs, pigs, piglets, cows, burros and kids everywhere, people are working the fields, there are snowcapped mountains in the background. I felt like I was in a time warp set back several hundred years.
Cuzco is a vibrant, beautiful city, surrounded by mountains and streets lined by original Inca walls. When the Spaniards arrived, they used many of the existing buildings and just converted them to their needs. There are many wonderful restaurants with local dishes. There are several ancient Inca ruins within hiking distance.
While in Cuzco, Stacey and I visited a school on the outskirts of Cuzco. Each one of us had brought a suitcase full of school supplies. Paper, pens, pencils, crayons, etc. – it is amazing how little can make such a big difference!
After spending three nights in Cuzco, we flew by tiny plane (eight seats) down to the Amazon Basin, into the rainforest. Our cabin was on stilts, had screens all the way around (no glass) and no electricity, just candles and the beds had mosquito nets. I loved showering in the candlelight!
One of the highlights in the rainforest was the Macaw Lick, one of the reasons we chose that place. We were sitting in a hut that had a small opening at eyelevel, and in front of us, we had hundreds of colorful macaws flying around, screeching, chattering and eating away at the clay lick. It was one of the most amazing experiences.
We also got to meet a tapir. The tapir looks like a mix between a hippo, a horse and a pig – do you get the idea? Well, anyway, it is a funny looking animal about three feet tall and there was a tame one across from the river from the lodge. Vanessa is a tapir that was found stranded after a flood when she was a baby, so they raised her. She was very friendly, we could even feed her apples and melons and she loved being scratched behind the ears and on her belly.
What an amazing experience from start to finish! FBN
By Monika Leuenberger, owner of Avenues of the World Travel. www.avenuesoftheworld.com (928) 556-0853