Elevations range from 12,500 feet in Chincheros to 9,370 feet in Yucay. Ollantayambo is very hilly with about 100 stone steps to the top of the fortress at an altitude of 9,100 feet. Pack a small overnight bag for the overnight in Aguas Calientes.
At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as a rotating choice of hot dishes, eggs, meat, cheese, vegetables, cereals, seasonal fruits, breads, yogurt, juices, milk, coffee, tea, water.
Our expert led field trip this morning is to the Ollantaytambo ruins, where we’ll learn about the engineering genius of the Inca as demonstrated in the extensive terracing and irrigation present at the site. Running water still flows through the town in aqueducts. The Inca emperor Pachacuti built Ollantaytambo in the 15th century as part of his royal estate. In the mid-15th century after Pachacuti’s death, the Spanish conquest of Peru began. The Inca emperor at that time was Manco Inca who used Ollantaytambo as a stronghold against the Spanish. His army won a small victory nearby against Spanish forces. Though, shortly afterwards Manco Inca decided the site was not secure enough and fled with the remaining members of his empire to Vilcabamba where the Inca famously made their last stand against the Spanish. In addition to the site visit, we will visit a local market and attend a lecture on the agriculture of the Inca. At the market, we will be able to observe the bounty of fruits and vegetables produced in the Sacred Valley. In the days of the Inca Empire, the Sacred Valley region produced and fed the population and it continues to serve the same function today. During the market visit, our local guide will highlight fruits and vegetables that are unique to this region.
At a local restaurant, we’ll have a buffet lunch, plus choice of coffee, tea, water or other non-alcoholic beverage.
Next, we’ll transfer to the town of Chinchero and observe a weaving demonstration. Weaving is a way of life in Chinchero, as important for preserving ancient traditions as it is for earning a livelihood. Located in the Peruvian Andes on the Inca road between Cusco and Machu Picchu, Chinchero was an early Inca center built by emperor Tupa Inca as his country estate. During Inca reign, textiles were woven and offered to mark special occasions, from peace treaties and sacrifices to marriage ceremonies and puberty rites. In Chinchero, children grow up watching their mothers work on the spindle and loom. By age six or seven, most children have learned to weave. They begin with jakimas, narrow ribbons, before moving on to more complicated pieces. Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon is free.
Early at the hotel, we’ll order plated meals from a select menu with an appetizer, main dish, and dessert plus choice of coffee, tea, water or other non-alcoholic beverage.
At leisure. You will need to bring an overnight bag as we will spend tomorrow night in Aguas Calientes before our transfer to Cusco. There is a weight limit of 11 pounds for luggage on Peru Rail and your bag must measure no more than 62 inches (157 cm) — length, plus height, plus width. The rest of your luggage will be secured in the hotel until we return. Get plenty of rest for our early morning departure to Machu Picchu.