Travelling from Cusco to the Sacred Valley of Urubamba
We woke early to get our flight to Cusco from George Chávez International airport in Lima. Mornings in Lima are generally chilly and cloudy so we wrapped up warm ready to fly over the Andes Mountain. During our research I read that the altitude is very high in the mountains of Cusco, elevation reaches around 3,400 m (11,200 ft), we were strongly advised to take travel pills, especially for children, however I forgot and it didn’t matter anyway as we weren’t affected by altitude sickness in the slightest.
We flew over the Andes Mountains into the historic capital of the Inca Empire; the view was spectacular with the sunlight illuminating the mountains with shadows adding the defining touch. The flight from Lima to Cusco is a short 50 minutes with several airlines operating the route, the most reliable and professional are LAN, TACA and Star Perú which is the cheapest and they can accept payment via PayPal too now. We flew Star Perú for all our domestic flights. All went smoothly and we touched down in Cusco.
Arriving At Cusco Airport
At Cusco airport there are many tourist information desks, several companies approached us offering their services for tours and excursions. We chose a company based on readiness to take us to their office immediately and run over any itineraries in detail. We took their car 5 minutes away to their office, the scenic views of the mountains were just stunning and the air felt thin and cool. Who would have thought me; a single mum and young child would be all this way far from home embarking on such an adventure, it was thrilling!
Once at the little cosy tour office we freshened up, drank some cool water and sat down to arrange our trip to Machu Picchu; we needed train and entrance tickets. Entrance to Macchu Picchu can only be brought from tour operators and travel companies registered to sell them, there is one online site you can buy them from but I thought it too risky plus the prices were much higher.
We were discussing figures and obviously sitting in their office they would give me the highest price and expect me to take it, not a chance. I got them down to a satisfying price, I told them I would only go ahead with the booking if they could also find us a private car to take us to Urubamba some 65km away where we had a villa booked for 2 nights prior heading the Machu Picchu, it was a public holiday as it was Easter and that no one would drive the 4 hour round trip to take us. It took the tour office a few attempts to find me a driver to Hacienda del Valle in the Mountains.
I told them to find someone and that I didn’t mind paying double, (our currency Sterling means that virtually anything in Peru costs ¼ of the price). A guy agreed to do it for 100 Soles (£20) this was a bargan price since the drive was 2 hours each way. After agreeing our train and entrance fees to Machu Piccu, tour guide around the Inca site and 1 night accommodation in Aguas Calientes we shook hands, paid and off we went for a spectacular scenic car ride through Cusco, and the Sacred Valley.
Driving To Urubamba; Sacred Valley
Joshua slept much of the way, obviously tired from the early flight and thinner air, surprisingly neither of us felt nauseous from the high altitude, partly due to driving into the valley where the elevation declines.
The road was twisting and turning, we were travelling very, very fast, and our driver was excellent handling the road well. When we arrived to Urubamba we stopped off at a local store to pick up snacks! Inca Cola, which is the equivalent of Coca Cola but distinctively bright yellow with Inca style branding has a distinctive taste. We got corn chips, chocolate and a range of biscuits for midnight snacking under the stars in the valley
Arriving at Hotel Hacienda del Valle
Back in the car we drove for another 20 minutes before arriving at a very steep road, our driver told us a week ago this road would have been impossible to drive up with a car and he had to drop passengers off with suitcases to make the climb alone, wow! I thought, it was a very long way up and far too steep to climb with 2 bags and a child. The car slipped most of the way up on loose gravel, finally making it to the top we passed hidden yoga retreats, awesome, ours was right at the top with the best view of the valley. The car pulled up into a beautiful garden with small rivers flowing beneath us. We got out, paid our fare and were warmly greeted by the staff at the La Hacienda Del Valle.