Into the sacred valley full of lush agriculture and the beginning of Puya sightings, we stopped for the least greasy empanadas and a drink flavored with what we were told was ” a sacred berry.” Everything is sacred here. Given that we know so little about the Inca and much of what we do know was made up by the Spanish, it is impossible to know what is true. What is evident is that the Inca were extraordinary engineers and builders, constructing highly elaborate villages and towns with agricultural terraces, aqueducts, roads and communication systems.
43 miles from Machu Picchu, Juan Grimm has designed a high-altitude garden for the Tambo del Inka hotel. With a backdrop of Ch’iqun Mountain and the famous terraces and ruins of Quispiguanca, a fifteenth-century Incan royal estate nearby, there is a clear point of reference.
Although… although it seemed an odd landscape set among such powerful mountains.
I have yet to see a garden that can ever match, let alone improve upon, a natural site.
Taking a detour from the main road, we drove high into the mountains.
At close to 12,000 feet there were Alpaca
and all manner of wonders.
especially this unusual yellow form of –
This species occurs in Peru (Cajamarca, La Libertad, Ancash, Lima, Junín, Huancavelica, Ayacucho, Cuzco, Arequipa, Puno, Moquehua) across the Andean uplands at high altitudes and in Bolivia in La Paz (Hunt et al. 2006). It can be found at altitudes between 3,500 and 4,300 m ( according to the IUCN Red List).
Down and onward then to Ollantaytambo, on the Urubamba river.
Ollantaytambo is where you get the train to Aguas Calientes and then the bus up the mountain to Machu Pichu. It’s a lovely village with extraordinary plants growing out of the rock walls. Brugmansia atrosanguinea being one.
The town has some of the largest Inca ruins – lines of terraces and towers reaching high into the mountains.
Plant nuts could spend days looking at what grows out of the walls.
and along the streams
My traveling companions and I had bought our tickets to Machu Pichu on-line and were ready for the 4 a.m. rise to grab a cup of coffee and walk down to the station to catch the first tourist train that takes you along the Urumbaba river.
That’s another story.