I know – I’ve spent way too much time in Cusco to have never been to the villages around The Sacred Valley. IT WAS WAY OVERDUE, but I went and enjoyed, okay?
Finding a company to go through was easy and difficult at the same time. Why? Well, if you’re walking around Cusco there will be dozens of people approaching you asking you if you want to go to Machu Picchu / Sacred Valley / Rainbow Mountain / whatever. There’s definitely not a shortage on tourism companies here. HOWEVER, the odds of them being a genuinely good company? Slim to none.
Someone I worked with in Colombia is currently visiting Cusco and we decided we would go to The Sacred Valley together. We walked around and visited probably 25 different agencies that all sounded about the same. Same tour, close to the same price…..then we would google the company and check the ratings. 1.5 out of 5 stars, 2.4 out of 5 stars……great.
We were going to choose a certain company close to the main square that was a little more pricey than others, but had almost 5 stars…..when a man by the name of Elvis approached us and asked us where we wanted to go. He told us he’d work with us with the price. We googled his company and sure enough…..4.7 out of 5 stars. Okay.
We talked about how I’m a blogger, how he is also starting up his own company right now, Inka’s Blood, and more. He was awesome and gave us a deal of 45 soles for the Valle Sagrado VIP tour. We chose to do the tour without lunch – we would just pack our own. Money saver – hellllllo!
5:15 AM WAKE UP
Waiting in the Plaza for our company to arrive at 6:30, people trying to sell me hats/scarves/coca leaves/anything else. I fell asleep in the van and woke up to Jimmy (my guide) telling us we have arrived.
The first village we visited was Chinchero – sitting at 3762 m above sea level, making it higher than Cusco. Chinchero is known for it’s weaving and dying alpaca wool naturally.
The van pulled up outside a building with colorful beads hanging from a doorway. I was greeted by a young girl in traditional clothing speaking Quechua. I made my way through the beads and walked into a room filled with colorful alpaca sweaters, hats, rugs, gloves, and more. The young girl motioned me to go to the back of the room and outside….so I did.
Outside I was invited to sit on a piece of wood to watch the process of dying/weaving alpaca wool.
Another young girl started grating Saqta, a root, and mixing it with water. I watched as she tossed the dirty wool into the bowl – moments later turning white. She moved onto the process of winding it into a thread. The most interesting part was watching how they get different colors and pigments naturally using different plants, foods, insects, etc.
They used maíz morado, purple corn from the Andes, to turn the wool purple. You get shades of gray from the tara seed, a moss turns the wool orange, and almost 20 shades of red come from cochineal – an insect that lives on cacti.
After the demonstration, I entered back into the room I initially came in and checked out all of the incredible work.
Sweaters, blankets, wallets, hats, EVERYTHING. And all so….soft. Kinda like an alpaca 😉
After a little bit of time shopping around, I hopped back in the van and we went to another area of Chinchero.
We pulled up to a parking area and walked up a bunch of stairs, we were headed to a 17th Century Colonial Church – I couldn’t take photos inside but their were beautiful paintings covering the walls and ceiling.
There is a plaza outside of the church filled with locals selling typical Peruvian things…..pens with little alpacas on the end, blankets, rugs, sweaters – all with incredible patterns and colors.
If you walk around the church, you will find agricultural terraces and a giant patch of land with breathtaking mountain views. I walked around the edge of land to catch the views from different areas.
It was time to go and head back to the van. We were walking through the plaza once again and I had the pleasure of listening to a local man play Peruvian Pipes. I sat and listened to him for a few moments as I waited for the others to catch up.
He was so happy and smiley – I could have listened to him perform for at least another hour.
Back to the van and off to the next Sacred Valley village…..can’t wait to share it with you guys in my next blog post. Stay tuned!
Have you ever been to The Sacred Valley? What was your favorite part? Let me know in the comments below!
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