Down the Sacred Valley

Launching ourselves toward the big event of Machu Picchu had begun with our flight to Cusco but the next important leg was getting to the train station down the valley in the wonderful and ancient wee town of Ollantaytambo. We got ourselves to a zestier part of Cusco where “combi” buses and idling taxis waited for travelers to pounce upon and convince that they were the ticket to fast, affordable service. We had barely stopped the small rugged taxi we had taken from our hostel to the bus station when we were descended upon by enthusiastic inter-city drivers. After a look of “is this going to be ok?” to my travel partners we reluctantly allowed our luggage to be grabbed from our first taxi and squeezed into the back of a newish looking Toyota. We had barely pulled in all of our legs and off we roared up the hills to the exit of Cusco, and quickly descending down into the river valley below. We dropped one thousand metres on our hurtling trip to Ollanta (as it is more affectionately known).

The pitch dark, hair raising turns and switchbacks were put into even more frightening perspective after experiencing the first of many too close for comfort over-taking of tractors, exhaust belching trucks, and motorbikes. Our driver only made decent income by getting in as many of the two hour trips between Ollanta and Cusco as he could each day. This motivated a certain amount of lead footedness on his part that my children found alarming at times and no more so than when we passed the very recent remnants of a head-on crash between two cars. The authorities were on the scene but the wreckage was truly horrific and a somber reminder of how treacherous late night driving on the winding mountain roads could be. With the Peruvian folk and contemporary songs belting out of his formidable audio system we eventually arrived in total darkness to the charming little town at the fork of two rivers. Our driver didn’t know where our place was but he had a plucky attitude and asked enough locals to finally guide us over a rickety bridge over a sluggish stream, down what looked like a small alley, right to our hotel.

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