Valle Sagrado'n'On to Bolivia

A week in Perú’s Valle Sagrado. To visit some more sites of the Incas as well as others. Still in a tourist hotspot. Nevertheless, not as bad as Cusco or Machu Picchu.

Ollantaytambo 2 Copacabana

Ollantaytambo, 2nd  October

True, we’ve survived the visit to Machu Picchu. We’ve seen what everybody has to see – but now, we’re ready for new, real adventures.

It’s October 2. The day of local elections. The day when for the elected guys story-telling converts into political reality. 

It’s the day when every Peruvy has to vote or pay a penalty of at least 20$ for intolerable laziness and apathy.

This morning we walk to Ollantaytambo’s main square – Plaza de Armas. Just to see what happens when everybody has to vote. We don’t see much of that. Instead, we have the impression of visiting 1 of these famous Sunday markets in Valle Sagrado. The 1s often described in outdated guidebooks edited in the 80ies of the last century. But of course, it’s not. Nowadays all these Sunday markets are converted into shopping malls for this Chinese stuff they claim to be local. The vendors are predominantly from Cusco, the locals stay away, and the visitors are tourists. 

Whatever, in Ollantaytambo there’s not market day. No, there the guys are all voters avoiding the penalty for being too indifferent towards political life. All in their traditional dress. 

We still wanna see more than just voters socializing at Ollantaytambo’s Plaza de Armas.

A short drive to see the salt ponds of Maras. Of course, this place is on offer in Cusco to everybody keen on a tour. Thus, from far away, we already discover a constant stream of buses driving to this place. Fortunately, they’re mostly oncoming. Looks like they’re all on the way to provide the poor tourists with a lousy lunch.

Arriving there we still find quite some people.

We sneak along the ponds. Of course, you cannot enter. Considering the masses of tourists visiting them they would be destroyed within a few days.

Esteemed reader, there’s no need to be completely frustrated because there’s no opportunity for instragrammable pics at the salt ponds.  No, on top of the salt ponds they built a platform. Exactly for this purpose. Your ultimate chance to send your mother-in-law the saltiest pic ever of your all-beloved girlfriend. Don’t miss it.

Pisac, 6th October

Today we move on. To the tiny village of Pisac. Said to be 1 of the nicest in Valle Sagrado.

On the way a stop at Moray. Supposed to be the Inca’s agricultural lab.

As we had to buy a few days ago this overprized tourist card for 16 different entries we have to use it now. 

In Moray, the usual parking full of tour buses and all kinds of tourists with their guides sneaking around.

Well, for us these circles of the good old Incas don’t look too impressive.  We have the impression of a slightly far-fetched attraction. Somehow symptomatic for a great part of the offer on this tourist card.

On to Pisac. Quite small, with a pretty archaic-looking center. Nevertheless, it has been largely overtaken by a new generation of hippy-like figures, yogis, and esoterics. Everywhere all kinds of offers to this clientele.

On the other side, the village seems to live from the usual mass of rushing thru tour groups. A whole street and a huge hall are full of these souvenirs you wouldn’t dare to gift to your worst enemy. Nevertheless, never seen these masses sneaking thru Pisac’s alleys.

Another strange thing we learn in the evening. After sipping our well-deserved beer in 1 of these spiritual lounges we search for a munchery where we can get anything else than deep-fried vegan yogis with organic GM tofu sauce from Brasil. Everything is firmly closed at 8 pm. It seems we’re the only 1 still looking for such a crazy thing as dinner. Well, we have some crackers and a few beers we discover in Prado’s fridge.

Apart from all these esoteric offers Pisac is famous for its archeological site. The 2nd best preserved after Machu Picchu. A kind of Machu Picchu without all the hassle. Thus, worth to give it a try. 

The Incas built the town some 500m above Pisac. As we plan to walk all the way back to the village we take a collectivo up to the hill. 6 people squeeze into a decrepit car. Taking into account that nobody inside may survive for more than 5′ the diver gets the last out of his car – of course, regardless of any loss.

The parking at the entrance – full of tour buses and limousines of the folks preferring a so-called private tour. These tours where you have to listen constantly to the wisdom of a guide because there’s nobody else to share.

There are definitely quite a few visitors sneaking around. As well as numerous guides telling whatever they can imagine. Fortunately, this only prevails for the 1st part of the site. Everybody has to climb up a hill where the high-heeled Incas had to make sure their subordinates work properly. Further off it’s getting pretty lonely. Tours have to get back. Even if they just see a small part of the complex.

Finally, we reach the village of Pisac. Of course, there’s no way to avoid the street where they sell all these masterpieces of unknown artists. Buy quickly a few of them – before their work is exposed side by side with Mona Lisa in Paris’ Louvre.

Next morning. A very different program: Prado cries for an oil change and some minor maintenance work. In Valle Sagrado mechanics don’t seem to make their big business. There are simply none. So, we have to head for Cusco to find them. Ok, it’s just 1/2h away. For 50 bucks we get everything done and Prado is fit again for the next adventures in Bolivia.

We even have another day in Pisac. As we still have some 13 unused entrance fee tickets on our expensive tourist card we plan to use it at least a little more. Near Cusco, there are 3 more sights of the good old Incas we can visit with it. Ok, 1/2h drive to the 1st 1. A quick look at the few stones and we’re out. There’s just nothing to see. On to the next. The same. Well, we prefer not to visit the 3rd site and drive back to Pisac. 

So far, our last experience with Cusco’s tourist card. Thanx guys for introducing that nonsense. At least we’ll remember you. And you squeeze the hell a lot of money out of innocent tourists.

In the evening we have a beer in our all-preferred watering hole – the Cervecería de la Valle Sagrado. No joke, the guys there seriously inquire if we’re living here in Pisac. Well, time to leave this slightly weird place as quickly as possible. Before we convert to vegan yogis in constant search of a piece of meat.

Copacabana, 8th October

Copacabana – sounds good. Isn’t it? Beach, sun, Brazilan summer. And we’re on the way to it. Well, Copacabana at Lake Titicaca. The 1st village after crossing the border. Just 500km to drive. Along Valle Sagrado. The road at the beginning is deep in the valley, but later continuously ascends up to 4300m to Abra La Raya. On the other side of the pass, we reach the altiplano of Lago Titicaca.

Late afternoon we reach Puno. Bypass it and spend the night some 30km south of the town. At the shores of Lago Titicaca. At nearly 4000m altitude. Pretty cold at night.

Next morning: we need quite some time to get Prado back to life. It’s simply too cold to start it. Nevertheless, by 9.30 Prado wakes up. With a huge cloud of white smoke. Then we’re on the way to the Bolivian border. Some 140km on a tar road which has definitely seen some better days. Mostly along Lago Titicaca. The beach – mostly covered with an ugly collection of plastic bags in all colors. In the water a lot of fish hatcheries.

On the way, we fill up Prado to the last little drop. Some 180l of diesel. Knowing how complicated the Bolivies are if they should refuel a foreign car. You can read 100s of posts on fb on this.

By noon we reach the border. Both sides pretty straightforward. On the Peruvy side just a few minutes to stamp out and cancel the TIP. The Bolivy TIP we get within minutes once we have filled out an online form they introduced some time ago to speed up the process. Nobody cares about this health form we filled in with so much diligence. Nor about the many vaxxes we got to keep the coronies out of any place we’ll visit.

Then we’re in Bolivia. Just some 20′ on a bad road to reach Copacabana at Lago Titicaca.

Copacabana: rather small, the beachfront full of small hotels, as it’s a weekend full of locals enjoying some time by the water. And quite some backpackies sneaking around.

We need our time to find an ATM that has not run out of money. And later to sip some of the Bolivy beer. To celebrate our arrival in the next country while watching the sunset. Of course, we cannot sit forever on the terrace. Once the sun has gone, the temperature decreases considerably. 

Yeah guys, we left Perú after 5 weeks of intense travel. True, there were many spectacular things we experienced. Still, there were also some issues we remember with rather mixed feelings.

So, that’s it for this post. More about our adventures in the country of the Bolivies in the next post.

In the meantime just don’t forget your jealousy and wait impatiently for the next release.



Over-Tourism in Perú - Cusco'n'Machu Picchu
Bolivia - Lake Titicaca to Salar de Uyuni