Within an hour of landing in Cusco, I found myself standing at a bridge near Ollantaytambo, taking in this most pleasing scenery.

“This isn’t how Peru is supposed to look”, I thought to myself. “This is how Alaska is supposed to look. Where are the colourful, pipe-smoking ladies with bowler hats, where are the pan flute players, where are the llamas, why are there tall conifers here?”

None of the expected stereotypes was satisfied. And yet Peru it was.

I knew shamefully little about the Sacred Valley upon my arrival. I thought of it as nought but an unavoidable transit leg from Cusco en route to Machu Picchu.

This assumption proved wrong on two counts :

1. One does not travel up from Cusco (3,399 m.a.s.l.) to Macchu Picchu (2430 m.a.s.l.). One does, in fact, travel down by nearly one thousand meters of altitude

2. The Sacred Valley is a great destination. There are weeks worth of things to see here, and its only misfortune is its proximity to Machu Picchu.

The Urubamba River