Chincherra region: Umasbamba
After leaving the Amazon Region, a short flight saw the tour group settle into Cusco (3,400 metres above sea level) for the penultimate night before the energetic ones departed on the trek on the Inn Trail.
The hotel Antawasi Cusco was really nice, had good breakfasts and staff were very friendly and helpful. The first thing offered as we settled in was Coca tea with mûno (mint). Very nice in helping address the breathlessness at altitude.
Our Intrepid tour leader, Diana, gave a great walking tour of some key aspects of Cusco, and an overview of the Inca history in Cusco, finishing with a fabulous meal in a restaurant that supports the ideals of Intrepid.
The next morning we hopped on a bus and travelled into the Chincherra region and visited a farming community at Umasbamba. I was later to meet Thomas on a guided walk around The Archaeological sites of Cusco who came from this community.
Tour leader Diana
Farming at Umasbamba
We were asked to carry out some of the farming tasks to provide an experience and insight into the farming life of this community. The community gave us a fantastic lunch, and then provided an insight into the handicraft skills. A little bit of dressing up also occurred to show us how the clothes were used in daily life.
A 3 course traditional meal is served
Handicrafts at Umasbamba
Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo
Then the bus travelled down to the Sacred Valley, following the path of the Sacred River through a number of towns before we arrived at Ollantaytambo, to stay the night before the Inca trail segment began.
A walking tour identified parts of the town including archaeological sites, natural formations giving a face in the mountain, and the continued use of terraced farming, with some of the terraces dating back to the Inca.
Pet alpaca at Tupuna hotel, a beautiful moon, a farewell to the trekkers and a fantastic return journey to Cusco which travelled through Pisac, where ancient terracing was very visible. We also had a brief stop to see a Cuy restaurant in action.
We also stopped at Awana Kancha where we learned about the history of the camelids of South America (the vicuna, guanaco, alpaca, and llama in particular). The website of Awana Kancha is very informative about the objectives of this initiative :
Some key things learned about the camelids of South America include:
- High red blood cell count in the vicuna;
- the camelids have soft hooves and this minimises soil damage;
- The vicuna has a very fine fleece, making it very useful for high quality weaving.