We flew from San Francisco to Mexico City to Lima to Cusco, then drove to the small town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. From there, we visited the mysterious concentric terraces of Moray and the millenia-old salt ponds of Maras. We walked along a high plateau with llamas and alpacas, and watched several colorful parades in the town.
We took the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu. We took the bus up to the Citadel of Machu Picchu right after we arrived, and followed Circuito 2 to the terraces and along the plaza. The next morning, we hiked up many steep stairs to the top of Wayna Picchu, the big mountain in the background of the standard Machu Picchu picture. The views along the way and at the top were amazing -- giant mountains in every direction, with Machu Picchu far below.
We went back to Cusco and met our guide for a rafting trip on the Apurimac River. Four guides led the three of us through beautiful steep canyon with nearly continuous rapids and very cold water. On the third day, our baggage raft was forced under the rapid, then popped back up with a giant rip in the tube. We left one of the guides with the raft and most of the stuff, and ran two days of rapids in one long day to get back to the road and eventually Cusco.
We got back to Cusco earlier than we'd planned, and had time to explore the city. We visited the Cathedral and climbed up to church of San Cristobal high above the city. We made chocolate drinks and molded chocolates in a chocolate workshop. We walked through Inca ruins just outside the city with a guide, and wandered through a monastery built alongside and on top of an Inca temple.