We flew from San Francisco to Mexico City to Lima. From there, we left the international terminal and went back in to the domestic terminal for a flight to Cusco. A taxi met us outside; we drove about two hours to the small town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley.
In the Mexico City airport, Evan really liked his dinner of lots of meat with fries.
The Mexico City airport was very 60s; it felt like a giant box with air holes.
We had trouble finding our Airbnb since it was on a dirt road a few minutes outside of town. We had lunch on the plaza and watched a parade while we used WhatsApp to get directions to our Airbnb house. We hailed a tiny tuk tuk who knew the place, and relaxed in the house for the rest of the day. Our house had great mountain views and wifi, but no heat. The blankets were warm, but the bedroom got really cold when it dropped to the 30s overnight.

Dancers in the Ollantaytambo Plaza de Armas

The dancers were wearing scary bull masks along with fancy dresses.

A parade on the way to the Plaza de Armas

view from the living room of our Airbnb outside Ollantaytambo
The hot water for the bathroom and a hot plate were both connected to a propane tank under the counter.
We walked into town alongside the river.
Evan tried Inka Kola at lunch and liked it.
We had lunch at Inka Tower, up a steep set of stairs with a view of the Ollantaytambo ruins.
While we had lunch, a parade with several decorated bulls went down the street below.

As the parade approached, young men climbed up to a rooftop above the parade, put on wigs, horned masks, and gloves.

A big crowd carried this flower-covered saint through the street.
Most roofs had a pair of clay bulls with a cross, for good luck.
We arranged a taxi to take us to Moray and Maras for the afteroon. We drove out of the valley onto a plateau, and then to the mysterious site of Moray. We walked around the edge of concentric terraces that are hundreds of feet across. We got back into the car and drove to Salineras Maras. A steep hillside is covered in salt pond terraces, which have been producing salt for over 1,000 years.
From Ollantaytambo, we drove up a winding dirt road to a plateau.
view along the way to Moray
View of Moray from the parking lot
The terraces along one side had sets of stone steps.
A set of steps along the path had a sign saying not to climb them.
looking across the site at the path we followed down
A smaller set of terraces nearby had many stone piles.
The center of the Maras plaza with a model of Moray
model of the Maras salt ponds in the Maras town plaza
Church with a blue door in the Maras town plaza
Our driver stopped across from Maras for our first view of the evaporation ponds.
Our driver said they've been making salt here for more than 1,000 years.
The salt water spring is channeled into ponds for evaporation.

Workers walked on the narrow pathways between the salt ponds.

looking over the salt ponds to the valley in the distance
We walked along small cobblestone streets on the way from our Airbnb to the Ollantaytambo plaza.
We used Airbnb to arrange a walk with alpacas and llamas for the next day; our host Reynaldo set up a taxi to meet us in the plaza in the morning. We drove up into the hills and stopped to go inside a guinea pig hutch with dozens of guinea pigs. Next, we walked off the road a bit to a table overlooking a lake, set with tea, coffee, and empanadas. Then the guides brought out llamas and incredibly cute baby alpacas, wearing colorful pompoms and making soft squeals. We posed for pictures, then set off walking, each leading a llama or alpaca. They wanted to eat everything on the side of the trail, and we said "vamanos!" every few minutes. Starting at 12,600 feet in altitude, we walked up to a plateau with amazing views at 13,100 feet. From there it was downhill to a table set for lunch with a dramatic view of the Chinchero Ruins. After lunch, we walked about half an hour to the Chinchero ruins. Our guide said this area was mainly agricultural and not very important in Inca times. We walked from the ruins directly into the cobblestone streets and stairs of Chinchero. Our final stop was the guide's house, where his wife demonstrated how she washes, spins, and dyes alpaca wool. Airbnb experience
Evan got to hold a small guinea pig.

The guinea pig hutch had lots and lots of guinea pigs squeaking and scurrying around.

There were dozens of guinea pigs, including some about to have babies.
Our guide set up coffee, tea, and empanadas on a steep hill about a lake.
looking over Laguna Piuray
Evan and Inti the llama
Inti posed for pictures with everyone
Inti and Paul, surrounded by baby alpacas
Our guides ties got the llamas and alpacas ready for a walk
The baby alpacas walked wherever they wanted.

Evan tries to get one of the baby alpacas to stop eating and walk.

They stopped to eat pretty much constantly.
The baby alpacas each had a rope leash.
We followed our guide through blooming Spanish broom.
Paul led a mama llama, and her baby followed close behind.
Paul with his llama and her baby.
The snow covered peaks in the distance are 20,000 feet high.
We walked uphill for an even bigger view of the lake and valley.
The baby alpacas were ridiculously cute.

Evan held a choice chunk of grass for the baby alpaca.

Amazingly, we crossed a muddy patch in the trail without incident.

Evan fed a bottle of cow's milk to a baby alpaca at a rest stop.

Kimberly fed the baby alpaca a bottle of milk.
We stopped for a rest on a plateau surrounded by dramatic mountains.
Our guide talked to the baby alpaca in Spanish baby talk.
We walked along the high plateau surrounded by mountains.
By mid-morning, a few scattered clouds were reflected in the lake.
We followed a fain trail with a view of the Sacred Valley below.
We released the llamas and alpacas and relaxed on a high balcony while the guides made lunch.
The Chinchero ruins are mainly agricultural terraces.
walking up the next level of terraces
We walked from the Chinchero ruins into the town.
Our guide's wife showed us how she grates saqta root into hot water for washing wool.
The next step is spinning the wool.
She showed us how crushing a small gray cochineal beetle creates a bright red dye.
our guide's wife and daughter outside their shop and home in Chinchero