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Our Parents Visit Us in Cusco, Peru!

Before we left, we planned for our parents, Bob (Shannon’s dad) and Betty (Jen’s mom) to visit us during the halfway point of our travels (3 months in). They were both very excited to visit us in Cusco and we all couldn’t wait to see each other!

When they first arrived, a driver brought them to meet us at the AirBnB home we had rented in the Sacred Valley. It was located in a small town in between Calca and Urubamba and had three bedrooms, enough to accommodate all of us. It was incredibly tranquil and authentic.

Our temporary home in Sillacancha, Sacred Valley

We drank coca tea and coffee every morning on the patio which had beautiful views of the mountains. We waved down the little colectivo vans that passed by on the road to catch rides to nearby bigger towns where we could shop for fresh fruits, meats and cheeses at the markets. We cooked yummy dinners and got caught up on each other’s lives. Jen and I even cooked a dish called Ají de Gallina which we had learned to make in a cooking class that we took right after our Inka Trail trek.

Pisac Sunday market

Because no visit to Cusco is complete without seeing Machu Picchu, we planned to hop on the train from nearby Ollantaytambo while we were still staying in the Sacred Valley. Our parents loved the peaceful train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes, and when we arrived at the site, it was a beautiful sunny day. We hired a guide for a few hours because there’s so much to see and learn about while walking around the huge ruins. Even though Jen and I had been to Machu Picchu once before, we learned even more about it and even saw new areas we hadn’t yet seen. That afternoon, we all took a hike to the Inka Bridge, which was both fun and scary since the trail had steep drop offs in a few spots, especially nearing the Inka Bridge.

Inca Bridge

After we checked out of our place in the Sacred Valley, we took the bus to Cusco to check into our little apartment that would be our home for the next week or so. It was in a great location, had an excellent view from the rooftop terrace and was new and modern, much different than our Sacred Valley home. From here, we were able to explore the city on foot and check out different restaurants and markets around Cusco. One day, we took a rainy day hike up to the Cristo Blanco, a giant statue of Christ that overlooks the city. Our parents did great with the hundreds of steps to the top. From there, we took a taxi to explore several other ruins in the area, including the jaw dropping ruins of Saqsayhuaman.

Group photo!

We explored Cusco up and down, ate delicious Peruvian food, visited many historical sites and museums, and shopped in dozens of colorful markets. It was a wonderful place to spend time with our parents.

Check out the rest of the pics from our trip below!

The Famous Inka Trail to Machu Picchu

Although many of our trips and tours are done with little planning ahead, there was one adventure that required advance planning – the well known four day trek along some of the original Inka Trail to Machu Picchu. The trail starts at km 82 in Ollantaytambo which is located in the Sacred Valley. Over the course of 4 days, we trekked through valleys, multiple ruins and over mountains for 43 kms! We endured cold temperatures at night, reached the height of Dead Woman’s Pass (a staggering 4,750 meters!), and hiked up uneven stone steps that never ended. All of this to get to the final destination, Machu Picchu.

The experience was only enhanced by the awesome group of people we met at the briefing (11 total) that would partake in this journey with us. We were told that since we were a larger group, we would have two guides and 18 porters, totaling 20 people that made our trip possible.

We spent the next 4 days getting to know each other over this moderately difficult stone path trail. For most of the trail we trekked as one unit. Along the way we could see that other groups had been separated by time and distance due to their drastic difference in fitness levels. We were lucky that our group maintained a relatively steady pace and there was certainly no hurry. What was important was to enjoy the natural beauty of the trail.

Love this picture of our crew!

As I said before, the trek was made possible by our 2 guides Roger and Rosalio (Rosita) and 18 porters. If Roger and Rosita were the brains of the operation, the porters could be considered the braun. These men showed incredible strength by not only doing the trail as well, but with an added pack twice their size. They physically carried everything until we reached our destination. These things included tents, sleeping bags, mattresses, food, cookware, most of our personal belongings and, not to mention, their personal items as well!

Red army

The porters literally ran ahead of us as if they were taking a casual jog and were able to get to lunch spots and campsites at least an hour ahead of us. When we would reach camp, there would be “happy hour” waiting for us. We were served coffee, coca tea, popcorn and my new love…Milo. It’s a chocolate and malt powder combo (originally from Australia) that you mix with hot water. Roger was kind enough to give us his recipe of Milo, powdered milk and sugar! Mmm!! Lunch and dinner were nothing short of gourmet meals. We have never eaten so well on a camping trip before!

Along the trail we got to explore a number of different ruins, but ultimately when we arrived at Machu Picchu on the 4th day, it was exhilarating and made the tough trek worthwhile.

TwoGirls at Machu Picchu

Thanks again to our new friends Katya, Gavin, Geetha, Nelson, Ken, Charles, Daming, Davide and Lisa for making our trip absolutely fabulous!! Also thanks to our guides Roger and Rosita and our awesome porters that made it all possible!

Check out the galleries below for all the pics! Scroll all the way to the bottom of this post for the video.

Day 1-2

Day 3-4