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Friday September 11, 2015

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comPerched high above the ancient Pisac ruins with Alpaca Expeditions for sweeping scenes of the Temple of the Sun.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comAndean girls with their baby alpacas at Pisac’s famed market.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comInca terraces galore at Pisac (my favorite viewpoint).

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comI planned our visit on a Sunday, specifically to visit the village’s market (takes place two to three times a week – always on a Sunday).

Awana Kancha, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comMaking news friends with llamas and alpacas at the Awana Kancha Llama Farm.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comClimbing up to the K’alla Q’ada fortress ruins.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comAndean artwork.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comWe spent a full day with a private guide and personal driver from Alpaca Expeditions. It was the perfect way to experience Pisac, Chinchero and the Awana Kancha Llama Farm!

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comLost in the maze of colorful Andean goods that adorned the Pisac market stalls.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comSpectacular topside views of the Inca ruins.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comAlpaca socks were everywhere in the Andes.

Awana Kancha, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comI didn’t want to leave Awana Kancha, the llamas were too adorable!

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comChanneling my inner-Indiana Jones on our Pisac expedition!

Awana Kancha, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comAdmiring the vibrant colors of Awana Kancha.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comHiking high above the Inca terraces with our private guide from Alpaca Expeditions.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comSelecting my favorite fresh fruits to munch on, at the outdoor market.

Awana Kancha, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comLove.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comI’d visited Pisac on my first trip to Peru. Now, six years later, it was just as magical (albiet a bit more touristed).

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comAndean dyes.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comThe Temple of the Sun.

Awana Kancha, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comI loved his speckled coat.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comWe heard varying numbers, but Peru is home to 3,000-5,000 different types of potato!

Awana Kancha, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comAlpaca yarn.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comFeeling like I painted myself into a Peruvian postcard! : )

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comMarket goods.

Awana Kancha, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comWe fed lots of green goodness to the alpacas and llamas.

Pisac, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comOur visit coincided with dry season, so the entire valley radiated with hints of brown.

Awana Kancha, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comAlpaca yarn.

Awana Kancha, Peru www.bucketlistbums.comI was so sad to part ways with my furry friends at Awana Kancha.

On our first full day in Peru’s Sacred Valley, we put together an ambitious itinerary that took us all over the region for a wondrous blur of historic ruins, Andean markets, adorable alpacas and ancient Inca walls. We literally packed our day bell to bell with sights, hikes and eats, and thankfully Alpaca Expeditions was there to guide us in style on our custom, whirlwind adventure! As special guests of Cusco’s most popular tourism agency, we were treated to a private driver, as well as an amazing private guide (Valentin), and both served as our fearless leaders as we explored Pisac, the Awana Kancha Llama Farm and Chinchero.

Alpaca Expeditions picked us up bright and early from the Inkallpa Lodge & Spa in Urubamba, and we made the 90 minute journey to our first (and most important) stop of the day …  to see the llamas and alpacas at the Awana Kancha Llama Farm! Valentin was a wealth of knowledge as he delved into the region’s rich history on our drive from one end of the Sacred Valley to the other. I’d visited Awana Kancha six years ago, and I swear it grew in size – I don’t remember the farm being so big! As we made our way to the airy pens, dozens of beautiful (and hungry!) alpacas approached us. I wanted to hug them, but they just wanted food. : ) Valentin loaded us up with green goods, and we spent a blissful morning feeding our new friends.

Our next stop was Pisac, for a bit of old and new. I’d explored the ruins before (this would be my second visit), but the town’s famed Sunday market was an all-new treat for me. To avoid the crowds, our plan was to see the ruins first, and then hit the town’s vibrant market for shopping and lunch. When we arrived at the Inca site, I realized how long it’d been since my last visit – in 2009 crowds were non-existent, and now the ruins were crawling with people. A little tip for visitors: start at upper Pisac, and hike down to the base of the ruins (the Alpaca Expeditions driver easily can drop at the top, and pick up at the bottom). Most tourists stop at the K’alla Q’ada fortress ruins, and miss out on 60% of the ancient site including an Inca cave, the Temple of the Sun and some of the region’s best terrace views. As Valentin led us past the fortress, the tourists melted away, and by the time we reached the soaring viewpoint atop the Temple of the Sun, crowds were non-existent. It’s a bit of a hike, but worth the effort to experience a bit more solitude on the climb down to lower Pisac.

Special thanks to the team over at Alpaca Expeditions! We couldn’t have asked for a better guide, and experiencing Peru’s epic Sacred Valley by private tour really immersed us into the history, culture and soaring beauty of the region. Would use them again in a heartbeat if I return to the Andes! Stay tuned next week for our photo diary from Chinchero. ♥