Overseas Adventure Travel
Machu Picchu and Galapagos
May 11 through May 28, 2022


Due to the length of the review, it is in five parts to help with the download time. The links to the other pages are at the top and bottom of each page.

Page 1:  Lima through Sacred Valley day 1
Page 2:  Sacred Valley day 2 through Machu Picchu day 2
Page 3:  Machu Picchu to Cusco for 2 days, Quito for 2 days
Page 4:  Quito day 3 through Galapagos day 2
Page 5:  Galapagos day 3 through Quito return to home


Day 5 - Sacred Valley

We had a very full day planned with activities delving into Peru’s culture.  After breakfast we got on the bus and drove to a home not far away.  Kerry introduced us to Concepcion and her husband.  I don’t remember his name.  They are farmers.  They had many of the fruits and vegetables they raised on the table. 


The reason we were there is because they also raise coca plants.  The leaves of these plants are highly processed and turned into cocaine.  The leaves are also used to make coca tea and just chewed to provide energy in the high altitude.  They passed around a coca plant seedling and showed us how it was planted.  It would take three years before it would be able to produce leaves that could be sold.  If properly taken care of the plants could live for forty years.


Concepcion showed us how she had to look through the bushes and only pick the leaves that were ready to harvest.  She would spend all day on her knees picking through the plants.  On a good day she could pick twenty pounds of Coca leaves.

Growing coca is legal in Peru, but they are only supposed to sell it to the government, who pays $1 per pound.  So, if she sells everything to the government, she would get $20 a day for all her work and the caring of the plants for all the years.  It doesn’t seem like much; but because of the coca crop, they have been able to send their kids to school, which they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do.

They can also sell the coca to locals illegally and make more money.  She sells the small bags that she sold to us for five Soles each or about $1.33.  Several of us bought some so we could chew for altitude sickness as well as to help out the family.  I think most of us that bought the bags paid much more than she was asking.  She showed us how she has to hide the bags in her clothes when she goes to the market, to keep the police from seeing that she has coca for sale.

It was kind of sad to see that this plant that brings so much money into the cartels brings so little to the hard-working farmers who need the money so badly.  Having said that, these farmers do better because of the coca than if they were just trying to sell fruits and vegetables.

They served us some coca tea.  They also showed us the stevia plants they grow that they crushed for sweetener.  It made the tea taste much better.  It had been a very enlightening and pleasant experience to spend time with this family and learn about the life they live.  These are the types of experiences that make tours with OAT so special.

After thanking our hosts and saying our goodbyes, we headed to a local market.  Kerry broke us out into small groups and gave us each an assignment to purchase some food items for the family we would be visiting for our home hosted lunch. Cathy and I, along with Carol, had a pretty easy assignment.  We had to get potatoes.  It wasn’t as easy as we thought, since we had to communicate the types of potatoes we needed.  Peru grows thousands of types of potatoes.  We eventually were able to communicate what we needed to the vendor and buy our groceries.  She was a very sweet woman and was glad she could help us.


After getting the potatoes, we looked around at the stalls to see the various kinds of fresh produce that was available.  Everything was very inexpensive.  I guess that is why coca is a better product to raise.

The next assignment Kerry had given us was to hire a tuk-tuk to take us from the market up the hill to a church where we would meet the rest of the group.  It would only cost 2 Soles or about $.50.  She recommended giving an additional sole as a tip.  She told us that we could also just walk there.  She said it would take 10-15 minutes, but it was a steep hill.  $.75 seemed like a bargain.  So, we stood by the market looking for a Tuk-Tuk.  Where had they all gone?  They were thick as flies when we were driving around.  One finally came by.  Since they only hold two people, we told Carol to take it and we would get the next one.  

It took around 10 minutes more for another one to finally come to the market.  We were very happy to see him since we had considered just walking up the hill.  It was an interesting experience, but not my favorite mode of transportation.   We exited the vehicle and walked over to the small church.  The interior altar area was rather ornate. 


When we came out, we saw Kerry and some of our group; but not all.  Cathy and I thought that we were the last ones to get there.  Kerry helped us to go to a little shop and get a gift for the host of the lunch we would be going to.

The lost group finally showed up and told us a tale of the scavenger hunt they had been on trying to find a grocery store since the market didn’t have their assigned produce in it.  It sounded both frustrating and fun for the group.  After all they were solving a problem with their new friends.

We regrouped on the bus and headed to our next destination, a bar.  Kerry told us to look for a pole with a red plastic bag on it.  This designated where we could find a bar that served a local favorite, corn beer.  I thought I took a photo of the red bags on the poles, but I guess I didn’t.  We did see them all over the place later.

Kerry took us inside and introduced us to a mother and daughter who run this bar.  The mother was in her 90’s and quite entertaining. 

They showed us the different types of corn that they used in making their corn beer.  It is quite a process.

The daughter brought out a pitcher of the pink beer and gave us samples.  It was quite good.  It is only about 1.5% alcohol.

We then went out to the back patio where they had a game set up for us to try our hand at.  It was called Frog.  Probably since the highest score is made by getting a heavy metal coin into the small frog’s mouth.

We all took turns standing behind a line and throwing the coins at the board trying to get the coin in any of the slots to get points.  It wasn’t easy, but it was fun trying.

After the game as we were leaving the bar, Kerry started a conversation with two guys and a woman who had come in for a corn beer.  Kerry translated for us and told us that they are regulars there.  With the low alcohol beer, it is more like a coffee shop than a bar, where people just get together to socialize not get inebriated.

It was approaching noon, so we got back on the bus and went to the home where we were having lunch.   It was a nice size home with a large open patio area where we met the ladies of the house.


They were glad to meet us. A couple of them spoke English and we were able communicate with everyone through them or Kerry translating.  Kerry broke us up into three groups.  Each one went to a different part of the house where different foods were being prepared for the lunch.  Everyone got to try their hand at helping with the meal.  Some even helped grind corn with a stone.


When it was time to eat, we all sat down with the family at a large table.

The first dish was a Calabaza squash soup, which was very good.  The grandmother showed us what a Calabaza squash looks like.  On the table is a purple drink.  It is purple corn juice, and it was quite good.

One of the granddaughters walked around showing everyone the main course, cuy or guinea pig.  I had never eaten guinea pig but have heard that it can be quite tasty.  It didn't look that appealing.


All of the different dishes were passed around to put on our plates.  When the cuy came to me, I took a small piece that probably wasn’t the best one to take.  My piece came from the side with very little meat and lots of bones in it, so I really didn’t get a good taste of it.  The skin was very tough, so I couldn’t eat it either.  A word of advice:  If you are ever served cuy, go for the drumsticks or thighs.  That’s where the meat is.  The rest of the meal was quite enjoyable. 

For dessert we had a sweetened tree tomato.  A very good unique Peruvian dessert.

After lunch, they showed us around the rest of the house.  We then gave them the gifts that we had brought and thanked them for their hospitality.

Our last stop for the day was to the Seminario Ceramic Shop. 


They provided a brief description of what they did and where the different clays come from that they used.  They then set us free to look at their many products.  They had some beautiful objects but not something that we could never fit into our luggage if we even wanted to buy something.  We weren’t there long before we went back to the hotel to relax and enjoy our last evening there.

We were eating dinner at the hotel, so we had more time to get pisco sours at the bar than we did the previous night.  For dinner we had a delicious meuniere trout.  It looked and tasted a lot like salmon.

One of our group, Howard, had told us that there would be a lunar eclipse that night happening around 10:30 PM to 11:00 PM.  I doubted that we would be able to stay awake that long with us having such a busy day and needing to pack for our trip to Machu Picchu the next day.  This was where our skylight was a major benefit.  We could watch the progress of the eclipse from our bed.  I missed the full thing, but Cathy woke up at the right time and could see it.

For our train trip to Machu Picchu we would have to leave our large suitcases at the hotel we would return to and pack two days’ worth of luggage into a small duffel bag.  It was a challenge but worked out fine. 


Day 6 - Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu

This was the day I had been waiting for.  The main reason we booked the trip was to see Machu Picchu.  The weather forecast said that it would be raining both days we were to be there.  I was concerned and so hoped that we would have a little sun to see this amazing place.

After breakfast we walked around the grounds for the last time.  We had previously seen Fang’s large doghouse but had never seen her in it.  At last, we did. 


The first item on our agenda was a healing ceremony with a local medicine man.  We all went over to a circle that had been set up for the spiritual ceremony that has been practiced by the Incas for almost a thousand years and into the current time.  He prepared an Inca Mesa which is a gift to mother earth with various power objects and stones used for moving energy in the service of healing.  It is supposed to help with our health and safe travels.  The medicine man set out a paper carrier for the various objects he would put into it to later be burned.


As he put in each object, he would recite words appropriate for the ceremony and Kerry would interpret what he said the objects represented.  He kept pulling out so many different things to add to the pile and it kept getting larger.

He then gave each participant three coca leaves.  We individually walked up to him and gave them back to him to put into the mesa.  He then wrapped up the mesa in a nice package.  We each then walked up to him.  We blew three breaths as he moved the mesa from our head to the middle of our bodies and then to our knees.


He then poured different fluids around the fire pit and lit the fire.  As it smoked, he laid the mesa on top of it for the flames to consume it.  It was quite a moving ceremony and something we were so glad we were able to participate in.  As the trip progressed, we gave the medicine man credit for many of the good things that happened.

After the ceremony we were anxious for our trip to Machu Picchu to get underway.  We were heading to the town of Ollentaytambo to catch a train to the town of Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Town where we would spend the night.  As we were driving along the mountainous terrain, we could see some strange capsule like objects on the side of a mountain.  I’m including a photo of the whole mountain and then a closer one of the capsules, so you can see how high up they are.


We asked Kerry what they were, and she told us that it was a hotel.  A hotel?  Come on, who would climb up 300 ft to stay on the side of a mountain?  Apparently, a lot of people.  It is a popular thing to do when visiting the area.  Kerry told us that there was a couple climbing up the side of the mountain to get to the capsules.  I couldn’t find them at first.  I was finally able to see where they were and took a photo that I can blow up to prove people actually do this crazy thing. 

In doing some research for this review, I did see a video that shows that there are metal rebar type steps that go up to the capsules.  You can see them in the close up shot.  At least they have something to hold on to and climb on.  I thought that they had to actually mountain climb to get to the capsules.  I’m still not interested in staying there.

As we continued the drive, we were seeing some beautiful landscapes and farms in the valleys.  The terraced farms were most interesting.


We stopped the bus in Ollentaytambo.  We would explore it more when we came back from Machu Picchu, but Kerry wanted to give us a preview of the lovely town.  I liked the statues in the square.


As we began our tour a bunch of costumed people began streaming into the square.  It was a special celebration day.  We were most lucky to be there to see this.  They were having different types of competitions and activities.  The outfits were so colorful.


We began our walk through the narrow streets.  It was so pretty.


Kerry took us to a home to see how the locals lived.  It was also a store with many things for sale.


The most interesting thing to me was that there were guinea pigs scurrying in an area of the floor.  They raise them for food and to sell.

As we walked further into the town, we could get a glimpse of the fortress we would visit on our return trip.  It looked amazing.


We came back through the main square where we could see the activities were still going on.  Most people purchased walking sticks for our Machu Picchu walk later in the day.  They were only $8 each.  A bargain!

We then walked over to the train station where we partially ate the very large box lunch that was given to us.  It included two sandwiches and lots of other stuff.  At the appropriate time we walked to the Inca Rail train car that our group and others were assigned.


I had been concerned that there wouldn’t be any room for our luggage on the train.  My fear was confirmed when we walked into the train car and saw that the luggage racks were full.  When we got to our seats, we were told to put our luggage between the seats where there was plenty of room.   I had worried for naught.

The train itself was very comfortable with large windows all around.  Our seats were on the left side of the train, which meant that we were closer to the river than the mountains, which was by far the best place to be for this trip.  Since the seats were assigned to us, we had just lucked out.

The scenery was just gorgeous all the way.  The rushing waters were so beautiful going through the mountains.



Each group was given time to walk to the back of the train to where there was a car with no seats, just open windows to look out of and take photos. 



As we continued our train ride along the Urumbaba River, the scenery kept getting even better.  This was such a treat.


Kerry pointed out a bridge that crosses the river.  This is one of the starting points for the Inca Trail that goes all the way to Machu Picchu.  It is a rope bridge that is reconstructed every two years.

After about an hour and a half ride, we finally got to Aguas Calientes.  The train had to stop away from a train station, since the one that had been there had been destroyed by a mud slide.  Work was under way to shore up the mountain and rebuild it.  Our first view of the town along the river looked quite nice. 


We had to walk up some elevation to cross the bridge over the river to get to our hotel, El Mapi by Inkaterra Hotel.  It looked like we were in a good location along a busy street with lots of restaurants and shops.


The hotel itself looked quite modern and we were impressed with it.  We all met in a meeting room to rest for a moment, finish our lunches that we couldn’t eat on the train, get our room keys and discuss our visit to Machu Picchu that afternoon.  The weather forecast for days had said that there would be an 80% chance of rain for both days we would be there.  It was currently sunny where we were, and we hoped that it would be similar on the mountain.

We would be taking a 30-minute bus ride up the mountain to enter the Machu Picchu complex.  A local guide, Joel, was also going with us.  He would prove very helpful assisting us through the trickier parts of the climb through the rocky areas.

Kerry had given us the tickets and we walked down the street close by where the busses were leaving from.  There was a long line of people waiting for the bus, but it moved very quickly as busses came in, filled up and quickly left.  It was a very smooth operation.

It wasn’t long before we were on our way.  Having seen many photos of the area being covered in fog, I kept hoping that the sunny conditions would continue.  The bus moved up the mountain on the narrow winding road having to stop or back up occasionally to allow a downward bus to pass by on a wider section.  When we arrived, Kerry herded us over to the entry area and gave us each our tickets.  We had to show our passports to enter also.  One thing that we didn’t do but should have done was to get our passport's souvenir stamp there.  Although not required, it would have been nice to have.  There is a separate office to go to for that, but we missed it.

As we walked along the path into the complex, we could tell that we were in a very special place.  The area was just gorgeous.  It was also perfect weather for taking photos.  The medicine man’s ceremony must have helped us out.  Kerry had originally planned to take us on the lower path first but was taking us up to the higher path so we could get photos while the weather was still so nice.  We were glad that we had the walking sticks for our visit since it made the hike much less stressful.  Joel’s reaching out his arm to provide stability was also much appreciated.  I was also glad that I had brought hiking boots.  They made my feet and ankles much happier.


We passed by some small buildings just before we got our first partial glimpse of the view of Machu Picchu that we had seen in photos/videos, and we were so anxious to see in person.


Wow!  We were here and it was spectacular.  At each turn and different elevation, we all had to stop and take more pics of the amazing sight.


The view kept getting better and everyone was getting their pics with the gorgeous background each time.  It was a bit challenging at times getting them without other people in the photos, since everyone wanted similar shots.  I will refrain from putting too many photos in the review, but I do want to show what it looks like from the different angles and elevations. 

We came to a large open area where people were sitting on the grass resting from their walk up the mountain.  At one end of the area was a great photo opp near a drop off.


Joel took a photo of the whole group for us.  I was glad he was there so that we were able to have Kerry in the photo also.

This is a photo from inside the complex looking up to where we were standing [earlier in the large open area where we took photos of the complex.  It is where the highest group of people were.

Another different angle looking at this gorgeous place.  I know there are too many photos that look similar, but to me, they are unique images of a special place.

Llamas were a great photo opp also.


Moving around the area it kept getting better.


The crowds did build up in some areas of the complex.  I had read that they limit capacity to 2,500 guests per day.  Perhaps that was only when Covid was more of an issue.

We continued our walk, and I was able to get some close-up shots of the buildings from above.  This place was amazing.




The clouds were beginning to build up in the background, so I was concerned how long the great photo conditions would continue.  We came to an area where Joel took our favorite photo of the day.

We then started moving down into the main complex.  It is such a fascinating place with so much to see.  Kerry would tell us what we were seeing and tell us about the structures.  Rather than trying to tell you what each building is or its significance, I will just include my favorite pics.  They are much better than anything I could tell you about.





About an hour and a half after we entered the complex, it began to drizzle.  It was light and it didn’t affect us moving around to see everything.  It was also when we were starting to walk through the buildings in the lower area.  We had already had the photos of Machu Picchu that we had come for, so we were happy.  We stayed another half hour before leaving for the day.  We hoped that the weather would be good for our next day’s early morning visit.




The Incas definitely lived on the edge of the mountain.  The drop offs were so steep and the views spectacular.  I so wish that photos could show the magnificence of Machu Picchu.  It really has to be seen in person and I am so glad we were able to.



Below is the map of Machu Picchu that was in the brochure.  There is a lot to see there.

We took the bus back to town and walked to our hotel.  We were looking forward to seeing our room, since we weren’t able to when we first arrived. It wasn’t a large room but was quite modern and comfortable. 



We went down to the bar to meet with others from our group before dinner.  We had been given coupons for two free pisco sours, so we had to use them.  Since they were the smaller version, we followed it up with a normal size one.  They were both delicious.  After the strenuous day, we were ready to go to bed early.  Especially since we had an early morning meet up for our second visit to Machu Picchu.  We had been so lucky with the weather so far for the entire trip.  Every day had been in the upper 60’s – low 70’s with sunshine.  The forecast for the next day once again was for rain.  I hoped that we would be lucky again and it wouldn’t rain.  After already seeing everything that I wanted to see, I wouldn’t be that disappointed if we couldn’t go.  But I did need to wake up early to evaluate the situation.



Day 7 - Machu Picchu day 2

Well, for once, the weather forecast was right.  We had heard the rain much of the night.  When we awoke, it still was raining and very overcast.   The plan for the day was to go higher up at the site, which, with the rain and fog would probably not be a good experience.  Cathy and I had already decided to pass as had some others.  I still went down to the lobby to see if anyone was going to attempt it.  Howard, Cheri and Barbara were ready to go on a second visit.  They are hardier folks than me.  I looked forward to hearing about their experience.

We already had free time scheduled for the afternoon after the originally planned morning excursion, so we now also had a morning to fill up with some activities.  Aguas Calientes is a small town, so there aren’t a lot of things to do there, but Kerry had told us about a few.   After a leisurely breakfast, we began a walk to look around town and to find some t-shirts. We walked down the street in front of our hotel and found the town square.  It was quite an interesting place.


The church had something going on in it, so I took some photos from the doors.



We had to cross the river to get to the large market area on the other side.  The bridge provided a nice view of the river rushing down the mountain.


Most of the stores in the covered market weren’t open yet, but we did find a few.  I was able to find a couple t-shirts, but Cathy didn’t have any luck.  We went back to our hotel side of the river to explore an area that Kerry had told us about, the Circuit of the Stone Chronicles.  I also wanted to see if I could find the hot springs area.  With the town being built on a mountain, the streets were pretty steep in places.

We hiked up for a while, stopping occasionally to check out shops and just rest.  We were still at a 7,000-foot elevation with thin air and walking uphill was not that enjoyable.  We saw a little side street that didn’t look like a path we would want to take.  But it was nice to look at.

Since I had no idea how far we would have to keep going before seeing the stone chronicles, Cathy decided to go back to the hotel while I pressed on.  Shortly after Cathy left, I came to a courtyard area with a very interesting looking sculpture.  This would be the first of many as I moved up the mountain.  There were very nice descriptions of what each one was, and I took photos of the descriptions for reference.  I am already putting way too many photos of these sculptures, so I didn’t want to put the descriptions in also.  Most readers will probably zip through these pics quickly anyway, but I do want to remember them.


Across the street were more statues.  The quality of all the statues and reliefs there are most impressive.


I continued the walk seeing more stone chronicles.


I was doing this walk to find the hot springs but was having no luck.  The map showed that it was on the same side of the river as I was on.  When I saw that the road ended at a bridge that crossed the river, I assumed that I must have been on the wrong road.   I was going to head back since I was getting tired but instead decided to go out on the bridge and take river photos.


I looked up the path and saw a hummingbird statue, so I had to climb some more steps to see it.  The path had sucked me in, so I had to keep going.  Since people were walking that way, there must be something to see, plus that path was quite pretty.  There was another relief of a puma but the best news was that the path ended at the hot springs park.



I walked closer to get more photos.  It wasn’t what I was expecting but it was pretty popular especially for a cloudy cool day.

I headed back down and crossed back over the river.  Along the way I saw a small booth with people lined up.  I hadn’t paid attention to it on my way up since no one was there.  Now I saw that this was a ticket booth for the hot springs park.  That was what the marking on the map was referring to rather than the actual park itself. 

I got a kick out of the frog trash cans that we saw in several places in town.  Rather cute!

I went back to the hotel to get Cathy to do a little more exploring before lunch.  We had seen the high area but not the lower section down near river.  There was a large sign I wanted to get a photo of and see what else was there.  I liked the Inca statue.


Right after the sign, the town ended, so we came back up the other side of the river.  I was curious about where the mudslide happened at the train station.  They were doing some work to repair everything, but the area certainly looked wiped out.  I think it will be a while before a new train station is there.

The group lunch was at a restaurant called Apu Inti.  It was a very nice restaurant with good food.  We did get a surprise when a couple musicians arrived, one with a pan flute. 


We were thrilled, since that is the music of Peru that we had been wanting to hear.  Kerry had previously arranged for a pan flute player to play during a dinner in Lima.  He got hit in the mouth while playing soccer and couldn’t perform with his swollen lips. These musicians did great, and we thoroughly enjoyed them.

Our brave souls that went back up the mountain in the morning reported that the weather there was as we expected foggy and rainy.  Kerry had stayed at the hotel to assist those that stayed, and Joel went with three hikers.  They couldn’t go to the higher elevations that had been planned, but still enjoyed their visit.  It did clear up some before they had to catch the bus back.

Since we still had a free afternoon, we decided to look at the other areas where there were stone chronicles.  But first Cathy had to check out a t-shirt store that Carol had seen earlier that had better quality lady’s t-shirts.  Carol took us to it and sure enough, Cathy found one she loved.  Thank you, Carol.  The first stone chronicles we came to were just past the market area we had been at in the morning.  Quite a lovely park.



We followed the map to our next destination.  This side of the river was much flatter and was a more residential area.  They had a school, soccer field and shops catering more to residents than tourists.


When we came to the area marked on the map, it was quite different from my morning walk.  All the reliefs were on one wall.

Some of the characters appeared to be wearing masks, at least I hope they were supposed to be. 





We headed back to the hotel after walking plenty that day.  We did pass more statues and reliefs.  We saw one that was along the riverbank.  This town really loves their art, and it is a pleasure for the many tourists that visit there.


That evening the group had dinner at wonderful restaurant, Indio Feliz, the happy Indian.  The interior was just gorgeous and had so many interesting things to look at.  


Kerry told us that the Machu Picchu train and bus workers were going to go on strike in two days in sympathy to the farmers concerns.  We were so glad that we had come when we had.  I can’t imagine coming on a vacation to Peru and not being able to go to Machu Picchu.  The only way to get there from Cusco is by train.  There are no roads there.  And I can’t imagine how long or difficult it would be to walk up the mountain from the town that took the bus thirty minutes to get there.  We had hoped that the dispute would be settled before it affected any tourists.

I wasn’t very hungry before dinner, and now my stomach wasn’t feeling great.  We had had some illness with a few people in the group already and I hoped that I wasn’t going to be in that category too.  We placed our orders.  When my soup appetizer came out, I tasted it and just couldn’t eat anymore.  I was feeling worse and told everyone I had to leave.   I hurried back to the hotel room in time before I had an accident.  I immediately took some Imodium, which worked quite well.  But my stomach was still hurting.  I guess that I had picked up a similar bug to some of the others.  I was concerned, since one of the guys had been sick for several days.  I sure didn’t want to miss any of the touring days.

When Cathy got back from dinner, she told me that I had missed probably the best meal of the trip so far.  She brought back what I had ordered, but I had no interest in it.  The owner of the restaurant was very nice and made up a potion for me to drink to help with my distress.  It was a hot drink and had so many leaves and twigs in it that I could only take tiny sips.  Just as well since it didn’t exactly taste great.  I appreciated his efforts but decided to just go to sleep rather than finishing it.

Cathy was taking very good care of her sick boyfriend.  It was the first time in our almost two years together that I had been sick, and she was most concerned.  I woke up around 11:30 PM not feeling very good.  I told her that it might be a good idea to bring the small trash can with the plastic bag liner closer to my side of the bed.  It’s a good thing she did, since shortly thereafter I vomited into it.  Thank goodness I did since I felt great afterwards.  We would have to see if my temporary euphoria would last after I went back to sleep.




© 2022 ThePreismans.com • All Rights Reserved