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For those wanting to experience Incan history and aren’t planning to undertake the traditional 4/5 day trek through the Inca trail, then the other options include hoping through the modern day colonial towns that were integral routes to Manchu Picchu. For most, the journey starts in Cuzco and the final destination is Manchu Picchu. Having made the journey to Manchu Picchu we also wanted get a flavor of the Sacred Valley. Sadly having witnessed the splendor of Manchu Picchu, the awe of the ruins in these town paled in comparison. My goal was to get a sense of the charm of these small colonial towns. We thought the hoards of tourists in Manchu Picchu were annoying, well sadly these bused masses made it somewhat unbearable to traverse around these towns.

Guided tours pass through constantly, providing a very shallow and curated tour of the towns and the surrounding ruins. Thankfully we got to spend a bit more time to roam around and see a little bit beyond the ruins. Otherwise, most tours stop for a few hours and then move on to the next town. In our stop we visited Pisac, Oyantaytambo and Chincero. The perfectly manicured agricultural terraces in Pisac were beautiful. To see the precision and science that went into their creation and how each was specifically utilized to grow different crops. Oyantaytambo was the busiest town. As the starting point of most Inca Trail expeditions, it definitely resembled a packbacker dive spot. In every corner stood pizza restaurants and tourist agencies.

All in all the visit through the sacred valley made for some great people watching activities. With the mix of tourists from all around the world and souvenir markets all over these towns, it was interesting to see the haggling process and the interaction in general. It was also great to get a sense of how large this ancient empire stretched. If one has the time, I would definitely recommend straying away from guided tours and exploring these towns at a more leisurely pace.

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