After a mentally and physically demanding stay in the rural village of Patacancha, the INTI team headed back to Ollantaytambo for the first night of student directed travel. We stayed with the same families as the week before, and re-grouped at 9:00am in the Plaza de Armas to begin our long 3.5 hour journey to Lares.
On the drive we went over the Lares mountain pass, and saw: extensive ruins, llamas, alpacas, a couple of jagged mountains, and one misty, snow covered peak. In the collectivo we reached a max altitude of around 4500m above sea level, before descending into the next valley on a beautiful ribbon of road. After reaching the slightly disappointing town of Lares, we headed to the highly recommended sulfuric hot springs. The trip to Lares came at a perfect time for most as in the last few days heat and rest were scarce. Most of our time at the Lares was spent soaking, some spent more time than others (Will entered the water at 7pm and exited at 4am). After just one night we left at 11am to the small city of Pisac. In Pisac, we were presented with “normal” food options that unluckily cost significantly more than our Per Diem. Thus we utilized the kitchen and started making our own meals. The goal was to save up money before the notoriously expensive Cusco, where, to our dismay, our hostel doesn’t have a kitchen we can use.
The time we had in Pisac was productively spent resting and checking out ruins, as well as some folks going nuts while shopping. Most of the group went up to the ruins, and some others went to the salt ponds/terraces outside Urubamba. Overall the first half of SDT went well and as planned, and we all look forward to Cusco, Machu Picchu, and then home!