Sacred Valley, Moray, the salt flats of Maras, Ollantaytambo

Cusco Travel Blog

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The walk past the salt flats was a wonderful experience for me

Take off to the Sacred Valley. We rode through some economically poor neighborhoods. The houses were made of adobe clay. There was trash on the hills sides. We rode for a little longer and then stopped in the country and bought some souvenirs. We drove through Chincero but unfortunately, we didn’t stop. They were having a festival.

 

We drove an unpathed rode through some farm land and stopped by a nice lake. I took some pictures there. We were on our way to The Scared Valley. Its elevation is lower than where we’ve been so far. It’s about 9000ft.  We stopped at Moray. Moray was designed to take advantage of some natural depressions sunk like funnels below the level of the plain. There were three circular areas at that site. Thought to be agricultural terraces where potatoes, corn and beans were grown. Each level could have its own micro climate with varying temperatures of up to 5C.

Lunch after our trek through the Sacred Valley

 

We walked over to the two small terraces and then went over to the largest of the 3. There were some young girls on the top of one of the steep hills. Washi hollered over to the children and spoke to them in Quechua. He found out that one of the girls was 10 years old. We continued to walk down to the terrace. It was very steeped and hard to walk back up, for me. I took a lot of breaks.

 

The road to and from seemed kind of dangerous to travel. For example, it was a very windy, gravely road, going down hill or uphill, sharing the road with farm animals, etc. It was worth it though because the view was nice and we had the view of the Andes Mountains.

 

Next, the salt flats of Maras. The richness of the Sacred Valley was sustained not only by the fertility of its soils, the abundance of water and the benevolent climate, but also by springs of warm waters saturated with salt. This water was channeled to fill thousands of small shallow pools. Today, this area continues to produce appreciable quantities of salt through evaporation.

Washi picking the bugs
This is where we made another dangerous stop to the top of a mountain to catch some photos of the flats. There were some little boys there selling quartz rocks. The view was beautiful and showed the valley of the salt flats which have been mined since pre-Inca times.

 

We were dropped off at the top and trekked our way down through the flats and into the Sacred Valley. There were a few people working their flats. The path we walked was narrow. I tasted the salt…ummm, it tasted like salt. This trek was an hour through the mines and down a mountain side. We had lunch after and it was so good. I had a chicken salad sandwich and there was fruit and sodas.

 

After this our plans were to go to Ollantaytambo. It is a living Inca town. There are 1000acres of archeological sites in Ollantaytambo. We were headed towards the soup kitchen founded by Washi so we stopped there and he explained the mission of the kitchen and let us look around. Down the road, we pulled over again so that Washi could pull some Cochinillas off of a cactus leaf. These white insects are used by shamans to help in the diagnosis of medical ailments. Washington used a square piece of paper and folded it into 4 sections. Then he put 3 of the insects in a fold and then squeezed the paper.

The shape of the bug blood indicates the diagnosis for Heather
When the paper was opened, there as a red design (from the bug blood). The Shaman could diagnose according to the shape of the image.

 

On the side of the road we saw Washi’s first political sign.  He talked about the Orient Express and how they don’t give the town any of the tourist money. The train is $500 for a 4 hour ride.

 

We made it to Ollantaytambo. Taytambo means resting place. The town is a beautiful ruin site. They receive approximately 3000 tourists per day. Washington is from this town. We met his mother at the market where she has a stall. I bought Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas book from her stall. It was 50 soles. Washi wrote notes in our books and wrote our Inca names. Mine is Munay Tika which means Beautiful Flower.We explored the beautiful ruins. It's one of those places you have to experience for yourself. I can not describe any more than to say, it's absolutely amazing.

 

 

On the way back from the ruins, we met Washi’s best friend and campaign manager, Felix. He was a very kind person. He makes traditional Incan pottery.  I asked if he would join us for dinner and he did.

Miners at the salt flats
The group looked at pictures and watch videos of Washington and his life. The video was made by a friend of his named Sharon. The whole dinner was dominated by Tim and Linda’s political talk but that was ok because a lot of it was centered on Washi and his plans for Ollantaytambo. We had a nice dinner and decided to head back to our hotel which was in nearby walking distance. I think Washington was trying to fix me up with his friend. Maybe I thought that because he had Felix feeding me the banana dessert. Felix walked back with me, Marcus and Heather. Tim and Linda stepped into the internet café. We all made plans for the next day. I stayed outside for a bit and talked to my new friend Felix. Before I went inside, I asked Washi to take a picture of Felix and me. Felix asked if he could kiss me in the picture. I said of course, on the cheek. Before we parted, he asked if I wanted to have a drink with him but I said no and Washi told him that I don’t drink alcohol. I turned in for the night at the hotel.


notes:Today was a good day. The weather was great! Hot/cold, lol. I feel that I have acclimated to the altitude. No more signs of altitude sickness. However, waking up to the ruins is hard! Not only because of altitude but because of the incline of the steps and because of not being fit. Marcus and I both were typically the last of the group, panting and wheezing, he he. The climb up Ollantaytambo was probably not too hard because there were resting levels in between. The climb was worth it, though. So glad I came. ! Viva a la Peru! Next morning, train a Machu Picchu!!!!!!

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The walk past the salt flats was a…
The walk past the salt flats was …
1 man building an adobe home
1 man building an adobe home
Lunch after our trek through the S…
Lunch after our trek through the …
Washi picking the bugs
Washi picking the bugs
The shape of the bug blood indicat…
The shape of the bug blood indica…
Miners at the salt flats
Miners at the salt flats
Our tour guide was running for may…
Our tour guide was running for ma…
Soup kitchen where Washi makes sur…
Soup kitchen where Washi makes su…
The kitchen
The kitchen
The menu at the soup kitchen
The menu at the soup kitchen
A side street in Ollantaytambo
A side street in Ollantaytambo
Bananas foster
Bananas foster
My friend Felix
My friend Felix
Leaving the salt mines of Maras by…
Leaving the salt mines of Maras b…
Salt mines of Maras
Salt mines of Maras
Salt mines in Maras
Salt mines in Maras
Inca agricultural terraces.
Inca agricultural terraces.
Ollantaytambo viewed from Tamboqas…
Ollantaytambo viewed from Tamboqa…
Town of Ollantaytambo viewed from …
Town of Ollantaytambo viewed from…
This mountain has the face of an I…
This mountain has the face of an …
Cusco
photo by: Vlindeke