The Andean mountains and the valley surrounding the Urubamba River were once the epicenter of the Inca Empire because of the fertile land, perfect climate, natural resources and strategic position.
It is one of the most stunning landscapes in the world and still maintaining its ancient characteristics, like the traditional clothes, spiritual ceremonies, language and the strong connection with Mother earth: “Pachamama”.
Here is the place where you can find everything: from well preserved Inca ruins and agricultural terracing to authentic villages and cultural places.
We booked a one day tour through the Sacred Valley with KB Peru.com.
We chose the one full day transportation through Sacred Valley and they took us to Pisac Market, Pisac Ruins, Maras, Morai and Chincheros.
So, we started our morning at a local ancient market: Pisac.
The Pisac Market is one of the most famous markets in the Cusco region. Especially the Sunday market when indigenous people from the surrounding highlands come here to sell their products.
It was an authentic and colorful experience. Dressed in their colorful clothing they gave the market an authentic feel and it was definitely worth the visit.
Here you can find the perfect souvenirs like sweaters, hats, scarves and blankets. Alpaca products are in great demand.
Close to the market and to the little town of Pisac, at the entrance of the valley, lies the impressive ruins of Pisac.
Pisac was once one of the most important Inca cites. It had a strategic position in connecting the Inca Empire with the East.
The place is built on row upon row of fine stone terraces.
On the top of the fortress, there is a spectacular panoramic view of the Andes mountains.
The main building is the Temple of the Sun built on a special place. The angles at its base serve to define the changes of season. There are also baths, altars, water fountains and a ceremonial platform.
The entrance to the Pisac ruins is included in the “Boleto Turistico”. This ticket includes Pisac, Chinchero, Moray and Ollantaytambo ruins and costs around 70 USD. It is not possible to buy a ticket only for Pisac ruins.
Maras salt mines
Next stop was the Maras salt mines.
In the Sacred Valley, high up in the mountains, on a valley, lies a series of salt pools, fed by one small saltwater stream since Inka times. These pools were first created sometimes in the XIV century by the Incas and are still producing salt today.
Salt is harvested from the shallow pools via a natural process of evaporation.
During the dry season, all the water evaporates, leaving the pink Peruvian salt.
The whole image is unbelievable.
We spent about an hour here, up and down the path among this cute pools. We couldn’t get enough.
This salt mine is opened for any member of the Moray community, so it is possible to see families wandering the pools, scraping up the salt for their own use or business.
Beside the ruins and archaeological sites, the region is well known for its remarkable landscapes and lush agriculture.
Inca people were using very advanced agricultural technics, such as the terracing system and irrigation using aqueducts.
In Moray, for example, they used circular terraces that demonstrate the high level of culture the Inca civilization achieved.
Moray was considered a crop lab – they use terraces to create micro-climates and grow various products brought from the empire. The difference in temperature during the year between the upper part and the bottom of the pit can be 15 degrees Celsius. They say that even the soil in different terraces was imported from various region of the empire.
Unfortunately, we didn’t spend too much time here, we arrived quite late, just before closing time.
Textiles are important in Peru. Who doesn’t love brightly colored, super soft, or elaborately patterned gifts to take back home to friends and family?
Weaving is a part of the Andean culture that has survived for thousands of years. Don’t miss to see how they are producing textiles using wool from their llamas and alpacas, colored with natural dyes derived from plants and minerals. The designs they use and the costumes they make from these wonderful textiles vary from village to village. Here, they organize themselves in an association that is now internationally recognized.
We visited one of this store in the Chinchero that showed us the entire process.
We saw how they turn alpaca and sheep wool into fine textiles.
Beginning with the washing of the wool and moving through each step of the weaving process.
Sacred Valley is a place not to be missed.
We visited it in a hurry and we missed a lot of opportunities like riding through the valley, visiting the Ollantaytambo ruins, rafting on the White River, or a stay in the Skylodge.
Hopefully we will have the change to return and to experience them.