Today we hopped on a bus ready for a tour of the Sacred Valley, home to the Incas!
The Sacred Valley is indeed a huge long valley flanked by enormous mountains. In the valley are small towns and fields growing the biggest maize in the world.
The hills and mountains eitherside are stunning and so interesting. Farmers have continued to use the old Inca system of building terraces on the steep side of the mountains to grow their crops. These terraces are often found right at the top of these tall mountains sometimes in the most precarious of places. How did they get up there?
Our first stop was Pisaq market. This small market town pretty much lives off the tourists buying souvenirs. Most of the stalls sell similar things mostly based around the traditional Peruvian and Ican culture. Hats, gloves, ponchos, ceramic pots, masks and jewellery are the main things sold.
The main reason Pisaq is famous is because of the amazing Inca ruins that are so well preserved. They lie on top of one of the mountains. It’s incredible to think that these dwellings were once occupied by Incas! The mountain opposite the ruins is full of holes which are actually tombs of the Inca people. There are over 3500 tombs in this mountain side alone making it the largest Inca cemetery.
This particular mountain top Inca site was multi functional. Here they stored food and grew crops. They also bred guinea pigs, which was the food that the Inca kings ate.
Our next stop was Ollantaytambo another Inca city and more amazingly well preserved ruins.
The function of this site was for astronomy research and to measure the movements of the sun. Upon four enormous slabs of rock that sit at the top of the ruins, the Incas marked a cross. At the start of each season the sun’s rays would shine on these markings indicating the start of Summer, Winter, Spring or Autumn. It was their equivalent of a calendar.
Finally we stopped at Chinchero where the remains of one the Inca king’s palaces can still be seen. Next to the ruins is a church which is beautifully decorated and contains paintings, alfrescos and murals dating back centuries.
These Inca sites are incredible and we can’t wait to see one of the new wonders of the world, Machu Pichu on our last day of the Inca Trail next week. We’ve also got some other Inca ruins closer to Cusco that we are visiting tomorrow.