Friday, June 29, 2018

Peru : A Visit to the Sacred Valley of the Incas

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Located north of Cuzco, a former city-state which was once the seat of the Incan civilization’s power over its territories, lies an expanse of land known for its lower elevation, warmer temperature, and a perfect environment to growing crops. 


The place was called for a few names: colonial documents referred to the place as the “Valley of Yucay” but is also known for other names such as Urubamba Valley or Sacred Valley of the Incas, the latter two of which it is called to this day.

Stretched between the villages of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is 60 kilometers wide and stands parallel to the nearby river, Vilcanota. 

What to See in Urubamba Valley?

From its west-most end, Ollantaytambo makes for a significant landmark as a place for well-preserved pre-Incan and Incan architecture which were built using a mix of adobe (straw bricks and mud) and stone. There were other villages within Urubamba Valley which share this feature, but none of them is as carefully maintained than in the village of Ollantaytambo. 

Ollantaytambo is a jump-off of most people traveling from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. Travelers can take a train via Peru Rail or Inca Rail.





But the Incans were not only a civilization good for making buildings from the ground-up, they were also an ingenious bunch in agriculture as seen on the corn terraces which cover the hillsides, the proper irrigation system which keep the crops watered, and the hydro-engineering which provides clean, drinking water to the village.

On the opposite end of the valley—in the village of Pisac, specifically—lies another site to behold which featured the Inca’s prowess in crafting the environment for agricultural farming. It is here where gargantuan stair-like rice terraces rest alongside the mountain to which they were carved.





But Pisac is more than just a place for growing crops by the Incas, it was also here where an ancient cemetery can be found which held around 3000 dead within the mountain’s own fissure.

The Incas are not just content with what they know when it comes to farming. The place called Moray was essentially the Inca’s laboratory from the outside field where they try to cultivate various crops in differing circumstances, practically experimenting on which conditions produce the best results.



Essentially a rice terraces itself, only in concentric circle somewhat resembling the Greek amphitheater, Moray—now considered an archaeological park—has a varying temperature of 27 degrees Fahrenheit from the highest elevation downward. 

Further examinations into this man-made wonder had also produced a striking discovery about the Inca’s ingeniousness involving agricultural farming—the soils found in area were imported from various locations in the empire with the goal of simulating certain conditions from those areas for raising crops.


But while seeing the ruins of the Sacred Valley may indeed a fun way of shedding light to an otherwise obscure ancient culture of the Inca, there are also another way which it can be appreciated—seeing its people’s unique way of living first-hand.

If you are, therefore, curious as to how the present-day Peruvians create handicrafts using colored Alpaca hair, there is no better place to check the process out than in the village of Chinchero where weaving is a common practice.





How to get to the Sacred Valley from Cusco?


Going to the Sacred Valley is quite easy. There are basically two roads that link Cusco to Sacred Valley, to the town of Pisac and Urubumba. 

Cusco is the closest airport to the Sacred Valley, so, you must fly to Cusco and take a bus, collectivo or taxi from there traveling down to the Sacred Valley.

Buses: Buses depart daily from Cusco going to the town of Pisac and Urubamba. From Urubamba, buses depart daily every hour to the town of Ollantaytambo. Bus tickets cost around 3-4 Soles.
Collectivo: Taking a collectivo is another popular option for locals and visitors wanting to go to the Sacred Valley from Cusco. These are taxis or mini buses where you can share with random passengers. Fares costs around 5-6 Soles.
Taxi: Taxis are the most convenient way of public transport going to the Sacred Valley from Cusco. The cost is around 40-60 Soles depending on where you want to go.
Booking a tour: Booking a tour to go to the Sacred Valley is what travelers usually do. It's convenient and you will be able to visit all the four sites in the Sacred Valley without worrying of the transportation. You can book a Full Day Sacred Valley Tour online.

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