Welcome to the Sacred Valley of Inca Peru. This is one of the most visited areas on the planet, and easily the most visited place in South America. The Valley was the center of the Inca world and a major power around the time of European expansion. We learn about western (modern) society, imperial ambition and the ancient cultures of South America like the Incas. Here you can see, feel and taste that ancient culture while walking through history to see the clash of worlds that many of us learn about only through boring lecture and skewed history books.
Geneva and I started in Cusco and headed into the Valley from the southern end. We drove past Sacsayhuaman (pronounced sexy-woman) which is the ruins closest to Cusco. We didn’t stop at this site, but continued on into the valley, about a 30 min drive.
These pictures where taken at a small village on the way into the valley and the first main Inca ruins. Here there was a tourist market set up with the local villagers selling al paca (like a lama) sweaters, textile and various other crafts. I wasn’t really interested in the commercial goods, although al paca is very soft, like a poor mans cashmere. The rural valley had a really nice quite and quaint feel to it.
After a quick stop, we drove another 30 min to the first of the main Inca sites that we visited. Pisac is a beautiful area with amazing vistas and steep valley walls falling into a fertile river valley. Heading over the pass, and descending down into the valley the bus stopped and we where able to take some great vista shots.
As we approached the city of Pisac I could see high up on the side of the surrounding valley, terraces that where cut from the steep sloping earth. The first thing that struck me was the resemblance to Asian terrace rice fields. The big difference was that these where on impossibly steep 50 degree slopes.
We crossed the river and drove through the small city and followed the road back up the opposite side of the valley. The road switched back up and up and zig-zagged until it reached the entrance to the Inca city of Pisac. We could see on the way up parts of the roads washed out by the massive rains and mudslides from the previous rainy season.
We Walked into the city, had a 20 min guided tour and explanation of the city structures and location, and then had 45 minutes to explore the structures and views.
These terraces where built to grow crops.
The stone retaining walls of the terraces are about 15 feet (4 meters) tall. In order to get from terrace to terrace the Incas built steps. These are amazingly constructed out of stones that where fitted into the wall like all other stones but extended out another 2 feet (0.6 meters). Its like a modern staircase design made in ancient times.
We headed back to the bus and loaded up for the the next stop.
To be continued…..