The Sacred Valley, Part 1

Got to love that even in a rural valley town there is a football pitch, even if its used as a pasture.  Welcome to South America.

Got to love that even in a rural valley town there is a football pitch, even if its used as a pasture. Welcome to South America.

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.

Sacred Valley Map

Sacred Valley Map

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.

Valley

Valley

Valley

Valley

Valley

Valley

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.

Pisac Valley Vista

Pisac Valley Vista

Geneva Brion

Geneva Brion

Phil Ceccarelli

Phil Ceccarelli

Steep Valley Wall

Steep Valley Wall

Steep Valley Wall

Steep Valley Wall

Geeking out shooting the amazing view.

Geeking out shooting the amazing view.

Geeking out shooting the amazing view.

Geeking out shooting the amazing view.

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.

Pisac valley and surrounding farmlands.

Pisac valley and surrounding farmlands.

Picas Terraces

Pisac Terraces

These terraces where built to grow crops.

Pisac valley from the Inca ruins.

Pisac valley from the Inca ruins.

Pisac valley from the Inca ruins.

Pisac valley from the Inca ruins.

Looking the other way, across the ruins into the other end of valley.

Looking the other way, across the ruins into the other end of the valley.

Pisac Inca City

Farmer and labor quarters

Pisac Terraces and City

Pisac Terraces and City

Valley Farmlands

Valley Farmlands

Terrace Wall Steps

Terrace Wall Steps

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.

Stairway separating terraces.

Stairway separating terraces.

Terraces

Terraces

Terraces

Terraces

Terraces

Terraces

Archway

Archway

Inca Fitted Stone Wall

Inca Fitted Stone Wall

Pathway leading away from the main city buildings to the farmers quarters.

Pathway leading away from the main city buildings to the farmers quarters.

Pisac Valley

Pisac Valley

Cave passage along path.

Cave passage along path.

Looking back at main part of city.

Looking back at main part of city.

Looking back at main part of city.

Looking back at main part of city.

Farmer and laborers quarters.

Farmer and laborers quarters.

Farmer and laborers quarters.

Farmer and laborers quarters.

We headed back to the bus and loaded up for the the next stop.

To be continued…..

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