Journey through the Sacred Valley
Approximately 9 miles (15 Km) north of Cusco, Peru lies the Sacred Valley of the Incas. With an altitude nearly 2000 feet lower than the old Inca capital city and a warmer and wetter climate than that high Andean city, the Sacred Valley is rich in agriculture productivity and today produces most of the region’s wheat, potatos, corn, beans, quinoa and more. It’s importance to the Inca Empire was even greater and the Incas built great citadels, scientific stations, and cities throughout this rich valley.In effect, this rich valley was the garden of the Incas. With its great cities, protective citadels, and a climate warm enough to grow sugar cane, yet cool enough to be devoid of mosquitos, the Sacred Valley was a place that the Inca rulers would retreat to for relaxing away from the bustle of their capital city of Cusco.
Less famous than the ruins of Machu Picchu and the dynamic city of Cusco, the Sacred Valley offers visitors an unparalleled glimpse into ancient Inca culture. Deep in the hills of this forgotten valley are small villages where Andean people live out each day just like their ancestors did 500 years ago. Any tour through the Sacred Valley includes the larger villages such as Pisac, Chinchero, and Ollantaytambo where time has caught up with local traditions and modern conveniences can be found. To discover the Andean culture of the past, travelers need to get off the beaten path to villages such as Moray and Pumahuanca.
Adventure Life strives to introduce travelers to our authentic Peru. All of our Peru tours visit the market and ruins of Pisac and we stay the night in the village of Ollantaytambo. But from here we depart from the traditional tour route and journey into the countryside around the village of Moras. Here we get a chance to talk with local farmers and occasionally share in the daily work in their fields of crops. The people here mainly speak Quechua, which is the indigenous language of most of the Andes. Our guides speak Quechua and English and are often godparents to one or more of the children in the area. This close relationship and knowledge of the Quechua language and the area traditions helps our travelers bring home great memories of newfound friends and shared experiences.
We journey through this unique area on a two hour walk that takes us past the agricultural terraces of Moray that the Incas built more than five centuries ago. The terraces were an experimental station similar to modern agricultural stations. Built in a natural depression in the earth shaped like a bowl, each terrace is thought to have mimicked the climate in the various altitude regions of the Inca Empire – deeper terraces had climates that matched the climates in the lower Andes. From the Moray terraces, Inca agriculturists were able to determine what were the best locations and growing conditions for each of their varied crops.
Not far from Moray and the very small village of Moras are the Salinas salt pans. The Incas mined salt from here centuries ago, and a local salt cooperative works the site today using the same manual process that their ancestors have used for dozens of generations. Sometimes we’re even invited to lend a helping hand with the locals collecting salt!
Towards the end of our walk in this area, we find ourselves on a paved road near the large village of Urubamba. A passing "combi," or local bus, picks us up for the twenty-minute ride to our hotel in Ollantaytambo.