Search results for 'maras'

Exploring South America – The Sacred Valley

15 Aug

Not far from Cusco lies the Sacred Valley, a treasure trove of Incan ruins and interesting villages. During our Peru visit, we made two day trips out to towns in this valley.

Sacred Valley

View of the mountains surrounding the Sacred Valley


Ruins at Ollantaytambo

Our first stop was Ollantaytambo, a fascinating town that was once the royal estate of an Incan emperor. The village was also a stronghold for the Incas during the Spanish conquest of the region. The Incan king, Manco Inca, was able to use the towns extensive irrigation system and high terraces to flood the plain and slow the Spanish advance.


Cool old streets are lined with irrigation channels that run all over town


A handicraft market sits at the foot of the main ruins

Today the town is best known as a gateway to Macchu Picchu. It is the starting location for most Inca Trail treks and is also home to the main train station to reach Aguas Calientes.

train station

Disembarking the train in Ollataytambo after our visit to Machu Picchu

The town is situated along the Patakancha River and features impressive ruins.

danger sign

Evidently this hike is high risk and we shouldn’t do it…


If you don’t want to pay to enter the main ruins, you can climb the cliffs on the other side of town to see other cool stuff.


These were granaries used by the Incas


A view of town from the granaries

ice cream man

This town also has a delightful ice cream shop (on the way to the train station). This fantastic Spaniard (from Mallorca) was working when we stopped by (twice in one day). He was quite the character.

Another day, we took a bike tour to Moray and Maras. The Moray ruins, which look like some sort of alien spaceship landing pad, are thought to be an agricultural crop laboratory. You can climb down into these interesting terraces, and the temperature changes dramatically between the varying levels.


Our first view of Moray


The sweeping terraces of the main bowl

Marnie at Moray

Marnie takes in the view at the Moray ruins

bike ride

Steve bikes from Moray to Maras, through some lovely scenery

Nearby are the Maras salt mines, which have been worked for hundreds of years. The salt is harvested by feeding salty water into ponds, then waiting for the water to evaporate. The process takes a few months. There are thousands of salt ponds here, each worked by different locals. It was a fascinating place to end our bike ride and visit to the Sacred Valley.

salt mines

A view of the main section of salt pools at the Salineras Maras salt mines

lady in mines

A local checks on her salt pools

There are lots of other interesting towns to see in the Sacred Valley, but Cusco was so seductive that we only saw these two. Check out my Flickr to see more photos of Ollantaytambo and Maras/Moray.