The sun was shining when we met Carlos, our driver for the day in the town square. The plan was to visit four sites in the Sacred Valley.
It took us well over an hour to drive up in altitude to Pisac. The views along the way of rugged mountains, lush fields and towns of small adobe homes was lovely. We passed many people in typical Peruvian dress, often carrying produce or young children on their backs. Donkeys, cows, pigs, sheep, llamas, alpacas and chickens were common sights. Our driver had to swerve to miss running over a chicken that was in the road. Dogs are every where, going about their business.
The main attraction in Pisac is an Inca Archeological site. Here it was easy to see a burial site for middle class Incas, the terraces and the remains of the ancient city. Because we had gone up quite a bit in altitude, I was breathless when walking.
There was thunder in the mountains, and grey skies coming in which added to the atmosphere.
The entrance to this site was included in th 10 day, 16 sites pass that John and I purchased at the entrance to the site in Pisac.
After seeing the site we stopped off at a local jewelry store for a short period and saw a demonstration of the types of stones they use. I have enough jewelry so I didn't buy any. (Everyone- please notes that Kimberly has publicly stated that she has enough jewelry- John)
From Pisac, Carlos continued to drive up in altitude to the mountaintop city of Chinchero. Our first stop was to an artisan place where the locals create yarn from sheep, alpaca and baby alpaca.
The women were wearing their local clothing. We were told that anywhere they go in Peru, people know they are from Chinchero by their clothing.
They dressed John and I in traditional Peruvian clothing and we had our picture taken with a baby alpaca, who from the bleating noises he emitted made it perfectly clear that he would rather get back to munching on his leaves.
We next went inside the shop where they demonstrated and explained the textile process from animal to garment. It was fascinating especially how the dyes from local plants and fungus were created. I got to try my hand at spinning. I am now inspired to spin wool from Molly's (my dog) next haircut.
I couldnt resist buying a classic, hand knit baby alpaca sweater and John bought a toque.
We continued to another site included in our ticket. It was the ornate Chinchero church that was built on Inca foundations. We also looked around some of the Inca ruins and terraces at this location.
Back in the car, we drove past snowcapped mountains along narrow, windy roads with sheer drops. Sometimes two cars (or even worse) buses and trucks had to pass on the single lanes. I was rather freaked out.
We descended into the Maras Salt Pans. The salt pans are still in operation today. The pans form a honeycomb pattern of colours that is in stark contrast to the surrounding mountain scenery. Of course I had to buy some gourmet salt. This site was not included in our ten day ticket.
We left the salt pans by the same scary road we entered.
Our final stop was Moray. These circular Inca terraces demonstrate the advanced Inca society . They built the terraces and used different soils to experiment with growing different crops in different environments. Really interesting.
Exhausted, we returned back to Ollantaytambo for supper and to prepare for the next leg of our trip- the Amazon.
TIPS & COSTS
10 day site ticket - 130 soles each ($52 cad)
Taxi Driver for the day- 230 soles - $92 cad + tip
Salt pans- 10 soles each - $4 cad