Into the Sacred Valley

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August 23rd 2019
Published: August 23rd 2019
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We are in a lovely hotel in Urubamba, a small town in the Sacred Valley. The steep peaks of the Andes tower above us and make a sharp contrast with the Spanish-style style colourful gardens and mission architecture of Hotel Agustos.

Today we left Cusco and entered the Sacred Valley, which is surrounded by rugged mountains. Parts of the foothills are striped with terraces, necessary for agriculture in this inhospitable terrain. It was interesting to see the same techniques used by the Inca and for contemporary farming which (apart from tourism) is the chief activity in the area.

The focus of today was Pisac, a large archeological site which was a key Inca city and religious centre in the 14th Century before the construction of Machu Picchu. Surrounding massive terraces running down the mountain side, there are ruins of Inca houses, temples, and plumbing to bring water to the terraces. The cliffs are dotted with small caves where mummies were interned. I climbed up to the top, a short but steep climb which left me very breathless because of the altitude but was worth it for the view.

We also visited a camelid display centre where met many very cute alpacas, llamas and vicuña and learned to tell them apart. There is a considerable variety in each species - some are like shag pile carpet and other have wool more like a sheep. Vicuña are not domesticated but alpacas and llamas are very gentle and friendly.

We went to an Inca buffet for lunch and music. The diet is big on starch: root vegetables and corn, which they use to make anything we would make with rice or wheat flour. They also eat a range of meats, including alpaca and guinea pig, which we declined.

Now I'm off to enjoy those gardens.


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