The Sacred Valley was our introduction to Peru. We flew into Cusco and immediately went to the Sacred Valley because it is a little lower altitude than Cusco and that would give us some time to aclimate. Also there were many sites in the Valley that were considered worth visiting.
Our first excursion was to Pisac. Here we got our introduction to the Inca ruins. It was an arduous climb. Many of the paths were quite narrow and had steep drops on the side. We took it VERY slowly and made our way along the trails.
This was the first set of ruins that we encountered. They were quite well preserved. The big question that struck us then and continued to perplex us was - Why did the Incas build their cities and structures in places that were so hard to reach? You can see from this picture that we are on top of a mountain.
We found it interesting that the stones were so well carved. Look at the perfect fit of the corner stones with their rounded corner. Of course there was the question of how they moved these stones. Some of them are quite large. This will also be seen in the pictures from Machu Picchu.
There wasn't an abundance of plants and flowers. However there were some. We saw Lupin and some other wild flowers. One plant that we wouldn't have expected was the cactus
Pisac was also our introducion to the terraced farming of the Incas. The terraces were used primarily to stop erosion. However, as we saw later, they also used the terraces to determine which plant varieties grew best at each altitude.
There are many sights to be seen in the Sacred Valley. We saw a few of them. On the way to Moray, we passed through some small towns. They have narrow streets lined with wooden doorways leading into courtyards or living areas.
We were intrigued by the hats the women wore. As you will see in the Cusco section, there were a great variety of hats. We were told that the hats varied by the town the women came from.
In Moay, we saw another type of terracing. Our guide told us these large circles were used to test how plants thrived at different altitudes. These were experimental planting areas.
The picture on the left shows one of these experimental areas. The distance between levels is great enough that stairs had to be built into the walls. Look closely at this picture and you can see the stairs imbedded into the walls. The picture on the right shows these stairs clearly.
Another interesting place we visited in the Sacred Valley was the salt mining area OF Maras. The water from one of the springs has a very high salt content. This spring water has been channeled through a large series of channels that fill the evaporation pans. When the water evaporates, what's left is the salt.
As it was explained to us, families in the Maras area each have sections of the salt flats. They are responsible for their section. When the salt is ready for "harvesting", they scrape it up and put it into bags.
In the picture on the right you can see the channels that are used to divert the water to the different levels and the various salt pans. At times it looks like the ground is covered with snow. The picture below shows the bags of salt ready for transport to wherever they sell it.
One of the sights that really amused us was the taxis in some of the Peruvian towns. We never had a chance to ride in one of these vehicles. They look like modified motorcycles with a two person passenger area in the back. Here are a couple of pictures of the taxis in Urubamba. I guess the one picture might be titled "Urubamba Taxi Stand".