Exploring a new continent

Travel time: March - June 2010  |  by Dominik Weber

24 April - 1 May Cuzco: 29 - 30 April Sacred Valley

It was early in the morning and somehow, in this tiny village, all hostels seemed to be closed and no guard. Since I wanted to leave the town early anyway, I decided to sleep more or less on the street. I was looking for a good place to sleep and found a big place that seems to be a market place with a lot of wooden market stands. I didn´t know what it was, especially since I couldn´t find any traces of a market: everything was very clean, no meat anywhere, not vegetables etc. It was surrounded by a small wall with some closed doors, but beside that, it was open air. A good place for a few hours sleep (more about this place further down).
After three hours of sleep, around 5 am in the morning, I woke up and was looking for the first public bus to bring me via Urabamba to Maras. I enjoyed watching the people going to work at that time of the day and didn´t have to wait long for my 2x30 minute rides for hardly any money.
The bus doesn´t stop in Maras, but only on the street to Cusco. From the street is is about 45 minutes (or a taxi ride) to Marras. Since I wanted to have a trekking day, I decided for the walk. It was beautiful to see the landskape in the morning sun, some snow capped mountains in the back and everything in peaceful mood. Once in the village, I realized that there wasn´t much to see and I continued straight to the attraction there, the Inka terraces of Morras (yes, you need the Boleto Touristico for that, but there is a special one, only for the attractions in the Sacred Valley).
The Inka terraces are built in a circular shape right into the mountain. Today, we would consider it as a testing field for agriculture and that was also the purpose of the Inkas. Due to the shape, the various terraces have different temperatures (up to 15C difference from the top to the buttom), and it was an ideal testing field. Until today, it it not clear how the Inkas managed to keep everything moist and if the planned any water canalizing systems.

It was not only in the morning, but it is also a place that is not visited by may tourists. With other words, I was the only one and once I walked down the terraces (you can do that there!), you realized how big these terraces are! Every "floor" is about 3m high and a terraces is about 5m wide.
I understood my guide book that I can walk from there to the next Inka ruins, the saltines of Cacchi Racay. But asking the people at the ticket office there which way to go, the told me that I have to go back all the way back to Marras, where I came from. Only about 90 minutes walk! I was very exited to hear that!
But then something happens that I missed on other occassions and especially in the Colca Canyon. Since I was the only tourist there, one of the local guys who had ordered a taxi, asked me if I want to join him in the tax to Marras! That was a welcomed offer.
Once in Marras, I asked the taxi driver for the way and he showed me the way. So I took the way across the field. About 20 minutes later, a farmer in his car asked me where I wanted to go and I told him my destination. He told me that this is the wrong street and I had to go back almost to the village, and from there, there is a tiny walking way that I have to take. Well, I had no other option than to walk back again, but again, it was so nice that a local was helping me (on my trip later, I was only a tourist and nobody cares!).
I was doubting the way I was taking but I got assurance from other farmers and after 2 hours walk (lucky me, downhill!), I arrived at the Saltines of Cacci Racay. (Again) The Inkas built this construction of little terraces/tubs, where they were collecting the salt water that comes out of the mountain. The water evaporates and the salt was used. Today, they still produce salt, but it is more a tourist attraction rather than a economical production.

I was finishing my half day walk by walking further down to Urubamba from where I took the local bus back to Cusco. It was really a wonderful day.
Not so wonderful was my next day. I decided to book a tour through an agency (I used the same one as for the trip to Maccu Picchu). A full day trip to three various Inka sightes in the Sacred Valley, the three that I haven´t seen the day before. Well, it turned out to be a fully touristy trip, similar to my "famous" trip to the Colca Canyon.
About three big busses started that day to the valley and our first stop was at some market somehwere in the middle of nowhere. There, we could buy souvenirs (and this won´t be the last possibility for that day). Although we had a great guide, but the tour itself was just not what I was looking for on a trip to South America.
The first stop was in Pisac, where we could visit the ruins of a former village. The localtion of the village on the top of the mountain leds to believe that this was a holy place. Well, after seeing various ruins the last days, this was not the most exciting place to visit!
Next stop was at a restaurant with tourist buffet and I suppose Peruvian music. Well, I preferred to have a snack in a local restaurant.
From there, we went to Ollantaytambo, where I stay on the street over night. To my surprise, we stopped at the "market" where I slept the other night. Now everything became clear to me: the market was a tourist market and locals where selling their llama and alpaca sweaters and caps and selfmade jewelery there. No wonder, that I couldn´t find any traces of vegetables And the wall around was the "entrance wall" of the ruins of Ollantaytambo. If I had know that earlier...
Our last stop was in a small village where you couldn´t see anything. Really. It was cold and started to rain and the only attraction there was a market, where locals in the traditional habit explained a little bit the traditional way of spinning, weaving and coloring cloths. Of course, you had the chance of buying a Llama or alpaca sweater for your loves ones...
I was somehow happy being back in Cuzco that night.

A farmer that I shared the way with for a little while. We had a nice "men-to-men" chat. No, he didn´t speak English. No, I don´t speak Spanish. But that wasn´t a problem!

A farmer that I shared the way with for a little while. We had a nice "men-to-men" chat. No, he didn´t speak English. No, I don´t speak Spanish. But that wasn´t a problem!

The Inka terraces. For sure, a masterwork of Inka engeneering.

The Inka terraces. For sure, a masterwork of Inka engeneering.

The Saltines of Cachi-Racay.

The Saltines of Cachi-Racay.

My dinner: Guinea pig!

My dinner: Guinea pig!

"Security measurements" in Ollantaytambo. A small string "prevents" you from falling down 15 meters. If that works - I didn´t try...

"Security measurements" in Ollantaytambo. A small string "prevents" you from falling down 15 meters. If that works - I didn´t try...

My sleeping place during the day. In the background the ruins of Ollantaytambo.

My sleeping place during the day. In the background the ruins of Ollantaytambo.

© Dominik Weber, 2010
You are here : Overview The Americas Peru 29 - 30 April Sacred Valley
The trip
 
Description:
After working for too long without a real break, I decided to go on a long planned backpack trip. After changing the departure date and the destination several times, I decided to go to South America. Starting in Colombia, then Peru and finishing in Bolivia. At least, this was the plan but once on tour, you never know what to expect. This report is for all people asking how I am doing, but also for those who are thinking about doing something similar. I hope I can inspire them.
Details:
Start of journey: Mar 19, 2010
Duration: 13 weeks
End of journey: Jun 15, 2010
Travelled countries: Colombia
Peru
Bolivia
The Author
 
Dominik Weber is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 11 years.
Picture of author