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Machu Picchu and the sacred valley
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Monday, 21 May 2018

West of Cuzco is the huge valley of the Rio Urubamba. Its fertile land has been the cradle of the Inca, who built there numbers of temples and fortresses, most of them being still visible. We take our time to visit this scenic road, ending at the famous Machu Pichu.

MP MP

After leaving Cuzco, our first stop is at Maras salt pans : more than 5000 terraces retaining salty water, dating from the Inca and still used nowadays. The scenery is gorgeous, and we can admire the local workers gathering the salt.

maras 1 maras 1 maras 2 maras 2

We continue to Moray site, which function hasn’t still been understood. These are circular and concentric terrace fields, where each “floor” would have its own micro climate...

maras to moray maras to moray moray moray

Next stop is at Ollantaytambo fortress, the only one which stood the spanish attacks. It’s indeed a whole city, with the original streets and water channels, permanently inhabited since the XIIIth century, overlooked by a fort and a temple of the sun. Walking in this centuries old streets (now filed with handicraft shops), we travel in time and imagine the retreat of Pizzaro’s army, running away from the flooding created by the incas.

Ollantaytambo 1 Ollantaytambo 1 Ollantaytambo 2 Ollantaytambo 2

We visit also the abandoned site of Huchuy Cuzco, after a difficult climb on very narrow hair pinned road, which curves are too tight for our car’s turning circle, as well as Pisac ruins where we can admire the Inca terraces at sunset.

Huchuy Cuzco Huchuy Cuzco route Huchuy Cuzco route Huchuy Cuzco

Pisac 1 Pisac 1 Pisac 2 Pisac 2

Pisac 3 Pisac 3

We drive some more kilometers, cross a pass in the clouds, avoid 3 accidents (they drive like maniacs here) and arrive at the end of the road. We have to leave the car and walk the last 10 kilometers along a railroad to reach the last village at the foot of Machu Pichu. The many trains very regularly whistle to move the many tourists walking on the tracks.

road to MP road to MP rail to MP rail to MP

The next day, we wake up (far) before dawn but there are already hundreds of tourists queuing for the buses. We wait while eating the pastries from the french bakery of the town and eventually reach the site at the top of the mountain just before the opening. We enter the world famous Inca city just after sunrise and it deserves its world reputation : it’s gorgeous! An incredible cluster of buildings, houses, temples and terrace fields nested between 2 mountain peaks. Actually, no one really knows much about it, because it was completely forgotten before its “discovery” in 1911. Some think it was already abandoned at the spanish conquest, some other think it was built afterwards to preserve the local culture... It’s sure that it’s included in an important network of Inca cities, connected all together by walking paths, the “Inca trails”.

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We climb hundreds of steps to the highest summit above the site. Happy to be among the first at the top, we discover the view... of the clouds. We’ll have to wait about one hour for the clouds to clear and to enjoy the magnificent panorama. Once back down, we walk in the site (really huge) with some lamas posing for the pictures. There are a bit too much crowd for us (up to 2500 visitors per day), but not enough to spoil the moment.

MP 1 MP 1 MP 2 MP 2

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After that long day (including the 10 kilometers walk back to the car), we spend the evening soaking at a thermal bath.

termas colcamayo termas colcamayo

 

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