Agricultural jewels of the Incas, Salineras and Moray

The Sacred Valley can be reached from Cusco in less than 70 minutes by car.

“What is so special about the Sacred Valley anyway?” people may ask. For anyone who gets out and explores the area on foot, or bike for that matter, they will soon understand the answer to that question!

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The Incas thought the Sacred Valley was an impressive and holy place.  As such, it is a place where many of their ruins are prominent features, strong and proud against the mountainous back-drop.

Most of the Sacred Avlley ruins were built in strategic, agricultural or sacred places. Almost every smaller valley heading out of the Sacred Valley hosts something rare and unique.

On one side of the Urubamba river, just outside of the town of Urubamba, sit the Saltmines (or Salineras) of Maras. They offer the visitor a unique photographic opportunity, nestled into the Canyon, featuring a fascinating mix of colors.

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Moray also offers something special to the visitor with its conundrum of concentric cylindrical terraces, which is very different to other Inca sites across the Andes. This is thought to have had an agricultural purpose, possibly test-farms but there are many other theories to the origins of this complex. 

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There are several ways to get to this wonderful place, it can be hiked or biked from the top to bottom!

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As part of the trip Apus Peru clients have the choice to do some down-hill mountain biking through the specatular surrounds, to get you down to the Sacred Valley floor. 

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Here is one of our guides, Jose, showing Apus Peru trekkers around.

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Many thanks to Thayer Allyson Gowdy http://thayergowdy.com/ and her partner for the great shots of this location from our Apus Peru ‘Shapes of the Past’ hike http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/shapes_past.htm that they took with us this year. We offer this hike on any day of the year, as well as a number of other one day hikes all within close reach of Cusco. For more information, please drop us an email at reservas@apus-peru.com . Happy Trekking!

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More than Machu Picchu: Moray & Salineras

The amazing concentric circles of Moray. Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

Written and photographed by Isaiah Brookshire

Most visitors to the mountains near Cusco come for one reason — Machu Picchu. But there is a lot more to the Sacred Valley than these ancient and wondrous ruins. Consider that the Boleto Turistico (an all-access pass to sites around Cusco) includes more ten different ruins and museums, and that there are many more sites not listed on the ticket.

The options for exploring near Machu Picchu are vast and well worth adding a couple days onto your trip. Below is one of the many day tours offered by Apus Peru. This, combined with one of Apus Peru other tours would be easily accomplished in a weekend and can be a great way to get acclimatized to the “high life” in the Sacred Valley.

Maras, Moray, and the Salineras

This is a great trip for anyone who is ready to get out into the Sacred Valley but wants to hold off a bit on serious trekking. On the way there, visitors traverse the rim of the valley where they are treated to spectacular views of snowcapped peaks and terraced hillsides.

Moray is completely different than any other Inca site. Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

At Moray, you’ll get a chance to see one of the most interesting and unique Incan ruins near Cusco; a series of concentric terraces once used for high altitude agriculture. At first glance, the scale of the place can be hard to grasp. But as you climb down to the lowest level, the profound size of these ruins becomes clear.

Now, only grass grows on the old stones of the Moray but visitors can still marvel at the disorienting construction and sample the superb acoustics of this sunken garden.

The enigmatic and fascinating salt pans at Salineras. Photo Isaiah Brookshire.

A downhill walk from the Moray through cultivated lands leads to the Salineras, a collection of evaporating pools carved into the hillside. These pools collect water from a saltwater spring through a series of ingenious channels. As the water disappears, it leaves behind a rich harvest of salt that locals collect and sell.

During the dry season, you’re likely to see people at work in the Salineras; cleaning, repairing, filling, or collecting salt from the pools. Nearby shops offer many different foods and seasonings that include the local salt.

Do the tour here! http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/shapes_past.htm

A local carries salt through the Salineras pans. Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.