Cusco is one of the best places to explore all things Inca, the Sacred Valley being just 20km away and the famous Machu Picchu accessible via a combination of bus, train and legs. The cost of visiting these world heritage sites is also quite substantial so another big hit against the budget.
Our first Inca experience's are centered around Cusco city. being the Walled temple of Saqsaywaman, the sacred rock of Qenqo, the Inca administrative site of Puka Pukara and the very impressive Aqueduct's of Tambomachay ( the later being the most impressive )
The stone work of the Incas is quite extraordinary, there are virtually no gaps between any adjoining rocks and all seem cut to perfection. When you compare that the current building method using mud and straw for construction ( Adobe ) you get the feel that all the skills of past generations have been lost and the later building construction techniques fall way short of what they were six hundred years ago.
The Sacred Valley is home to many Inca sites, we visited three.
Our first Sacred Valley site was the Inca City of Ollantaytambo, a well preserves city still partially inhabited today, huge agricultural terraces lead to the unfinished temple of the sun, how ironic that it was raining when we were there.
After Ollantaytambo we visited the hill side Inca city of Pisaq, very very impressive. The huge swirling farming terraces lead to the city which command superb views down the valley.
Our last stop was a real let down, Chinchero, this turned out to be a sham in the form of local handy craft and the inevitable shopping experience.
Balls of Vicuna wool.
Further out from Cusco are the huge Farming Terraces of Moray. Three huge circular and semi circular constructions than were made by the Incas to experiment with different types of crop, a sort of Inca nursery.
Some of the Farming terraces are over 150 metres deep.
The Farming terraces of Moray.
And a bug.
And potato fields.
One of the oddest things we encountered was the Salt mines of Maras. Apparently these were originally of Inca design and are still used today, terrace upon terrace of salt pans line the steep hillside of Maras. The salt is collected in the dry season and can amount to 150,000 tonnes of the stuff.
The Maras Salt terraces.
On the way back to Cusco we had a half decent sunset and had to drive carefully along a road that had collapsed due to the heavy rainfall.
So far our favorite Inca site has to be Moray. Tomorrow we have our long awaited trip to Machu Picchu.. see next blog.