Visiting the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Moray and Maras

Visiting the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Moray and Maras

The plan was to explore a bit of Cusco and visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas. I was quite excited about the excursion, to visit some places outside the city, and being in that amazing and historical valley! Not everything went as I expected, but still an amazing experience.

Isn’t getting easier…, during the dawn (4am) I had to knock my neighbors door and ask them to shut the fuck up! First in spanish, they didn’t understand which I thought it was due my Portuñol but according to Ramón it was ok, and then in English. Damn Argentinian people! We got rid of the Brazilians, then the Argentinians… Despite that, I had a better night of sleep.

Well, I really recommend that hostel to spend a few nights, but definitely avoid the rooms near the breakfast area! Casa Grande, and read the feedbacks, it’s always important to read them and judge by yourself through them. My opinion is that it was good enough for the price we paid for, I would rate a 3 out of 5 stars.

Llamas and Alpacas
Llamas and Alpacas

We had to wake up early due the excursion we had booked for the Sacred Valley, it is impossible to compare this guide with the one we had the day before, this one was just really bad and without facial expression! We had to say it is a joke after his jokes, even when we told them in his native language… How bad is that???

The general feedback about these excursions is that we went to places that otherwise we wouldn’t go, mostly because of lack of knowledge about the places. All of them totally worth the visit, but not running like we did AGAIN. This guy was so terrible that he menaced us, the tourists, that he would leave us behind if we arrive late. Well, it wasn’t nice, but everyone was on time… Did I already mention how bad the guy is?

The first stop is what I call the total dispensable highlight, it was clearly a stop to get money from the tourists. A market, in the middle of nowhere, and famous for something that I really didn’t care much about. The 15-20 minutes we spend there, we could use way better at any other of the stops. Well, at least I took some photos to llamas and to the landscape, which is always stunning in Peru!

View of Písac Ruins
View of Písac Ruins

Then we went to Pisac, the town, another stop for shopping but interesting one. Apparently that’s the Silver city/town of the Sacred Valley or even Peru, I can’t reckon the details now. The market is pretty cool, as the town itself, again…, a pity that we had very few time to enjoy it. After that was the archeological site, and that’s when I started to be really pissed of! We had half an hour for a site that requires at least 1 hour! We didn’t have even time to go to the ruins itself!

As I said before, otherwise we wouldn’t go there anyway, but it was the kind of excursions that I really hate and that I barely can enjoy, having to run to “enjoy” the very few minutes I have is not properly my definition of having fun… Ah, and this was also the place where I and Tajana got the first sun-burn…, only on the left side, since we were hiking in the mountain, and it was just for half an hour! The sun burn was pretty ugly though, the following days I had to put cream on it, I think I never had such a painful sun burn in such short period!

Andenes at the Sacred Valley of the Incas
Andenes at the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Then time for some lunch, a big self-service feast, where I ate like an animal! Well, here I don’t have much to talk about, just that we ate a lot! After that was time for one, if not the one, favorite places I have visited in Peru! Ollantaytambo! However…, we skipped it. Why? Because the three of us were more than pissed of with the tour, with the guide and with the very short time we had to enjoy the sightseeing places, and since we had to go to Ollantaytambo the day after we decided to postpone the archeological site for the next day as well. We had the Cusco ticket, why waste it on a flash tour when we could enjoy it on our way? We would be back to the Sacred Valley!

What have we done? We booked the hostel for the next night, in Ollantaytambo, and we went to the Hearts Café, more than a café though. Worth reading the linked page for more information! A very cosy place, good food and good mate de Coca. I will leave the photo about Ollantaytambo site for the next post, now just one of what happens when it rains there.

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We thought we got delayed and when we returned to the meeting point…, no one there! Oh gosh, did we just miss the excursion? Now what??? Oh, wait, that guy was in the bus with us…, and that one…! We are safe! We almost called a taxi to take us back to Cusco, but I am glad we didn’t, the next stop was the best of the excursion, in my opinion obviously.

Chinchero, 3,732m above the sea level! A very beautiful and cozy town, where we learned how to dye alpaca wool! I sooo regret not filming that, was really amazing to see in a slice of seconds wool to change from white to orange, purple, red and yellow! They use/used (probably they don’t use the artisanal way anymore) cactus bugs to dye wool! From all the photos I took there, the one I choose to post here is from that same workshop we had, imagine how impressed I wasn’t with that! Also, it was there were I bought an alpaca blanket for myself!

Wool and natural and traditional dyes
Wool and natural and traditional dyes

Tired like hell, all of us, and back to Cusco from our day trip through the Sacred Valley! I think I slept the whole trip back to the city, probably more than one hour… But still willing to enjoy the few hours left we had in Cusco, therefore after the arrival we went for a walk where I took some time for myself and photo-shooting in Cusco at night. Not much time alone…, but enough for a few photos (which I am looking into them now and check if the time worth anything). And time for a nice dinner at the Plaza de Armas, before going to bed.

Some kids approached me asking me to take some photos of them, at night and kids moving was a funny challenge, I wasn’t expecting any good result from that and the kid got “blurred”, but I like the effect of it anyway. Not a good photo, but funny for me.

On the way to Ollantaytambo, passing in Moray and Maras

Finally, an almost perfect night! We barely heard noise, which considering the previous days, it tasted like heaven! But…, and everything has a damn but, early americans complaining about the breakfast in a very american way, “A breakfast without eggs?? And who the fuck eats olives on breakfast??” Well.., heathy people eat olives, and healthy people don’t start the day with a cholesterol bomb…, just saying… But we were soo eager for our next destination, Ollantaytambo!

As agreed with our taxi driver on the second day in Cusco, we had a planned and private tour scheduled for this day, we had to wake up early (actually the day before we decided to reschedule the tour to two hours earlier because we really wanted to enjoy Ollantaytambo) and we had our taxi driver / tour guy waiting for us! He wasn’t our tour guy though, but he organized everything.

Packing everything into the “taxi” luggage (in Peru every car can be a taxi…, how delightful), and heading to our first stop which was Moray. That’s a known place, but I believe it isn’t that touristic yet, it wasn’t an easy way to get there, and not everyone hates their car like our driver…, the guy really didn’t care much about the holes on the street, nor how fast he was driving in a dirt road…, well…

It is starting to be repetitive, but all the landscapes are really breathtaking! Everything is so amazing that it is so hard to capture those moments and views with any camera, even worst when you have a cheap camera like I did… I don’t believe photos can describe what my eyes saw, just being there! Which is also a pity, is that it is already possible to see the destructive effects of tourism.

Moray is a very interesting place, and the best is that very few people were there, and when I say very few I mean to say less than 20! And it is priceless when you can enjoy a site without having to run for the next stop, nor having to wait for other people if you get tired! Excursions like the day before…, please…, don’t… Ah…, wait…, we had more after that.

After Moray, we went to Maras’ Salt Pounds, yeah the view is always great, yeah you also can see Salt Pounds in Europe…, but not pre-Inka Salt Pounds! Damn, those guys were really advanced! It is such a pity that the Spaniards (and the Portuguese…) destroyed part of those wonders.

Moray Inca Ruins
Moray Inca Ruins

Just to remind, that the roads to reach these two places are really in bad shape, but I am sooo glad we did that! After that we head straight to Ollantaytambo, and I was really eager for that place! The day before we skip the archeological site, this day was the day!

We left our stuff at the hostel, unfortunately Tajana had to stay there…, the altitude sickness was starting to give the first serious signs…, and I and Ramón went for a late lunch, and what a lunch… I don’t recommend that place to eat! I just asked for some thing light, a salad, and after a lot of time we were served…, and I had the wrong salad. I don’t like to be picky, but it had happened before with me several times and I was not in the mood to get the wrong dish this time. I sent it back, and I asked what I have ordered…, but the guy didn’t trust me and went back to double-check with the other waiter if I really had order what I claimed. Seriously??? Guess what? The second salad was similar to what I’ve ordered, but not exactly what was in the menu and that I was paying for. Ok, no more bitchy mode, I just ate. When we were paying, Ramón realized that he also didn’t get what was in the menu!! Nice view, bad service! I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it in the train station road by the river!

Day of light rain, cloudy sky awful for nice blue-sky photos…, but not that bad that it could end. We went to the top of the ruins, and again, I was soooo glad we skip that part of the tour the day before! I lost the track of time, but we enjoyed it twice or more the time the tour guide gave to the group to explore that site!

Visiting the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Moray and Maras
Visiting the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Moray and Maras

During the walk, what I thought it was the food taking effect, now that I am writing this I know that was already the altitude sickness. I have a small note-book where I write some topics about the day to help me write my blog post, and I wrote that the food was taking effect, needless to say what I am referring to, right? During the following days I noticed that it was really the altitude and travel sickness…, this was the first sign.

It was time for a snack / dinner at the Hearts Café where we met with Tajana again…, but we forgot about the time-detail on women perspective…, we had to WAIT! Yeah, that’s really a cool and cozy place, totally it’s worth the visit. On what concerns my sunburn…, oh gosh, that hurt a lot! I had to buy sun-cream for the following days, and a cream for the sunburn. What half an hour can do to one…

This was the 5th day in South America, we had very tiring days and the jet lag forced us to go to bed earlier than normal. Now that we (or at least me) were starting to get into the timezone, we were forced to go to bed way early, the next day was THE day! Waking up isn’t a problem when you know you’ll have the time of your life!


By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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