Sun, May 30 Chinchero, Moray,SalinasdeMara,Ollanta

Trip Start May 22, 2010
Trip End Jun 03, 2010

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday, May 30th Chinchero Marketplace, Moray, Salinas de Maras, and Ollantaytambo

We made sure that we were out and on our way early so we'd be at the Chinchero Marketplace when it opened.  Don’t want to miss out on any of the great buys!  J 

Chinchero is dubbed the "birthplace of the rainbow" at 12,375 feet on an Anta plain in the Sacred

Valley.  Reportedly, the tenth Inca Tupac Yupanqui built his palaces here.  Several agricultural terraces, seats and stairways are carved into the rocks just outside the village.  Quechua speaking local peoples preserve the Incan customs and traditions.  On Sundays, such as today, the residents from surrounding villages gather at the main plaza and exchange their agricultural products and handicrafts using a pure barter system.  It was fascinating to see it at work, as potatoes were exchanged for tangerines, leeks exchanged for powdered dyes, corn meal exchanged for yarn!

While at the marketplace, our guide arranged for us to be given a presentation by a local family that does the preparation, dyeing, and weaving of the alpaca or llama wool.  In an outdoor patio of sorts, we were given Coca Tea while the young women of the family cleaned the wool (using the root of a local plant to make soapy water), spun it into thin strands, made different color dyes with berries from a prickly pear cactus and other plants, dyed the wool in hot water and then knitted it on looms into beautiful woolen paunchos, wall hanging, scarves, rugs, hats.  Some of the pictures below give you an idea of what we got to see at this presentation.  It was fabulous!

The marketplace was filled with the local residents. Some of the women that sell their wares are well into their 90’s and will let you snap a photo if you pay them a soles or two.  Some of the women like to show off their “superior” class level by wearing a white top hat instead of the traditional brown ones.  Even in this old Incan culture, there are “cliques”.  Amazing how some things just don’t change from country to country, age to age.

From Chinchero, we drove for about 1 hours to the Incan ruins of Moray.  Moray looks like it could have been an outdoor theater at one time but, in reality, is a grouping of what researchers believe may have been a laboratory of round terraces used to find the best conditions for different types of crops.   There are four overlapping muyus (slightly elliptical terraces) with each tier representing different temperatures, sun and shade exposure, and elevation.  They are watered by a very intricate irrigation system and they show traces of over 250 cereals and vegetables.  We were able to walk down into these circles, which are quite deep and large.

From there, we traveled to a very bizarre but fascinating sight!  Near the town of Urubamba in the Sacred Valley, is Las Salinas de Maras, or the salt pans.  This is an area where there are terraced salt pools carved out of the hillside.  Salt water bubbles from the Qoripujio spring and is channeled to shallow man-made pools.  The water evaporates as they’re exposed to the sun and the salt remains on the surface.  collected to be sold at market.   Each of the over 3000 pools are owned and maintained by individual families and sold at market.  Some produce more salt than others, some are dry and some still very active with salt production.  We were able to climb around and over these pool pods!

We had lunch at a marvelous stucco/red tiled hacienda called Tunupa overlooking the Urubamba River.  We sat on the outdoor patio, enjoying the sound of the rushing river water, the music of a fluted band and the breeze from the pleasant weather we were blessed to enjoy.  Pisco Sours came with a delicious Peruvian buffet.

On to another agricultural marvel . . Ollantaytambo.  It is often known as “a living Inca town”.  In or around the 15th century, Incan Emperor Pachacuti conquered and razed Ollantaytambo to make it his personal estate.  The town entertained many of the Incan nobility.  The series of carved stone terraces for crops are interwoven into this structure built for noble Incans.  It was built to protect the valley from invaders.  The terraces lead to the fortress, Araqama Ayllu.  The fort is made up of the Temple of the Sun, the Royal Hall or Manacaray, the Princess’ Baths or Banos del Princesa, and the Intihuatana, used to trace the sun’s path. and it is thought to be the start of the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  It is quite a climb but the view from the top is spectacular.  People have lived in this city since the 13th century.  It was originally name Qosqo Ayllu and is divided into individual canchas (courtyards).  Each courtyard has once entrance and, from the top of the terraced structure, it resembles a giant maze. 

The Temple of the Sun was never completed but it is thought to be one of the finest examples of Inca stonework found.  Six pink monoliths, designed to glow as the rays of the rising sun hit the structure, fit perfectly together.  The T-joints are filled with molten bronze, which hold the wall together.  Traces of the puma symbols can still be seen on the surface.  As in other Inca sites, the stones were quarried nearby.  In this case, they came from an adjacent hillside, moved down one mountain and up another using ramps.  These Incans were hard working, ingenious architects and engineers.
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Laurie on

love the picture of the valley from the fortress steps great job you guys! can't wait to see the next stop

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