The Sacred Valley




September 2011 • Canon 40D camera

The Sacred Valley or the Urubamba Valley as it is also called, stretches from Pisac near Cuzco to Ollantaytambo. It was once the center of the Inca civilization with its perfect climate, fertile land and strategic position.

The weather was bright and sunny as we drove this afternoon to the town of Pisac. Along the way we stopped at the viewpoint Mirador Taray. Here you witness the stunning view of the valley. We stopped to take some pictures and soak of the views before jumping back on our mini van.

Pisac market

We stopped in the town of Pisac to visit the famous market and to have lunch. The traditional market is located in the main square. It is a bright and colourful place with local handicrafts of textiles, ceramics, pottery and much more. It was a good place for me to get some locally handmade souvenirs opposed to the mass produce gifts at the tourist shops.

The designs were colourful representations of religion, myths, flora and history. I purchased some scarves and a Inca bowl from a local artist who agreed to take a photo with the bowl I bought. After spending an hour or so shopping we all met as a group to have lunch.

Did you know...

The Incas were amazing farmers. Their mastery of agriculture transformed the fertile lands with terracing hilltops and irrigation canals. With their skills in keeping the soil rich and fruitful they grew such crops as potato, corn, coca, beans, quinoa, grains, tomato and many more.

Pisac ruins

After lunch we had a nice way to burn off the calories by hiking 4km up to the Inca ruins on a hilltop. Gusts of wind would blow from time to time as we hiked up. As we slowly reached the top, the whole group layered back on our jackets as it was cold at the top with the wind blowing. Little is known about this impressive Inca settlement before the Spanish conquest. The ruins are spread out in a large area with religious, agricultural and military buildings.

Historians believe it was first set up as a military garrison to guard the valley against invaders. The first set of ruins is an urban settlement featuring living quarters and ceremonial baths. The spectacular agricultural terraces dominate the surrounding hillsides. I had to stop every once in a while to admire the views of the terraced hills against the backdrop of the valley. As you walk along the path up we passed by holes in the cliff face that were Inca tombs. They have long since been robbed by grave robbers.

The main complex at the top was the Intihuatana, the site's ceremonial center.It s considered one of the finest examples of Inca architecture. The precise use of this center is unknown, but the word means “place where the sun is tied”, a hitching post of the sun.

It was an important religious and astronomical temple. At the top we posed for a group photo before calling it a day. There was light drizzle of rain and in the distance we could see a rainbow in the sunshine.

Final thoughts

The ruins of Pisac is well worth the hike up. Another good example of Inca architecture along with some impressive views o the valley. As usual make sure to wear layered clothing and bring along a wind/rain proof jacket.

If it's a sunny day when you are visiting better pack the sun cream. The market in the town main square is a great place to find some locally produced souvenirs. You will be spoilt for choice so bring plenty of cash.

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