When we started our journey to Machu Picchu three days ago, we were up at 6am, ready and waiting with one bag between the five of us and warm jackets. On the way to our first destination, we pulled over at the side of the road so that everyone could take in the breathtaking view of the whole of the Sacred Valley and the Urubamba river.
Our first stop was huge inca terraces, we drove along windy roads all the way up the mountain and when we got to the top, as we’d gotten up so early, there was absolutely no one there. I actually had already been there on my inca trail tour but this time it was so peaceful and calming as literally we were the only people there.
We walked around the vast terraces until we got to an inca cemetery. If you didn’t have a guide you literally wouldn’t know, to the obtuse it just looks like a mountain with a few nooks and crannys, but on closer inspection you can see that they’re actually millions of perfectly formed holes in the wall that were tombs for the incas. Unfortunately when the Spanish invaded, they looted the whole cemetery and took all gold and pottery that was buried with the incas. We then climbed all the way to the top of the high inca ruins (so exhausting) to take in another view of the sacred valley.
On the way back down into Pisac village, as the inca ruins we’d just visited were filling up with bus loads of tourists, we stopped off at a local Pisac market, filled with silver factories. Peru is famous for the silver that it mines, and Pisac is becoming famous for it’s silver. Obviously we went into a little silver shop and met the owner and creator who showed us the skilful and very fiddely way that they sand the rocks down to the perfect size for the bracelet or pendant template.
As our bus climbed back up the mountain, on the thinnest and scariest roads, we began to see the huge valley below us. However this time it wasn’t a normal valley, it was filled with huge salt pans! It is so bizarre to have salt pans in the middle of the mountains but this is because for a bizarre reason, the river running down this particular mountain is salt water! The incas believed the sun god cursed them with the salt water but they soon realised it was a blessing, and created vast salt pans to collect salt at different thinkness and colour.
We then arrived at our lunch spot, it was about 2pm and we’d been driving all over the mountains all day. There was a tiny little market set up and then at the back was a wooden table and bench which we sat at with our boxes lunches of sandwiches, vegetables and lots of little snacks. All the snacks we didn’t eat, daddy then gave to all the little children in the market and they were so happy!
We literally walked about two minutes on from the market and came across three huge circular terraces, spiralling down to a much lower centre. There were three and the smallest and medium ones hasn’t been restored so the terraces were falling down in sections and the grass had over grown. Henry and I ran down to the centre of the smallest and back up and it took us about 2 minutes max. We then went over the biggest which was absolutely huge. These spiralling terraces are used to acclimatise plants as it’s much colder right in the centre in the middle than in the upper spirals. We climbed down the huge spiral, using the floating steps that the incas built into the walls of the terraces (these are surprisingly far apart, considering incas are very small people) and when we got all the way to the bottom, we had to trek back up to the very top – this took a lot longer than five minutes!
That was the end of our sacred valley tour and when we arrived at our hotel there was a pen with a family of llamas in, which obviously amused us a lot!