SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS
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PISAQ ARCHAEOLOGICAL COMPLEX.- In the upper part there are the remains of this re-Columbian settlement located a few kilometers from the mestizo town. It takes up an entire mountain made up of different neighborhood or squares, the main one being Intiwatana, which is admired for the architectural skill with which its constructions were built. At the same time, the pre-Hispani cemetery is also of great interest as it is the largest found in this part of the continent. There are thousands of tombs, some of them looted. The complex is also famous for the colossal terraces that circle the mountains and the fabulous watchtowers which were used as observation points as well as for control and military defense.
This area has a beautiful landscape, surrounded by the Pitusiray and Sawasiray snow-capped mountains. The archaeological complex of Huchuy Qosqo is located in this province, as well as the medicinal hot mineral baths of Machacancha (sulfurous hot water) and Minasmoqo (cold bubbling mineral water)
It is located 50 km from Cusco.
A historic area, Yucay is a pretty valley inhabited by the Runas of the Tahuantinsuyo who built impressive works of agricultural engineering. This area is important for the palace of the Inca Sairy Tupac 11, a construction made of stone and adobe mud brick with haute- and bas-relief decorations. It was a center of agricultural production for the Incas because of its mild climate, fertile land, abundant water and vegetation, especially fruit trees.
From Pisac to Urubamba
From Pisac, following the Vilcanota River towards the west, the narrow route between the river and the hills passes through the towns of Calca, Yucay and Urubamba before arriving at Ollantaytambo. Yucay is associated with some important events in Incan and colonial history. In the spacious Plaza de Armas we find a beautiful, impressive tree, the pisonay, whose leafy branches and beautiful flowers grant the town an air of festivity and elegance. The ruins of the Palace of the Inca Huayna Capac can also be found in this area. Urubamba is not located far from here.Like many places along the valley Urubamba is in a fine setting with snow-capped peaks in view, it has many restaurants and pleasant dining areas with reasonable prices. The nearby White Mountain range provides the area with scenery of extraordinary beauty. The town offers the visitor a wide range of possibilities for rest and lodging, and includes a number of hotels and other lodging houses.
Located 78km from Cusco via Pisaq and 57km via Chinchero, it is located in the heart of the Sacred Valley and is known as the “Pearl of the Vilcanota” with beautiful countrysides and a healthy climate, located at the foot of the majestic snow-capped peak Chicón.
Urubamba, the archaeological capital of Peru, has many possibilities for tourist activities, especially adventure tourism because of its natural beauty. In the rain season there is an abundance of seasonal fruit. The area was also a pre-Hispanic agricultural center.
Once can see the architectural style of its streets and squares which are distinctly pre-Hispanic, with enormous polyhedrons forming the walls and trapezoidal doors of temples and palaces. The urban distribution was set along rectilinear and narrow streets which have been inhabited constantly by natives since the Incas’ time.
A former Inca agricultural center, this district of the province of Urubamba i made up of 10 “Ayllus” or indigenous communities. Located at 3,762 mete above sea level, Chinchero is 28 km down a modem highway from the Cusco tourist circuit. It possesses a beautiful Andean landscape and is surrounded by the year-round snow-capped peaks of Chicón, Wequey Willca (commonly Calle Puna Sillo or Veronica).
The current town of Chinchero is a blend of Andean and Hispanic architec and is also home to a unique archaeological complex, with the remains o buildings, places of worship, and terraces for crops and for foundations.
It boast a beautiful colonial church with paintings by famous indigenous artist Chiwantito There is also a typical Sunday market, colorful and authentic where indigenous peasants from different communities congregate to trade their goods, not only in money but also trading by barter. It is well-known for its woven handcraft of the region.
Maras salt flats and the circular ruins in Moray
Maras, from which one can reach the salt flats and the Moray ruins, is located on the northwestern side before entering the city of Cuzco.The salt flats display a spectacle of unusual beauty. Located on a wide-open hill above the Urubamba Valley, the salt water runs along channels, which extend through the flooded lands and follow a more or less rectangular pattern, depending on the variations in the land. The water, which is exposed to the sun, leaves salt on the bed. Viewed from the peak, the myriad of rectangles look Like an enormous painting designed by nature.Inland, not far from Maras, one can find the Moray ruins, there are three “colosseums” , used by the Inkas as a sort of open-air crop laboratory ,the terraces arranged in concentric circles and spread out at intervals from the lower to the upper region. are reminiscent of a Greek theatre. For this reason, it is not clear exactly what role they played. The structure of these terraces seems to suggest agricultural activity which employed the air circulation within the circular area and the advantages offered by this type of construction for employing ram water as well as water from nearby regions.
Maras salt flats
There is a variety of delicious gastronomic specialties. Those that stand out are corn-based dishes such as corn-on-the-cob with fresh cheese, corn cream, tamale pastries and corncake, as well as fried trout, pork fritters and stuffed chili peppers called “Rocoto”. There are also typical drinks such as chicha de jora (maize beer), white chicha and from November to March, a fruit drink based on wild strawberries.
HUNTING AND FISHING
River fishing can be done from April to October and small scale hunting in the surrounding of the valley.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The valley is mainly agricultural, where the finest corn in Peru is produced, one that is highly nutritious and of excellent quality. The area also produces varieties of potatoes, cereals, greens and fruits like apples, peaches, plums and strawberries as well as a variety of decorative plants. The fauna includes a great variety of animals such as deer, the vizcacha rodent similar to a rabbit, minks, skunks, foxes and pumas. There are also birds like doves, thrushes, goldfinches and hummingbirds. The Vilcanota or Urubarnba River is rich in salmon trout and rainbow fish. It also has plenty of cattle, sheep, pigs and horses.
EXCURSIONS AND TRANSPORT
There are several travel agencies in Cusco which organize excursions and trips to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and if only transport is needed, it is recommended to take the tourist services.
This beautiful and suggestive valley between the towns of Pisaq and Ollantaytambo was greatly admired by Peruvians’ ancestors due to its special conditions such as its beneficial climate, its fertile lands and the presence of the Wilcamayu or Sacred River.
Andean Man, with the incentive provided by the qualities granted by Mother earth, built architectural constructions related to agriculture, which was the ancient Peruvian’s main activity.
In this area, the Incas found the perfect place to leave proof of their intrinsic knowledge of hydraulic engineering and their deep love of nature. This is why today still stand aqueducts, irrigation canals, the damming of the Wilcamayu River, imposing sets of terracing and centers of worship of Mother earth or Pachamama. This is the area called the Sacred Valley of the Incas.