"Finding Nirvana is like Locating Silence" Jack Kerouac- Dharma Bums
The Sacred Valley, also known as the Urubamba Valley, is nothing short of magical. Not only for the beautiful scenery and plethora of Incan ruins, but also because of the soil. The soil here has never stopped producing. It is so rich in nutrients that famers don't have to rotate crops. There are over 4,000 varieties of potatoes that grow here, along with multiple varieties of corn, quinoa, kiwicha, cherries, peaches, and apples. The well designed Incan terraces and natural mountain scape create tons of different microclimates which allows for so many different things to grow here.
The terraces were designed to "flow" with the natural shape of the mountain. They helped not only with growing crops but also to slow erosion and stop landslides. Many of these terraces are still in use today.
While the ruins are impressive, the market is often the bigger draw. The market is held every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday (the main event being Sunday). The size of the market and the metal work are what make this market special. You can also find the typical touristy trinkets. We didn't have much in the way of extra space so we only purchased the essentials (White Chocolate Pisco, Chocolate Brazil Nut Spread....)
These minerals are real life tricksters! When you add water you get completely different color. For example, that dark green turns a brilliant purple
A sampling of the 55+ varieties of corn that grow in Peru.
Denny and our tour guide Dianna walking through the market.
I wish we had taken a picture of the name of this place. To us it seemed like we pulled up to someone's front yard who happened to be roasting cuy. It was very much like a community style backyard BBQ.
Denny tired to explain that the Guinea Pigs we were used to seeing were much smaller than this. Diana, our guide, explained that there were "Pet Sized" and "Lunch sized"...
They were bigger than we thought, so we opted to split one. I made Denny take the plate with the head...
Ollantaytambo is another set of ruins in the valley. I highly recommend hiring a guide. There is a lot to know about this fortress but you would never know it as there are no signs or placards to explain.
Do you see the angry looking face to the left of the grain storage? She is said to be the messenger of the creater God. You can also see a trail near the grain silos. We didn't hike up there but were told that the view of Ollantaytambo from there is pretty cool. The ruins are supposed to be shaped like a llama mama and her baby.
Amazing Incan stone work.
Whether you make it to the the ruins in Ollantaytambo or not chances are you will spend some time at the train station. Inside the station is El Albergue which is an amazing restaurant and hotel. Pictured below - Alpaca Burger and Quinoa Salad. So good.