Visiting the Sacred Valley sites

One wonderful thing about the Valle Sagrado is that it has numerous Incan and pre-Incan sites to visit, not just Machu Picchu!

We decided to use one of our weekends and purchase the Boleto Turistico – Partial Circuit 3. This ticket was 70 soles (kids free) and includes Moray, Chinchero, Ollantaytambo, and Pisac.

We ended up hiring the taxi driver, Jorge, despite the weird situation of him asking us for money a few weeks earlier. He claims he just panicked under the emergency of whatever he had going on. For 250 soles he would drive us around for the day to reach all of the sites (minus Pisac) plus the salt flats at Maras/Salineras.

We started in Chinchero. This site was probably the smallest of the three but was still pretty interesting. There is a central church surrounded by a terraced hillside.

The stepped terraces of the Chinchero ruins.

There was more than we could reasonably explore with the kids. It was even a bit chilly in the morning, probably due to the altitude (Chinchero is located above 12,000 feet!)

Next we went on to see the salt flats. These were kind of nestled in a valley and looked like a large collection of shallow pools where the water flows in and collects, eventually forming salt. Families own the various pools and harvest the salt for sale. The area that you can visit is somewhat limited, primarily consisting of a couple of observation spots. We read later that this is actually a very recent change and probably only a month earlier you were allowed to get much closer.

Overview shot of the salt mines at Salineras from the entry roadway.
A photograph of the salt mines from the observation area with the mountains in the background.

Next, we went on to Moray. Moray is an archaeological site that the exact propose of is still being debated. One prevailing theory is that the Inca used it as an experimental agriculture site to test various crops under different conditions.

An overview of the ruins at Moray.

After Moray, Jorge took us to a restaurant to grab lunch. The restaurant was pretty clearly targeted at tourists and it became evident that he brought us there because he gets a free meal (and maybe a kickback). The lunch turned out to be a little mediocre. We’ve definitely had better in Urubamba for the same price or cheaper.

The vegetarian saltado at the tourist restaurant in Maras.

After lunch we had to make the slightly longer drive back to Urubamba and then up to Ollantaytambo. The ruins at Ollantaytambo turned out to be fairly large. We hiked most of it with our son riding in the carrier on my back (to the chagrin of my hips). We only skipped the one trail that looked a little treacherous and reminded us of our hike up Huayna Picchu from last year.

A small portion of the vast Ollantaytambo ruins with a bit of the town in the background.
The Ollantaytambo ruins crawling with people.

Ollantaytambo seemed like a cute town but maybe a little too touristy. Though we’d like to go back to visit some other parts of the town and maybe hike up to the other ruins that are free to access.

We ultimately decided not to go to Pisac the next day (the ticket only gives you two days to see everything) because the kids were worn out and we were a little tired of hiking around ruins. This might have upset Jorge a bit as he was probably expecting us to hire him for that as well. Oh well.

Published by devinberg

Associate Professor of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

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