Cuzco’s Surroundings, Peru

After the Inca trail we spent two more days in Cuzco to see some of the other sides it has to offer. There are probably enough sights and Inca ruins in the region to spent a full week only there but we decided not to buy the “tourist ticket” which is needed to see most of the Inca ruins because we already had seen enough on our 4-day track. Instead we visited some other sight nearby.

The day after the track we had a very long sleep to catch up on our loss of sleep during the last days. After breakfast, around lunchtime, we set out towards Zona X (Inca military training grounds in the north of Cuzco). On the way we got nearly eaten by two very agressive dogs but eventually reached the top of the hill where the Jesus statue if located. From there we had a nice view into Saqsaywamán, which sounds like “sexy woman”. There one of the fiercest battles between the Incas and the Spanish took places. Because afterwards Condors were feasing of the thousands of dead left on the battlefield eight Condors were incorperated into the code of arms of Cuzco.

After lunch in a tiny peruvian restaurant we started walking towards Zona X, but quickly have up. When we asked for the way we were told that it would be too far to walk there and back before sunset and we prefered to see the temple of the moon instead. However we got a good view over the Cuzco area and Saqsaywamán from the point where we turned around.

Overall there wasn’t too much to see at the Temple de la Luna apart from its altar, some stones tunnels and carvings into stone.

The next day promised two better known and very interesting but still less visited sights; the Inca sights of Maras and Moray. By bus and collectivo we got to Moray in the morning. Moray are circular but restored Inca terraces. These were used by the Inca as an agricultural laboratory where they experimented with different kinds of plants. The speciality hereby was that different microclimas (different temperature and humidity) at the different levels of this circular hole allowed the find out how to best cultivate certain plants.

From there we continued to the salt terraces of Maras by taxi. The view from the opposite hill was crazy with literally hundreds of pool full of saltwater and/or salt in all kinds of variations of white and brown:

The whole area is crossed by many little channels which bring the salty water, which exits the mountain nearby from a natural source, to the terraces. On the terraces it is stored and slowly dried out by the sun until only the salt remains which can then be easily extracted.

This system of extracting salt was originally introduced here by the Incas and salt is still produced here in the same way.

On the way back to Cuzco we had to wait quite a while at the side of the road but eventually a bus passed by and picked us up. It brought us back to Cuzco just in time to catch our nightbus to Nazca.

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