Peru - Sacred Valley

We hired a driver and guide to take us to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley.  Along the way we stopped at Chinchero, Morarys and Salina


In Chinchero we were shown how they spin, dye their wools and weave to the finished products.  It was absolutely fascinating how they obtained the many colours from natural sources to dye the wool and how the amount of time the wool was soaked determined the shade of colour. For example the cochineal insect (which lives on the local cactus plants), produces a brillant red colour (the girls also use it for lip stick, guranteed for 2000 kisses), but when mixed with lime juice turns to orange.

dying wool

I have seen people weave in many countries and it always seems to be slightly different to previous demonstrations

Everywhere the women were spining the wool onto a small wooden tool which looks like an odd shaped spinning top, as they worked, walked and is like they are doing it subconsiously

spinning wool

Once again we find a steep staircase to climb to the church at the top of the hill

step stairway

The church was built by the spanish conquestadors on top an original inca temple or palace.  They did this so that the towns folk would continue to worship there. 

Chinchero church

One unusual feature is 10 trapezoidal niches in which is is reckoned mummys of the inca ancients were housed.  It is told that the spanish burnt these, and then combined the ashes in the effigies of The Virgin Mary or other christian saints, to quickly convert locals to catholicism.

The country side was awesome


and very dry and barron looking.  It doesn't really rain in winter....the wet season is in the summer months

landscapeamazing clouds over the valley


and these clouds look like they are under the sky

cloud looking like they are under the sky

In the Inca times these terraces in Moray were created to test the ability of crops to grow in different climates.  Each terrace was 1 degree warmer.  Different soils were brought in from around the country to help with their testing.  It is believed that the crater  that the terraces are in were created by meators.  These terraces have been repaired to their former glory

Inca crop terraces

while these terraces are original.  The stones that have fallen from the terraces have been put into piles so that it can be restored in the future.

Moray in 0rginal condition

Next stop was the Sallinas salt mines

salt ponds

The salt that is collected from these terraces comes from one tiny stream which comes from within the mountains.  It is hard to believe that this little stream can provide enough water and salt for around 3000 salt pools.

stream that feeds the salt pools

These salt mines produce 3 different grades of salt which are used in food, salt licks for the animals etc  You can see 3 piles in the photo below which represent the 3 diferent grades of salt.

closeup of salt pond

Our last stop was at a chicha house where they make an alcoholic brew from corn.   A chicha house or shop is identified by a stick with a plastic bag tied on to it outside the shop door.

chi cha flagpole

It is amazing the varieties and colours of corn they have in Peru...around 200 different types.  A favourite nibble is roasted kernels.

sried corn hanging from the ceiling

This shop also made chicha flavoured with wild strawberries.  We tried both, Mel liked it, I found the flavour a little unusual.  Mel would describe the taste as burnt corn in dish water, disguising the flavour by adding wild strawberries.

chi chachi cha lady giving Mel a drink

While the locals drink chicha, they play this cool game where you have to try and get a large coin sized disc into the frog's mouth or into the holes around.  Each hole had a different score.

Chi Cha drinking game table

More photos can be found in the photo gallery