09.02.2014 - 12.02.2014 10 °C
With so many Inca ruins in Sacred Valley, any eager tourist needs to buy the Boleto Turistico to visit all or most, as the boleto provides serious discounts on entry fees to all of the sites, so we do, and spend the week visiting most...
On the way back from the Machu Picchu Expedition, we spent the night in Ollanta, a small lovely town still with Inca flair, because for some reason it was never fully demolished by the Conquistadors, and it is one of the oldest inhabited settlements on the continent, and because of this, Ollanta is more than just stop on the way to MP.
Inca ruins on a hillside, are within the city limits and provide great views of the town and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
This is where we start to appreciate even more the grandeur of MP, pretty much lower in altitude than Ollanta but being perched on a hilltop and extensive, deserves all the praise Professors Rodriguez asserted back in the days at History of Architecture class, it's all coming back now.
After Ollanta, on the way back to Calca, we stop by at Moray to investigate the Inca "laboratory" where they built concentric agricultural terraces to observe climate differences due to height variations on plant growing behavior, and produced the most efficient seeds of potatoes, corn, kinua etc.
This is another great example of Inca know-how and patience at work to achieve perfection, just like stone work all around the Sacred Valley.
Speaking of stonework, next up was Qenqo, a very small archeological site just outside Cuzco, which does not have any stone work standing at all, but has a small maze of caves and tunnels that make up a temple.
Slanted and slightly disorienting stone corridor leading up to the temple, resembles, or rather, might have inspired the slanted passageways in Torqued Ellipsis by Richard Serra.
A nice 2 Km walk down the hill from Qenqo is Saqsaywaman, AKA "Sexy Woman", as it is renamed for the tourists' sake.
Sexy Woman's got nice zigzagging curved stone walls as former fortifications, some still standing, some taken down and moved in to Cusco to construct new houses etc. after the Conquistadors conquered the city.
Ceremonial Plaza in the middle of the site is a vast manicured green space, larger than most of the public parks in Istanbul, and populated by animals too, in this case by a herd of camelids. Atop temple hill, there is the panoramic view of the town of Cusco.
The next day in Pisac, we first drive thru "Gringoville", a white men's neighborhood just outside town inhabited by hippies, spiritualists, esoterics and the like, who have migrated here in search of that special thing. Past the ghetto, we reach the top of the hill where the ruins are, from here it is a 3 hour walk back down to Pisac, but what a wonderful one it is.
The path takes one thru the military barracks, the ceremonial plaza, a cliff hugging trek that goes thru a cave tunnel, then out to the crop storage, then down to the old town and agricultural terraces, by the falls and finally in to Pisac proper, where the handicraft market welcomes all tired visitors.
Next up is Tipon, a site just outside Cusco, famous for it's use of irrigation channels, but it turns out to be a real trek to get there. Tax police are out for inter-city busses, thus most buses take detours, it takes 4 hours to get to the site. Once at the site we inspect the channels and settle in one of the houses for snacks. It doesn't take too long for lightnings visible beyond hills to get there and we are soaked in torrential rain in an instant. It is time to return home via Cusco, but all Calca bound buses take the long way out and apparently go back thru Tipon, so we end up going to the same town where we hadn't been before, twice in one day! Or is it the dizzy heights?