Scenic Free Choice - visit the Moray ruins and the ancient Inca salt pans. Tapas style dinner with a private performance by local musicians.
03.04.2015 - 03.04.2015
Had a great night's sleep and met with Amparo at 8.45 am for a briefing about our train trip and overnight stay in Machu Picchu. We have to pack down to our carry on luggage and our big bags will be collected tonight and sent on ahead to Cuzco and will be waiting for us in our hotel room on Sunday night. That's service!
Our Scenic Free Choice today was to visit the Moray ruins and the ancient Inca salt pans. We really had no idea what to expect and were absolutely blown away by both places.
First we stopped in a tiny village that dated back to the 15th century. All the buildings in the villages we have seen so far look like they are crumbling and falling down. This statue is dedicated to the local farmers and their wives.
The Moray ruins were amazing. They are situated at 3,500 m above sea level, which is 700 m higher than the Sacred Valley. Everyone seems to be over their bouts of altitude sickness but we became a bit breathless climbing the steps at the ruins. The village near the ruins dates back to the 15th century and as with many other Inca sites, it has a very sophisticated irrigation system. The history of the depressions is unsure but the temperature difference between the top and the bottom is about 15 degrees celsius and it is thought that the Incas used this to study the effects of different climatic conditions on their crops. It was an Inca experimental agricultural station and wild vegetable species that were inedible were modified and adapted for human consumption.
We had a group photo taken overlooking the ruins and walked right down to the bottom and back up again. We are certainly getting plenty of exercise. These are old Inca steps. Can you imagine climbing a mountain using steps like this.
We then continued on a very narrow, windy, dirt road to the ancient Inca salt pans.
We rounded a corner and nearly ran over this boy and his donkey.
As the bus rounded a corner and we got our first view of the salt pans, the whole bus went "WOW". They are amazing. They sort of remind us of Pammukale in Turkey, but they are calcium ponds.
There are three varieties of salt - white, pink and brown.. Anyone can harvest salt from the salt pans but they must be members of the local community. If you are a new member of the community, they must use the salt pan furtherest from the community.
Since pre Inca times, salt has been obtained from the Maras by evaporating salt water from a local subterranean stream. The highly salty water emerges at a spring, a natural outlet of the underground stream. The flow is directed into an intricate system of tiny channels so the water gradually runs down to the several hundred terraced ancient ponds. We tasted the water out of the spring and it was extremely salty. It was awful.
What a great excursion that was. It just keeps getting better and better.
The bus ride back to the hotel took about 40 minutes and we had a light sandwich lunch on the terrace and then went for a walk, back to Carlo's gallery to buy a Columbian angel. Interestingly, they are the same price at the hotel as they are at the gallery. It is amazing that everything seems to be open and it's Good Friday in a predominately Catholic country. Apparently, all the festivities start this evening.
We all congregated on the terrace at the hotel for some entertainment and a tapas dinner. We were entertained by a wonderful band called Expressio a Nadine. They were two guys who played pan flutes like you have never heard before. They really were fantastic. We danced and sang and of course bought a CD.
Early to bed as we have an early start tomorrow.
Some photos of our lovely hotel.