Isla Yanacocha

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3 travelers at this place

  • Day20

    More Exploring in the Sacred Valley

    November 15, 2019 in Peru ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    Sacred Valley. House:, (Casa Killaunu) , Moray archeological and Museo Inkariy

    We woke to the sounds of drizzling rain but more comforting, to the sounds of the chef and helper starting to cook breakfast. What a feast – hot chocolate quinoa porridge, scrambled eggs cooked with herbs, fried potatoes of course, (did we mention there are 3000 varieties of potatoes in Peru), and fried plantain. After we stuffed ourselves, we were picked up about 10:00 am in a sparkling white van by our driver, Gabriel, to take us to Moray a 30 km trip from the house and 7 km west of Maras.

    We drove to Urubamba and then turned off to climb uphill for about half an hour. We came to the town of Maras a typical Peruvian village where we saw the normal Peruvian dress worn by both men and women. We continued on uphill through beautiful agricultural fields. We saw many tourist buses and also ATVs ridden by tourists over very muddy terrain. When we stepped out of the lovely white van the sides were coated in red mud.

    Moray is an archaeological site in Peru approximately 50 kilometers northwest of Cuzco on a high plateau at about 3,500 metres and just west of the village of Maras. This area was discovered in 1932 and contains unusual Inca ruins, mostly consisting of several terraced circular depressions, the largest of which is approximately 30 m deep. As with many other Inca sites, it also has an irrigation system. During the rainy season, we would expect the site to turn into a giant pond but because of the terraces, how they were built, the materials within them, the terraces never get flooded.

    The purpose of these depressions is uncertain, but their depth, design, and orientation with respect to wind and sun creates a temperature difference of as much as 15 °C between the top and the bottom. This landmark site was likely used for farming and soil samples have shown that soils were brought in from different regions to be used in helping grow crops at the different levels of the terraces. The circular shape enabled a lot of testing for crop culture as well: if the crops were facing north, south, east or west, the amount of sunshine they received varied considerably. Therefore, the Incas could experiment and study what crops grew better in what conditions and get fundamental knowledge that they could apply to their large-scale crop cultivations elsewhere. It is said that with a structure such as Moray, the Incas were able to reproduce the various climates found across their empire, from sea level to high altitude.

    We spent about an hour and a half touring the site. The terraces wound around and in the walls were embedded steps reaching about 8 feet high to allow the Incas to move from one terrace to another. We definitely could feel the changes of temperature as we went down into the center. We don’t know but maybe thousands of years ago the crater may have been formed by a meteorite, all speculation on our part as even Archeologists have not figured out much about the site.

    There were many tourist buses that had come from Ollantaytambo and Cusco and the people were spending very little time there as they were trying to fit 3 or 4 Inca sites into a one day excursion, We are glad we have taken a few days to take our time exploring this fascinating area. We drove back down into the Sacred Valley to Urubamba, stopped at the Scotiabank ATM to stock up with Soles and then continued on to see a museum.

    Museo Inkariy is a giant of a project that took thirteen years from first planning its creation to finally opening its doors in 2015. It’s unique in that it is the first private-run Peruvian museum in the Cusco region and is more like a cinematic experience than a traditional museum visit. The museum is divided into nine different pavilions each showcasing one of the most important pre-Hispanic Peruvian cultures, over 5000 years of civilizations including Caral, Chavín, Paracas, Moche, Nasca, Wari, Lambayeque, Chimu and Inca. The descriptions and artifacts and lifelike displays were amazing and as we went through the rooms it brought together much of what we have learned throughout our trip.

    Each culture is showcased in two parts. First, elements of each culture including dress, customs, beliefs and art are explained in an ‘ante-room’. You then move to the second part of each pavilion, where an iconic scene is recreated from each culture. The Paracas room recreates a typical burial scene, while the Wari cultural recreation showcases a warrior making their weapons. Statues and sculptures are very realistic with extreme attention to detail including wrinkles, tattoos and perfectly styled hair! Even the body types of each character were meticulously researched to represent for example the body type and facial structure of a Wari warrior or an Incan ruler.This museum surpasses all expectations and is well worth a 2-hour visit.

    We returned to our house to have a late lunch sitting on the patio and then Lee spent 3 hours writing our Blog.

    Tonight, we are using up the leftovers from the 2 sensational dinners that our chef cooked for us. I hear very animated conversation downstairs, so this is the end of my typing.
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  • Day21


    November 16, 2019 in Peru ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    Sacred Valley House: Casa Killaunu. Pisac Inca Site and town of Pisac

    We had breakfast around 7:30, eggs and fruit and granola. Kevin came and picked us up around 9:00 and we headed through Calca to Pisac another Inca site. We didn’t have much information before we left so we’re unsure of what the hike would be like. We drove to the top of where the buses could go, negotiating switchbacks and very bumpy roads. When we reached the parking area, we experienced the usual number of sellers with all their wares on display. We proceeded along the path to look at a map that seemed very complicated. Our goal was to visit the archeological sites located at the top of the mountain and then work our way down the mountain into the village below. We realized that because of the large number of people there and the vastness of the area, we would have to move at a bit of a pace to meet our driver in the village at 3:00.

    The Pisac ruins are among Peru’s most intact ancient sites, and a perfect example of ingenious Inca architecture. They are built on top of a mountain that towers over the small town of Pisac; the views of the countryside are spectacular, and the ruins and their makers are remarkable. The exact date of construction is unknown, but the ruins are believed to be either a gift to Inca nobility, or a defense against the invasion of Cusco. What is certain is that the site served more than one function. With military, religious, and agricultural structures, the site served at least three purposes and was able to support a whole community, even a small city, of Incas. The sweeping terraces are stunning to look at from afar and are a distinct feature of Inca agriculture that you’ll find all over the Andean countryside. The Incas would grow their crops along the terraces to sustain their mountain-perched city. We decided not to use a guide and set off climbing upwards. It was fairly tough going as the steps were quite high and because it was Saturday there were lots of people going both up and down. We reached the summit of one area and then Gary, Karina and Don went up higher to try and figure out where we could pick up the trail that was supposed to take us back down. They decided we must have gone the wrong way, so we headed back down the way we had come up. Gary and Karina suggested that they really didn’t know where to go so we said we would head back to the parking lot and they should carry on trying to find the trail. We slowly walked back to the parking area and negotiated a price with a taxi driver to take us back down to the Pisac Market in the main square. This is where skilled artisans craft ceramics, textiles, and silver jewelry with Andean motifs, and where indigenous people from surrounding communities come to barter for goods in the local language, Quechua. They say that Sunday is the best time to see the market, but it was certainly interesting even on Saturday. We spent a couple of hours browsing the very large market and finally heard from Gary that they were almost back down off the mountain. As it turned out we made the right decision not to do the hike down. Gary and Karina were exhausted and said it was probably the toughest hike they had done. We found a small restaurant and ordered milkshakes, 3 Mango and 3 Chocolate. Lee took Karina and Judy to buy Christmas tree ornaments and then we wandered back through the market to find Kevin, our driver. The ride back was quiet as everyone was tired.

    We spent the afternoon transferring Gary and Karina’s pictures onto backup disks using Lee’s MacBook computer. Then Gary set up so we could see their pictures of our hike from the 104 km on the Inca Trail as well as tour of Machu Picchu and the 2 hikes in the valley, on the T V.
    Dinner tonight was cooked by 2 girls, the one who had helped Julian, our chef and another girl. We had a delicious tomato a soup, a beef dinner with rice, potatoes and everything was so good. They also gave us a big pitcher of warm pear juice. We have so much leftover we will have a great breakfast.

    Having our dinners cooked for us has been wonderful and they have all been traditional Peruvian meals. The dishes were all washed for us and we have felt totally spoiled.

    Tonight, we packed our cases as we will leave to go back to Cusco tomorrow morning. It seems a shame we can’t stay a few more days in this beautiful valley and very comfortable house.
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  • Day19

    Sacred Valley

    November 14, 2019 in Peru ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

    Sacred Valley. House: Casa Killaunu Ollantaytambo.

    Today we planned a trip to another Inca archeological site, Ollantaytambo. Our driver who spoke no English picked us up in the morning and headed to the site. Along the way we spotted some structures high up on a cliff. The unique “hanging” hotel, which is made up of four transparent pods suspended by cables, 400 metres above the ground. You can only get there after you climb 400 meters up the rock face or hike a challenging trail featuring a zip-line network. Check out Skylodge Adventure Suites Peru. Our driver stopped and we got out to take a closer look. It sure is not for anyone who does not like hikes.

    While we were parked a little girl came along and showed us some woven bracelets, of course I had to buy some.
    We arrived at the Ollantaytambo site and while we were checking in several guides came to offer their services. We declined as we were prepared to do this on our own. Mike did not want to climb, and Don wasn’t sure he wanted to go very far up either. Gary and Karina were keen to go so they started, and Judy and I said we would just go a little way at our own speed. As it turned out Judy and I made it to the top and said that was it for us. We took our time coming back down as the steps were very steep and nothing to hang on to. Gary and Karena continued on across the top and came down further over and met us at the site base. We wandered around the market and bought a few Peruvian woven placemats and table runner. Lee enjoyed bartering and the rest left me to get the price I wanted. From there the four of us took a taxi back down to the town and enjoyed browsing the large market there. Gary and Karina decided to walk back down to the town and really had an adventure but said that they were glad that Judy and I had not gone with them. It was far longer than they anticipated and quite difficult. Once they arrived in the town, we headed straight for a shop selling “helado”, ice cream, and sat out on the sidewalk and heard G and K’s account of their descent.

    A little history about the town: In the middle of the 15th century, Emperor Pachacutec conquered the region, in the Sacred Valley of south Peru, set on the Urubamba River amid snow-capped mountains. He destroyed the existing town and settled there to found Ollantaytambo and incorporate it into the Inca Empire. Pachacutec ordered the construction of the main buildings of the current archaeological site of Ollantaytambo to be his royal estate. These structures were used as astronomic observatories, agricultural, urban and administrative purposes. Major sites within the complex include the huge Sun Temple and the Princess Baths fountain. The fortress was the site of the greatest Inca victory over the Spanish during the wars of conquest. The Manco Inca fled here in 1537 with a contingent of troops after the disastrous loss at Sacsayhuaman and routed the Spanish forces led by Pizarro. The victory was short-lived and Pizzaro regrouped and took over the fortress.

    The village's old town is an Inca-era grid of a walled city block each with one entrance leading to an interior courtyard surrounded by a collection of houses and adobe buildings. A central square and cobblestoned street finish off the very quaint and pleasant town. The village stands very much like it did 500 years later. Most of the walls still intact due to the clever building of them by the Incas.

    We all wandered around the town bought some cheese and bread for our hors d’oeuvres, then went separate ways each exploring on our own. Gary bought a hat, on his exploring that Don really liked so Don and I headed back up one of the steep side streets and Don also bought a hat. We enjoyed sitting in the town square watching the children playing and the Peruvians going about their daily business as well as the street vendors selling their souvenirs. Our driver arrived to pick us up around 4:00 and drove us back to our house Casa Killanau. We sat out on the patio and enjoyed a lovely time outdoors, planning what we would do the next day. Our chef and his assistant arrived to create a feast for us of trout and many vegetables including a delicious squash soup, with enough leftovers to have another meal later. We played cards and headed to bed for an other well-earned sleep.
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Isla Yanacocha

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