Although many tourists see Cuzco as just the pit stop before Machu Picchu, you’ll quickly realize the city’s cobblestone streets, vibrant plazas, and colorful locals will make you want to linger just a little bit longer.
Another reason why you’ll find yourself lingering the ancient city is because getting to Cuzco is a mission and a half. In 2017 it still takes (at least) a 16 hour bus ride from the nearest big city to get there. From this, I’ve drawn two conclusions. Either the Incas we’re an anti-social bunch and felt the need to settle as far into the Andes mountain range as one could get, or quite simply, life was bliss in their hidden corner of the world, so they made Cuzco the capital. I say it’s both.
As capital of the Incan empire, Cuzco is the heartbeat of the Sacred Valley. Just a couple hours away, in every direcion, there are wonders to be seen. My sister and I were able to check out:
-Salineras de Maras
Because the valley is deep and nearly all arable land is on an incline, the Incans developed a mindblowing terracing system allowing them to cultivate their crops, and most importantly…their 5,000 types of potatoes, Peru’s pride and joy.
Pisac & Moray
Ruins of Pisac
The most astonishing terrace job in the Sacred Valley, for me, were the ruins of Pisac and Moray. I distinctly remember asking questions non-stop. How did they do it? HOW did they manage to level out the mountain to perfection so that it would not only be efficient, but so magnificent to look at!
I’m convinced the Incas were superhumans.
Ruins of Moray
Salineras de Maras
At the terraced ruins of Pisac and Moray, you can only wander so far. There are designated paths you must follow and you soon fall into the beeline of tourists scrambling their way around. At Salineras de Maras, we were able to roam freely, and that’s exactly what we did. These cliffside salt pools had us giddy like kids on a playground, and we had no shame! We ran up and down, and from one side to another, crunching the salt rimmed borders of the pools, trying to stay dry and putting on a show for the nearby locals. Just a couple of salt pool fools.
Salineras de Maras
another city in the Sacred Valley has some impressive ruins and views. Although it’s slightly overrun by tourism, the ruins are still noteworthy and incredible. The Incas have mastered the art of turning the chaotic, rough edges of the Andes into smooth, even surfaces…once again, proving my point that they were superhumans.
Along the way, we met some locals, humans and animals alike.
The coolest part was how the people and their pets are bilingual, speaking both Spanish and Quechua.
Cuzco has a side of it that doesn’t get the hype it deserves, but I’m sure that anyone who strolls through this city brimming with history, will feel like they’ve stepped into another time and into another world.
Till next time Cuzco! May your ruins keep leaving visitors in awe and feeling incompetent.