The home of Peruvian pink salt is 10,000 feet high in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, 30 miles north of Cuzco, near the town of Maras. Here, more than four thousand small ponds of salt cluster together on a steep hillside. Each salt pond has a deed, like that of a deed to a house, and they are passed down from family to family, as they have been for centuries, since before the start of the Inca Empire. The pale pink salt contains magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, copper, and zinc and is believed to have curative properties by the local population.
Aguas Calientes, or Machu Picchu town, has come along way. It is slowly taking on the tourist feel of Cuzco with innumerable hotels, restaurants, and craft shops. Aguas Caliente (translated to Hot Water in Spanish because of thermal springs there), can only be reached by rail from Ollantaytambo. Therefore, much… Read More →
The Sacred Valley of the Incas (El Valle Sagrado de los Incas) is where it all started. Inca civilization began here when Manco Capac, as the legend goes, came upon the valley from Lake Titicaca and founded the city of Cuzco. One of the greatest civilizations the world had ever seen grew from there. The valley is dotted with spectacular Incan and pre-Incan ruins, not to mention the world-renowned site of Machu Picchu and several other lost cities.
There is an unmistakable calm air that surrounds Chinchero. The small market area, church, and grassy plain that make up much of the town seem raised up amidst a circle of tall mountains, such as the snowy peak of Salkantay. It feels secure and a bit mystical. It doesn’t have any large hotels or fancy restaurants. It has retained its simple Andean character better than other towns on the Sacred Valley tourist circuit.
The number of hikes available from Cuzco, Peru and elsewhere in the Sacred Valley of the Incas is baffling for anyone new to the scene. The crowds and high prices of the traditional Inca Trail have spurred the growing number of tourists that come tho the Andean city to look elsewhere to an array of alternatives, many of which are superior.
Even though train service to Machu Picchu has been interrupted for at least the next six weeks or so (FYI: a bus/train connection via Santa Teresa is supposedly in the works until it is repaired) and the Inca Trail is closed for it’s annual maintenance in February, there are still plenty of alternatives to spend your time in Peru. There’s much more to Peru than Machu Picchu. Sure, it’s a world wonder and a UNESCO world heritage site, but there’s 11 other world heritage sites in Peru too.