Cusco, situated in the Andes, in south-eastern Perú, was the capital of the Incan Empire. It is surrounded by sites of historical and archaeological interest. The modern day wonder of the world, Machu Picchu being the most notable.
Tourism is big business in Cusco and there are some disreputable companies ready to take advantage of people easily parted from their cash. Happily, there are other companies who, while not being the cheapest, offer a good service. Also you can buy a tourist ticket which lasts up to 10 days and gives you entrance into many of the sites in and around the city. It is a good way of saving money.
Having visited a lot of the sites around the Sacred Valley and my Boleto Turistico expired, I decided to take the tour bus and have a look at the city from a different perspective. The bus departed from the Plaza de Armas at about 5 pm, which was shortly before dusk.
Cusco Bus Tour
Church in the Plaza de Armas
Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas
Not so narrow street in the old city.
Not another storm brewing.
Modern art at Qoricancha
Cyclamen on a shelf
As we climbed the hill, the sun began to set and the various cloud formations became more noticeable.
Marble type clouds.
Candy floss cloud.
Where´s my umbrella?
Clouds at sunset.
As the bus began its descent back toward the city, darkness fell and still marvelling at the light show that nature had provided, I decided to take some photos of the city lights. Not easy when you are on a bus, especially as it goes over speed bumps.
Moray, in the Sacred Valley near Cusco, is the site of an amphitheatre, believed to be constructed by the Incas as a laboratory for testing the viability of crops. Each terrace had its own micro-climate and had soil imported from different parts of the surrounding countryside. The temperature difference between the top and bottom levels can be as much as 20ºC.
Backdrop to the Amphitheatre at Moray
The third of the bowls.
From Moray, staying in the Sacred Valley, we moved on to Maras and the salt mines. Access to the mines is via a narrow track into the valley.
The salt mines have been in use, apparently, since the time of the Incas. Salt water is fed in from an underground source and is channelled into the many filter pits before being harvested.
Continuing on our journey through the Sacred Valley, after lunch in Pisac, we headed for Ollantaytambo, a city about 65 kms from Cusco. I had passed through Ollantaytambo on my way back from Machu Picchu a few days earlier and caught a glimpse of the Inca ruins. I decided to go back and have a proper look.
There is a huge face carved into the rock opposite.
Our trusty guide with his Cusqueñan flag.
A view of the city.
Storage for crops.
There is quite a climb up the terraces once you get inside.
Looking back up the steps.
From Ollantaytambo, we travelled to Chinchero. I still am not certain of the purpose of the visit, although it is famous for its market. We arrived at Chinchero as the sun was setting and I became somewhat distracted.
The trip to the Sacred Valley was excellent and included visits to the ruins at Pisac, Ollantaytambo, where we also had lunch, and then on to Chinchero, where I watched a beautiful sunset in the mountains.
First of all, we stopped at a small roadside market to see some examples of local handicrafts.
From there we went onto the town of Pisac which is situated by the Urubamba river. There we visited the ruins of an Inca citadel.