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Apart from historic photographs, unless otherwise stated, all photos on this site were taken by  members of my family. 

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2008 Mark Collins


Peru 2004 - Day 6, The Sacred Valley

After a relaxing day yesterday, today was to be our trip deep into the Inca's Sacred Valley - a fertile valley of breathtaking beauty.

After a very pleasant breakfast in the five star Hotel Libertador we joined the rest of our party aboard a bus for our tour of the Sacred Valley which stretches between the villages of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. 

It is coursed by the winding Urubamba River, watched over by ancient Inca ruins perched high on the hilltops above, and sprinkled with small traditional villages.

A map of the sacred valley may be found here.

Baby Alpaca, Sacred Valley tour, Peru - MTCFirst stop was an area set up to demonstrate the growing, dying and weaving of wool for the colourful Peruvian rugs and knitwear.

Small enclosures contained the animals, and the Peruvian people were dressed in their traditional costumes demonstrating their skills in the various parts of the process.

This baby vicuna was so cute!

Wool on legs, Sacred Valley tour, Peru - MTCThe black Llama is lucky he isn't alive in Incan times, when he would have been a prime candidate for sacrifice!

Dyeing and spinning, Sacred Valley tour, Peru - MTC

The traditional dress of the Peruvian people is so colourful - here are the lady's demonstrating the dyeing and spinning process.

Shortly after this was taken the whole group was coerced into performing a traditional dance with these two ladies!  We were embarrassingly bad and it looks as if we made the other lady cry - I hope she wasn't as sad as she looks.

We were rather surprised to find the men as well as the women weave carpets in Peru - as seen here.

Peruvuan Lady, Sacred Valley tour, Peru - MTCMan weaving a carpet, Sacred Valley tour, Peru - MTC

I couldn't resist including this picture of a child enjoying a snack.  Look at those colours!

After a trip into the shop selling the carpets and jumpers, where we wisely refrained from purchasing a beautiful carpet (the logistics getting it home would have been challenging!), we carried on the tour, arriving shortly afterwards at a viewpoint were we were treated to our first sight into the sacred valley.

Here, as in the Colca Valley, the terracing appears to reach the top of the valley sides.

Small child, Sacred Valley tour, Peru - MTC
Alan, Mark & Ann, Sacred Valley tour, Peru - MTCHill terraces, Sacred Valley tour, Peru - MTC
Pisonary tree, Pisac, Peru - MTCThe next stop was to be Pisac, where it was market day.  The town is a picturesque village with the central square dominated by a huge and ancient pisonary tree.

The market was really busy - a real hive of activity.  In bright sunshine, this truly is a place to make you feel alive.

The bright colours of the pottery, textiles and food make this a place of exuberance, at least when the market is on!

Alan bought a few more pots to add to his growing collection.

Colourful textile, Pisac market, Peru - MTCColourful produce, Pisac market, Peru - MTC

The church was a place of coolness and calm after the bustle of the market outside, even with the preparations in progress for Easter.  The walls are covered in paintings that seem to combine the Inca traditions with the catholic cultures - for example in this mural the angel has the Inca sun image around his neck with light radiating from it.

Mural in Pisac Church, Peru - MTC.

Inside the church, Pisac, Peru - MTC

From Pisac our route followed the Vilcanota River up to Urubamba where we had an appointment with lunch.

These lovely flowers were growing in the garden where the lunch was organised, buffet style, accompanied, as usual, by a live Peruvian band (below).


Flowers in the restaurant garden, Urubamba, Peru - MTC

Band at the restaurant, Urubamba, Peru - MTC

After lunch it was back on the coach to take us to the famous Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo. The village is attractive, and is built on top of the original Inca foundations, and is the best surviving example of (still occupied) Inca town planning.

It also has a railway station on the narrow gauge track between Cuzco and Machu Picchu.

The town is divided in canchas (blocks) which are almost entirely intact. Each cancha has only one entrance (usually a huge stone doorway) which leads into a central courtyard.

More pictures of Ollantaytambo can be found here or by clicking the picture on the right.

Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru - MTC

On the very bumpy road descending from the town, we spotted this train on the narrow gauge line from Machu Picchu to Cuzco.  It isn't quite in focus but it was the best I could do under the circumstances!

According to the guide this is the luxury charter train - not the one we were to use later in the week!

Train at Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru - MTC
View of Urabamba, Sacred Valley, Peru - MTCWhen we arrived back at Urubamba we took a right turn over the river and headed up the road towards Chinchero.  As we climbed up the steep side of the valley, the views of the town were fantastic.

At the view point this interesting little fire engine was parked - notice Sue and Steve Garwood having their photo taken by Chris Riley.

I love this shot across the uplands with the chequerboard fields in the background - what a wonderful view!

Fire engine, Sacred Valley, Peru - MTCPeruvian landscape with patchwork fields, Peru - MTC
Chinchero church, Peru - MTCOn reaching Chinchero we took a short walk up to visit the church, although there was a service in progress so we were unable to visit the interior.

The church is built on Inca foundations - the row of Inca arches survive form the previous building.

The murals are in the church porch, the only part I was able to photograph.

Mural in the porch of Chinchero church, Peru - MTCMural in the porch of Chinchero church, Peru - MTC
Mural in the porch of Chinchero church, Peru - MTC