The Sacred Valley is true to its name, a stunning area that combines all the natural beauty of the Andes with the incredible ingenuity of Incan industry. The Famous Valley is home to the town of Ollantaytambo with its imposing Inca fortress, and Pisac for its quaint market and impressive ruins, two of the most visited tourist sites in Peru and a must-see for most tourists.
However, equally worthy of marvel, although far less explored are the two small towns that lie in the middle of the Valley, between Pisac and Ollantaytambo – Maras and Moray. Passed over in favor of the more renowned beauties in the Sacred Valley, these two places provide the perfect chance to get off the beaten track and get more intimate with the Incan history.
The salt flats of Maras are a true hidden beauty of the Sacred Valley. Passing through green mountain after green mountain of rugged Andean terrain, you’d be forgiven for never seeing them coming. Lying in the middle of inconspicuous mountains, with sun reflecting on it as though they were snow, the salt flats will stun you with their beauty, shining out like white gold. Depending on what season you travel you can see pools of water in each section of the salt fields, shining like shimmering mirrors in the sunlight. Pass through and admire the white salt rocks against the background of green mountains, which provides you with as great a natural contrast you are likely to see anywhere in the world. Bringing your camera is a must for this trip, and you will have ample opportunity for a great photo. You can travel with a private guide who will maneuver you through the flats, explaining to you how they are kept and harvested, and you can even purchase the product itself from the local market!
Las Salineras or Salt Flats
Passing through the Maras salt flats, taking your time to see every side of their beauty, you follow the small path away from the salt flats to the other marvel in the area, the small town of Moray. While Maras provides you with the natural beauty of crystal-looking salt, Moray is a testament to the genius of human architecture courtesy of the Incas. You will see an incredible set of terraced platforms or depressions in a circular form, covered in the lush green grass typical of the fertile Sacred Valley. While most tourists bustle through the crowds to see the fortresses of Ollantaytambo and Pisac, you can take the time to explore Moray almost by yourself. Pass down into the core of the sight with your expert Peru guide, who can tell you about the history of the sight, although nobody knows exactly what the Incas intended to create. It was most likely created as an agricultural sight, but you may well come to your own conclusions as you admire the architecture of the Incas. Take photos at the top of the sight to get everything in, or at the bottom to try and capture the magnitude of the sight from its core, they are guaranteed to capture the effect of the sublime.
Traveling to Maras and Moray for a guided tour off the beaten track will be a rewarding experience, you will get to see things that your average tourist will have missed. You will experience both the natural beauty of Maras and the structural brilliance of the Incas in a privacy and intimacy you would never have imagined possible. Furthermore, in the last few months a new restaurant, by the successful Cusco Restaurants Chain has opened at Moray. See our full article on the new restaurant in Moray.
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