To reach Machu Picchu, you travel along the Sacred Valley by road, rail or foot through numerous villages that have been there for centuries. Some of these are the site of ruined forts and temples which were built by or added to during the Inca Empire. Some fared better than others at the hands of the Spanish invaders. All were incomplete – it never occurred to us until visiting Machu Picchu, that no city is ever finished and these forts and settlements were no different! Of course they were incomplete!
Ollantaytambo… is one of the best surviving examples of Inca planning and is the site of one of only a few places where the conquistadors lost a major battle. As much a temple as it was a fort it guarded the valley, with lookout points across the valley for extra security.
The temple at Ollantaytambo was built of enormous pink granite blocks, sourced from several kilometres away. Some designes carved into the facade of the temple are still visible when the sun is in the right position.
The vast and seemingly impossibly terraced cliffsides provided plenty of arable land and the restorations give the visitor and idea of just how clever the builders were. Terracing spans distances up to a kilometre, curving gently around hillsides.
The spacing and symmetry of the terracing is a sight to behold.
is nestled in a gully about 1,000m above the villages of the Sacred Valley. It is believed that this was an agricultural laboratory where crops were tested at different heights within the circles and possibly seed distributed based on the success and/or failure at different heights/altitudes. Over 200 different types of seeds have been found by archaeologists. Little is known for sure and this site is not in many guide books but it was an excellent site to visit. Most of the Moray terracing has been restored and as with Pisac, the beautiful curves are mesmerising.
A highlight of Moray was that we camped overnight in the carpark. It was stunning and serene. At 6.15am whilst Stewart was making the first cuppa of the day, we were greeted by a tour group of South Koreans who were more interested in taking group selfies with Stewart and the car, than in looking over the edge into the amazing crop terracing. Perhaps they had seen enough ruins?