An Adventure at the Sacred Valley Peru

For our second weekend in Peru, we ventured through the Sacred Valley, the valley through which the Urubamba River flows. If you missed it, for our first weekend in Peru we hiked Rainbow Mountain, and during the week we volunteered in the smelly and dirty city of Cusco, so I was more than ready to go on another adventure.

We boarded our favorite vehicle, the wifi bus, at a reasonable hour and headed to Chinchero. This small town located less than an hour northwest of Cusco was the start of our adventure. We stopped at the residence of some local weavers who taught us the traditional ways wool is dyed and made into clothing. We were greeted with hot mint tea and guinea pigs squealing in their cage. Guinea pigs, or cuy as they are known in Peru, are a traditional delicacy. The presentation then began with the washing of sheep’s wool.

“Do you know why we wash the wool?” the presenter asked in Spanish. “Because sheep never shower ever.”

Local women dressed in traditional Quechuan clothing demonstrate how to wash and dye sheep wool prior to weaving.
Photo by Jenna Chapman

She then dyed the wool using different natural sources. The vibrant reds were the biggest surprise. She took a parasite off of a cactus and then mashed it into her hand. Then, she used it as lipstick. We then moved over to where another woman was weaving a blanket where the presenter showed us a bone they used to tighten the threads.

“Do you know where we get this bone?” the presenter asked, once again, in Spanish. “It is the bone of a tourist that did not buy anything.”

After buying a blanket, we took off for Moray. Moray is an archeological site where the Incan people farmed and domesticated various foods to be planted in other regions. The crater that it was built in creates various temperature zones throughout the layers.

Jenna Chapman in front of Moray.
Photo by Jenna Chapman

We were free to explore the area on the pathways around it, but not go in the crater due to too much damage from foot traffic. The valley was amazing, and the workmanship of the rings was spectacular. There are quite a few things that Disney did right in the movie “The Emperor’s New Groove.” Three of those things are: the clothing of the native people in the background of various scenes, the giant rocks that were used to build and the amount of stairs. Seriously though, the movie does not exaggerate.

Junice Acosta, assistant professor of Spanish, related her experience exploring Moray.

“As I walked around the terraces, a pretty mild hike, I kept thinking how impressive it was that the Incas did that all those centuries ago,” she said.

After Moray, we continued to Maras where salt is mined. Hearing about this trip, I thought that we would be going into a cave, but that is not at all what we saw. The “mine” is a series of pools that collect the salt filled water that comes out of and off of the hills. The workers then scrape off the salt that has collected. The salt is then sold both locally and internationally. Peru is also a big producer of chocolate, so let’s just say that salted chocolate is a really big thing.

The salt mines of Maras made up of various pools of salt water. The Urubamba river can be seen flowing through small towns in the background.
Photo by Jenna Chapman

Prof. Acosta really looked forward to visiting the salt mines and she said she was not disappointed. She said the view was spectacular and the tour was interesting.

“One of the most interesting things about the salt mines is that the owners are the families of the community organized in a cooperative that manage the mines under a communal system. Any member of the community can farm a pond and the ponds are assigned depending on the size of the family,” she said.

This adventure was definitely more my speed for a relaxing weekend. Especially because we were suffering from various illnesses. Be sure to check back next week for the final installment of our Peruvian adventures, Machu Picchu!

Story By
Jenna Chapman