I have always wanted to visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru. But I’m hesitant because it would kind of suck to be kidnapped by Sendero Luminoso and forced to live in a jungle for months on end while they attempt to get a ransom that wouldn’t be forthcoming. This is one of the few sacrifices I’m just not willing to make for travel.
Having said that, though, if I did get to go, it would be a dream come true. Of course I’d love to go to Machu Picchu. Those ruins perched up so high that it’s hard to breathe have always captured my imagination. But I would also like to visit some of the lesser known sites that also highlight the Inca’s supreme intelligence and innovation. Case in point: the Moray Inca Ruins and the Maras Salt Ponds.
The Moray Inca Ruins are terraced fields high in the mountains that show that the Incas took agriculture very seriously, to the point of conducting scientific experiments. The terraces go so deep that the temperature from top to bottom can be as much as 59 degrees different. And they’re in a circular bowl, so the terraces get differing amounts of sun depending upon if they’re facing North, South, East, or West.
What this means is that the Incas could simulate just about any climate to be found in Peru, and they could move crops from one “climate” to another to see which plants preferred various conditions. I think that’s absolutely brilliant. I’d love to spend an hour or two there, just marinating in the Nerddom of it all. Check out this blog post by the Exploration Junkie for more details, including a stunning panoramic virtual tour.
From there, I’d go to check out the Maras Salt Ponds. This is yet another example of the Inca’s amazing ability to exploit all the natural resources that they encountered. It seems that even the people who once lived here before the Incas came along knew about the amazing spring that flows here. The truly amazing thing about this spring is that even though it’s 3380 meters above sea level, what comes out of it is salt water. Imagine.
When the Incas came along, they decided to really exploit this resource by making terraced ponds. Each pond flows into the next, and when they evaporate, they leave behind salt, which is vital for life. Rows upon rows of these ponds are still maintained and harvested by the locals to this day. And it’s a gorgeous sight to see. Exploration Junkie has not only a panoramic virtual tour, but also a short video of this stunning place.
Perhaps someday I’ll be able to visit and share with you some photos of my very own. Until then, I’ll content myself with traveling vicariously.
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