The IBD Adventures Machu Picchu team spent the day exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas near the Inca capital of Cusco, Peru today. It was an important acclimatization day, which means lots of movement to keep the legs and lungs awake, but easy walking with the mind on conserving energy for the trekking days ahead. It’s a big jump from sea level to 3500 meters at Cusco, and the team definitely needed a day to adjust.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas or Urubamba Valley is a valley in the Andes of Peru, close to the Inca capital of Cusco and below the ancient sacred city of Machu Picchu. It is located in the modern Peruvian region of Cusco. In colonial documents it is referred to as the “Valley of Yucay”, according to recent researches it encompasses the heartland of the Inca Empire. The valley is generally understood to include everything between Calca and Lamay, Písac, and Ollantaytambo, it has been formed by the Urubamba River, also known as Vilcanota River or Wilcamayu. The latter, in Quechua (the still spoken lingua franca of the Inca Empire), means the Sacred river. It is fed by numerous rivers which descend through adjoining valleys and gorges, and contains numerous archaeological remains and villages. The valley was appreciated by the Incas due to its special geographical and climatic qualities. It was one of the empire’s main points for the extraction of natural wealth, and one of the most important areas for maize production in Peru northwards from Pisac. The early Incas may have come from Wimpillay as their mummies had been discovered there. Large scale maize production started around 1400 as Inca urban agriculture based on varieties bred in Moray, either a governmental crop lab or a seedling nursery of the Incas.
I wasn’t surprised that I felt a little short of breath when we stepped off the plane,” said Ashley. “Rob had warned us that we’d feel that altitude. But I was surprised with how quickly I adjusted. No headaches and no nausea, so no problems thus far.”
>One of the most attractive aspects of trekking the Inca trail is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Peruvian culture, which the team did today. The Andes mountains are home to many llamas, and apparently there are a variety of different kinds of llamas too.
The Sacred Valley tour includes a visit to the market at Pisac, a stop for lunch in Urubamba, a visit to the beautiful Inca village and fortress of Ollantaytambo and a quick stop at the Quechua village of Chinchero on the way back to Cusco.
“I’m awestruck by the mountains, they’re all I can see in every direction,” explained Holly. “The culture here is warm and friendly and reminds me of my time in Paraguay when I was a young child.”
Tomorrow the IBD Adventures team will start up the Inca Trail, with the exception of Holly and Ashley, who will spend an extra night in Cusco awaiting their start the following morning. The team has to split up briefly because of trail start permits, but will reconnect the following day.