A taxi from Cusco to the Sacred Valley cost us 70 soles. It was the price of having the hostel order a cab that would come to the top of the hill, walk up all the stairs to our place and help haul baggage back down. I know we could have done better but sometimes with moving kids around, convenience is better. In comparison, when I bartered for the ride back from Urubamba we only had to pay 35 soles for the same ride. We stayed in Urubamba at a charming hostel called Ccatan and enjoyed a couple days of fresh air, wild kid play in the garden and good company. The owners had two children that played with ours and it was a very happy and loud yard in the evenings.
Our 10 day pass to the various archaeological sites in the valley included a destination close to Urubamba and our second day was spent getting there and exploring. I was mistakenly under the impression that we could ride the cheap local bus to the sites and pretty disappointed when the bus only took us out of town and dropped us off at the road that led to the sites. There, we found a que of taxi’s waiting for people just like us in need of a ride. The cost? Another 50 soles and I suspect bartering for a taxi in town would have saved us quite a bit of money but there wasn’t much we could do on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Our first stop was Moray, a large set of concentric terraces set in a deep indention and thought to be a large experimental agricultural research site. There can be as much as a 20° difference between the top and bottom. We had been looking forward to spending the day hiking this site but were very disappointed when we got there and were informed that visitors were no longer allowed in most areas. We were only allowed to walk the perimeter and it was such a let down that it soured the experience for us. I admit that it was a large stunning site but if I had known we couldn’t actually hike all around it we would have gone to a different part of the sacred valley on our trip.
This was the one spot that my boys were able to climb and I was glad that it cheered them up a bit.
Our second stop of the day was the Moras salt mines and they were a big hit with my family. This stop was not included in our pass and we had to pay another 20 soles to enter but it was worth it. Moras is made up of roughly 3000 salt pans that are fed from a hypersaline underground spring. The area was developed in pre-Inca times and is harvested May through November by local families. The area was fascinating and we enjoyed watching a few of the ponds being harvested.
We were able to walk around and follow the stream that feeds the ponds as it wound its way along the mountain. My boys picked some of the salt crystals off the wall and ate them before I realized what they had done but they assured me as they spit them out that it was very salty.
On our way back to the taxi there were numerous vendors selling their harvested salt and I was happy to buy a pack to take home. It has a pinkish tinge from other naturally occurring minerals and I am looking forward to using it. Overall this stop was our favorite during our few days in the Sacred Valley and I recommend that anyone who comes to the area make time to go and see it. Our taxi took us back to our pick up point, dropped us off and then another little van with tourists pulled over and offered us a ride back to town. We stopped in the local market, bought some fresh ingredients on our way back to the hostel and spent a relaxing evening with the kids playing wild in the garden and cooking a delicious dinner. The next day it was time to head back to Cusco and fly back to Lima. I wish we had been able to spend more time here but am happy with the experiences of our few days.