Cuzco (4) – Full Day Bike Tour, to Moray and Maras (Salinas)

Saturday 12/05

Vlog by Florence: see below.



By me:

Wake up at 7:15am. Our guide comes to pick us up at 8:30am today.

Today it’s our 300th day of travel! We still have 3 months before the end. Still so many amazing things to see and experiences to live! We’re so much blessed!

The weather is great. We put a lot of sunscreen.

There’s a team of 4 people for our bike day: the guide, his assistant (also biking with us), the driver and the… cook. We’re a bit surprised since we thought we would be eating a sandwich for lunch… It seems a bit “over the top” but we enjoy. This company (Amazonas Explorer) is really good. The guides are great, the bikes are very good and they put a specific emphasis on sustainability (reuse of items, minimum waste, protection of the environment…). I probably paid the high price for our different activities with them (I was a bit late and I had little time to ‘shop around’) but it’s so far worth every penny).

We drive one hour, to Chinchero (where the government wants to build the new international airport of Cuzco).

We start our bike tour, off-road, mainly downhill. Superb scenery. We meet people with sheep, cows, donkeys and even pigs…

For the parts requiring too much effort, we put the bikes on the minibus; kids love that.

Some (downhill) parts are a bit technical. We go out of the comfort zone.

We arrive at the Moray ruins around noon. These impressively deep amphitheatre-like terracing is a fascinating spectacle. We have a superb panoramic view from the top! We then go down to see these circles from closer.

The full purpose behind these concentric terraces isn’t fully known. The circular terraces that lie here are thought to have been used as an agricultural research station. Their depth, design and their orientation with regard to the sun and the wind are all signs that they have a specific function. Because of the different conditions at each level of the terraces there is a difference in temperature of 15°C from the top to the bottom. It is thought that the Incas used the terraces and the different temperatures to test crops and experiment with them. The different microclimates and the different levels allowed them to study wild vegetation. They used hybridization and modification to adapt crops to make them suitable for human consumption. Peru is famous to its many variations of potato. This is down to the Incas. They experimented and played around with science. And now Peru has more than 2,000 (some say 5,000) varieties of potato.

It is no coincidence that the temperature differences at Moray represent the temperature at sea level farmland and the temperature in Andean farming terraces. The Incas were beyond their time in scientific thinking. Studies done on the soil has shown that the soil comes from different regions and must have been brought to the Sacred Valley. This again shows that the Incas were using this area as an experimental laboratory to determine the optimal conditions for growing crops of each species.

It’s time for lunch. We bike to the minibus, which is parked a bit further than the site. When we arrive, we understand why there was a cook with us: a nice table is set up with a great buffet that the cook is busy filling in, with excellent meat, chicken, salad, mushrooms, tomatoes…, with hand-made mayonnaise and ketchup sauces. It’s really really good. We all go back to the buffet several times, which is very unusual for us. We also have delicious dried fruit (mango, pineapples and bananas). There’s even a portable toilet! It reminds us so much about Uganda (and the private breakfast in the middle of the animals). Ludivine says “it has been a while than we hadn’t had holidays like rich people”…

We take time to enjoy such a fantastic lunch, in a superb environment, with amazing views on fields (with a herder and his sheep herd) and snow-capped mountain. Wow!

We continue our biking tour. We drive to Maras where we jump on our bikes to go and see Salinas. Nice path, again surrounded by amazing scenery.

The Salineras de Maras is a very spectacular sight, with thousands of salt pans that have been usded for salt extraction since Inca times. A hot spring at the top of the valley discharges a small stream of heavily slat-laden water, which is diverted into salt pans and evaporated to produce salt. The view from the top is impressive; there are more than 4,000 pans (and the number is still growing). The overall effect is beautiful. We go down, to walk near the salt pans. Kids enjoy tasting the salt.

At 5pm, it’s time to go back to Cuzco. What a great tour we’ve had!

It hails on our way back home. Not for long but enough to have the ground completely white! The mountains around are quickly white. We’re a bit afraid for our (Lares) trek that starts in 3 days…

We come back home at 6pm. The guide (Omar) for the briefing of the next trek (a 2-day trek to attend a festival, in 2 weeks) is already waiting at the door!

He explains us the trek and kind of reassures me: it’s only 8 km per day and it’s not too steep. I thought it was much harder. We’ll nevertheless sleep at 4,600m (but they bring oxygen…).

I prepare pasta, which we eat… in front of the tv (a very first for us). We indeed watch the first ‘Pirates of the Carribean’ in Netflix. None of us has previously seen it. We spent a nice evening. Kids like the movie very much, and Isabelle also (I’m a bit less enthusiastic).

We all go to bed together, at 10:30pm. We’re dead.

What a fantastic 300th day! Kids really enjoyed and thank me ten times.


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