Excursions from Cusco - Moray, Maras and the Ruins
Last week in Peru, we mainly discovered Lima and a bit of Cusco. This week, we were still in Cusco to explore the area around the city. There is so much to see and do that it is difficult to choose, but we have certainly managed to pick out the best spots!
After exploring the city of Cusco, we set off to discover the area around Cusco. The impressive Salineras de Maras (Maras Salt Mines) are an hour and a half’s drive away. These 4500 salt mines are used for the production of white, rose and brown salt. The first two are processed for the food industry and the brown one is only for medicine. The place itself is incredible. In the middle of the mountains lies this endless and beautiful scene. Recently, you are no longer allowed to walk between the salt mines themselves, but must stay behind a barrier. This is because too much waste was found between the salt and that is, of course, not hygienic.
We drove to the salt mines on a rented quad. A nice experience! You feel very free and alive when driving among these unreal landscapes. You can easily book this tour yourself via getyourguide. We usually don’t like organised tours, but this one is highly recommended! The only disadvantage? That you do not stay long on the site itself. The entrance fee is only 10 soles/person (2.70 euros), so for the price you can’t skip this experience.
We then continued on the quad towards Moray. This is nearby the salt mines. The place is also called the Sacred Valley of the Incas, as Inca ruins have been found in this valley. They may not be as large and impressive as Machu Picchu, but it is still a spectacular place. The surroundings here are also breathtakingly beautiful. We paid 70 soles/person (about 19 euros) for the entrance fee, which we think is rather expensive. We also found it a pity that our guide had only planned half an hour here, whereas you can easily walk around for more than an hour or more. Moray has spectacular views.
Souvenirs with a meaning
Back in the city of Cusco, we went looking for original souvenirs. Souvenirs are a nice reminder of a country to which we may never return. To keep the memory alive, we buy souvenirs – in addition to taking pictures. We would like to take sustainable and original souvenirs home with us which is sometimes tricky or hard to find. We found a very nice shop called Mallkini that sells everything made of alpaca wool from an alpaca sanctuary and the proceeds go partly to that company and partly to establishing schools in Cusco. A very nice initiative and also very nice products! We also bought a hand-woven rug at the local market and Sigrid bought a handmade blouse from a designer at the local market. Original and sustainable souvenirs? Mission accomplished!
To visit Inca ruins, you don’t have to look far in Cusco. In Cusco City itself, at the top near the statue of San Cristobal, you can also find some. Sacsayhuamán, or Saqsaywaman, is one of them. This area is more than 3,000 hectares large and it consists of various finds. The entrance fee here is also 70 soles (19 euros). The only disadvantage is the altitude, so provide plenty of sun cream, a hat, good walking shoes and water.
You can walk to this archaeological site from Cusco, but we would advise not to. It is better to take a taxi up to the top and come back down on foot. The views are beautiful and worth seeing. We did not stay very long at the site itself as we had seen enough after a few ruins. For us, the uniqueness is a bit lost. But if you are interested in history or want a spectacular view, you should definitely pass by!