09 June 2012

Trekking the high country


This was what the tour company website said about the trek Marianne and I did on her last full day in Cusco:

HIKING MARAS – MORAY - SALINERAS 1D

This is a beautiful walk in which we make a circuit Cusco – Maras – Moray – Salineras – Cusco and visit unique (even for Incas) circle agriculture terraces. We will also visit still used Inca salt mines.
Duration: 1 day
Distance: 18kms
Altitude: 2800msnm – 32msnm
Level: easy
Total hiking time: approximately 7-8 hours.

ITINERARY: We will pick you up from your hotel at about 7am and we will take a transport to the little town of Maras, where we start our walking. Maras has nice colonial doors in its main street. In nearby Moray we will find circle terraces which used to be ”the agriculture Inca laboratory”. The circles were used for the development of different strains of crops. Between the highest and lowest terraces there is a difference of up to 15 degrees. Although the difference between neighboring terraces is very small, it creates distinct microclimates that change growing conditions and allow the propagation of a huge variety of plants each with slightly different growth requirements.

From Moray we walk down for 5 hours through various plantations with a nice mountain views to the salt pans of Salineras. Here more than 5000 terraces are still in production and many families of Maras bring their salt to the market of Urubamba on mules. A short but rather steep walk brings us to Tarabamba in the Sacred Valley from where we will take transport back to Cusco.

That’s not quite how it turned out though. We didn’t meet the guide till 8.30, then had to wait around for over half hour while he picked up supplies. Next, he took us to the wrong place for the local bus. And, as we were then running very late, we didn’t actually walk from Moray, just from Maras to Salineras and then down to Tarabamba.

In spite of all that and mostly because of the stunning landscapes and the most excellent company, it was an amazing day. It's BIG country with the bluest skies, huge fluffy white clouds, the golden colours of ripe wheat and barley in the fields, rich red earth, very few people but many donkeys, a deafening silence except for the birds ...

But enough from me – I’ll let the pictures tell the story.