Emmanuelle Jary - 2011-09-28
In the Sacred Valley, the Inca culture knew how to live at one with nature. The temples, agricultual sites and towns are a hymn to its beauty which remains intact to this day and is eternally celebrated by its inhabitants.
Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, the “navel of the world" in the Quechua language. A torrential rain is falling on the city. In Peru, they say that rain is either male or female depending on whether it falls in short and heavy outbursts or whether the water disperses into tiny droplets. Visiting the Sacred Valley and travelling along the Inca Trail enables you to see the world differently, to have a genuine relationship with the elements. Here the temples are dedicated to nature: rainbow temples, temples for the sky, thunder, stars, sun, and the moon ... The Inca civilization worshipped all things that spring from the earth or that descend from heavens. This culture is so rich and complex that it embodies nature to an extent that when you see the puma, the snake or the condor, you see the very breath of the gods in them.
Ollantaytambo lies at a crossroads of several winds. It occupies a strategic location between Machu Picchu and the Amazon forest and the town seems to rise up from the past, from the hands of men who shaped stone using other stones - limestone with basalt, basalt with porphyry, porphyry with granite...
Even today, the inhabitants of this valley have a deep feeling for the elements, water, plants and wood. The men make offerings to the earth. They offer coca and along with it they offer whatever they so desire : a cross, fruit, corn, shells, but the coca leaf itself gives meaning to the ritual. This ritual takes place every year at the Maras salt ponds in order to thank the Pachamama for giving them a source of water that’s even saltier than the ocean. It is said that this source has been flowing for a thousand years without any apparent reason other than to offer its wealth. Hundreds of ponds stretch out as far as the eye can see which are used to crystallize then harvest the salt from the land.
So what is this land ? First and foremost it consists of plateaus without borders and permanently snow covered mountains. In the midst of this spectacular scenery the Incas created huge circular terraces that make use of the relief providing an effective source of agriculture. Temperatures can vary by 5 °C between the lowest and the highest terraces, which enables the cultivation of a wide range of maize varieties in a single area.
The Incas worshiped nature and when you’re here you can’t help but worship the Inca, with their constant attention to beauty and their quest for the horizon and light that stretches out over 100 km of this Sacred Valley. A majestic valley it is too, that’s crowned with Machu Picchu, its most famous attraction. The Incas abandoned this site so that it wouldn’t be discovered by the newly arriving conquerors in the 15th century. The centuries of silence have given it its enigmatic allure and its mountainous location endows it with an air of majesty. When it’s sunny the first thing you notice is its juxtaposition with vast empty spaces. When it’s steeped in mists, all the space is taken up with stone. You have to climb up a series of one hundred terraces, passing by the gardening llamas grazing on the grass. Despite a shortness of breath, you have to climb until you reach the door that pays host to the rising sun on the winter solstice of 21st December. So we climbed up there, to the point where the world seems to end for our discovery of this ancient lost city. A place that has been free of human influence for so long and as close to paradise as one could dream of getting to.
Peru Tourist Office