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Making a Trail

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Machu Picchu is part of a larger group of historic cultural sites called the sacred valley. This valley and it’s imposing mountains hold numerous ruins and artifacts of Incan and even pre-Incan origin. Indeed, some sites, such as Choquequirau, have only been rediscovered in the last decade. There is more information on those discoveries here.

So, we decided to visit two very unique sites in the sacred valley.

The first was the salt terraces, salineras, near the city of Maras. These salt terraces have been in use since ancient times. They are fed by a stream of brackish water that flows from an unknown underground source. The water comes out warm and is extremely salty, we tried it.

This is the start of the stream that feeds all the salt flats.
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Through a clever system of small tributaries that can be clogged or allowed to flow, every 30 days a flat is flooded with brackish water then allowed to dry and the salt is harvested.

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A picture from further out.
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Salt that isn’t totally dry yet.
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Working and walking along the narrow foot paths.
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Enjoying the amazing views.
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After the salineras we went to Moray. Moray is an ancient Incan agricultural testing and hybridizing facility. It is absolutely huge. The pictures do not do it justice. The different leveled terraces simulate growing crops at altitudes ranging from sea level to high altitude Andean cultivation. The difference in soil temperature from top to bottom can reach up to 15 Celsius. Essentially, Moray is an ancient agricultural laboratory that the Incas used to test crops, hybridize, and determine ideal water, altitude, and cultivation techniques. Today it stands as an impressive and beautiful representative of Incan ingenuity.

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It is hard to get an idea the scale of Moray, but the specs you see down near the center of the circles, those are people.