Day 5 / Fri 27 - FD Chincheros, Maras, Moray, & Nilda Callañaupa center with Lunch (with private guide)
Today your guide will take you to the town of Chinchero which a small Andean Indian village is located high up on the windswept plains of Anta at 3765m about 30km from Cusco. Chinchero is believed to be the mythical birthplace of the rainbow. Its major claim to tourism is its colorful Sunday market which is much less tourist-orientated than the market at Pisac. The village mainly comprises mud brick (adobe) houses, and locals still go about their business in traditional dress. The village may have been an important town in Inca times. The most striking remnant of this period is the massive stone wall in the main plaza which has ten trapezoidal niches. The construction of the wall and many other ruins and agricultural terraces (which are still in use) are attributed to Inca Tupac Yupanqui who possibly used Chinchero as a kind of country resort.
In Chincheros you visit the home of artist and master weaver Nilda Callañaupa. Peruvian textiles, recently believed to be a generation away from extinction, are making a surprising comeback, and the revival of the country's 2,000-year-old weaving techniques is largely due to Nilda Callañaupa, who works with six mountain villages to resurrect symbolic patterns and avoid the use of garish chemical dyes and synthetic yarns. Enjoy a highly educational weaving demonstration that will include wool spinning, natural dyes, traditional patterns and weaving techniques.
Following after, head to the salt fields of Maras and its seemingly never-ending terraces, where salt extracted from springs is stored. Although these waters have been used for centuries, even before the time of the Incas, Maras were founded by the Spanish in 1556. It supplied salt to the southern highlands during the viceroyalty, so it was an important town. The use of Maras Salt dates back thousands of years and is inherited from generation to generation and managed communally. It is produced naturally in about 5,000 pools of approximately 5 square meters each forming different levels of terraces, nourished by salty water from a creek that permeates the pools and then evaporated by the intense sun, forming thick crystals.
Continue your excursion to admire the Moray terraces, believed to be a former gigantic agricultural laboratory, an astronomical observatory or a place of worship, or maybe all three. It is thought that Moray was used for plant adaptation to new climatic environments thanks to its circular terraces in immense cone-shaped depressions of 47 to 84 m that resemble giant fingerprints or contour lines. These create a series of microclimates at the different heights of the terraces, which enabled the Incas to experimentally improve a great variety of crops.
Lunch is enjoyed in the Wayra Gardens among the native plants, served in a modern environment. We are enveloped by the aroma of freshly baked bread coming out of the wood-burning ovens, tasty empanadas with different fillings and an amazing assortment of native potatoes from remote communities that have preserved them along with their stories. Lunch is accompanied by a Paso Horse Demonstration. Peruvian Paso Horses, with their elegance and noble spirit, symbolize a centuries-old tradition of cultural fusion and folklore that defines and enriches Peru. In this presentation, Paso horses from our stables demonstrate their flowing gait and graceful motion to the rhythm of 'la marinera,' the national dance of Peru.
After the tour, return to your hotel. Overnight at Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel & Wellness in One Deluxe room, including breakfast, lunch, hotel tax and service charge. (B/L/-)