Sunday, March 13, 2016

Pictures From Peru's Sacred Valley

I am traveling in Peru and Ecuador with Smithsonian Journey's and here are some photographs from the beginning of the trip in Peru's Sacred Valley - heart of the great Inca Empire.

The Urubamba River flows through the heart of the valley and is a tributary of the great Amazon River system.

This is a graphic that I showed in my first lecture, depicting the extent of the Amazon drainage system when superimposed upon North America. Imagine a river going from San Diego to Montreal, with tributaries in Oregon, Texas and Georgia! The photographs of the river in this posting were taken where the red dot is shown on the graphic - down in southeastern Arizona.

We happened to be moving through the town of Urubamba During the once-weekly Friday market, when the mountain folks come to town to sell their goods.

Prickly pear cactus fruits for sale.

Are sweet and delicious.

Street scene. Those who have wandered in a Latin American market will find this scene at once inviting, interesting, colorful, and aromatic.

Peru is the original home of the Corn Nuts brand snack in the US. Here are some of the large corn kernels known as choclo.

The indoor portion of the market.

They claim there are over 3,000 varieties of potato in Peru and many were for sale here.

The hats are so interesting in Peru.

Next stop was the ruins of the estate of the Inca Emperor, Pachacuti, known as Ollantaytambo. Pachacuti reigned over the empire from 1438 to 1470 and was the ruler who had a summer estate built on a ridge of rock about 30 miles farther downstream called Machu Picchu.

Everything is up or down in the old Inca Empire.

Near the crest of the estate and looking back to the town of Ollantaytambo.

Great blocks of dacite were quarried from across the river and moved to this site.

Where they were shaped into beautiful designs. It is so interesting to ponder the shaping of these huge rocks with such tight fitting corners and without the use of metal tools.

Spoil from the dacite quarry can be seen in the extreme upper left of this photo. A road was built down the slope to move the rocks. Note the flat fertile Sacred Valley farmland. Then note the gap the river flows into in the upper right. This is where a granite pluton comes to the surface and the river has chiseled its way through it. I will post pictures in my next entry that show the cutting power of the river in this gap.

Paso horses are a fine breed in Peru.

A trip out of the Sacred Valley to the surrounding highlands provides a great view.

Glacial-capped Chacon Mouuntain at over 20,000 feet.

Looking down to the Sacred Valley and the Urubamba River.

Playful highland children and llama's.

The weaving center of Chincheros.

The high plain above the river is likely an old, perched surface preserved as a pre-uplift landscape. Some estimates of the rate of uplift here are 1.5 miles per million years. That is some serious uplift. Look for my next posting from the Urubamba River canyon and Machu Picchu. It is the end of the rainy season right now so the clouds are spectacular!


  1. Great pics of a location I will never get to visit. Thanks!

  2. Love these photos. We toured the Sacred Valley about 13 years ago. Looks very much the same. I swear we saw some of those same market people. Judy and Joe. Have fun in the Galapagos ....sigh

  3. Wayne, hello. Interesting blog you write
    . I edit two publications, one print, one digital. For the digital STONEZINE, I'm doing a little piece on the stonework of Ollantaytambo and would like to include your photo of the dacite wall. I hope I might have your permission? Would credit you, of course.


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