After our Choquequirao hike and trip to Machu Picchu, we planned on spending the last day hiking Rainbow mountain. Due to 3 people getting ill during our visit to Machu Picchu, we were unable to make the hike at Rainbow Mountain and changed plans to do a day trip to the salt mines, Moray, and a weaving community. For those interested, Rainbow Mountain looks gorgeous in photos. We heard this hike was very strenuous with a higher elevation than any other area we had been thus far. Elevation reaches 16,000 feet! Our original plan was to leave around 3-4 am from Cusco with an arrival back around 9 pm. For those not feeling well, this did not seem like a feasible option.
We started out the day with a drive to the salt mines. This place was truly incredible. I have never seen anything like it. On your drive in, stop for a view from the top. It certainly exceeded my expectations, and I was just left in awe. Our guide Ronnie walked us around and gave us a brief history. Then, we had some time to enjoy at our leisure. I purchased some cooking salt and also bath salts. The cooking salt is fantastic! I wish I would have bought more. This is a great authentic gift to bring home.
Our next stop was Moray. Moray is an archeological site near Cusco that they anticipate was an Incan architectural experiment. It is about 45 minutes outside of Cusco. There was a small admission price to go inside. It, again, was very unique and unlike anything I have ever seen. It was fascinating to see the Incan culture and hear theories about how they used to live. My photos showcase the more “authentic” version of Moray and another imagine had been preserved. This preserved area is what you will see immediately when you walk in.
To add to this, I read an article about an up and coming Michelin starred Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez right after our trip in the American Way magazine. He opened a new restaurant near Moray called Mil. Being ignorant at the time, I did not get the chance to have lunch here. He also has three additional restaurants: another in Peru (Lima), London, and Hong Kong. Since my first visit to Peru, I have learned even more about Virgilio Martinez, and he has been getting a lot of press. Although his restaurant Central in Lima is very hard to get into, I did have dinner at his wife’s restaurant Kjolle. It was fantastic. If I returned to the area, I would definitely visit Mil. The ingredients focus on vegetables, tubers, and grains because of the altitude in the area and its affect on appetite.
The final stop was a weaving community. We listened to one of the locals speak about how they dyed the alpaca and then got a weaving demonstration. Next, we shopped at the market they had for sweaters and blankets. I brought home a couple of blankets for gifts. Again, I felt these were really authentic souvenirs from the area. This stop turned out to be far more entertaining than I anticipated. Our group had a great time. It was also impressive to see the beauty just within this weaving community.
We started our day around 9am and with our three stops were on track to be back in Cusco in the late afternoon. It was a relaxing day and far less strenuous than a trip to Rainbow mountain would have been. Don’t discount these day trips. Initially, I was upset about not seeing Rainbow Mountain. However, this new itinerary exceeded my expectations. If you have the time, try to include everything!