Seldom Visited Site #5 – Naupa Iglesia:

Naupa Iglesia (Choqueqilla) is another site within the Sacred Valley, and is also a fairly easy site to get to, yet not many people visit it. The closest main town is Ollantaytambo which is approximately 8 km to the Northwest and it is near the town of Pachar where you can find an excellent micro brewery, the “Cerveceria del Valle Segrado”. There are several ways to reach Naupa Iglesia, but no matter which way you choose, you will have to do a bit of light climbing up the terraces as the best part of the site is in the cave at the top.

Terraces

To get to the base of the terraces you can take a taxi from Ollantaytambo or Urubamba directly to the site, or if you are already touring the Sacred Valley by car, ask the driver to make a stop here. If you prefer the more budget friendly buses, then on the route between Urubamba and Ollantaytambo, you would just have to tell the driver you want off the Pachar, the stop is right next to the Cerveceria del Valle Segrado. From the brewery you would cross over the river, turn right heading towards the train station, then turn left before reaching the next bridge and follow the road to the first railroad crossing.

Once at the first railroad crossing you have 2 options, continue following the road to the second crossing, or follow the railroad tracks to the left. I have talked to a few people that have walked along the tracks and they have indicated that there is a trail and plenty of room in the event a train passes, but I have not done this myself, so I can not personally say. Once at the second railroad crossing you must walk along the tracks to the right, until you reach the bottom of the terraces, once there the way up to the cave on top is easily followed.

Up

Like so many Inca sites there are terraces at this location, and to get to the interesting structures one must first conquer the terraces by climbing to the top. As you ascend you will pass a large stone that has had a small structure built at it’s base, this is a good opportunity to take a breather before finishing your climb to the top, once at the top you will be greeted by a fairly large cave and some of the first thing you are likely to notice are the wall with niches on the Left side, and the stone wall on the right side that has been cut and shaped to form another niche or what some might say resembles a door way.

Mosaic

There is also a large stone sitting in the center of the cave opening and once you continue up into the cave, you will notice that this stone has also been carved, on the stone you will find three niches, with the center niche having a 3 steeped Chakana (Inka Cross) type of design on it and two protrusions on either side. There are a wide variety of theories as to what purpose this site served, and aside from the fact that is does appear to have been a ceremonial site, I don’t think anyone really can say, but I do find it interesting, and normally empty.

Stone

Up Next will be a location to the West of Cusco where you can see the largest terraces in the Cusco Region, if not in all of Peru.

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Seldom Visited Site #3 & #4 – The Inkariy Museum and Urco:

I had originally planed to do these two site as separate posts, but there is actually very little information available about Urco, so considering they are right next to each other, I decided to combine them into one post.

sign

The Inkariy Museum is a relatively new museum that opened in 2014 and is located approximately 4.8 km West of Calca or 16.5 km East of Urubamba, and due to the large statue/sign out front, is really hard to miss. Despite it’s central location in the Sacred Valley, the museum currently does not get many visitors and I often find myself being the only one there when visiting with guests, which is a shame because it is a very well done and informative museum and worth a stop.

caral

One of the things I really like about this museum is the fact that they did not just focus on the Inca culture, but instead gave equal time and space to a total of eight pre-Columbian cultures, starting with the Caral that dates back to about 2600 BC, making it over 4,600 years old. They also include the Chavin, Paracas, Mochica, Nazca, Wari, Chimu/Lambayeque, and Inka cultures, and each of these cultures was chosen because of some contribution they made, or there were aspects of the culture that continued on into later cultures. So if you would like to learn a little more about Peruvian history than just what the Inka did, this would be a good place to plan a visit, and you can generally figure on spending between 1 and 1-1/2 hours here.

paracas

If you would like to visit the Museum it is easily done on your own either by bus from Pisac or from Urubamba, or if you are planing to hire a car and driver for the day to tour the Sacred Valley, ask them to make a stop for you. If you are considering using a tour agency for your visit of the Sacred Valley, there are a few companies that offer this as a stop on their tours, Condor travel I believe is one of them, so ask your agency about a stop, you might get lucky.


Urco

urco-1

Many people see at least part of the Urco complex when traveling through the Sacred Valley on a tour, when traveling from Pisac to Ollantaytambo, just after passing Calca there is a large set of terraces on the right side, these terraces are still farmed and there is a small town at the base of them called Urco, which is where the site gets its name, but few people realize there is more to see here.

Just before reaching the Inkariy Museum if coming from Calca, there is a sign on the left side of the road for the archaeological site of Urco, and a small inconspicuous dirt road on the right side. The dirt road will take you up the hill and to a small hidden part of the Urco complex where you will not only find a large round building (not common in the area), but also an interesting frog head fountain.

frog

As I mentioned above, there is not much information available about Urco, I have been told that it is Inka as well as pre-Inka, and while the terraces do look to be of Inka construction, the circular building and nearby constructions do not look very Inka like, so I will just say that this is an interesting site that if you have 15 or 20 minutes to spare, can be worth a quick stop, and you are almost certain to be the only one there if you do decide to visit.

urco-2

Coming up in two weeks will be a hidden Inka ceremonial site near the town of Ollantaytambo.

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