“Water is Life” could be another title for this Blog, because water and how it is used is the key to the success of the Inca.
This last week I have been travelling through the high Andes, home to the Quechua people, the Inka, and getting to heights over 3700m or 12,300ft. The first few days were hard as I got used to the high altitude – I felt tired and had a headache for most of the first day, but the local coca tea helped as my body adjusted.
Our base was Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, a beautiful city surrounded by mountains, now a major Tourist Centre where you will find many people wearing traditional dress and posing for photographs.
However, most people dress much like anyone in Britain or elsewhere!
Cusco was the perfect capital for the Inca providing access to the Sacred Valley, an area carved out by the great river Urubamba whose waters eventually flow into the Amazon, the longest river in the world.
The Sacred Valley has a large, flat plain, constant running water and lots of sunshine. It could provide enough food for the nation, and in particular could support a growing capital city.
Along the sides of the valley the Inca perfected the art of terracing, opening up even more land to grow food. The higher terraces can be used for potatoes and other tubers which can cope with the high altitude, while the valley floor is good for growing Maize.
For more on the Inca see my next Blog.