Media Luna, Peru, is a day trip from either Ollantaytambo or Urubamba in southern Peru’s Sacred Valley. Come visit this village in the Andes Mountains with Michelle from Moyer Memoirs.
With seven continents, nearly 200 countries, and more than 7.5 billion people in the world, there is a lot to experience. The world is so vast and amazing that even the most avid traveler with a large bank account couldn’t truly do it justice in one lifetime!
Through the Everyday Postcard series, one of the world’s everyday wanderers shares postcard-worthy photos and real-life travel experiences to bring a piece of the big wide world to you.
After watching local artisans in Media Luna weave textiles, Michelle sent this postcard from this small Inca village in Peru:
Today we met the ladies of a little community in Peru, called Media Luna, to learn about their daily working life. They took us into their homes and showed us the duties that they perform to earn a living.
It was really interesting to learn how to make chica, the traditional corn beer that the locals make and share among the community. For so much effort, it really is a reasonably priced beverage at just 1 Peruvian sole (less than $1 USD), to indulge in when you visit the Sacred Valley!
I will raise a glass to toast to you, your family and everyone’s health,
Meet Michelle Moyer
Michelle Moyer is a new empty-nester that has discovered that she now has more time and more money since she isn’t paying for boatloads of food and college textbooks for her three young adult daughters.
Her trips with hubby are vacations from her full-time job as a scientist. She loves to blog for empty-nesters and workaholics on MoyerMemoirs about traveling the world when you are short on both vacation time and spending money.
In addition to her blog, be sure to follow Michelle’s adventures via social media:
For those of us who haven't visited yet, give us an overview of Media Luna
Our trip to South America, and specifically Peru in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, was highlighted with a stop in the community of Media Luna. We started our trip in the little town of Ollantaytambo for a few nights and had the desire to immerse ourselves in the local culture. Media Luna has a tourist circuit that is rooted in tradition and customs dating back from before the Incas and was a perfect fit.
In Peru, Media Luna is located 12 minutes from the town of Urubamba and a scenic 1 ½ hour car ride through twisty, turny roads from Cusco. Most travelers fly into Cusco from Lima, the capital city of Peru. Lima is a great tourist destination itself so if you stop there on the way to Media Luna and the Sacred Valley, make sure to spend some time in Lima too.
There is a two hour (roundtrip) hike from Media Luna to the Maras Salt Mines where the locals still harvest their local salt. In addition to their cultural immersion tour circuit, Media Luna also offers a beautiful hiking tour to the mines which passes breath-taking natural scenery as well as a cave that the locals used to inhabit.
If you decide to join the Media Luna hike to the Salineras de Maras, you will see that it has an observation platform that you can stand on to view the locals harvesting the salt. There used to be a path through the mines, but this was closed shortly after our trip. They closed the path because too many tourists were contaminating the salt mines by straying off of the paths. It is a shame that the vacationers could not treat the mines with the respect that they deserve and that viewing had to be restricted because of the destruction of this cultural site. See what it was like to walk down the Salineras de Maras pathway before it was closed.
How did you decide to visit Media Luna, Peru?
We decided to do the tourism circuit through Media Luna in order to experience an authentic Sacred Valley experience and to be a part of their culture for just a short time. The head of the tours were the ladies in Media Luna, who were locals that lived in the community. They shared their lives with us and told us what their days were normally like. It was real-world and not yet commercialized. They sold products that they hand-made and the money went directly to the community. We were invited as guests into their homes and we felt like friends as they had discussions with us.
How did you get to Media Luna, Peru?
We took a local taxi from Ollantaytambo to get to Media Luna. We do not speak Spanish, so we only told the taxi driver our destination: MEDIA LUNA, and then negotiated the price.
How did you travel around Media Luna once you arrived?
Once our tour circuit began, we started at the weaver’s house. She showed us how she created beautiful and colorful textiles from alpaca wool, explaining how she made the wool, dyed it, and operated the loom. After her demonstration, we walked next door to the herbal medicine woman’s house. There, we were instructed how everything growing in nature was used to keep the community happy and healthy. Next, we crossed the street, passed by the yard where the school children were playing outside for recess and went into the barn of the guinea pig raiser. She showed us the guinea pig babies that were born the previous day and let us pet their soft little heads. Lastly, we went into the yard of the chica-maker. She was in the middle of brewing a batch of corn beer and explained all the steps necessary to make this drink. When it was done, she poured us all a full cup so that we could toast to good health.
What was your favorite moment during your visit to Media Luna?
My favorite moment was during our interactions with the weaver when her 5-year-old son sat next to me. I took out my phone and took our picture together. He smiled the biggest smile! That smile got even bigger when I replayed the picture and showed it to him on my phone. He just loved looking back at his smiling face! I wish I could have gotten a picture of him LOOKING at his picture.
One of the best parts of travel is experiencing the local flavors. What was your favorite meal in Media Luna?
After our tour through the local community houses was done, we went into the little town restaurant where they prepared traditional dishes for us. We had soup, rice, and potatoes. It was all delicious.
Did anyone travel to Media Luna with you?
Hubby and I were the only ones on this tour so it had a very personal touch.
Did you meet any of the locals? What were they like?
All of the locals were really friendly. We were not able to communicate directly with them because they only spoke Quechan, but they were always asking the interpreter if we had any more questions that they could answer.
In particular, Carmen, the Chica-maker, was really friendly and invited us all to a glass of chica once she was done brewing it.
There were little puppies and kittens running all around her area. Those furballs were so cuddly and friendly too. I stayed for awhile extra so that I could give each one a belly-rub.
Did you learn any local expressions in Media Luna?
The ladies all spoke Quechan, so we had an interpreter with us the whole time.
Did you bring home any memorable souvenirs during your trip?
The weaver had a nice supply of hand-made textiles that were available for sale. I was able to pick out a nice souvenir of her handiwork.
One of the other souvenirs that we brought home from the Sacred Valley was a llama keychain. It is very common to see llamas roaming all around Peru. One of my bucket-list items was to feed a llama. We accomplished this as soon as we arrived in Peru and were also able to snap a photo-op with a baby llama all dressed up in traditional colorful garb. He was such a little cutie!
What's one thing travelers can't forget to pack when they visit Media Luna?
A good thing to pack with you when you visit Media Luna is little gifts for the school children, like pencils, hand-held pencil sharpeners, fun erasers and chalk. You will walk past the playground and be able to hand out your little tokens to all the young school kids who will be beaming at you with eager smiling faces. They will be so happy that you thought of them on your trip to Media Luna.