Just a few miles away from the city, you will be astonished by the spectacular Sacred Valley of the Incas. Take a one day trip if you are on a tight schedule, otherwise see the spectacular Inca ruins, local markets and beautiful scenery in 2 days or more.
The river Urubamba cuts its way through fields and rocky gorges beneath the high peaks of the Cordillera. The landscape is forever changing as shaft of sunlight, plantations of corn, Inca terraces tiled roofs, or the waters of the river itself.
Brown hills covered in wheat fields, separate Cusco from this beautiful high Valley. Major Inca ruins command the heights; Pisaq, Huchuy Cusco and Ollantaytambo are the best examples and traditional villages guard the bridge or stand on the Highlands. The river had a great significance to the Incas since we can find several strategy sites they build above it. They enhanced the valleys fertility by building vast stretches of terraces on the mountain flanks and the Inca rulers had their royal States here. It’s from the Incas own name for the river that the section from Pisaq to Ollantaytambo is called sacred today.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas is located at 2800 masl (9186 ft). Many decide to spend their first days in the Valley to get used to the altitude. Due to its elevation, is a good option to enjoy the nature and get fully acclimatized. The average temperature rises around 20°C (°68F).
The Sacred Valley is situated between Cusco and Machu Picchu, which represents a good oportunity to spend at least a day exploring its attractions.
The weather is very convinient to any visitors. It's often warm and sunny and offers different places to visit such as Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Moray, etc.
The Sacred Valley gathers many attractions, some close to the city and others some miles away. In either case, you'll always start from Cusco city. Pisac, for example, is located at 90Km on the northwest. The village of Urubamba, where most of high quality hotels are located, is situtated 40 Km away from Pisac.
The best way to reach the Sacred Valley is by hiring a reliable travel agency that can provide you all the services. That way, you'll be able to enjoy at your own pace all the attractions. Normally, tour operators offer transportation, guided tour and meals. To have more details, check our day trip to the Sacred Valley.
Many visitors look for staying a couple of days in the Sacred Valley to get acclimatized, which is a great option if you're not sure to rest in Cusco city. From here you can board the train heading to Machu Picchu and return to Cusco at the end.
After Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Incas remains as the most visited attraction. Different sites inspire visitors not just curiosity, but also a sense of relax, respect and harmony with the nature. Undoubtedly a "must see" if visiting Cusco.
Here we show you the best attractions that you should visit while being in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Pisac is one the highlands in the Sacred Valley. Located at 2800 masl (9180 ft) and 40 min ride from Cusco, is an archaeological site that reflects the Inca arquitecture on its highest level. Terraces overlooking the Valley, temples and canals are part this site.
On the other hand, the local market is one the major attractions. Described variously as colorful and interesting. Or touristy and expensive, which is in part explained by the fact that it contains both sections for the tourists and for the local community. Traditionally Sunday is the day when the people of the Highlands come down to sell their products ( potatoes, corn, beans, vegetables, weavings, pottery etc). These are traded for essentials such as salt, sugar, rice, fruit, plastic goods and tools.
The market comes to life as soon as the tourist buses arrive, around 10 a.m. and is usually over by 3 p.m. however there is also an important ceremony every Sunday in which the village majors from the surrounding and Highland villages participate in a Quechua catholic Mass. It’s a good example of respect for different religious cultures.
Moray Is a very atmospheric place which many people claim, has mystical powers.
This remote back beautiful site lies 9 Km to the west of the little town of Maras, and is well worth a visit. It displays many terraces used by the Incas, according to some theories, as a sort of open air-crop nursery, known locally as the laboratory of the Incas.
Each level is set to have its own microclimate. The scenery around here is absolutely stunning. As you leave Maras, look back to the village with its church, tiled roof and adobe walls framed by snowy mountains. All around are fields of wheat and other crops, such as Kiwicha, Quinoa, etc. To the northwest stands the majestic white peak of La Veronica. The light is wonderful in the late afternoon, but for the photography it's best to arrive in the morning.
If you're looking to visit this fantastic place, we highly recommend checking our day tour to Maras and Moray, you'll have a great experience discovering one of the most popular sites in Cusco.
Chinchero is a town in the northwest from Cusco, high on the pampa just off a direct road to Urubamba. The streets of village wine. From the lower sections, where transport stops, to the Plaza which is reached through an archway. You'll probably see many women weaving all around, this is because they are famous by their work. The Chinchero women are also famous by their traditional outfits which consist in red hats and pullovers as well as black skirts.
From the upper section, you’ll find the great square with a magnificent into wall separating the two levels. From the lower section another arch leads to an upper terrace, after which the Spaniards build an attractive church. The interior of the church has been restored to reveal the paintings in all their glory. Debt ceiling, beans and walls are covered in beautiful floral and religious designs. the altar is also great. Opposite to the church is a small museum. Excavations have revealed many in the walls, terraces, and other features.
About 1.5 km below Maras are the salineras (salt pans) which are well worth a visit. A small village in which there are a mass of terraced Inca salt pans. There is still in production after thousands of years.
It's particularly spectacular sight as there are over 5000. The cascade of centuries old rectangular basins is like a giant artwork by a cubist painter obsessed with the color white. These are now a fixture on the tourist circuit and can become congested with buses. The walk to the salt pans takes about 30 minutes. We recommend taking water as can be very hot and dry here.
A trip to Ollantaytambo is a journey into the past, to a world governed by a concept of time very different to the one which holds nowadays. Today, the descendants of the people who founded Ollantaytambo continue to live there, watched over still by the sacred mountains of Veronica and Alankoma. They work the land as they have always done, with the same patience and skill that their ancestors employed to shape and then move the huge blocks of stone with which they built both their homes and the temples in which they worshipped. The attractive little town now sits at the foot of some spectacular Inca ruins and terraces, and is billed directly on top of the original Inca town.
The rulings, known as a fortress, where in fact, a religious complex, with temple dedicated to the many divinities which comprised the Inca Pantheon. The gods the Incas worshipped represented the forces of nature, and were seen, therefore to control the agricultural life of the community. At the fortress with find the temple of Viracocha, the Creator God, as well as those devoted to the Sun, water, earth and lightning. the magnificent terraces which lead up to the temple site were almost certainly Used by astronomer priest for the cultivation of course for ceremonial purposes; the corn they grew there with mark the seasons for planting and harvesting for the rest of the community.
Decide which travel option you'd be interested in (train, trekking, etc.)
Contact a reliable travel agency to planning your trip.
Make sure to have all travel documents for visiting Peru as a tourist (valid passport, vaccines, etc).
Depending on your date visit, wear proper clothing (rainy season or dry season).
The Sacred Valley is a fantastic experience, consider hire a local guide to show you not just history, but also real treasures only a professional tour guide can provide you.
Consider visiting the Sacred Valley during the dry season, that is, from April to September. You'll have sunny and warm days.
The Sacred Valley ranges between 2400 and 2800 meters above sea level.
Yes, it is. Make sure to hire a reliable travel agency to travel with confidence and safely.
The average time to visit the Sacred Valley is two days, but one day is enough to see the highlights.
Eating is probably the greatest part of the journey. There are plenty of options everywhere. We can suggest the "Tunupa" restaurant, the "Muna" restaurant, etc.
The Sacred Valley has been closed for many months due to the Covid-19. However, it's now open to visitors. We suggest that you contact us first to have further information.