If something catches the attention of all visitors to Cusco, it is their Andean and living culture, their people, their customs, and even their food. When one is in the center of the city of Cusco walking through its convoluted and mysterious streets, or comfortably seated on the bench in the main square, it is difficult to imagine that the imposing neighboring mountains could harbor a landscape similar to that of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Few places in the Tahuantinsuyo could compete with the beauty and richness of this valley not in vain was given that name. Its "sacred" character has survived and stood out over time and that magic continues to seduce travelers. Many of them, in love with this valley and taking roots on the banks of the Urubamba River, not in vain many travelers decided to stay to live in the sacred valley, for its tranquility and beautiful scenery.
In the Sacred Valley beautiful colonial towns that were created are spread, and today they show their miscegenation in architecture, art and living culture. There are the villages of Chinchero and its weavers, Pisac and its craft fair, Urubamba and its cosmopolitanism, Ollantaytambo, with its fortress and its Inca people alive. And Maras Moray with its dazzling Salineras, in these territories, of the Sacred Valley, diverse communities have created products of rural tourism and experiential tourism that amaze both locals and strangers. Each of them is a world in itself, and together, they make up an unprecedented way to get to know the most traditional region of the South American Andes.
Among the landscapes of vegetation and cities that keep their culture intact, the Sacred Valley shows its visitors the variety of flora, friendly climate and natural resources that it has. In times of Tahuantinsuyo was the center of the Cusco civilization, becoming a source of food for the ancient Incas. This city is located within the province of Urubamba and is surrounded by imposing gorges.
Located at the foot of the Andes, the valley that surrounds Cusco was of great importance to the Incas, who planted it with palaces, temples and fortresses that are now World Heritage.
The Sacred Valley is located between high mountains that frame a colorful blanket of fields of crops, accompanied by picturesque villages and a splendid river. Its innumerable archaeological sites, built in times of the Incas, have made it the favorite place for tourists. Recognized for being the main center of agricultural production in the time of the Incas.
The Sacred Valley extends for about 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of Cusco (towards Machu Picchu), and has a median elevation of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet), which is approximately 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) lower than the city of Cusco.
The climate is considerably warmer than in the city of Cusco, and that is why it was the area chosen by the Incas, and later the Spanish conquerors, as a place of rest where they established their haciendas and country houses.
Picturesque village located in the foothills of Intihuatana hill (place where the sun is moored), has the best andean system achieved by the Incas in all the Andes.
Near the village is located the Picac Archaeological Park, Inca archaeological sites, finely assembled polished stone constructions, citadel, towers, military fortresses, astronomical observatories, etc. Highlights the Inca cemetery, the largest in all of America.
Every Sunday the Sunday party is celebrated, headed by the caciques or chiefs of Ayllus carrying their varáyoc and typical costumes, folk dances and mass in Quechua. Also every Sunday is the "catu", which is the native trade fair for the exchange of agricultural products in which barter prevails, a living custom of a purely Inca character.
Every Thursday and Sunday the "Indian market" is held in the Main Square, the handicrafts fair, among which stand out beautiful textile crafts, sweaters, ponchos, bags, etc. and the ceramic crafts with reproductions of Inca archaeological pieces, the queros (ceremonial vessels), necklaces, etc. This fair is attended by craftsmen and indigenous merchants from many towns to stock and trade their products. písac is located 32 km. (20 miles) from the city of Cusco, 2,972 m.s.n.m. (9,751 feet).
Village immersed in beauties of Andean landscapes, in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility, which have as background the beautiful snow-capped mountains of Pitusira and Sahuasiray.
The medicinal baths of Machacancha (sulphurous hot springs) and Minasmoqo (cold soda waters) are close to the town. Near the Calca is the Inca archaeological complex of Huchuy Cusco. Calca is located 50 km (31 miles) from Cusco, 2,928 m.s. (9,606 feet)
The beauty of its landscape, and the mildness of its climate, made Yúcay the place chosen by the Inca royalty for rest and recreation, to which they also attributed a mythological character and powers over the human spirit.
The fertility of its lands made it one of the main centers of agricultural production in the time of the Incas, large terraces. There are numerous Inca constructions, among which the Inca Sayri Tupac Palace stands out, stone and adobe construction with decorations on its high and bas-relief walls.
In the village there is a small museum site; there are comfortable and good hotels in the area. It is located 68 km (42 miles) from Cusco, and 2,857 m.s.n.m. (9,373 feet)
Another ancient Inca town, located in a fertile valley, once a great agricultural center of the Incas, and today a beautiful countryside, with great production of fruit trees.
Urubamba is located on the slopes of the majestic snowy Chicón, to which you can easily reach and achieve its ascent.
Urubamba is also called the "Archaeological Capital of Peru", because of the rich Inca archaeological sites that exist in the area; It is also called "The Pearl of the Vilcanota", for the incomparable landscapes that surround it, natural settings of indescribable beauty. There are indigenous communities of marked ancestral customs.
Urubamba is also an ideal setting for the practice of numerous adventure sports, such as canoeing, hiking, mountain climbing, mountain biking and horseback riding. From Urubamba, there are good penetration routes to undertake adventures in the jungle area of Cusco.
In the city and its surroundings there are comfortable and excellent places to stay and eat. It is located 72 km (45 miles) from Cusco, via Pisac, and 58 km (36 miles) via Chinchero, 2,871 meters (9,419 feet).
The legend tells that Ollántay (the titan of the Andes) of plebeian origin, loved the princess Cusi Coyllor (cheerful star) daughter of the king Inca Pachacútec, who was in disagreement with this love. Pachacútec sent the princess to a house of Virgins, Ollántay tried to kidnap her from there, without success and managed to flee. From the fortress that Ollántay had in command he rebelled against Pachacútec, and after bloody battles he was defeated, but Pachacútec's generosity made him spare Ollántay's life.
The foundation of Ollantaytambo is attributed to Ollántay, and the military fort that protected this area of the valley, strategically located between two mountains, prevails. Today you can see this fortress, and also the rich Inca archaeological sites, formed by the temple to Inti (sun god), the Incamisana, the baths of the Ñustas (princesses), the chullpas of Cachiccata, a group of terraces symmetrically staggered and very steep on the side of a hill.
At the top of the archaeological complex stand out six monoliths of enormous size, assembled with incredible precision, which have mysterious engravings of Inca iconography motifs.
The current town of Ollantaytambo, has many houses built on the foundations of the ancient Inca town, where native inhabitants live rooted in ancestral customs.
The complexity and beauty of the Inca buildings and the contemporary people, the immense agricultural complex, great administrative and social center, religious and military, is considered by many scientists and historians as one of the most important living museums in the world.
Ollantaytambo is located 97 km (60 miles) from Cusco, 2,846 m.s. (9,337 feet).
The best option is to hire a Tour, even more when you do not have too much time. The costs are not high and you will practically get better than if you do it for free. On your own, a route that you can take in a single day will take you days and many of the places you visit are just to stay a couple of hours.
It is comprised between the towns of Pisaq and Ollantaytambo, parallel to the Vilcanota River or Wilcamayu ('sacred river'). It can be accessed from the city of Cusco.
If something draws attention in Cusco, are its contrasts. When one is in the center of the city - walking through its convoluted and mysterious alleys, or sitting comfortably in the square - it is difficult to imagine that the imposing neighboring hills could harbor a landscape similar to that of the Sacred Valley. Few places in the Tahuantinsuyo could compete with the beauty and richness of this valley: it was not in vain that it was given that name. Its "sacred" character has survived the passage of time and that magic continues to seduce travelers. Many of them, surrendered to their charm, decide to leave everything and take root under the shade of the eucalyptus, on the banks of the Urubamba River.
It is the tourist attractions that make the Sacred Valley one of the richest destinations in culture, tradition, custom and history. Learn more about the magical cities you have below:
Pre-Inca city that still keeps its adobe and stone buildings. It is one of the perfect points to start the journey to Machu Picchu, making the ancient Inca trail. From this point you can see the corn harvests and learn more about the cultivation of the land, where they use the river water to transform it into drinking water and clean for the people.
Located 40 km from the city of Cusco, in this place is one of the oldest deposits of salt, the same that were extracted in times of the Incas for human consumption.
Known for its impressive circular construction, fulfilling the function of an amphitheater by the huge terraces it has, the advanced engineering of Moray was totally innovative for the time. This entire complex was developed for the manufacture of food.
Adrenaline can not go unnoticed if one speaks of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. In this place, tourists can practice extreme sports where it only requires enthusiasm and enthusiasm. The activities you can do outdoors are: mountain biking, canopy, trekking, zipline and mountain climbing.
From the city of Cuzco you can do many day trips, but perhaps the most famous of them all ends in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, specifically in the town of Ollantaytambo, 68km from the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. Therefore, it is not just a recommendation but almost an obligation to go through these places before visiting what is possibly the star of your trip, Machu Picchu. The final visit to the Sacred Valley consisted of 5 different places, among which are Moray, Chinchero and Ollantaytambo. 3 zones with Inca past that we should not miss.
This ticket allows you to enter the 16 touristic places of the city of Cusco, Sacsayhuaman Archaeological Park, South Valley of Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Below is a list of sites that includes:
It is possible to buy the tourist ticket of Cusco in its partial form. That is, by circuits that offer sites of tourist interest by areas.
This ticket allows you to enter archaeological centers located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. These are:
There are many roads that lead to Machu Picchu but none like the Inca Trail. The most popular among travelers and the most famous pedestrian street of the American continent. From Cuzco, 43 kilometers of path between forests and dense fogs, millenarian stone steps and majestic views. At the end is the reward: the famous Puerta del Sol and its impressive views of the ruins of Machu Picchu. Doing the Inca Trail is an initiatory rite for the traveler and a unique adventure but it is necessary to plan well before getting on the road.
In a deep valley, the Incas had devised one of the strangest constructions I had seen. A succession of continuous circles dug into the earth and separated by deep steps. As was logical, everything has its reason.
The Incas used Moray as an agricultural laboratory in order to experiment with different crops. But were not we at 3500m altitude? What can grow to such height? These so logical questions have their answer. The depression is located in a place where the wind hardly runs, it feeds on underground water and, curiously, it is never flooded, since the earth that sustains it is capable of absorbing the torrential rains. But all this is not enough to grow at this altitude. The key to all this are the steps. Each step we go down, the temperature increases almost 3 degrees Celsius, so there may be more than 10 degrees difference between the highest point and the lowest. With this the Incas cultivated more than 150 types of corn and potatoes. Of all the greenhouses in Moray, only one is restored and the rest are preserved as in the photograph above.
We have several options in different locations. We can start and finish in the same city of Cuzco or finish in Ollantaytambo or Aguas Calientes. The latter is very frequent to link directly with the pearl of Peru, Machu Picchu. As a general rule, the tours come with Hotel included, but if you decide to stop in this part and go for your account, the ideal is to sleep in Ollantaytambo since the hotels are cheaper than in Aguas Calientes.
Located in the Sacred Valley of Cuzco, Peru, the exclusive Skylodge Adventure Suites offers you the chance to sleep within a completely transparent hanging bedroom, that allows you to appreciate the impressive view of this magic and mystic valley. To sleep at Skylodge, people must climb 400 mt. of Via Ferrata or hike an intrepid trail through ziplines. One night at this place will make your dreams come true. Packages includes breakfast & gourmet dinner with wine, transportation from Cuzco and our professional bilingual guides.