Enjoy the Sacred Valley
For most people, a trip to the Sacred Valley of the Incas can be the highlight of their Peruvian adventure, and rightly so as the valley is one of the most naturally spectacular places in all of Peru. Located around an hour’s drive from the Inca capital of Cusco, the valley has much to offer.
Your first site on your visit in the valley will be the truly spectacular ruin of Pisac. Set on the side of a mountain overlooking the valley, the site has some of the best examples of ancient terracing that you will see in Peru. Some scholars, focusing on the complex’s sweeping agricultural terraces, argue that Pisac is a kind of royal hacienda or estate built by the Inca Pachacutec in the mid-1400s. According to this theory, the visionary emperor erected a rural villa to commemorate his defeat of the Cuyos, a rival Andean group who resisted Inca rule. Pisac’s terraces would have provided corn, potatoes, and peppers for yet another imperial country home, a la Machu Picchu.
It couldn’t have been easy to build. High up on a ridge above the valley, sections of the city sit occupying the relatively flat areas with steps, paths and even tunnels connecting them with one another. Where there are no steep drops into the valley below are row upon row of huge descending terraces so large that they add a significant amount to the total arable land in the valley. The views from the site are spectacular so take your camera for some great photos.
After you tour the ruins, travel down to the town of Pisac and visit the local market, considered one of the best in Peru. Here, you will find some of the best things to buy, walk through the colorful streets of the market and spend to your heart’s content. On Tuesdays, Thursday and Sundays, the local people come from the country to sell their produce in front of the market, all this color makes for some great photos. Surrounding the plaza are some wonderful little cafes; the perfect place to watch the world go by and enjoy a light lunch.
Pass the towns of Calca famous for its great Cuy, roasted guinea pig, cooked in clay ovens and Lamay famous for its corn growing.
Travel further into the valley and visit Urubamba the main town of the valley. Here enjoy lunch in one of the many restaurants that are located in Urubamba. There are no ancient ruins here but the town has a lovely plaza and a wonderful climate.
On any tour of the Sacred Valley you must enjoy the ruins at Ollantaytambo. Ollantaytambo was a strategic military, agricultural and religious place to manage the Sacred Valley of the Incas, this follows from the constructions that were presumed agricultural reservoirs and for military use as walls and watchtowers. There are 150 steps that separate the top from lower part and observe the perfect carved stones, obviously, dedicated to water worship, with a great similarity to Tipon. This place is a ceremonial center and worship of water purification. The archaeological site includes a series of over-imposed terraces, showing the impressive and large blocks of stone finely carved and located on the upper terrace better known as the Temple of the Sun.
The Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo were ordered to be constructed by Pachacutec, after submitting its inhabitants and conquer these lands, imposing works of agricultural infrastructure, composed by hundreds of platforms and channels to ensure the farmlands, checkpoints and watchfulness are in the hilltops, domestic and ceremonial buildings.
The town of Ollantaytambo is called ‘Living Inca City’ because its residents live according to their traditions and customs inherited from their ancestors. The town retains its Inca cobblestone streets and water passageways, giving you the sense of stepping back in time. Ollantaytambo is a great place to spend the night and has some great restaurants to have dinner.
The valley is full of wonderful hotels to stay the night. From the luxury 5 star properties like the Belmond Rio Sagrado and the InkaTerra Hacienda, you can spend the night in all the luxury you could ever wish for. There are many 4 star hotels that would be special to spend the night, many spend the night in the Sacred Valley on their way to Machu Picchu.
The valley also has many yoga and wellness retreats if you feel like spending some time in the peace and tranquility of the mountains that surround the valley. There are programs that feature yoga therapy for up to 5 days, where you can cleanse the palate with delightful vegetarian cuisine.
The Sacred Valley has something for everyone and you should include it on your Peruvian holiday, the valley was the garden of the Inca for its great climate and beautiful landscape, see it for yourself on your next Peruvian adventure to the Sacred Valley of the Incas.