Located in the high Andes, the valley is one of the most naturally beautiful places on the planet; with sheer cliff faces and rivers that cut through the mountains forming valleys, this site is sure to take your breath away.
However, there is not only natural beauty to see in the Sacred Valley of the Inca´s, but there are also many other things to do in the Sacred Valley to keep you busy for a few days on your Peruvian adventure.
Most people come to Peru to see Machu Picchu the wonderful Inca Citadel located around 4
hours by train from the Inca City of Cusco, but you must not miss the Sacred Valley and a lot do
the tour to the Valley on their way to Machu Picchu.
The first place you should visit is Pisac, set high on the hill above the town of Pisac, is the truly
amazing ruin of Pisac. The citadel of Pisac, contemporary to Machu Picchu, is an archaeological complex where you can find the largest pre-Hispanic cemetery in the Americas. The Inca agricultural terraces that descend the mountain are called Andenes and are still used today, Pisac is one of the most important archeological sites in Peru. Pisac is popular for its huge and colourful market selling locally made handicrafts. The market is a constantly moving kaleidoscope of brilliant colours, with stacks of fabric woven into intricate patterns of vividly dyed wools with Andean villagers are dressed in their traditional clothing. The big day is Sunday, but there are smaller markets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. While you may not find the high quality that you will find in craft cooperatives in Cusco, you can be sure to find a wide selection and lower prices, especially if you are prepared to bargain. The market spreads across the main plaza, where there is a beautiful old church.
Moving on from Pisac, drive for around 50 minutes to Ollantaytambo; one of the best places in
the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo is the perfect stopping point on the way to visit Machu Picchu.
Ollantaytambo is one of the most original and well-preserved pre-Incan and Incan towns in
Peru, many of the buildings date back to the Incans and are built from stone.
The engineering genius of the ancient civilization which once ruled here can still be seen in the
corn terraces which wrap and flow around the hillsides, and in the hydro-engineering that
brings water from one river, evenly distributing it across the farmland and through channels
that crisscross the town, providing clean, fresh drinking and cleaning water. Ollantaytambo is
probably the most original and picturesque place in Peru, still keeping much of its traditional culture. The ancient Incan streets, houses, and waterways are even more beautiful by night,
the symmetrical circular terraces at Moray are fascinating and impressive. The site, which is
just outside the village of Moras, at first looks like a giant green amphitheatre, a vast bowl
formed by layer upon layer of flat terraces. Stone stairs built into the terrace walls allow you to
walk down to the very bottom level. Looking up at the surrounding stonewalls and the sky is
just as impressive as seeing Moray from above. Each of the different levels of terracing has its
own microclimate, which the Incas are thought to have used for testing the optimal growing
conditions for their crops.
The small town of Maras is located just 40 kilometres from Cusco City and is a very short drive from Ollantaytambo and Urubamba. Maras is home to an incredible network of ancient salt
deposits, from which salt has been extracted using evaporation pools since Incan times.
Extremely salty spring water is diverted into hand-built pools, where the water is left to
evaporate away, leaving only 100 per cent natural unrefined salt in its place. The Maras and
Moray attraction is usually a separate tour from the Sacred Valley but is worth the time as
both sites are very interesting.
Chinchero is a town at 12,342 feet above sea level. There, you will find a Quechua community
that weaves using an ancient textile art they have inherited from the Incas. There are tours
that show you the process to make and dye blankets and garments. It is recommended that you
visit the old square and the baroque style colonial church to understand how the Inca and
Spanish cultures mixed together.
If you are looking for something completely different to do, stay at the Sky lodges. The
Sky lodges are three sleeping pods that are attached to the side of the mountain above the
main road in the Sacred Valley. You will need to climb up to the pods so a certain level of
fitness is needed, once in your pod, dinner will be delivered and the views of the Sacred Valley
and the stars are incredible.
There are many other beautiful Sacred Valley hotels to stay at, including the Belmond Rio Sagrado and many others. There are many more things to do in the Sacred Valley, so
take the time to research and book your holiday to Peru today.