Nestled between Cusco and Machu Picchu (Peru) and the starting point of the Inca Trail, the Sacred Valley of the Incas unfolds as a treasure trove of Incan wonders, natural beauty, and cultural richness. From hidden archaeological gems to vibrant markets, there’s no shortage of activities to immerse yourself in. Let’s embark on a journey through the Sacred Valley and discover the myriad experiences it has to offer.
Perched on the slopes of Qaqawiñay Mountain, Maras boasts a breathtaking sight of 4,500 salt pans cascading down the terrain. Tour the salt pans, indulge in salt-related souvenirs from local stores, and explore the area’s walking routes for stunning vistas. Maras, with its mesmerizing landscape, has become an Instagram-worthy spot.
As the official capital of the Sacred Valley, Urubamba beckons with its beautiful Plaza, cathedral, and the charming chapel of Torrechayoc. Enjoy the excellent climate, panoramic valley views, and excursions to nearby Chichubamba. Dive into Peruvian local food, witness ceramic workshops, and easily access the Maras Salt Mines and the Amphitheatre.
Explore Moray’s Inca Terraces:
Moray’s Inca terraces, an amphitheater-like structure at an altitude of 11,500 feet, offer a unique glimpse into agricultural ingenuity. Not included in the Boleto Turístico, Moray remains a serene destination. Experience the quietude and marvel at the circular terraces that unfold like a work of art amid the rugged hills. You can visit Moray when you visit Maras, as they are close to each other.
Quad Biking Adventure:
For a thrilling adventure, consider quad biking to Maras and Moray. Swap traditional transport for an all-terrain vehicle, journeying from Cusco to the Sacred Valley. Explore Moray’s archaeological site and the terraced pools of the Maras Salt Mines, adding an exhilarating twist to your Sacred Valley exploration.
Engage in Creative Workshops and Yoga:
Unleash your creativity at a ceramic workshop in Urubamba, led by Pablo Seminario. Delve into ancient molding and sculpturing techniques. Or, embrace tranquility with a yoga class or opt for a retreat, savoring the serene atmosphere of the Sacred Valley in Urubamba and Pisac.
Shop in Style:
Whether you’re after an alpaca sweater, a vibrant Peruvian backpack, or unique souvenirs, the markets of Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and Chincheros, as well as artisan shops in Urubamba, offer a shopping haven.
For a unique experience, hop on a moto-taxi or ‘cholo taxi’ and traverse the Sacred Valley. Revel in the sun and stunning scenery, all while keeping an eye on the traffic. It’s a fun and unconventional way to soak in the beauty of the Incas’ sacred land.
Explore Incan Ruins:
No visit to Peru is complete without exploring the awe-inspiring Inca ruins. Wander through the Archaeological Park of Pisac, marvel at the terraced platforms in Ollantaytambo, and discover the nested terraces of Chincheros with its early 1600s church.
Train journey to Machu Picchu:
If you have no plans to hike the Inca Trail, then take the train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. Experience the grandeur of this archaeological marvel, one of the 7 new World Wonders. A climb to Huayna Picchu offers sweeping views of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.
Outdoor Adventures Abound:
The Sacred Valley is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts. Embark on hiking, biking, river rafting, zip-lining, via Ferrata, quad biking, and more. Immerse yourself in the diverse landscapes and thrilling activities that make the Sacred Valley an adventurer’s paradise. You can book the tours in Cusco or online (there are not many travel agencies in the Sacred Valley itself).
The small town of Pisac is worth visiting for several reasons. Situated in the beginning of the Sacred Valley of the former Incan Empire, it is surrounded by lush greenery and dramatic mountains. Pisac is home to impressive Inca ruins, such as the Pisac Inca, which offer a glimpse into the ancient civilization’s architecture and history. Pisac also provides an opportunity to engage with the local culture, learn about traditional practices, and experience the warmth and hospitality of the Peruvian people.
Enjoying the Valley
From the tranquility of ceramic workshops to the adrenaline rush of outdoor adventures, the Sacred Valley unfolds as a multifaceted destination. Whether you seek cultural immersion, outdoor thrills, or serene retreats, the Sacred Valley caters to every traveler’s desires. It is a great place to spend some time before or after doing the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Pack your sense of adventure and embark on an unforgettable journey through the heart of the Inca Empire in Peru.