The Sacred Valley in Peru should be on your Peruvian travel list. Located in the high Andes the valley is one of the most naturally beautiful places on the planet. Sear cliff faces with rivers that cut through the mountains forming valleys that will take your breath away. However, there is not only natural beauty to see in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. There are many 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.
Pisac is the first place you should visit. 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 colorful market, a good place to shop for local handicrafts. The market is a constantly moving kaleidoscope of brilliant colors, with stacks of fabric woven in intricate patterns of vividly dyed wools, and Andean villagers are dressed in their traditional clothing. The big day is Sunday, but there are smaller markets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and usually some sellers on any day. While you may not find the high quality that you will find in craft cooperatives in Cusco, you can be sure of 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, and it makes a 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 a combination of 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, 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 Moray, at first looks like a giant green amphitheater, 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 has located just 40 km from Cusco City and a very short drive from Ollantaytambo and Urubamba. Maras are 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 percent 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 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 Skylodges. The Skylodges 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 including the Belmond Rio Sagrado and many others that are worth a look. There are many more things to do in Sacred Valley, so take the time to research and book your holiday to Peru today.