The Sacred Valley Peru
Attractions & Activities In Cusco & The Sacred Valley
This romantically named valley meanders through the steep slopes of the Andes, not far from the ancient Inca city of Cusco. The land here is among the most fertile and fecund in the country, and has been farmed since pre-Inca times.
Many visitors taking private tours to Machu Picchu rush through the Sacred Valley, or even bypass it altogether. But with so much to see and do here, from village-hopping around high-altitude settlements to ruin explorations to outdoor adventure, skirting past it would be a mistake.
The Sacred valley was, as its name suggests, a revered place for the Incas, who believed the mountains here embodied spirits. Though the empire has long since fallen, the Inca presence is still felt here, particularly in the ruins of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, and at the ancient experimental agricultural station at Moray.
The valley contains a string of steadfastly traditional hamlets, among them Calca, Lamay, Pisac, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. Traverse the dirt roads of this region by foot and encounter valley residents out in the field, tending to alpacas or sheep, or looking after crops of maize, quinoa and potatoes. At the salt beds of Maras, where evaporation pools create uneven terraces all the way down the steep-sided valley, you can observe Quechua-speaking locals harvesting salt with the same centuries-old methods that have been used since pre-Inca times.
If you’re on a custom Peru trip or are simply looking for some adventure, the Sacred Valley has outdoor thrills aplenty, offering hiking, biking, horseback riding and zip lining. What’s more, the weather in the Sacred valley is usually pleasant and the altitude is lower than Cusco, thus making it an ideal place to acclimatize upon arrival.
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