Final Up to date on Could 7, 2022 by Nellie Huang
Excessive up within the Peruvian Andes lies the Sacred Valley, a dramatic space chocked stuffed with rugged landscapes, speckled with historical Inca ruins – together with Machu Picchu – and rural villages wealthy in indigenous tradition. Most vacationers move via this area on their strategy to Machu Picchu, however few cease and linger round to immerse within the Andean tradition right here.
Regardless of its proximity from the metropolis of Cusco (27 miles or 43km to be actual), the Sacred Valley is the Peru that many dream of: the place vicuñas roam free over lush inexperienced terraces, and Quechua women wearing colourful conventional follow centuries-old traditions that pre-date the Inca civilization.
The Sacred Valley was the spotlight of Peru for us, and we extremely advocate spending a while right here earlier than heading to Machu Picchu. On this information, I’m sharing the most effective issues to do in Sacred Valley, an in depth itinerary, and the place to remain.
Sacred Valley Peru Journey Information
The place is Sacred Valley Peru?
The Valley of the Solar is a 60-mile (100-km) lengthy valley that extends from Pisac City (20 kilometers from Cusco) to the citadel of Machu Picchu. The valley served as a transport hall and performed an necessary position within the Inca instances (thus the abundance of Inca ruins discovered right here). The Incas settled within the Sacred Valley because of the decrease elevation, hotter temperatures, and fertile soil. They carved stone terraces, which stay intact and are nonetheless in use at the moment.
I knew I would love Sacred Valley, however I didn’t count on it to the spotlight of our Peru journey. In comparison with Cusco and Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley is far much less commercialised and the indigenous tradition is really nicely preserved right here. The beautiful mountainscape, wealthy heritage, and historic treasures made this space my favourite a part of Peru.
Map of Sacred Valley Peru
Present Peru Journey Restrictions
All land and air borders to Peru are actually open. All vaccinated vacationers should present proof of vaccination, whereas unvaccinated vacationers should present legitimate unfavorable COVID-19 check outcomes, issued as much as 48 hours earlier than boarding. Kids below 12 are exempted. Test the Peru authorities web site for up-to-date data.
It’s necessary to have journey insurance coverage no matter how lengthy you’re touring. Security Wing is the most well-liked journey insurance coverage firm for COVID19-coverage. I take advantage of their Nomad Insurance coverage plan, which covers COVID-19 as some other sickness so long as it was not contracted earlier than your protection begin date. Check with my journey insurance coverage information for extra particulars.
Learn how to Get to Sacred Valley Peru
The principle gateway to the Sacred Valley is Cusco, the capital metropolis of the Inca civilization and a cradle of Latin American tradition. Cusco is about an hour’s flight from Lima, Peru’s capital metropolis (a bus takes 21 hours). The one worldwide flight to Cusco leaves from Santiago de Chile.
Our flight from Lima to Cusco value round US$150 return, however you’ll be able to higher offers if you happen to’re touring at shoulder season. Test for flights right here.
From Cusco, there are a number of methods to get to the Sacred Valley. The best means is to hire a automotive. We employed a automotive for five days from Cusco Airport and located it a superb strategy to discover the Sacred Valley. Our Cusco automotive rental value round US$280, which was not low cost however gave us extra freedom. We all the time e-book on Uncover Vehicles, as they’ve constantly given us the most effective charges and repair.
Sure driving in Peru requires some grit and the steep mountain roads of the Sacred Valley aren’t simple to navigate. However, if you happen to’ve obtained expertise driving overseas, it’s doable and positively makes for an journey!
By Public Transport
If you happen to converse Spanish, navigating the general public transport isn’t too tough. You simply want time, as colectivos (shared taxi) could be unreliable and solely go away once they’re full. Begin by taking a colectivo from Cusco to Pisac city. Colectivos go away recurrently from Calle Pavitos, situated simply off of Plaza de Armas, and value about 10 soles per particular person ($2.50). From Pisac, you’ll be able to take a colectivo to the opposite essential websites within the valley, corresponding to Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu.
For individuals who don’t drive however favor your personal transport, Taxidatum is a helpful service that lets you make a personal driver reservation on-line. Taxidatum can choose you up on the airport, lodge, or anyplace. They’ll await you in addition to take you across the Sacred Valley. The journey between Cusco and Ollantaytambo value roughly US$40.
Greatest Time to Go to Sacred Valley Peru
Sacred Valley is situated at a decrease altitude than Cusco, however it nonetheless lies round 8,000 toes (2,500m) above sea degree. Be ready for cold evenings and excessive temperature variations between day and evening.
The very best time to go to the Sacred Valley is through the dry season, which runs from April to October. Throughout this time, there may be little rainfall and temperatures are milder, making it best for out of doors actions.
We’ve traveled Peru in April and July, and located the climate to be all the time sunny, warmish, and excellent on each instances. Needless to say June to August is peak vacationer season in Peru, so count on crowds and better costs throughout these months. November to April is the wet season, temperatures are hotter however wetter. You should definitely pack waterproof gear!
How A lot Time to Discover the Sacred Valley?
We spent 5 days within the Sacred Valley, slowly taking our time to discover all of the Inca websites and villages, earlier than taking the practice to Machu Picchu. Most individuals do a Sacred Valley day tour from Cusco, however I don’t advocate that as someday is simply not sufficient to see and expertise all of it.
The Sacred Valley stretches throughout a distance of 60 miles (100km) and it’s suffering from historical websites, museums, artisanal facilities, and farms value visiting. You’d wish to take your time to discover and benefit from the Andean mountains.
Sacred Valley Excursions
The preferred choice is to e-book excursions of the valley, which generally embrace transportation and guides to archaeological websites. It makes logistics simpler and takes away the stress of navigating the roads your self. Nonetheless, you’ll be herded round in teams to websites that everybody goes. Exploring by yourself will let you see the less-visited websites and wander round at your personal tempo.
Right here’s a take a look at some in style Sacred Valley excursions. Learn additional to determine which elements of Sacred Valley you’ll wish to see most.
Boleto Turistico for the Sacred Valley
To enter the assorted Inca websites within the Sacred Valley, you must get a boleto turistico. It’s a single ticket which permits entry to the most important websites in Sacred Valley, corresponding to Pisac and Ollantaytambo ruins. Nonetheless, it’s solely legitimate for two days. Price: 70 Soles or US$18.50 .
You may get the boleto turistico at any of the websites within the Sacred Valley, however notice that ONLY CASH is accepted. It isn’t potential to purchase a person entry ticket for any single website included on the boleto turistico.
Circuit III Boleto Turistico: Legitimate for two days* and permits entry to those websites in Sacred Valley:
*It’s a problem to go to all 4 websites above in 2 days! We had to purchase two separate boletos turisticos as we wished to take our time.
Greatest Sacred Valley Motels
Sacred Valley is a giant space, so the place’s the most effective city to base your self at? I counsel selecting a base and exploring the valley from there (the furthest factors are at most 1.5-hour drive away).
Ollantaytambo is the most well-liked city within the Sacred Valley; virtually each traveler in Peru will move via because the trains to Machu Picchu go away from right here. For that very same motive, we selected to base ourselves right here. Urubamba is one other in style city to remain in because it’s house to the most effective lodges in Sacred Valley. I personally don’t suppose the city is enticing, however it enjoys a central location within the valley.
Price range: Wayras Hostal, Ollantaytambo
Wayras Hostal has a superb location subsequent to the Ollantaytambo practice station. We selected to remain right here for an evening as we had an early morning practice to Machu Picchu to catch. The triple rooms are comfy, with thick duvets and the sound of the river outdoors the window. Test charges right here.
Mid Vary: Del Pilar Ollantaytambo
We stayed at this countryside lodge (pictured) for many of our time within the Sacred Valley. The lodge’s location (a 20-minute drive from Ollantaymbo) could also be inconvenient for these with no automotive, however we liked being surrounded by the mountains. The lodge has high quality furnishings, a superb recreation room with boardgames and pool desk, in addition to mountain bikes that you should utilize totally free! Test charges right here.
Luxurious: Tambo del Inka, Urubamba
Among the best lodges in Sacred Valley is Tambo del Inka, which sits proper alongside the Urubamba River and has a personal practice station to Machu Picchu. This beautiful property is laid out on a sprawling inexperienced space, and provides the proper rustic luxurious expertise. Test charges right here.
Extremely Luxurious: Inkaterra Hacienda Urubumba
Simply probably the most luxurious lodge in Sacred Valley, Inkaterra Hacienda has a privileged location overlooking Urumbamba. Housed in a large hacienda surrounded by mountains, this resort serves up the best lodging within the space. Good for honeymooners and people seeking to splurge. Test charges right here.
Sacred Valley Itinerary
You possibly can most likely inform by now that there are numerous issues to do in Sacred Valley. I’m sharing the main points of our Sacred Valley itinerary that covers the most effective spots within the space. This itinerary can simply be prolonged to five days if you wish to take issues gradual, and even 6 days if you wish to embrace lengthy hikes.
Sacred Valley Day 1
Get Up Near Alpacas at Awana Kancha
Leaving Cusco behind, drive half-hour to the Awana Kancha, an academic farm and dwelling museum of the Andes. The farm is house to 4 species of the native camelid household: alpacas, llamas, guanacos and vicunãs. These long-necked creatures have traditionally roamed the Andes and supplied clothes, gasoline and companionship as domesticated animals for over 5,000 years.
Feeding these cheeky creatures is loads of enjoyable, and their inquisitive nature makes assembly them an fulfilling expertise. Simply watch out about saliva and spitting! Don’t miss out on Awana Kancha’s fascinating reveals on Peruvian textiles’ manufacturing and making. Entry is free, however donations are a lot appreciated!
Wander round Pisac Market
After assembly the animals, proceed driving for an hour to achieve Pisac, one of many essential cities in Sacred Valley. Make a cease at its bustling market, the place Peruvians from all around the valley come to commerce their items.
The market sells every little thing from contemporary vegetables and fruit to stay chickens and cuy (guinea pigs). Seize some empanadas for a fast lunch or sit down for a dieta de pollo (hen noodle soup). You can even discover conventional clothes, hand-crafted jewellery and different souvenirs. It’s an incredible place to work together with the Quechua neighborhood and get a really feel for rural life in Sacred Valley.
Discover Pisac Ruins
Pisac ruins are amongst Peru’s most in depth archeological websites, and stated to be greater than Machu Picchu. Situated on the lengthy crest of a 3000m excessive mountain overlooking the Southern finish of the Sacred Valley, , the Pisac ruins supply spectacular views of the valley.
The sheer dimension and placement of the positioning means that Pisac was an necessary defence towards any potential invasion of Cusco. One of many essential websites right here is Inti Punku, or the ‘Solar Gate’. From right here, you get a shocking view of the valley under and all the website. Plan to spend at the least 2 hours right here.
Keep the evening in Pisac city or Urubamba (a 30-minute drive away). Try my lodge ideas above.
Sacred Valley Day 2
Go to Museo Inkariy
Begin your morning with a go to of Museo Inkariy within the city of Calca. This new museum is among the greatest that we’ve visited in Peru: it exhibits the fascinating pre-Colombian civilizations that got here earlier than the Inca.
You find out about every civilization, together with the Inca, via key artifacts, musical devices, instruments, and even life-sized figures of its folks. Nice for each adults and youngsters! Entry: 35 Soles or US$9.
Lunch at Parwa Group Restaurant
The Parwa Group Restaurant is situated in Huchuy Qosqo, a tiny hamlet of 70 households round a 20-minute drive away. Due to the village’s remoted place and lack of primary providers, many inhabitants battle to get by.
The restaurant, run by the Huchuy Qosqo Affiliation, makes use of all of its earnings to help neighborhood growth efforts. The meals comes from native farmers, which helps to develop the native financial system. Workers on the restaurant get coaching, a wage each month, medical insurance and retirement advantages. The meals is genuine and scrumptious, and you recognize your cash goes to a very good trigger!
Wander round Yucay
After lunch, drive in the direction of Urubamba, the most important city within the Sacred Valley. The bustling city shouldn’t be overly enticing, because it’s primarily a transport hub. Skip the city and head straight to the small farming city of Yucay. That is house to the archaeological website, Palacio de Sayritupac. The palace belonged to the final Inca king, Sayri Tupac 1350-1558.
Students imagine it was used as an Inca astronomy heart support with the altering seasons and agriculture. You possibly can nonetheless spot mural work within the niches, a clay oven that was utilized by the Incas to complete pottery, and the illustration of an Andean Cross (or Chakana).
Drink Craft Beer on the Sacred Valley Taproom
Beer lovers, don’t miss the Cerveceria del Valle Sagrado taproom, situated halfway between Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. Based in 2014, the Sacred Valley brewery has received quite a few awards and produces a few of the greatest craft beer in Peru.
Our favourite was the Be Type, a conventional pale ale. Alberto additionally actually favored the Olas de Maras, a bitter beer with hints of salt from Maras and the aguaymanto fruit.
Keep the evening in Urubamba or Ollantaytambo. Resort ideas are above.
Sacred Valley Day 3
Marvel the UNESCO Maras Salt MINES
It’s steep drive from Urubamba as much as the Maras salt mines, however the journey is undoubtedly a few of the most breath-taking surroundings in Peru. Salineras de Maras is a group of about 3,000 small swimming pools that sit on the slopes of the mountains. I bear in mind first listening to about these salt mines from a documentary, Añay Kachi (extremely value watching!).
The indigenous communities have been harvesting salt from the springs right here by hand for over 600 years, previous to the Inca instances. After a few years of battle and unfair working circumstances, the salt employees grew to become homeowners of the salt mine, making a cooperative. In the present day they proudly personal and function the salt enterprise and the salt mines are a UNESCO World Heritage Web site.
You possibly can nonetheless see the salt employees arduous at work at the moment, however it’s now not allowed to stroll free across the salt swimming pools. Entry: 35 Soles or US$9.
Cease at Mountain View Expertise
As you permit Maras behind, you’ll spot the beautiful glamping huts of Mountain View Expertise. Right here, A-framed wood huts stand precariously on the meadow, with wild vicunas roaming round you. One of many huts even include an outside scorching tub! We didn’t keep right here because it was out of the way in which, however we want we did! It’s gloriously in the midst of the mountains and the situation is simply spectacular.
Admire Moray Round Terraces
Proper subsequent to Maras is the intriguing Moray archaeological website, the place you’ll discover round terraces or “muyus” constructed on mountaintops. Constructed by the Incas, these circumscribed circles had been designed to create microclimates. Scientists imagine that this was a sort of agricultural laboratory. The positioning resembles an amphitheater and has been immaculately preserved.
Wander round Chinchero
A 40-minute zigzagging drive up the mountains is the picturesque city of Chinchero, situated at 12,460 toes (3,800m) above sea degree, even greater than Cusco! The outdated city is perched on steep hill slopes, so each step is an upward ascent. If you happen to begin strolling away from the village, you’ll discover the Inca terraces.
This city was the nation resort of Inti Tupac, the son of well-known Inca king, Pachacutec. He ordered the development of those agricultural terraces, that are nonetheless in use at the moment. The soil in Chincero is definitely probably the most fertile in the entire Sacred Valley, and plenty of native produce like quinoa and potatoes are grown right here.
Go to the Chinchero Market
Attempt to time your go to to coincide with market day, on Tuesday, Thursday, and particularly Sunday. The Chinchero market is much less business than its counterpart in Pisac, and is nicely value visiting! Historically dressed locals from the hills descend for the produce market on Sunday, an enchanting alternative to see precise bartering.
*Don’t mistake this for the artisanal market in Chinchero ruins. The Chichero Market is down the street and is extra of a contemporary produce market. It’s much more genuine and untouristy.
Cease on the Centro de Produccion Texil Illapa
In your means again down, cease on the Illapa Artisanal Middle to study in regards to the weaving practices in Chinchero. The locals, wearing conventional apparel, will reveal how alpaca wool is spun and dyed to create their beautiful textiles. They had been so variety to supply us coca tea for the altitude, and speak to us in regards to the variations between the native communities. Entry is free, however a purchase order or suggestions is appreciated.
Keep in Urubamba (a 30-minute drive) or Ollantaytambo (1-hour drive) for the night.
Sacred Valley Day 4
Wander round Ollantaytambo Outdated City
We’ve left the most effective for the final: Ollantaytambo would be the gateway metropolis to Machu Picchu, however it deserves to be a vacation spot by itself. The village’s outdated city is an Inca-era grid of cobblestoned streets and adobe buildings, that you would be able to simply spend days getting misplaced in.
Strolling the city’s historical alleyways is like stepping again in time. Begin at Plaza de Armas, the principle sq. flanked by tourist-centric eating places promoting pizza, pasta, burgers, and alpaca steaks. Duck into one of many side-streets and also you’ll discover far more genuine eats, outlets, artwork galleries and even yoga studios.
Hike up the Ollantaytambo Ruins
Perched on the hilltops of the city, the Ollantaytambo fortress is a showcase of fantastic Incan stonework. Throughout the Spanish conquest of Peru, it was used as a fortress by the Inca resistance. The truth is, the Inca repelled the Spanish military from this location. Sadly, the Spaniards returned with higher forces later and compelled the Inca to withdraw to Vilcabamba.
Probably the most outstanding options are the Temple Hill and the Temple of the Solar, with their large stones stacked at good angles. These enormous rocks nonetheless bear historical carvings in reduction. The complicated additionally features a stepped terrace, referred to as the Princess Baths, the place ritual bathing came about.
See the Ollantaytambo Market
Mendacity on the foot of the Ollantaytambo ruins is the out of doors Ollantaytambo market. It’s extra of a memento market today, jam-packed with handicrafts and souvenirs of each form and dimension. Costs listed here are greater than in Cusco. You can even spot “Inca emperors” right here who’re dressed up for images.
Keep in Ollantaytambo tonight as trains to Machu Picchu go away from right here!
Sacred Valley Day 5
Put together for an Journey in Machu Picchu
Did you suppose I’d write a information to the Sacred Valley, with out together with Machu Picchu? Really, Machu Picchu is the principle motive why you’re desirous about coming to the Sacred Valley within the first place, proper?
A visit to Peru shouldn’t be full with no go to to Machu Picchu, however visiting Machu Picchu shouldn’t be as simple because it was once. To protect the archaeological website, the Peruvian authorities has now put a restrict to the variety of every day guests. Guests should e-book an entrance time upfront, and there’s a restricted variety of tickets for out there for every time slot.
I like to recommend reserving your tickets at the least a month upfront – particularly if you happen to’d love to do any hikes inside Machu Picchu itself. However which hike to decide on and which timeslot? Learn my information on the right way to get to Machu Picchu.
Take the Practice to Machu Picchu
The practice journey from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Pueblo (often known as Aguas Calientes) is probably one of many greatest practice journeys on this planet. You’ll whizz alongside the raging Urubamba River, stare up steep canyons, and gaze upon snow-peaked mountains, whereas retracing Hiram Bingham’s footsteps into the misplaced metropolis of the Incas.
Ollantaytambo is the closest city to Machu Picchu Pueblo (there’s no street entry) and there are common practice departures on each Peru Rail and Inca Rail. They use the identical tracks and serve the identical stations, and ticket costs are roughly the identical.
You should definitely purchase your tickets upfront on-line to get the most effective worth and departure instances on your journey. The Vistadome and 360° trains have enormous glass home windows and are definitely worth the splurge (from US$65 every means). If you happen to don’t thoughts lacking out on the surroundings, evening trains are less expensive (at round US$25 every means).
Particulars in regards to the Practice to Machu Picchu
- TIME: The practice from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes takes round 1.5 hours and the journey again takes 2 hours.
- COST: Vistadome trains begin from US$65/means. The most cost effective trains on Peru Rail begin from US$25/means; Inca Rail from US$40/means.
- WHERE: Trains go away from the station on the finish of Avenida Ferrocarril in Ollantaytambo, a 10-minute stroll from Plaza de Armas.
- STAY: Guide a lodge proper subsequent to the practice station so it’s a simple hop to the practice. We stayed at Wayras Hostal simply steps from the station.
- TIP: Guide a morning practice to Machu Picchu and only one entrance ticket to Machu Picchu, so you’ll be able to spend the entire day within the website. I like to recommend staying at the least 1 evening in Machu Picchu Pueblo simply to chill out and benefit from the scorching springs on the town.
Greatest Sacred Valley Eating places
Don’t count on to have Michelin starred meals on this rural a part of Peru, however there’s no scarcity of healthful, inexpensive home-cooked meals. Most eating places serve a menu del dia through the day, which normally features a soup as a primary dish, meat with rice and salad as a essential course (select from beef steak, trout or hen), and a lemonade. Nice worth for cash!
Tierra Bistro Organico, Pisac
This sunny cafe serves up the freshest ceviche and nice vegetarian menú, plus home made pasta, and house-made pizzas. We had been actually shocked to seek out such wholesome, worldwide meals in small city Pisac. Learn evaluations right here.
Parwa Group Restaurant, Huchuy Qosqo
A very good stopping level close to Museo Inkariy, the Parwa Group Restaurant makes use of all of its earnings to help neighborhood growth efforts. It’s a easy farm-to-table restaurant that serves scrumptious native dishes made with natural, native produce. Learn evaluations right here.
Restaurante Willkamayo, Urubamba
We stumbled upon this quaint nation restaurant in Urubamba and liked the luxurious gardens and examine of the encircling mountains. It was a wonderful place to simply lay on the grass and chill! They serve genuine, Peruvian home-cooked meals at nice costs. Strive the trout and chicharron de pollo!
Quinua Restaurant, Ollantaytambo
Overlooking the principle sq. of Ollantaytambo, Quinua could look similar to the opposite vacationer traps on the town, drawing in legions of backpackers. Nevertheless it truly serves up fairly first rate pizzas, pastas, and alpaca steaks. Learn evaluations right here.
What to Pack for Sacred Valley
As you’ll be mountaineering and strolling round historical websites in Sacred Valley, having a very good pair of mountaineering boots is necessary. The strolling paths are made from stone and could be very slippery when moist.
Carry a small daypack on your digicam, water bottle and snacks. However notice that giant backpacks usually are not allowed into Machu Picchu. In case your bag is bigger than 15.7 inches x 13.7 inches x 7.9 inches (40 cm x 35 cm x 20 cm) it received’t be allowed in. Solely reusable water bottles are allowed (not plastic ones)!
No matter whenever you go to, the daytime and night temperatures differ quite a bit within the Sacred Valley. Make certain to convey layers; you’d wish to put on a fleece and jacket within the morning, and peel them off by midday. The solar could be sturdy within the afternoon, so a hat and sunscreen are important.
Packing Record for Machu Picchu
Additional Studying on Peru
Are you able to journey Sacred Valley, Peru? Hope you discovered my Sacred Valley journey information helpful! Which half are you most wanting ahead to? Drop me a remark under if you happen to’ve obtained questions!
In search of extra tricks to plan your journey to Peru? Check out a few of our different posts:
Disclaimer: This publish comprises affiliate hyperlinks i.e. if you happen to can e-book one thing via my hyperlinks, I’ll get a small % of fee, AT NOT EXTRA COST TO YOU.
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