The Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

Locations Visited
Sacred Valley

Trip Style
Day Tours

Length

Frequency
Everyday

Group
l

Physical Grading
1,2,3,4

The Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

Urubamba river, also known as Sacred Valley or El Valle Sagrado, traces its winding, astonishingly beautiful course to the north of Cusco.

Standing guard over the two lush of the Sacred Valley road, the ancient Inca towns of Pisaq and Ollantaytambo are among the most suggested ruins in Peru, while the small Andean towns of Pisaq and Chinchero really come into their own on Tuesday. Thursday and Sundays, market days, when villagers in colorful regional dress gather to sell their crafts and products.

Beyond Ollantaytambo the route becomes too rocky for any road to follow, the valley closes in around the rail tracks, and the Rio Urubamba begins to race and twist below Machu Picchu itself, the famous ruin in South America and a place that, no matter how unique you are or how commercial it seems, stops you in your tracks.

Unless you are hiking the Inca Trail, you will inevitably spend at least one night in Machu Picchu town, commonly referred to as Aguas Calientes, Given the town’s brutalist architecture and overpriced accommodation and eating establishments, it is advised not to linger here for too long.

A plenty of tour companies runs day trips to Machu Picchu (which have to be booked in advance) as well as whirlwind day tours of the Sacred Valley (from 30 upwards, plus entry to the sites). While guiding standards vary, its apart, especially if you do not have much time, though it’s more rewarding to linger and explore the valley at your leisure.

Why is the Sacred Valley important?

  • If you go to Peru to visit Machu Picchu and only Machu Picchu, you’re missing half the story. Machu Picchu was the main city, hidden between the mountains of the Andes, safe from conquest. But there is so much more than that.
  • Machu Picchu was only found in the beginning of the 20th century, so it was never raided or attacked by the Spanish conquistadores.
  • However, there are several Inca settlements of great importance inside the Sacred Valley that provide a more holistic view of what the Inca civilization was about.
  • How big and magnificent their building campaigns were, how much they respected and communicated with nature.
  • How in such little time (less than 100 years) they became the dominating force in South America during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Practicalities

  • Cusco is high. It’s about 11800 feet high. Unless you’re a professional mountain climber, you will get some mild symptoms of altitude sickness. Hotels in Cusco generally offer a beverage called “mate de coca”. (Don’t worry, it’s just an herbal tea). Accept it, it will help.
  • There are no seasons in Cusco, except for a rainy season and a dry season. However because of the altitude, it is always quite chilly, like the end of autumn.
  • Despite this, Machu Picchu is lower, about 9200 feet, so the temperature is much nicer.
  • Cusco is completely prepared for tourist. Credit cards are accepted anywhere and dollars are exchanged in many legitimate spots. Ask your concierge.
  • Do take advantage of the amazing Peruvian cuisine at the restaurants at Plaza de Armas, the main square.
    To pronounce the names, pretend the q is a k.

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