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Sacred Valley Tours
Sacred Valley tours explore the area between Cusco and UNESCO site Machu Picchu. This is a beautiful area of mountain landscapes, Inca ruins and traditional Peruvian towns. While it is possible to take a Sacred Valley tour from Cusco for the day, we recommend staying at least a night (preferably two or even three) in the valley itself as there is a lot to see and do. Read on to learn about the Sacred Valley and the most popular tours and destinations. Every Sacred Valley tour can be customized and combined with other places to make your ideal Peru travel package.
Update: Peru Coronavirus Travel
Peru has reopened to tourists and we’re delighted to be operating trips again.
|Entry requirements include:|
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|Domestic flights are operating|
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|Updated May 12, 2022|
Top 3 Sacred Valley Tours
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Popular Sacred Valley Tours
Ollantaytambo Ruins TourRising above the town of the same name, Ollantaytambo ruins are among the most impressive in the Sacred Valley. A series of large terraces lead up to the ruins which were both a fortress and temple during Inca times. This is one of few places where the Incas won a significant fight against the Spanish invaders. A tour will see you explore the ruins and usually spend some time in the town itself too. Ollantaytambo is the main train station in the Sacred Valley and a tour is a good way to spend a morning before catching an afternoon train to Machu Picchu.
Pisac Market and Ruins TourThis is a good place to pick up handicrafts or a wooly alpaca sweater made by the indigenous Quechua community. The best day to visit is a Sunday as this is when the market is largest and locals come to sell their produce. Tuesdays and Thursdays are also major market days, so second choice after a Sunday. If you can’t visit on one of these days, the handicraft market is daily, so there is always something to see. Pisac market is one of the most famous in Peru and as such can get busy with tour groups. Above the town of Pisac, Pisac ruins lie along a ridge overlooking the valley below and had a defensive role. There are also agricultural terraces here which are still used to this day.
Chinchero Market TourThe Sunday market in Chinchero is well worth visiting. It is an authentic market where locals in traditional dress sell maize, potatoes and other produce. As in Pisac, there are also markets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Chinchero is a little less visited and more traditional than Pisac.
Maras & Moray TourThese two historic sites are often visited on the same tour as they are not far apart. Maras is pre-Incan. Salty water emerges from a spring and the water is evaporated in a series of several hundred salt ponds which cover the hillside. The salt ponds are still used to this day. Moray is one of the lesser visited Inca sites in the Sacred Valley, and makes for a fascinating tour. Here you’ll find circular, terraced depressions in the ground. It has been found that soils have been brought in from different regions. While the exact purpose is not known, it is thought Moray may have been a center for Incan agricultural development, a kind of laboratory.
Adventures in the Sacred ValleyThe Sacred Valley is a great area for adventure tours. Options include mountain biking between Chinchero, Maras and Moray, horseback riding on fine Peruvian paso horses and numerous day hikes as well as multi-day treks (in fact the Inca Trail starts from the Sacred Valley). White water rafting, zip-lining and paragliding are all possible too. Given all this choice, if you are interested in an active trip, the Sacred Valley is a good place to stay several nights.
Top Two Hikes in the Sacred Valley
Huchuy Qosqo TrekThis Sacred Valley trek can be done either in a long day, or two days with a night camping. Walk through mountain scenery passing llamas and alpacas to Piuray lagoon, cross a mountain pass at 4,500 meters (14,700 feet) and descend along a trail used by the Incas to the village of Pukamarca and into a canyon and the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo - an Incan complex with views over the Sacred Valley. Following a tour of Huchuy Qosqo, hike onwards to the town of Lamay where your transport awaits. This trek needs a good level of fitness.
Patacancha Valley TrekThe Patacancha Valley leads off the Sacred Valley to the north-east of Ollantaytambo. The trek goes through several weaving communities, passes potato farms, waterfalls and Inca terraces. A bonus is that this hike is almost entirely downhill and quite easy.
Community tours in the Sacred ValleyThere are a number of options for meeting and learning about local communities in the Sacred Valley and these can be good opportunities to get away from the main tourist destinations. Near Urubamba is the community of Chichubamba. About 180 families live here. A community tour here will see you learn about the way of life here and try a traditional activity such as ceramic making, chocolate preparation, beekeeping or preparation of Chicha de Jora - maize beer. Another option is to take a walk with alpacas and have a traditional Andean lunch prepared by a local family in the communities of Paru Paru (near Pisac) or Tauca (near Chinchero). For something really different, take a potato tour in the Sacred Valley! The first potatoes were cultivated up to 10,000 years ago in the Peruvian Andes. The country has well over 4,000 varieties. On this tour, you’ll learn about the Watia cooking method, meet a farmer and researcher, meet a local family and cook your own traditional Andean meal.
More Travel Inspiration
The Sacred Valley combines perfectly with Cusco, Machu Picchu and also Lake Titicaca and the Peruvian Amazon. If you're looking to see more of South America, here are some ideas:
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Geography & History of the Sacred Valley
The name Sacred Valley of the Incas reflects the importance the area had to the Incas. It lies to the north of Cusco and runs from Pisac in the east along the Urubamba River down to Urubamba town and Ollantaytambo. The road ends at Ollantaytambo and travelers must continue by train (or by hiking) to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. Chinchero, Maras and Moray are away from the river on the southern slopes of the valley. The Sacred Valley is surrounded by mountains, two of the most famous are Ausangate and Salkantay. The valley is at a lower altitude than Cusco (many of the best hotels are around Urubamba which is at 2,870 meters / 9,400 feet) making it a good place to stay a few days to acclimatize before continuing to other places in the Andes. The valley has a pleasant climate and is warm by day and cool at night. Maize is grown here and this was a very important crop for the Incas who used it to make a fermented alcoholic drink called Chicha. The drink is still made today – look for houses with a red flag outside. Various civilizations made their home in the valley, starting with the Chanapata in 800 BC. The Incas ruled the valley from 1420 and did so until the Spanish arrived. Throughout the valley, agricultural terraces and royal estates were built by the Incas and these form the fascinating ruins that can be visited on tours today.
5 Best Sacred Valley Tours for 2023
|The Essence of Peru||from $3179||15 Days||Historic Lima, the Ballestas Isles (the 'Galapagos of Peru'), Nazca Lines, the white city of Arequipa, Lake Titicaca, mystic Cuzco, the Sacred Valley...|
|Travels of the Incas - Machu Picchu to La Paz||from $2486||10 Days||Travel to Machu Picchu and La Paz on this Peru and Bolivia tour and walk in the footsteps of the Incas. You'll visit Lima, Cuzco, and the Sacred...|
|The Peru and Bolivia Train Tour||from $4686||18 Days||See all the highlights of Peru and Bolivia on the Peru Bolivia Train Tour! Enjoy guided city tours in Lima, Cuzco and La Paz. Explore historic UNESCO...|
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