Experience rural life and local traditions in the timeless Sacred Valley
The Urubamba Valley, known as The Sacred Valley of the Incas lies just north of the Inca capital of Cusco and today is one of the best places in Peru to see Inca traditions and the descendants of a once great civilisation. The dramatic landscape is charactarised by steep mountains, snow-covered peaks and traditional agriculture, small towns come to life in colourful bustling markets and outstanding Inca ruins, particularly those at either end of the valley in Pisaq and Ollantaytambo, demonstrate the enduring brilliance of the Inca people and their customs and ways of life. The people still speak the native Quechua language and conserve ancient customs and ancestral rites.
Visiting the Sacred Valley
Sacred Valley of the Incas - Visiting the Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley of the Incas can be visited on a day trip from the nearby city of Cusco, or when staying within the valley itself, at one of the excellent lodges or hotels here.
Our typical Sacred Valley excursion is a comprehensive day of travelling within the valley, starting with the colourful and authentic market of Chinchero. Here people from the surrounding communities congregate to trade their goods, mostly agricultural produce, not only trading in money, but also bartering. The day continues to Maras pre-Inca salt pans and we walk down the ravine to the Urubamba River for lunch by the river. The car drives round while you walk to meet you at the restaurant; or you can stay in the car if you prefer not to walk.
We then visit the fortress of Ollantaytambo, the archaeological complex believed to have been a gigantic agricultural, administrative, social, religious and military centre. Late in the afternoon we reach Pisac, a small colonial village built by Viceroy Francisco de Toledo where there is a tourist market with weavings and handicrafts. We drive up the mountain above the town to visit Pisac ruins, affording superb views of the surrounding countryside and sunset. You then return to your hotel in the evening.
There are further options which allow for more detailed exploration of the surrounding area, including hikes and horse-riding options.
After your time in the Sacred Valley you can travel to the lost Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Two dedicated trains run from Ollantaytambo, with the Hirham Bingham - the most luxurious - starting from Poroy station in Cusco.
Sacred Valley of the Incas - Remote Villages
The Valley is also home to some of the finest Inca ruins and villages, still inhabited by Quechua-speaking people. A few days in the Valley offer the traveller the unique opportunity of slowing down and mingling with the living Inca culture while experiencing the spirit of the region. The more remote villages also offer the opportunity to experience the Inca traditions as they have been practiced for hundreds of years.
Urubamba Valley Agriculture
Sacred Valley of the Incas - Urubamba Valley Agriculture
The Urubamba Valley, due to extremely fertile land, is the bread-basket of the region, producing some of the best-quality corn in the world. Driving along its single main road, with farms and agricultural terraces on either side, you can see that essentially this is the way that the people of the valley have been living for centuries. Since ancient times, the fertile lands, ancient terraces and the waters of the Urubamba river have been used to grow the staple diet of Quinoa, potatoes, cereals and to breed livestock.
The perfect starting point for planning your trip
15 Day Itinerary from £3,472 from €3,266 from $3,513
Our comprehensive journey through Peru. Discover Andean landscapes, ancient civilisations, stunning ruins and the magnificent islands of Lake Titicaca
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" Valle Sagrado de los Incas - Urubamba valley near Pisaq, Peru, " by Jason Hollinger - licensed under CC BY
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Our essential tour of Peru, including the most important sites of Cusco, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Incas & Lake Titicaca
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Cross continent from coast to the high Andean mountains with remote villages; Cosmopolitan Cities, Inca archaeology and dramatic landscapes
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Sacred Valley of the Incas
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