Two of the most visited places in Peru are the Sacred Valley of the Inca and the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Both places are located in the state of Cusco in the highlands of Peru. Both places offer many different attractions to see and enjoy and you will want to set aside a few days for each when planning your Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu tour.
When you arrive into the Andean country of Peru you will land into the capital of Peru. Lima is a thriving metropolis with a large population and traffic to match. The city has a wonderful mix of ancient history and modern skyscrapers. In the center of the city you will find the Plaza de Armas and the home of the government. Also in the center you will find some wonderful Spanish Colonial churches and houses that are open to the public to visit. In the beach side suburbs of Miraflores and Barranco there are many restaurants and bars to visit. It is worth taking some days of your vacation and visit Lima.
From Lima, fly to Cusco the home of the Inca Empire. Cusco is a fascinating city full of history with a wonderful old European feel to it. There is much to visit in Cusco and not only should take a city tour, also wander the streets by yourself. Cusco has the most beautiful hotels in Peru some of which are housed in old colonial houses.
From Cusco travel to the Sacred Valley of the Incas which is only an hour’s drive away. The first village you will encounter on you journey through the valley is Pisaq. Just outside of the town is the temple of Pisaq. The exact date of construction is unknown, but the ruins are believed to be either a gift to Inca nobility, or a defense against the invasion of Cusco. What is certain is that the site served more than one function. With military, religious, and agricultural structures, the site served at least three purposes and was able to support a whole community, even a small city, of Incas.
The views from Pisaq temple are some of the best in the Sacred Valley. Constructed on the side of a hill Pisaq should be on you must see list in Peru, be impressed by the terracing that seems to slide down the mountainside. Pisaq is not only famous for its ruin but also on the town square daily is one of the best markets in Peru. Spend some time in the market exploring the colorful stalls where you can buy all your souvenirs to take home.
Further along in the Sacred Valley is the fortress town of Ollantaytambo. The city was most probably built Pachacútec between 1439 and 1471 AD. Ollantaytambo is partly built on the mountainsides.
On a visit, you will be able to admire the unbelievable construction, with Irrigation systems and other aqueducts are still functioning today, huge stone blocks are perfectly carved and put together, forming solid walls. The Inca must have chosen Ollantaytambo for its strategic location. It was heavily fortified and served for military purposes, as well as civilian. The Inca
army could guard the valley from here. In this case, the fortification was built on higher ground. Ollantaytambo is considered a fortress due to its immense solid walls, fortified gates, guardhouses, very steep slopes. A potential attacking force could hardly get through such defenses.
Even the conquistadores had a hard time getting in; despite the fact that on previous occasions they easily cut through the Inca army.
From the Sacred Valley, you may be wondering how to get to Machu Picchu?
From Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley travel by luxury train to Machu Picchu. Travel through the Sacred Valley to the town below Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes. This small town is a hub for visitors and features many great hotels and restaurants. The town is a great place to spend the night before your tour of Machu Picchu.
Once you are in Aguas Calientes you will need to take the bus to the gates of Machu Picchu. Here you will start your tour of Machu Picchu. Discover the different sections of the site on your guided tour. If the buildings at Machu Picchu do not amaze you than the location will. Set on the side of the mountain, the Inca´s built it in such a way that it cannot be seen from below. Learn all the history of the site and how it was discovered in 1911 by an American Professor, Hiram Bingham while looking for another legendary city. Bingham went on to excavate the site for many years and wrote several book about Machu Picchu.
After your tour have a wonderful buffet lunch at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, the only restaurant located at the gates of Machu Picchu, with Peruvian and local food to delight the taste buds.
While in Peru, take a Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu tour, for one of the best travel experiences of your life.