The Sacred Valley is one of the most beautiful places in all of Peru and South America. It was here that the Inca’s grow all the food for their mighty empire. The Sacred Valley has a wonderful climate with mild temperatures all year round. Set among the Andes with the might Urubamba River passing through the Valley these days is home to many expats who came and never left. Most people Sacred Valley tour from Cusco.
The first thing you should do on any day trip to Pisac is visit the Pisac Archaeological site. These ruins are a favorite destination in the Sacred Valley. To explore the ruins and see everything you will need at least 3 hours. The site features temples, terraces and burial grounds. The photo opportunities are endless with views down the valley that are beyond compare. If you are not interested in a tour you can take a taxi from the town of Pisac for a small fee and walk back down, this will take you more than an hours but the countryside is beautiful, so if you have the time do the walk. Do not forget that you will need your Cusco visitor’s ticket to enter the ruins.
Next must see on your luxury travel to Sacred Valley is the Pisac Market. Open every day but the biggest day is Sunday; you will find everything that you would want to buy to remember your journey to Peru. The market is famous for silver jewelry, colorful weavings, scarves, jumpers and rugs. When in the market try the empanadas fresh from the local ovens, these delicious pastries come in meat, chicken and vegetarian varieties and will delight the taste buds. Located in the main plaza of Pisac the market will take a few hours to explore properly.
When the hunger pains are getting the better of you try some of the many cafes the line the streets of Pisac. A few to try are the Blue Llama, located on the corner of the main plaza the décor of the restaurant which features the travels of the Blue Llama with both amuse and keep you occupied for at least an hour. Not only the adventures of the Llama feature at the Blue Llama but the food is good too. For some of the best desserts going try the Ulrike Café. For brunch, go straight to Cuchara de Palo located on the main square. You are guaranteed not to go hungry on your day out in Pisac.
There are many shops in the village of Pisac for you to explore away from the market, some are family run businesses and some even make their own products. Tawa Apu Kuntur store in Pisac specializes in traditional Andean and Amazon herbal medicine. Follow the delicious scent of plants that are usually burning in the typical ‘sahumerio’ or traditional ceramic dish.
For one of lesser known attractions of Pisac go to Felipe Marin Botanical Gardens, located down one of Pisac’s cobbled streets inside a colonial house, here you will find an unexpected oasis in the middle of the town. Take some time to enjoy the flowers, planets, butterflies and the present hummingbirds. You might find yourself alone so enjoy the relaxation of this garden.
Maras, Moray and The salt mines
While you are in the Sacred Valley of the Incas make sure you visit the Inca sites of Maras and Moray. Here you will find interesting Inca Terracing and the salt mines that are still in use today. In addition, while visiting the Cusco area you must travel through the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu. Recently voted one of the Seven Wonders of the World the site is visited by thousands of tourists every year. Take the train through the Sacred Valley and arrive into the town of Aguas Calientes. In recent years, the Peruvian Government has introduced new rules to help preserve the site and limited the amount of tourist every year. You will need to buy your tickets in advance and it is required that you enter the site with a licensed guide.
Further along the road is the grand Inca town of Ollantaytambo, where many start the famous Inca Trail. In addition, here there is the train station to Machu Picchu, which makes the town a starting point for many travelers. However, the most impressive thing about Ollantaytambo without a doubt is the Inca Ruins. Ollanta (as the locals know it) is dominated by the ruins and the view of the valley from the top is quite incredible. The ruins include a ceremonial center at the top, terracing and was constructed from stone bought from six kilometers away, the Incas diverted the Urubamba river to bring the stones to the site. Again, with a guided tour you will learn the history of the ruins and about the fierce battles that took place here. The town of Ollantaytambo itself is a magnificent example of Inca architecture and the town planning is the best surviving anywhere in Peru. The streets of Ollantaytambo are an impressive maize of babbling irrigation channels and cobblestoned streets giving an impression of stepping back in time. Ollantaytambo is always full of tourists in the morning with full tourist buses but later in the afternoon is calmer and more pleasant time to visit, with many good little restaurants and bars to enjoy a few drinks and lunch.
Why not combine a Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu tour together to see the best of what the area has to offer or even take a Private Inca Trail tour and walk to Machu Picchu from the Sacred Valley. Experience all the area has to offer on a Sacred Valley tour from Cusco and discover all the history of Peru.