Nestled among spectacular snow-capped mountains and decorated with quaint Andean villages and Inca Ruins, the Sacred Valley and Cusco region tempts visitors with its cultural charms and natural wonders. Because it offers such an array of activities and attractions, this area is great for the rugged adventurer and world traveler alike. Even the briefest of excursions around the Sacred Valley area is sure to yield unforgettable images of jagged mountains, lush green terraces and ancient Inca ruins, whilst a few days in Cusco will introduce you to a world of magnificent colonial architecture, diverse museums, first-class cuisine and extraordinary nightlife.
Once you’ve acclimatized-altitudes in the region average 3500 meters (11,480 ft)-the hardest aspect of your trip will be figuring out how to see and do everything in the amount of time you have. The two biggest attractions drawing travelers from all over the world are the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. While both promise an unforgettable experience, neither attraction can encompass the full scope and scale of natural beauty and cultural richness that you’re sure to encounter just beyond their reach. For those in search of ruins, and everyone for that matter, the Inca’s capital city of Cusco is a must, while throughout the Sacred Valley there are many opportunities to explore remarkable examples of Inca stone masonry, particularly in the charming towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. For those looking for something a little off the beaten track, there are a number of established alternatives to the Inca Trail that offer equally impressive trekking opportunities, without the tour groups (and at a lower price).
But it’s not all about ruins and trekking. Take some time to browse the artisan markets, wander around the many museums and elegant churches or, for the more adventurous, try out some of the Sacred Valley’s many activities: think river-rafting, mountain-biking, rock-climbing and horse-riding, to name a few.