The Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley is the valley west of the sloping edges of the mountain town of Cusco. This area is rich, not only in fields, farms and views, but also in ancient Inca ruins, particularly Pisac and Ollantaytambo Compared to the chilly city of Cusco, the Sacred Valley is a sunny paradise where travelers can explore the remains of numerous Inca palaces, fortresses and temples, and wander through charming Andean villages that continue to produce some of the country’s finest handicrafts. Carefully sculpted by the Incas, the valley and its major attractions constantly echo the importance of lunar and solar movements in Inca culture. The temple fortresses of Pisac and Ollantaytambo both exemplify the Incas ability to integrate nature with magnificent feats of human engineering.

Due to its lower elevation, the Sacred Valley area is also an ideal place for travelers to acclimatize to altitude, before tackling any of the major mountains around Cusco. Soroche, or mountain sickness is a real threat in the area, and should be taken seriously by anyone arriving by plane from sea level. Adventure travelers will especially love this section of Peru. Not only are there wonderful hiking opportunities, but a number of adventure sports are also on offer: rafting, biking, horseriding, to name a few. With spectacular Inca ruins and countless colonial churches and modern markets, this area has plenty to see and do while you prepare to surmount the area’s higher-altitude attractions. Even if you don’t plan to see all the attractions in the Sacred Valley area, it is recommended that you purchase the Cusco Tourist Ticket, which covers many of the main ruins’ entrance fees. If you make your arrangements through a tour operator, the entrance and trek fees are usually included.