sacred-valley-of-the-incas

Sacred Valley of the Incas full day

OVERVIEW

There are several companies that offer tours through the Sacred Valley. Not every company will design tours the same, so shop around to find the one that best suits your interest. The best companies will take you to the highlights of the Sacred Valley, such as the archeological sites of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Moray, and the Maras Salt Mines, rather than just focusing on various markets for shopping. Look for all of this to be provided in a small group of no more than 8 persons or a private tour with a guide who is passionate about Inca history.

The area of the valley between Pisac and Ollantaytambo is known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas. On this tour, you will drive through the mountains of the Sacred Valley, which played a key role in Inca culture and history. The Valley has a milder climate and is at a lower altitude than Cusco. You will see a succession of picturesque villages, ancient Inca terraces, and some of the most important archeological sites.

Sacred Valley of the Incas full day
Places to Visit: Pisac, Maras, Moray, Ollantaytambo,
Physical Level: Easy

Sacred Valley Map Full Day

Sacred Valley Map

SACRED VALLEY ITINERARY & PRICES

Spend more time at the Inca cities in small or private groups!

PRICES
PRICE PER PERSONPRIVATE SERVICES
From $351 to 3 persons$197
4 to 8 persons$240

Group Service

* Small groups up to 10 people, subject to availability and all the booking need to be done at least 48 hours in advance.
* The Price includes ONLY the guide and transportation, meals and entrances are not included.

Private Service

***Private service price is based on the number of people. (see above to see the prices) In the group there will be only your party and the itinerary can be flexible. The tour will be completely private with your own guide, chauffeur and private van No others will be added to the group
* The Price includes ONLY the guide and transportation, meals and entrances are not included.

SACRED VALLEY INFORMATION

Structures like the ones you can see in the towns of Pisac or Ollantaytambo, have made it one of the favorite places for travelers from all over the world, even more because it is the valley you must go through before you can enter the Inca city of Machu Picchu. This Valley was the center of Tahuantinsuyo, the largest known empire in the Western Hemisphere, spanning from Colombia and Ecuador, passing through Peru and Bolivia, to the northern part of the nations of Argentina and Chile; and its capital is the city of Cusco, which was known as the “navel of the world.”

The Sacred Valley for the Incas

With the river feeding the valley, its fertile lands were one of the main centers of food production during the time of the Incas. Some places, such as Moray, were used as agricultural laboratories, to experiment with species of plants brought from across the empire. The Incas cultivated potatoes, white corn, coca, fruits and vegetables, on terraces like those that can be seen in many valley villages specially designed for this purpose. Today the valley produces lucuma, peach, avocado, and one of the best corn varieties in the world.

However, it was more than just an important agricultural center; The Urubamba River Valley, “Willcamayu” for the Incas, was one of the most important elements in the religious cosmology of the Incas. They believed that the flow of the Urubamba was closely linked to constellations and mountains, they also believed that it was the counterpart of the Milky Way on earth.

Where is the Sacred Valley of the Incas?

The Urubamba river valley or “Sacred Valley of the Incas”, is located 15 km northeast of the city of Cusco, and can be reached by a paved road. A trip by car to one of the nearest villages will take around 40 minutes. From there you can move to the other villages in the valley by local transport.

Sacred Valley

What is the weather like in the valley?


The Sacred Valley of the Incas is 2,800 m.s.n.m., 600 meters below Cusco, and enjoys one of the best climates in this region. Daytime temperatures can vary between 19°C/66°F and 24°C/75°F. This advantageous climate made the Incas use it as their main center of agricultural production, experimentation and research. Nowadays, travelers use the valley to acclimatize themselves, before starting their tours through Cusco and Machu Picchu. Without a doubt, it is one of the best ways to avoid altitude sickness.


What to see in the Sacred Valley of the Incas?


Known by the Incas as Willcamayu, the beautiful valley extends from the town of Pisac to Ollantaytambo, along the Urubamba river. The ancient Inca settlements in these cities are presented as checkpoints, before entering the “Inca Trail” that leads to the sacred city of the Incas, Machu Picchu. They are simply amazing, each one more impressive than the one before.

NOTE: Normally to enter to these tourist sites and attractions you need the boleto turistico. This “tourist ticket” allows you to explore all sites in one day!

Pisac

The town of Pisac is located 33 kilometers from the city of Cusco and is presented as the door to the Sacred Valley. It is world famous for its craft market and its impressive archaeological remains, located on a mountain above the town. This town was a kind of capital of the region in the time of the Incas, very important for its excellent location and its fertile lands. The Inca and colonial constructions that are exhibited in this territory are admired for their advanced architecture of polished stones and for the platforms that surround the mountains. More recently, Pisac has become the spiritual center of the Sacred Valley, where you can have all kinds of experiences and spiritual retreats, in addition to meeting people from all over the world who are also interested in this modern interpretation of ancient spirituality.

Ollantaytambo

To finish off our incredible day, we drive to Ollantaytambo to explore this quaint Inca village and the amazing Inca Ruins on the hilltop above. These ruins are where the Incas fought their last battle with the Spanish conquerous, before they had to retreat and flee into the dense jungle. Most of the structures were unfortunately incomplete. There is a section with a number of bolders that were carved, but didnt make it to their destination. Another possibility, is that the battle was so intense, it caused a lot of damage to this massive Inca site. Still standing is the incredible architecture of the Sun Temple, admire the water fountains, the Incahuatana and the impressive storehouses. It is believed the site initially belonged to Aymaru clan, before being taken over by the Incas and it stands as the last and best fought battle between the Incas and the Spanish. The Incas won this battle, but due to their depleted numbers from the spanish flu, they had to flee towards the dense jungle. Most tours end here and from the top of the site, you can watch the sunset over the town and the calming river on your right.

Ollantaytambo holds many annual festivals, check online if there is anything coming up during your stay. Its a great tourist hub, with an assortment of restaurants and accomodation establishments for all budgets. Its the gateway to the Inca Trail or the train to Machu Picchu. Once the daily crowds disperse, you are left with a peaceful town, with many indigenous locals, that still call this small town home.

Chinchero

On a normal tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the town of Chinchero will be the one you will visit after touring most of the valley, back to Cusco. It is located 28 km from the city of Cusco at 3,772 m.a.s.l. It has important archaeological sites, a beautiful 17th-century colonial church with canvases of the “Cuzqueña School”, and a typical market where you can practice your bartering skills.

Maras

The Salt Mine (Salineras), close to the colonial town of Maras, are Pre-Inca. Hundreds of saltpans decorate the hillside and have been used for salt extraction since before the Inca era. A natural spring at the top of the valley discharges a small stream of water heavily laden with salt, which is diverted into saltpans and evaporated to produce a salt that is of very high quality. This is one of the few places in the world where you can find naturally pink salt! The locals have full mining rights and all the salt sold on site belongs to the locals. It still supplies Peru with over 90% of its salt. This is a great place to grab another souvenir as all the money will go directly to the people.

The salt mines gives you a taste of an age-old tradition, that has not changed for many generations.  The people in this community have been harvesting salt for many years. It’s a rich custom and tradition that has passed saltpans from one generation to the next. This is their main source of income and they have exclusive rights to these mines. Salineras is one of the very few salt mines left in the world to have not switched to more modern techniques. The communal company of Maras (cooperative) packages and distributes the salt and splits the profits with the families according to the number of saltpans they own. A great place to grab another souvenir.


Moray

The town of Moray is 74 km from the city of Cusco, and houses another of the impressive constructions of the Inca. Moray, was an experimental farming site built in the form of an ampitheater with different temperature at each level which grows different types of crops. It is sometimes refered to as the “Greenhouse of the Incas” becuase it functioned the same way a modern greenhouse would function. These levels of terraces were carved before the Incas took control of the Sacred Valley and then used by the Incas to research optimal growing conditions for their crops. The Incas brought in different soil samples from other regions, to optimise their research. The locals were still using it for growing their crops, until the 1970s when it was preserved and protected for tourism


The adventure in the Sacred Valley of the Incas


The Sacred Valley has become incresingly popular in recent years. It is one of the best places to practice outdoor and extreme sports as you can do cycling, hiking, climbing, paragliding, rafting and others. If you are one of the people who enjoy adventure, the outdoors and extreme sports, you cannot miss this opportunity in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

The cultural tour of the Sacred Valley

The tour of the sacred valley will take you on a markedly traditional route, you will meet Quechua-speaking residents, with typical costumes, working their fields in an artisanal way; It will pass through villages built in the colonial period, through ancient Inca settlements. You will tour markets, temples and city squares that will make you feel as if you traveled back a few hundred years. However, to tour the main archaeological remains of the Sacred Valley, you will need to buy the tourist ticket of Cusco “boleto turistico”.

WHAT IS THE CUSCO BOLETO TURISTICO?

Normally to enter tourist sites and attractions, you would expect to simply turn up and pay your entrance fee on the day, right? Well, that’s no longer the case for some of the biggest archaeological and museum attractions in Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Instead, the boleto turistico is a single ticket which has to be purchased in advance to allow entry to various sites, such as Sacsaywaman, the Pisac and Ollantaytambo ruins. It is not possible to visit or enter these sites without a valid boleto turistico, and it is not possible to buy an individual entry ticket for any single site which is included on the boleto turistico. However, the advantage with purchasing a Boleto Turistico is it gives you the ability to visit ALL the sites!

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