the sacred valley of the Incas can be visited in many ways. Each visitor will choose a tour that suits him best. Whether it’s a private tour, package tour or a self-guided tour, the Sacred Valley will always show you the same beauty no matter how you got there.
A few kilometers from Cusco, the great Sacred Valley is the true cultural cradle of the Incas, as evidenced by its numerous archaeological sites. In addition to its rich historical past, the region offers many possibilities for hiking and outdoor activities in an absolutely magnificent setting.
Getting lost and going directly to Machu Picchu would be a serious mistake! In order to give more opportunities to visitors, travel agencies created special tours like the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu tour. This way nobody will be able to miss the visit to the sacred valley and Machu Picchu.
Before visiting the Sacred Valley.
Is the Sacred Valley tour ticket mandatory?
Yes and no, it depends on the attractions you plan to visit! If it is your first time in Cusco, you better buy the tourist ticket, as it is mandatory to access the main sites of the Sacred Valley and Cusco. Places like the archaeological center of Pisac, Huchuy Qosqo, Ollantaytambo, Moray and Chinchero need tickets.
Tickets can be purchased at the offices in Cusco or at the entrance to most of the archaeological sites. It is also possible to book the tourist ticket online.
Do you feel the mountain sickness in the Sacred Valley?
When arriving in Cusco it is normal to feel the effects of the altitude – the intensity of which depends on the body of each person – but the Sacred Valley is at a lower altitude. For example, Ollantaytambo is at 2,792 meters above sea level and Pisac is at 2,972 meters above sea level. Therefore, visiting the Sacred Valley is one of the best ways to acclimatize your body – relaxing massages can also help – before embarking on longer adventures.
So, if the altitude is too difficult for you to handle, a good solution is to leave Cusco and go for a walk in the Sacred Valley. It helps a lot.
Attractions to see in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
1- Visit the Inca village of Ollantaytambo.
Ollantaytambo is known mainly for its strength, and was a place of high Inca resistance against the Spanish. But beyond the historical interest of its archaeological site – and the magnificent view it offers over the city! – it is important to know that Ollantaytambo is a charming Inca town that deserves at least a full day if you have some time.
In fact, if you are planning to visit Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo is on the way from Cusco: you could even spend the night there before continuing on to Aguas Calientes!
By the way, from Ollantaytambo begins the trip to Machu Picchu. Whether you hire private tours to Machu Picchu or complete tour packages to Machu Picchu. The station of Ollantaytambo will be your best option for presenting more travel schedules. On the other hand, the luxury trips to Machu Picchu generally start from Poroy station located about 30 minutes from Cusco city.
This is what needs to be done in Ollantaytambo:
-Walk through the streets of the town: As Ollantaytambo has preserved its original Inca layout, walking is like a journey into the past with its small houses, squares and cobbled streets.
-The fortress of Ollantaytambo: it is one of the most important Inca sites in the valley. There are terraced crops and several buildings like the Temple of the Sun and the ñusta bath, where the Inca’s wife bathed to purify herself. Being located on a hill, it also offers a magnificent view of the surroundings. A tourist ticket is required to visit it.
It is also possible to take a taxi to Ollantaytambo from Cusco! A complete tour at your own expense will be very pleasant if you travel by public service.
2- visit the archaeological center and the Andean market of Pisac.
Pisac, an Inca village built in the 15th century, is a must see in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is considered one of the most beautiful archeological centers of the sacred valley, thanks to its beautiful panoramic views of the valley of the Incas.
This is what you have to see in Pisac:
-Inca constructions: residence of the Inca Pachacutec in the 15th century, today it’s an imposing archaeological complex with residential, ceremonial and agricultural areas with terraced crops. A tourist ticket is mandatory to visit the site.
-his Andean market: it is true that it has become a tourist attraction in recent years, but it is interesting to visit it because you can discover the local life. It is a good place to buy souvenirs because there are crafts. In addition, Pisac is a center for Andean medicine sessions, ayahuasca retreats and San Pedro sessions. It is a magnificent and very quiet place, worth staying at least one night in the town of Pisac.
3- Facing the immensity of the salt mines of Maras.
We are in front of 3000 water basins used since the Inca period by local families to extract salt by evaporation.
It is fascinating to see how the reflections change with the movement of the sun and you can take sublime pictures. This is my favorite place in the region because it is absolutely unique – definitely a must in the Sacred Valley!
4- Admire the great Inca agricultural center, maray.
The terraces of Moray may not have the same visual impact as the salt mines, but it is fascinating when you understand the function of the site and its effectiveness.
It was an agricultural research centre in Inca times and was made up of circular terraces that created 20 different microclimates (there is about 3C difference between each level!) Thus, the Incas managed to cultivate about 150 different types of corn and potatoes!
The sites of Maras and Moray are easy to combine during a visit to the Sacred Valley, as they are only 7km away from each other. But unlike Maras, the tourist ticket is necessary to visit Moray.
5- Discover the traditional Inca textile, chinchero.
Ancient resting place of the Inca Tupac Yupanqui, the town of Chinchero is today recognized mainly for the great quality of its textiles and craftsmanship made with the most beautiful details.
It is an ideal place to attend a demonstration of traditional textile manufacturing, weaving, natural dyes and techniques that were passed down from generation to generation.
Also take a trip to the market – and we recommend buying some souvenirs – you will find colorful wool clothes and carpets, totally handmade, and at quite affordable prices.
There is much more to enjoy in the Sacred Valley. If you want to know more about the current culture of Cusco, the Sacred Valley will impress you with its fair days and religious festivities. Make a good itinerary and take a couple of days to tour the beautiful Sacred Valley of the Incas from start to finish before you start your trip to Machu Picchu by train or bus.