Sacred Valley Travel
As romantic, action-packed and unforgettable as it sounds, the Sacred Valley is not to be missed.
The name alone, ‘Sacred Valley of the Incas’, conjures images of ancient civilisations, storybook landscapes and an otherworldly mystique in the air. Well, once visited, you will understand that those eager expectations are more than met and the valley does indeed live up to its legendary reputation. Crystalline streams meandering through the hillside, jagged rocky facades and hidden ancient ruins abound in this wondrous place, where traditional cultures thrive and some of the world’s most iconic sites can be found.
The Urubamba River Valley – Dubbed ‘El Valle Sagrado’ or ‘Sacred Valley’ by the ancient Inca – has a long association with legend and mystery, intrigue and exploration. It is believed that the area was considered to be a reflection of the holy night sky on earth, with the construction of important sites, temples and citadels matching the location of certain stars above, following the general patterns and lines of the milky way seen only on a clear night and at particular times of the year. The Inca had a strong association with astronomy, which can be seen across many parts of the old empire and to this day has left a legacy of perfectly preserved ruins, fascinating cultural heritage and a focal point for historians, intrepid travellers and holidaymakers alike, though not just for the spectacle of visiting the one and only Machu Picchu.
There is much to see and do during your time here, from the bustling craft and produce markets of Pisac, still functioning today much as they have done for many hundreds of years, to the fortresses of Ollantaytambo and so much more. Though the valley is very well visited by tourists from all over the world, it is still possible to enjoy your own intimate experience of this picturesque, wild and historic region, with many off the beaten path hikes and nature walks, little-known archaeological sites and quaint colonial towns to see, not to mention some of Peru’s finest and most characterful accommodation options. In truth, you would need many days to fully explore every highlight, hidden treasure and local community across the entire valley as the abundance of interesting locations and scenic landscapes seems never-ending. However, even without the luxury of endless time, it is still possible to feel vehemently a part of something special, whether hiking the Inca Trail, meeting the native population or photographing soaring Condors overhead, there is something for everyone in the Sacred Valley and many memories to be made.
Maras Salt Mines
The pre-Incan salt ponds of Maras are as visually stunning as they are historically significant. Thousands of carefully constructed pools line the hillside, hidden largely from the view of visitors to the valley, unless willing and able to hike to the site, though any effort is well worth it when you arrive. With pink rock salt still harvested in much the same way as was the case even before the Incan empire, there is an ancient intrigue to back up this beautiful sight.
The lively markets of Pisac
The bustling Pisac markets have been attracting locals looking to sell their wares or exchange goods for many hundreds of years. This bazaar of textiles, fresh fruit and veg, spices, pottery and crafts offers a snapshot of a traditional highland way of life, though has been expanded to cater for the tastes of visiting tourists in recent years. Though the market is daily; fruit, veg and other organic produce are only sold on a Sunday.
Access to Machu Picchu
It would be impossible to conceive a visit to the Sacred Valley without taking the time to enjoy the magnificence of its most iconic site; Machu Picchu. Whether you are taking the train to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to the ruins, or hiking one of the many magnificent trails which end at the citadel, Machu Picchu is not to be missed.