The Sacred Valley is west of the sloping edges of the mountain city of Cusco.
This area is rich, not only in fields, farms, and landscapes but also in ancient Inca ruins. The famous ruins of Machu Picchu are neighbors of other Inca ruins in Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Vilcabamba, and Choquequirao.
Compared to the cold city of Cusco, the Sacred Valley is a sunny paradise where travelers can explore the remains of numerous Inca palaces, fortresses, and temples and stroll through charming Andean towns that continue to produce some of the best handicrafts in the country.
Carefully sculpted by the Incas, the valley and its main attractions constantly reflect the importance of lunar and solar movements in the Inca culture. The temple fortresses of Pisac and Ollantaytambo exemplify the Inca’s ability to integrate nature with magnificent feats of human engineering. Due to its lower elevation, the Sacred Valley area is ideal for travelers to acclimatize to the altitude before tackling any significant 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. Some of the most spectacular walks in the world are found here. The Inca Trail, which leads to Machu Picchu, is the most popular, but many lesser-known trekking opportunities in the Sacred Valley are impressive. With spectacular Inca ruins, countless colonial churches, and modern markets, this area has plenty to see and do as you prepare to top the area’s higher-altitude attractions.
The best time to visit is April through May or October through November when you can avoid the tourist crowds that arrive during the high season of June through September. Even if you don’t plan on seeing all the attractions in the Sacred Valley area, we recommend purchasing the Cusco Tourist Ticket, which covers many entrance fees to the main ruins. Entrance fees usually include if you make your arrangements through a tour operator.
In Quechua, it is known as Vilcamayo, and in Spanish, El Valle Sagrado de los Incas. This fertile valley, watered by the Urubamba River that runs from Pisac to Ollantaytambo, has a history of settlement dating to 800 BC. to the Chanapata civilization. The valley provided some of the best agricultural opportunities in the region.
As Peru’s early tribes evolved from nomadic hunters to an established society of farmers, it became a popular place to live. The Sacred Valley was essential for the development of pre-Columbian Peru. The Incas, considered, in turn, lasted until the arrival of the Spanish a hundred years later. The Incas believed the valley was as sacred as the territorial correlation with the Milky Way.
Their mythology had the founders of the region, the Ayar Brothers, emerging from the Ollantaytambo pyramid. Ollantaytambo also served as the battlefield for one of the last triumphant defeats of the Spanish army, when the Manco Inca withdrew from Cusco, and his forces redirected the Patacancha River to hold off Pizarro’s soldiers while at the same time gaining support. From the jungle. Pizarro tribes withdrew but eventually returned with reinforcements. The people still speak Quechua, and the farming methods remain fundamental.
The best time to visit the Sacred Valley is during the dry season, from mid-April to November. The Sacred Valley is no different from the rest of Peru, and the dry season coincides with the peak tourist season. June through September is especially busy; If you plan to hike the Inca Trail, be sure to book early, as last-minute spots are difficult, if not impossible, to find. There are significantly fewer tourists from November to April during the rainy season, but the walks can be more strenuous. The Inca Trail is closed during February for maintenance, but other treks in the region remain open.
The primary safety consideration for most hikers in the Sacred Valley is proper acclimatization and physical fitness. Pushing yourself on a hike without being fit or giving yourself enough time to get used to the altitude can be dangerous.
Many of the guides speak multiple languages, and it is vital to get a guide who can talk about the language you feel most comfortable with in case of an emergency. Regarding safety, the guides have the last word on all the walks if they think something is unsafe or the group needs a break. Respect your guide’s decision, understand that the tour guide has superior experience and knowledge of the area, and consider the group’s safety.
While neighboring Cusco sits at approximately 3,300 meters above sea level, the elevation of the Sacred Valley is about 2,500 meters, making acclimatization easy.
If you are arriving by air from sea level, it generally recommends giving yourself at least two days to get used to the altitude. The best advice to overcome possible altitude sickness or soroche is to drink plenty of water and give up alcohol.
Your appetite may be affected, and eating smaller meals may also help your body adjust if you plan on trekking or climbing while in the area, you’ll want to give your body at least a few days to adjust. Strenuous physical activity can exacerbate the symptoms of altitude sickness.
The Sacred Valley offers much to see and do and spending a few days seeing the sights. Make your base in small towns, such as Pisac, Urubamba, or Ollantaytambo, and explore the surroundings.
Pisac, in particular, is a great starting point. The city has the famous and unmissable Pisac Market. Apart from the market, what must visit the Pisac fortress ruins? The Sacred Valley also has some fascinating museums, such as El Museo Catcco in Ollantaytambo, which provides insight into the fascinating local history. But the main reason to visit this region is the seemingly limitless number of scenic walks and hikes through the Sacred Valley. Many of the walks combine walking through beautiful scenery on your way to or past various ruin sites.
The Sacred Valley and Cusco area is prime territory for anyone who wants to get out and stretch their legs in the spectacular mountain scenery. In addition to the famous Inca Trail, the area offers various walks and trails that cater to different physical abilities. Whether you’re a natural ibex or prefer leisurely afternoon walks, you can find something to suit your tastes. Ollantaytambo and Yucay, in particular, are great bases for exploring the rolling hills of the Urubamba Valley.
He strongly suggests that guides accompany you on longer and more arduous journeys. The best time of year to hike is from May to November and possibly December when the trails are dry. Also, before embarking on any trip, you should acclimatize to the higher altitudes, as mountain sickness is a severe threat in this region. Some highly recommended hiking opportunities in the Sacred Valley are listed below.
Enjoy spectacular views of the Andean mountains and remote Andean villages to the Pumamarca ruins. Among the trekking opportunities in the Sacred Valley, this one rewards hikers with stunning views of the Andean mountains and remote villages. The trail follows the banks of the Patacancha River, where you will eventually find the small but well-preserved Inca ruins of Pumamarca. Completing the circuit from Ollantaytambo takes about five hours.
To start, take the road north of Ollanta through the Patacancha. When the road crosses the river, it becomes a trail, and you will follow this past the town of Munaypata. Turn left, follow the path down the valley and terraces, and then turn left onto the agricultural terraces in front of you.
Pinkuylluna If you’re not up for a whole day trip, Mount Pinkuylluna, which rises behind Ollantaytambo, is an excellent choice among the short hike opportunities in the Sacred Valley.
The path offers a pleasant walk for a couple of hours, passing through agricultural terraces. Because the course is not well marked in some places, it is best to hire a guide in town to avoid getting lost.
Check out ancient Inca rock hangings and magnificent mountain views on this remote trek winding its way toward Huayoccari village.
Summit the challenging slopes of Nevado Salkantay and descend towards the ruins of Patallacta, near the entrance to Machu Picchu.
Visit one of the more remote and pristine areas in Peru. This tourist-free trek meanders past Andean llama herders and up to Nevado Ausangate.
Challenge yourself with a trek to Espiritu Pampa, and the famous Vitcos ruins.
Avoid the tourist trails and do the climb up to the Machu Picchu sibling ruins of Choquequirao.
This trek is a sure win for the solitude-seeking adventurer compared to other hiking opportunities in the Sacred Valley. These offer slightly fewer trails traveled by tourists. Along this two-day trek from Yucay to the small Andean town of Huayoccari, you’ll encounter some of the most enchanting mountain scenery, from Inca terraces overlooking the San Juan River ravine to Sakrachayac and ancient cave paintings. After a night of camping, you will make the arduous ascent to Paso Tuqsana (4,000 meters) and descend to Lake Yanacocha. From here, you will follow the trail to Huayoccari.
Most treks in the Sacred Valley are done with a guide and an equipment company that provides camping equipment (tents, sleeping bags, stoves, and cooking equipment).
You will be responsible for your clothing; the essentials are hiking boots and comfortable pants (many people wear quick-drying pants, although they are unnecessary). A combination of short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts suitable for layering, an insulating layer (preferably fleece or wool, as both keep you warm even when wet), and an outer layer to block wind and protect you from precipitation,
A warm hat to wear at night is a great idea to protect your face from the sun during the day. After a long day in hiking boots, how about the second pair of camping shoes for the night? The two everyday items prohibited on the Inca Trail are plastic water bottles and trekking poles with exposed metal tips.
To avoid the water bottle problem, carry refillable containers or hydration systems. Plastic ends are preferable if you bring trekking poles, but taped metal tips are allowed.