The Sacred Valley Often travelers begin their visit to the Sacred Valley in Pisac, a colonial town 19 miles north of Cusco that is famous for its ruins and its large market, attracting artisans from throughout the region. A pleasant walk takes visitors to the ruins of agricultural terraces, rooms, temples and ceremonial baths as well as views of hundreds of tombs carved out of cliffs.
The Sacred Valley Eleven miles from Cusco above the town of Ollantaytambo are the ruins of the same name consisting of an Inca temple and ceremonial center. Ollantaytambo was called a fortress by the Spanish. Visiting the ruins, one can only marvel at the remarkable ingenuity of the Incas to be able to build monumental structures in such inaccessible locations without the benefit of the wheel. To avoid having to transport the huge boulders to the site without having to ford the river, the workers instead diverted the river around the boulders.
The Sacred Valley Other sights in the valley include the adobe village of Chincero where Inca legend says the first rainbow appeared. Its main church sits atop an Incan ruin that may have served as a royal resort. Many citizens still wear traditional dress, and the Sunday crafts market is off the beaten tourist path. For walkers, nearby Lake Piuri offers an easy three-hour route through tiny lakeside villages.
Other towns of the Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley Other towns of the Sacred Valley include Salinas, Moray and Maras where one can see salt mines, and the towns of Calca, Yucay and Urubamba. All of Southern Explorations' classic Peru tours to Machu Picchu visit the Sacred Valley as do most of its Peru hiking tours. Southern Explorations also offers several opportunities to add tour extensions in the Sacred Valley according to the traveler's special interests. One tour spends a day in the town of Huilloc, a village famous for its weaving, stopping at Ollantaytambo and Pisac on the way back. Two tour extensions are rafting trips on the Urubamba River. The first is for beginning rafters, stopping at Pisac afterwards. The second is for more experienced rafters with an adrenaline-filled finale and a stop in Ollantaytambo afterwards.