Sightseeing On The Way To Machu Picchu


Travel Tip! Planning A Trip to Machu Picchu? Be Sure to Book Early!

It’s never too early to book Machu Picchu tours. Only 500 people are allowed to hike the Inca Trail per day, and new government regulations limit the number of visitors who can be at Machu Picchu at any one time.

Sights Of The Sacred Valley

After touring the important Inca sights in and around Cusco, many visitors make Pisac their first stop. A colonial town north of Cusco, Pisac is famous for its hillside ruins and even more so for its large Sunday market, attracting artisans from throughout the region. A pleasant walk takes visitors to what remains of agricultural terraces, rooms, temples and ceremonial baths as well as views of hundreds of tombs carved out of the cliffs.

The ruins above the tiny town of Ollantaytambo consist of an Inca temple and ceremonial center. Ollantaytambo was called a fortress by the Spanish. Here 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. Many travelers take the train from Ollantaytambo to the last station before Machu Picchu. Near Ollantaytambo is the quarry of Cachiccata, the source of building materials for some of the Incas’ massive building projects. Between the town of Salinas and Maras are the salt pans from which between May and October salt is still derived as it has been for centuries. Beyond Maras is the agricultural terracing at Moray, believed to have functioned as an experimental crop nursery.

Less-visited sights in the valley include the adobe village of Chinchero 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 of its 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 with traditional Incan ways where it seems time has stopped.

Aquas Calientes, the closest town to Machu Picchu, is a transportation hub. Besides its proximity, the town’s biggest attraction is its public hot springs, appreciated by visitors who have hiked the Inca Trail and those who haven’t.

Adding In The Lares Valley

Increasingly, international visitors on Peru vacations are seeking roads less traveled during Machu Picchu tours. Doing so, gives them opportunities to watch craftsmen using pre-Columbian weaving techniques on primitive looms, see llamas packing produce and products to market and observe fields being plowed with the three-person Chaki Taclla, designed by the Incas for cultivating steep hillsides. One such itinerary travels through the Lares valley north and east of Machu Picchu. For itinerary details, check out our new 7-day lodge-to lodge Lares Valley Trek & Culture Adventure. Almost every day includes activity options to allow passengers to focus their time according to their particular interests.