Just an hour away from Cusco, the Urubamba Valley, or Sacred Valley of the Incas, is a setting of picturesque communities, impressive terraces and many important archeological sites. Dominated by the imposing peaks of the Vilcanota mountain range, the valley has been the storehouse for agricultural products for the city of Cuzco since Inca times, and today is famous for being home to maize cobs, the sacred food of the Incas, with the largest kernels in the world.
The valley includes the area between the Inca communities of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Its mild weather and particular geography make it ideal for outdoor sports enthusiasts to practice rafting, mountain biking, hang-gliding and trekking.
A typical Inca community located 21 km from Urubamba at 2,800 meters above sea level, named in honor of the chief Ollanta, who was famous for courting an Inca princess, daughter of Pachacutec. One of its best-preserved areas, known as Hanan Haucaypata lies north of the main square and contains 15 estates built with elegantly crafted stonewalls.
Ollantaytambo also features an extensive archaeological site located on the imposing hillside overlooking the town, containing structures such as the Temple of the Sun, and the Manacaray or Royal Hall, the Incahuatana and the Banos de la Princesa. Ollantaytambo is a nice place to stay while on a Peru tour. The area has hotels, restaurants and horses and mountain bikes for hire. A branch leading from Ollantaytambo to the Malaga mountain pass (4,200masl), goes through towns such as picturesque Huilloc, home to the renowned wayruros (porters).