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Ollantaytambo Ruins in Sacred Valley

Sacred Valley Tours & Treks

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On a tour of the Sacred Valley, you'll experience the heart of ancient Inca culture still living and breathing in its marketplaces and colorful indigenous peoples. Imposing Inca fortresses overlook the fertile, terraced valley as they cling from the mountainsides high above. Sleepy Andean towns like Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Urubamba, and Chinchero are built on and around archaeological remains left by the Inca and still maintain prehispanic traditions. The train to Machu Picchu stops at Ollantaytambo, and many travelers spend a few days in Cusco and the Sacred Valley before boarding the train to Machu Picchu or the Inca Trail. Active tours including hiking to ruins and mountain biking are popular in the Valley. Contact one of our Peru experts to start planning the perfect trip to Peru's Sacred Valley of the Inca. 
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Top 10 Tours of the Sacred Valley for 2023-2024

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8 Best Sacred Valley 1-2 Day Tours for 2023-2024

Trip NameFromDaysNext DepartureSummary
Vilcanota-Urubamba River Whitewater Rafting$2671Sep 30, 2023Embark on an exciting day-tour for whitewater rafting down the Urubamba River, taking you through Class II & III rapids. You will see fantastic views …
Maras and Moray Mountain Biking$2581Sep 30, 2023Your bike is your ticket to adventure on this day tour of Maras & Moray in the Peruvian Andes. A 7-hour tour takes you to Maras Plateau, through the …
Andean Horseback Riding$132½Sep 30, 2023Saddle up, partner, for this exciting half-day horseback riding tour from Cusco. Over the course of 2 1/2 hours, ride through fields, Inca sites, and …
Via Ferrata and Zipline$851Sep 30, 2023This full day tour of Peru is an exciting way for beginners to experience the adventure of the high peaks of the Andes - via a network of …
Sacred Valley Community Clean-Up$7232Sep 30, 2023This two-day service oriented trip helps local communities offset the negative consequences of modernization that impacts the Andes. The service …
Door to Door Hygiene$4681Sep 30, 2023Spend one day of your Peru adventure on a service trip helping to distribute necessary hygiene products to economically impoverished families …
Pachar to Cachiccata Mountain Biking$2531Sep 30, 2023This day-tour from Ollantaytambo takes you on a scenic mountain biking tour to Cachiccata on an exciting trail along the Urubamba River. You will …
Healthy Breakfast$270½Sep 30, 2023This 1-day service opportunity from Ollantaytambo takes you first to the market to purchase food followed by a day of distributing it as breakfast in …
Peru Travel Deals

Top 1 Sacred Valley Tour Deals for 2023-2024

Trip NameSaveFromDaysNext DepartureSummary
Wild Peru Escape: Amazon & Machu PicchuSavings$83909Oct 28, 2023Actively experience the wonders of Peru as you explore the upper Amazon, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley on this 9-day cruise & inland adventure. …
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Sacred Valley Travel Guide

What to Do in the Sacred Valley, Peru?

Nestled in the heart of the Andes, the Sacred Valley of Peru reveals a tapestry of ancient wonders and vibrant culture. From mysterious ruins to bustling markets, each corner invites travelers on a journey through time. 
  • Pisac Market & Pisac Ruins: Experience the spirit of Pisa town, an hour drive from Cusco, where Spanish colonialism meets Inca legacy. Wander through the bustling Pisac Market, a vibrant hub of local produce and artisan crafts that climaxes on Sundays. Venture further high above the town to the Inca Ruins, where military, agricultural, and religious structures echo stories of a bygone era. The hike up the mountain is recommended as a warm up if you're hiking the Inca trail and the ruins and views from the top are spectacular.
  • Ollantaytambo Ruins and Town: Nestled amidst cobbled streets and charming cafes, Ollantaytambo town exudes the essence of Inca town planning. It's also a major stop on the train between Cusco and Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo). Traverse through time in the Ollantaytambo Ruins, a testament to Inca architectural prowess. Discover the Temple of the Sun and terraced agricultural wonders.
  • Maras Salt Mines: Step into Maras Salt Mines, a living testament to Inca salt mining. Witness a landscape adorned with thousands of salt ponds, tended by local families. Traverse the pathways of tradition and modernity, where the salt's journey intertwines with the region's evolution.
  • Moray Ruins: Unlock the enigma of Moray Ruins, an amphitheater-like site where Inca agricultural innovation took root. Delve into the mysteries of its circular terraces and microclimates. 
  • Sacsayhuaman: Ascend to the awe-inspiring Sacsayhuaman, a colossal fortress overlooking Cusco. Marvel at the precision of Inca stonework, where stones fit seamlessly without mortar. Feel the pulse of history at this strategic bastion guarding Cusco, a city steeped in legend.
  • Chinchero: Set foot in Chinchero, a realm of adobe charm and captivating history. Roam among terraced ruins designed for farming, a testament to Inca agricultural ingenuity. Uncover the legacy of Inca ruler Tupac and his respite retreat, a tranquil haven amidst the Sacred Valley.
  • Urubamba River and Valley: Embrace the life-giving flow of the Urubamba River as it winds through the picturesque Urubamba Valley, a fertile heartland where nature's bounty intertwines with ancient civilizations, creating a serene backdrop for exploration. Adventurous travelers can revel in whitewater rafting and experience camping along the river's shores.
The Sacred Valley of the Inca - Gateway to Machu Picchu & the Inca Trail

The raging Urubamba River carved a wide, fertile valley through the steep Andes mountains creating the fabled Sacred Valley of the Inca. Just an hour outside of Cusco, and along the railroad to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley is well worth visiting for a day, two, or even three on your way to Machu Picchu.

Terraced hillsides are actively farmed just as they were in the days of the Inca, and brightly clothed women still carry their creations to colorful village markets, much as they have done for centuries. Abundant hiking opportunities, as well as exhilarating whitewater rafting, camping, and horseback riding experiences, await. Immerse yourself in the wonder of incredible Inca ruins, vibrant markets, ancient towns, and awe-inspiring landscapes. Embark on a journey to the Sacred Valley from these cherished destinations.
  • Machu Picchu: Elevate your senses as you stand before the mystical citadel of Machu Picchu. Perched high in the Andes, this architectural marvel encapsulates the ingenuity of the Inca civilization, with its precisely cut stone walls that fit seamlessly together, showcasing their advanced craftsmanship. As the "Lost City of the Incas," Machu Picchu offers breathtaking vistas, including the iconic view of Huayna Picchu rising dramatically behind the citadel. Explore the Intihuatana stone, believed to be a sacred ritual site, and marvel at the Temple of the Sun, where the Incas' astronomical knowledge is etched into the stones.
  • The Inca Trail: Follow in the footsteps of ancient explorers along the legendary Inca Trail, a sacred pathway that winds through lush forests, mountain passes, and ancient ruins. This extraordinary trek combines nature's grandeur with historical mystique, leading intrepid adventurers on a transformative journey to the heart of Inca heritage. Traverse through diverse ecosystems, from cloud forests to alpine tundras, and encounter archaeological wonders like Wiñay Wayna, a terraced complex that reveals the intricate Inca agricultural practices. The trail culminates at the Sun Gate, where trekkers are greeted with a breathtaking sunrise view of Machu Picchu, a reward that echoes the awe felt by the Incas themselves.
How to get to the Sacred Valley, Peru

The Sacred Valley, home to the Urubamba River and charming, tradition-rich towns, unveils a tapestry of history amidst ancient Inca ruins. To reach this sacred land, your journey commences in Cusco, the main access point and a vibrant Peruvian transport hub. To guarantee a hustle-free journey, contact us to help you plan the best Peru and Machu Picchu trip.

Getting to Cusco: Cusco is well-connected internationally and domestically. Direct flights link it to cities like Bogota, La Paz, Santiago, Lima, and others. Alternatively, road trips are feasible from Lima, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Nazca, and Puerto Maldonado. Once in Cusco, you'll discover three primary points to venture further into the Sacred Valley: Urubamba, Pisac, and Ollantaytambo.

Cusco to Urubamba: Cover the 27-mile journey to Urubamba, the gateway town to the valley, in about an hour. Opt for a private transfer to enjoy stops at intriguing sites like Inca ruins near Chinchero. Buses offer two routes, one via Chinchero (fastest) and another via Pisac (longer but scenic).

Cusco to Pisac: The charming village of Pisac, northeast of Cusco, captivates travelers with its beauty and Inca ruins. Travel by private transfer or bus for a one-hour ride.

Cusco to Ollantaytambo: Ollantaytambo, an Inca citadel-temple, lies at the end of the Sacred Valley, 45 miles away from Cusco. Take the train from Cusco's Poroy or San Pedro stations to Aguas Calientes, stopping at Ollantaytambo. Note that buying direct tickets to Ollantaytambo can be challenging. Alternatively, a bus ride involves two options, one via Chinchero and another via Pisac, where you can switch to another bus for a 30-minute journey to Ollantaytambo.
Unveiling the Enigmatic History of the Sacred Valley of the Incas 

The Sacred Valley of the Incas holds a captivating history that dates back to a time when Andean empires inhabited its fertile lands. However, it was under the reign of the visionary Emperor Pachacutec, between 1438 and 1471, that the valley truly flourished. This remarkable period witnessed the inception of grand constructions, such as terraces, temples, and the legendary Machu Picchu.

As the Inca Empire expanded its influence, the Sacred Valley became a vital administrative hub, attracting various ethnic groups who lived in or near its expanse. The allure of the valley, apart from its proximity to Cusco, lay in its lower elevation, offering a warmer climate that allowed for the cultivation of maize, a prestigious crop cherished by the Incas. The golden nectar of chicha, a fermented maize drink, flowed generously during ceremonial feasts and religious celebrations, symbolizing the transition from chaos to order, especially during times of warfare.

The Inca's agricultural ingenuity shone through the vast andenes, the agricultural terraces carefully crafted along hillsides, embracing the valley floor. These andenes, which remain visible today, epitomize the brilliance of Inca civilization.

During the Inca civil war between 1529 and 1532, the inhabitants of the Sacred Valley stood by Huascar's army, marking a time of great turmoil. With the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, Manco Inca Yupanqui, a rebel Inca, found refuge in the valley after setting Chinchero ablaze. Ollantaytambo became his bastion of resistance, and from there, he fiercely battled against the invaders. Despite his eventual retreat to the dense jungle, Manco Inca established his last stronghold in Vilcabamba.

With the conquest complete, the once-thriving valley underwent a transformation. The Spaniards distributed its territories among themselves, and the revered temples of the Incas were dismantled, replaced by Christian churches. The relentless passage of time and the destructive touch of the Spanish conquerors took their toll on many parts of the Inca archaeological sites, leaving behind remnants that tell stories of a glorious past.
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