The Sacred Valley of the Incas, in the province of Urubamba, Cusco, Peru, is a place where cultural richness intertwines with natural beauty. This destination goes beyond conventional expectations, offering majestic landscapes and ancient archaeological sites that will leave you in awe.
The Geography of the Sacred Valley of the Incas
Where is the Sacred Valley of the Incas?
The Sacred Valley of the Incas is located only 15 kilometers northeast of the city of Cusco. This paradise is accessible both by paved road and by train, with final destination in the iconic town of Machu Picchu. A journey of approximately 40 minutes from Cusco will take you to the entrance of this sacred territory, where history and nature intertwine in an astonishing way.
Characteristics of the Sacred Valley of the Incas
In Inca times, the Sacred Valley of the Incas was an agricultural epicenter where crops such as corn, potatoes, olluco, quinoa and the sacred coca leaf flourished. Today, agriculture continues to be the lifeblood of this region, and its temples and historic cities, such as Pisac, Yucay, Chinchero and Ollantaytambo, narrate the ancestral history of this place.
The Vilcanota River, considered by the Incas as the earthly representation of the Milky Way, meanders through the main towns. Meanwhile, the imposing Salkantay and Veronica mountains crown the horizon and are still considered gods by today’s inhabitants.
History of the Sacred Valley of the Incas
The Sacred Valley of the Incas, in ancient times, was home to small Andean communities until the arrival of the Incas under the rule of Pachacutec. During the Inca civil war, its inhabitants remained loyal to Huascar’s army, even resisting the Spanish invasion.
With the conquest, the fertile fields were distributed among the conquerors. The Inca temples were replaced by Christian churches. Part of the rich history was marked by the passage of time and the ravages of the conquest. In spite of this, the Sacred Valley of the Incas persists as a tourist destination of great relevance, where ancestral traditions endure.
Places to Visit in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
Pisac: Art, Ruins and Spirituality
Just 33 kilometers from Cusco, Pisac stands out for its handicraft market and the impressive archaeological remains found in the heights of the town. Pisac not only serves as a cultural enclave but also draws individuals seeking a deeper connection with their surroundings, establishing itself as a recognized spiritual refuge.
Urubamba: The Corn Capital of the World
Urubamba, located in a region blessed by numerous glacial rivers, stands as the corn capital of the world. Its fertile lands and relaxing environment make this town an ideal place for those who wish to enjoy nature and local culture.
Ollantaytambo: Citadel of Inca Perfection
Located 97 kilometers northeast of Cusco, Ollantaytambo was a fortified city with temples, defense walls, and urban and agricultural sectors. After Machu Picchu, it is considered by many to be the Inca citadel of greatest perfection.
Chinchero: Altitude and Tradition
Located 28 kilometers from Cusco, Chinchero rises to 3,772 meters above sea level. It once housed the palace of Emperor Tupac Yupanqui, which was destroyed by the Spaniards, who erected the colonial church of Nuestra Señora de Monserrat in its place. This town is also famous for its handicraft market and the possibility of bartering, keeping tradition alive.
Maras: Salt Flats and Spectacular Landscapes
Near Maras, the landscape is transformed with hundreds of salt wells, more than 5 thousand, built in Inca times. These unique salt pans produce pink salt, which traders market in Cusco. A visual spectacle that combines history and nature.
Moray: Circular Platforms and Agricultural Experimentation
74 kilometers from Cusco, Moray is home to the famous Inca circular terraces, a crucible of agricultural experimentation. These concentric terraces were fundamental for planting crops from different regions and altitudes. A sample of Inca agricultural ingenuity.
Yucay: Tranquility and Inca Heritage
Located 55 kilometers from Cusco, Yucay, in Inca times, was used for agricultural production. Huayna Capac had terraces and palaces built on this fertile land. Today, it preserves Inca walls and terraces, giving visitors a glimpse of its glorious past.
Sports and Adventures in the Sacred Valley
Quad Biking: Adventure between Chinchero, Maras and Moray
One of the most popular adventure sports in the Sacred Valley is the ATV route linking Chinchero, Maras and Moray. During the tour, visitors can explore the terraces of Moray and the salt mines of Maras. They are immersed in the natural and archaeological beauty of the valley.
Trekking: The Inca Trail and Beyond
Several hiking trails wind through the valley, but the most iconic is the Inca Trail. This 39-kilometer trail begins in Ollantaytambo and culminates in Machu Picchu, offering an unforgettable experience for trekking enthusiasts.
Rock Climbing: Challenge in Pachar, Urubamba
In the Pachar sector of Urubamba, the via ferrata or rock climbing challenges the most intrepid. Through ropes, clamps, handrails and nails, adventurers can ascend to impressive heights, enjoying panoramic views of the valley.
Zipline or Zipline: Crossing Maras with Emotion
In the Maras area, near the famous salt mines, enthusiasts practice ziplining. With 4 cables, the longest one reaches 1250 meters. An adrenaline-filled experience that allows you to appreciate the scenic beauty of the valley from the heights.
Canoeing: Navigating the Vilcanota River
The Vilcanota River, considered sacred by the Incas, offers an exhilarating canoeing experience. This aquatic adventure allows visitors to admire the valley from a unique perspective, connecting with nature and the history of the place.
Planning a trip to the Sacred Valley of the Incas
What do I need to go?
Preparing to explore the Sacred Valley requires good planning. Comfortable clothes, appropriate footwear, sunscreen and, above all, an open mind to absorb the cultural and natural richness that this destination has to offer.
How much does it cost to travel to the Sacred Valley of the Incas?
The cost of your trip to the Sacred Valley will depend on several factors. These include length of stay, activities chosen and accommodation preferences. We recommend exploring package tour options that fit your needs and budget, ensuring a complete and satisfactory experience.
Tips for your Visit
- Respect nature and cultural heritage.
- Consult weather conditions before planning outdoor activities.
- Hire local guides for detailed and enriching information.
- Participate in cultural exchanges with the local population, fostering mutual respect.
Questions and Answers about the Sacred Valley of the Incas
1) Where is the Sacred Valley of the Incas located?
The Sacred Valley is located in the province of Urubamba, Cusco, Peru, 15 kilometers northeast of the city of Cusco.
2) What is the Sacred Valley of the Incas like?
The valley was a sacred area for the Incas, with productive agriculture and outstanding temples such as Pisac, Yucay, Chinchero and Ollantaytambo.
3) What is the history of the Sacred Valley of the Incas?
Inhabited by Andean communities, it was the scene of important Inca constructions during the rule of Pachacutec. The Spanish conquest left its mark, but the valley persists as a tourist destination.
4) What are the must-see places in the Sacred Valley?
Pisac, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, Maras, Moray and Yucay are outstanding destinations, each with its own unique history and charm.
5) What sports and adventures await exploration in the Sacred Valley?
From ATVs, trekking and rock climbing to ziplining, canoeing and more, the valley offers thrills for all tastes.