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COMPLETE GUIDE TO VISIT THE SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS

COMPLETE GUIDE TO VISIT THE SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS

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THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO PERU’S SACRED VALLEY

A 100-kilometer-long valley with the most impressive agricultural terraces in the world, authentic villages and home to countless Inca ruins. The Sacred Valley of the incas in Peru is one of the highlights of the Peru travel route. The Sacred Valley encompasses some of the most impressive landscapes in all of Peru. There is so much history, culture, and natural beauty to be found there that it should be at the top of any world traveler’s list.

The Sacred Valley of Peru is incredible, amazing, magical and simply not to be missed. Today, the Sacred Valley of the incas offers centuries-old Inca ruins, green terraces, picturesque colonial towns, and colorful markets. Perhaps the most popular attractions are the citadels of Ollantaytambo and Pisac, but this beautiful Andean region is also full of other impressive Inca sites, hiking trails, and adrenaline-inducing activities. You will have the chance to meet the local people (and local llamas) from the traditional villages and open your eyes to a truly enchanting world.

During the Inca Empire, the Sacred Valley of the incas was an important region best known for being the main road from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Due to the area’s two distinct seasons, as well as its proximity to the Urubamba River, the valley was a sustained water source that was ideal for farming and livestock. As the altitude in the Sacred Valley is lower than in Cusco, the area is a perfect destination to acclimatize before heading to Machu Picchu or trekking the ancient Inca Trail.

WHY VISIT THE SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS

It is a scenic attraction that is very close to Cusco, in the different geographical spaces that you visit in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, you will be welcomed by large snow peaks, which are lost in the blue horizon of the Cusco sky. It is also a place where the climate is more pleasant during the day it is sunny and at night it is not very cold compared to Cusco. Another factor that draws the attention of visitors is the large number of archaeological complexes from ancient times, of which Ollantaytambo and Pisac stand out, which would take a separate day to visit in their entirety.

The Sacred Valley of the Incas is one of the few regions where the best vegetables, grains and fruits of Cusco are produced, throughout the year the local markets sell seasonal products such as pears, apples, peaches, blueberries and strawberries to mention. Each town has its own songs, and ancestral traditions, which offer different artistic shows of dances and colorful clothes throughout the year. Without a doubt, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas you will find the best hotels and restaurants in Cusco, which invite you to spend many days surrounded by calm and nature.

WHY VISIT THE SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS

WHAT TICKET SHOULD YOU BUY TO VISIT THE SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS?

CUSCO TOURIST TICKET “BTC” – COSITUC

The BTC is a personal and non-transferable document through which the right of temporary entry to areas, archaeological monuments, museums and historical places that are part of the cultural heritage of the Nation, administered by the Ministry of Culture and that are part of the circuits or tourist corridors that are located within the territorial circumscription of the department of Cusco, that can be visited for tourist purposes.

The BTC allows tourists to enter parks and archaeological sites, such as: SAQSAYHUAMAN, QENQO, PUKA PUKARA, TAMBOMACHAY, PISAQ, OLLANTAYTAMBO, MORAY, CHINCHERO, TIPON, PIKILLAQTA, places such as: MUSEUM OF POPULAR ART, MUSEUM OF SITIO DE QORICANCHA , REGIONAL HISTORICAL MUSEUM, MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, MONUMENT OF THE INCA PACHACUTEC, and the QOSQO CENTER OF NATIVE ART.

COSITUC, is the Committee of Integrated Cultural Tourist Services of Cusco, a non-profit institution, in charge of marketing the Cusco Tourist Ticket in the different tourist attractions included in it, and that, through the distribution of the proceeds, the Constituent entities of this, carry out works of CONSERVATION, PRESERVATION of the Cultural Heritage and the Environment, likewise, it allows to value the Development of the Living Culture of CUSCO.

In case you are scheduled to visit only the Sacred Valley of the Incas, it is recommended that you buy the ticket for Circuit III, which includes the tourist attractions of Chinchero, Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Moray, this ticket lasts for 2 days.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CUSCO TOURIST TICKET

Can the purchase of the Tourist Ticket be made online?

NO, The purchase is made directly at any of the visit points included in the Ticket or at the main office of Counter Central de Galerías Turísticas – Av. El Sol 103; from Monday to Saturday 07:30 – 18:30 Hrs.

Does the Tourist Ticket include guide and mobility service?

No, the Ticket only gives the right of temporary entry to all the places mentioned in it.

Are there rates for children?

Children do not pay until they are 9 years old, from 10 to 17 years old they have the right to acquire the student ticket only with the presentation of the identity document (Passport)

How long can it take to visit the 16 places?

The 16 places can be covered in a minimum of three days.

Can I pay just to visit a specific place?

NO, in such a case, you can buy the Partial Ticket according to the circuit to which the place belongs.

How far in advance should the Tourist Ticket be purchased?

The Tourist Ticket is sold on the day, they are not exhausted, nor are they postponed in their use, they have an exact date of validity.

Can I use someone else’s Ticket?

NO, the Ticket is a good that bears the name of the person who bought it, therefore, it cannot be given away or sold, in addition, it is necessary to show the identity document along with it.

SHOULD I TAKE A GROUP, PRIVATE TOUR OR GO ON MY OWN TO THE SACRED VALLEY?

An important issue that must be considered when visiting the circuit of the Sacred Valley of the Incas is; How would you like to travel to these Inca cultural attractions, since in most cases tourists have limited time in the city of Cusco. And they want to make the most of their stay in this part of Peru. Formerly this circuit of the sacred valley of the Incas was visited in two days; but currently it became a trend to do it in a single day, the only inconvenience perhaps is for some travelers who don’t spend a lot of time in the attractions, the tour guides will show you the most important parts of each place and you can take the respective photographs.

A great advantage of visiting the sacred valley circuit in a group is that the cost is relatively lower; A very important point that you should know is that, THERE IS NO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION YET TO TAKE YOU TO EACH PLACE, given this difficulty if you dare to visit the circuit of the sacred valley on your own, it will not be worth it, since Cars or buses are not frequent, sometimes you will have to stop, or wait long hours, and the costs are more than triple what you would have paid when taking an all-inclusive tour.

If you are a type of tourist who is interested in learning more about the histories and scientific data of each place, you should definitely hire a private service, in which you will move from point to point according to your observations and free availability of your mobility. As well as mentioned above there are huge archaeological parks such as Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero in which you can make individual visits for a whole day.

SHOULD I TAKE A GROUP, PRIVATE TOUR OR GO ON MY OWN TO THE SACRED VALLEY?

WHICH ARE THE ESSENTIAL PLACES ON YOUR VISIT TO THE SACRED VALLEY

As we suggest to most of our visitors, it is much better to take the option to visit the Sacred Valley in a single day, and thus take advantage of your time for other activities. Given this, we have made a list of places that you should visit on your tour with the local guide.

1.- CHINCHERO TOWN

In this beautiful town that is only 45 minutes from Cusco, it is the first stop, so that you can visit one of the many textile centers in which the local weavers give you a brief explanation of their methods and techniques of weaving their blankets. , chullos and crafts. A very important fact that you should know is that the costs are a little more expensive than what you will find in the markets of Cusco, this is because these weaving works are all done by hand, just to have an idea of a sweater synthetics of artistic motives produced in the factories cost approx. 10 usd. And the ones they sell are quoted from 100 usd. If you are a lover of eccentric and unusual things, you will surely love this place.

20 minutes from the textile center, there are the traditional market and the Inca ruins, next to the colonial temple, once here you will be asked to show your entrance tickets, if you do not have them you can buy them directly there, something to keep in mind Mind you, you can’t pay with debit or credit cards there, they only accept cash, so bring enough Peruvian money with you. Once inside the guide will explain all the historical data of the Inca ruins of Chinchero, the estimated time is 40 min.

2.- RAQCHI VIEWPOINT

After visiting Chinchero, you will arrive at the town of Raqchi, which has a viewpoint towards the sacred valley of the Incas, you will be able to contemplate the majestic Vilcanota river that crosses the entire town of Yucay, Huayllabamba and Urubamba, framed with the background of the mountains. snow-capped mountains of Veronica, Chicon and Pumahuanca. On one side are the Inca constructions of Machu Qolqa, which were built to store the various grains and products of all the arable land between Huatata, Raqchi and Chinchero, which were later distributed to the towns administered by the Incas. There you can also take a picture with the local people and their llamas. The time that remains is 20 min approx.

WHICH ARE THE ESSENTIAL PLACES ON YOUR VISIT TO THE SACRED VALLEY

CIRCULAR TERRACES OF MORAY

This archaeological complex from the Inca period is located in the district of Maras, there you can appreciate the impressive agricultural constructions, which according to scholars fulfilled a function of agricultural experimentation of the ancient Andean settlers.
Thanks to advances in the field of surveying and genetics, the Incas achieved many crops adapted to various climatic conditions. For example, corn was widely cultivated in different ecoregions of Peru, among which the giant white of Cusco stands out, whose grains are the largest, and this product can only be grown in the valleys of Urubamba and Calca. Currently the Muyuc Orqo sector is in a good state of conservation, the other holes where there are also circular terraces are still in the process of recovering the lithic elements.

From this point you can see the Vilcanota mountain chain, whose summits are still covered by layers of snow. In Maras, the best time to visit is during the summer months, although it is the rainy season, but the landscape becomes very Picturesque, because all the crop fields are in full bloom, creating color contrasts of purple from the potato flower, yellow from the turnip flower, and green from the pastures and forages that stretch for kilometers. After that season, Maras looks very dry, and a lot of red dust.

MARAS SALT POOLS

Since ancient times in the district of Maras, natural salt has been exploited, which is obtained through the process of solar evaporation, in the more than 3,000 salt pools that are spread throughout the Pichingoto hillside. Its source is that in the process of formation of the Andes mountains, a large layer of the seabed was displaced towards the surface and consequently, in conjunction with the different layers of the lithosphere, have arranged these layers of salt, which with the waters hot that come from the subsoil, carry the dissolved salt to the outside.

Currently this site is very fascinating to see how the white and yellow color of the salt capriciously changes the arid landscape of Maras, a place highly visited by many tourists, to learn about the entire process of salt extraction in the Andes, in the stalls From local handicrafts you can buy bags of different types of salt such as pink salt that is used to take therapeutic baths, salt with lavender, salt with spices, and the typical Cusco snack the toasted mais with salt from Maras.

BUFFET LUNCH IN URUBAMBA

Around noon a stop is made in the city of Urubamba, a place highly coveted for its spring weather throughout the year. There you can have lunch in a tourist restaurant that offers local and Peruvian cuisine, making a separate point; This place offers the best hotels and most reputable restaurants in the region. Its fields are surrounded by trees and flowers. Then you will go to the town of Yanahuara where you can visit the craft beer production centers, and chicha, which is a fermented corn drink, which is consumed by all the inhabitants of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

OLLANTAYTAMBO FORTRESS

Recently this town has been nominated by the tourism organization as the best town for sightseeing. If you have many days in Cusco, we recommend you spend the night in this beautiful place as it has many archaeological and cultural attractions.

On the 1-day tour of the Sacred Valley, you only visit the temple of the sun and the sacred water sources, but as we told you, there is much more to discover in its different communities. Where organic agriculture is still practiced and the inhabitants dress in their colorful ponchos. Likewise, its urban planning in more than 600 years has not changed, we can still see its water channels and covers from the Inca period.
Another very little visited point is the portada del sol which is located in the direction of the Cachicata quarries, to get to this beautiful place you will have to walk 4 hours round trip, it is a viewpoint from where you can see the snow-capped Veronica and the Ollantaytambo valley.

PISAC CRAFT MARKET

This market is very famous since until the end of the 90s, you could still see the customs of barter, where people from the Andean communities attended bringing their potato harvest, to be exchanged with products from the sacred valley of the Incas such as corn, pumpkins, fruits and meats. You could also see the parade of the local authorities who are called Vrayoqs, an assortment of well-dressed communal governors, with a seashell in their right hand, who call it Pututo.
Today you can only see modern shops where handicrafts from all over Peru are sold, unfortunately the cost is very high, so we do not recommend buying there, unless they are very valuable objects for you. Another typical activity of this city are its traditional ovens where the most exquisite breads of the Sacred Valley of the Incas are produced.

INCA RUINS OF PISAC

In the upper part of the hill of Pisaca, the Inca ruins are located; one of the largest in its dimension in all of Cusco, since it occupies an entire hill, with different areas, including religious, urban and agricultural. In the 1-day tour, you visit the sector of the royal tombs, and the Inca neighborhood of Qallak’asa. But if you want to explore the archaeological complex in its entirety, this activity lasts almost all day, so we recommend organizing your travel plan accordingly, from Cusco, on a private excursion. Enjoying the sunset in this place is unique. Finally, you will arrive in Cusco at nightfall after having walked all day through one of the most famous tourist circuits in Peru, the incomparable Sacred Valley of the Incas.

BEST TIME TO VISIT THE SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS

You can visit any time of the year, the Sacred Valley of the Incas always looks beautiful. Of course we have to mention that there are certain times of the year that are the most beautiful: from March to April it is the most beautiful season because you will see the entire route full of flowers of different colors, that is because it is the season that occurs after the pluvial precipitations. Many might think that it is spring, but it is not the season of autumn. In this season you will also have the blue sky with flakes of white clouds, perfect landscapes so you can take the most beautiful photos.

From May to October the valley looks dry and windy, because the winter season begins, in these months there is very little chance that it can register rainfall, the truth is that the landscapes are not so beautiful, because the intense cold makes them dry to all the flowers and grasses, giving it a yellow appearance and in the afternoon there are too many winds, so you should wear a good jacket and sunglasses, to prevent dust from irritating your eyes.

Between November and February there is the greatest rainfall in the region, so several of the fields that are around each tourist attraction look green and fresh, this season coincides with the end of the year festivities, so in each place there are many visitors, more than normal; It is also due to the fact that several of the schools in Peru plan their visits at the end of the year, giving few options to get good photos taken in the archaeological sites. In short, the best season is from March to May, because there are few tourists and beautiful landscapes.

BEST TIME TO VISIT THE SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS

THE SACRED VALLEY IS A GOOD PLACE TO ACCLIMATIZE BEFORE DOING THE INCA TRAIL

One of the most famous treks in the world is the old path to Machu Picchu. Therefore, it is recommended that visitors arrive several days in advance to Cusco, but as the capital of the Inca empire, it is located at a high altitude. For people who are not used to it, they could suffer the effects of soroche or altitude sickness; Thus, it is recommended that you go to spend the night and acclimatize in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

In the towns of Urubamba, Calca, Pisac or Ollantaytambo there are many accommodation options, and you can also practice various activities such as horseback riding, ATVs, cooking classes, pottery classes and also visit native towns where you will learn about their customs and traditions.

Once your body has adapted to the mountains, you will be adequately prepared to travel the great Inca trail to Machu Picchu. In addition, it is recommended that you consult your doctor about any medication, and this can help you reduce the possible effects of altitude sickness, as well. It is a good idea to always stay hydrated, and avoid alcoholic beverages as much as possible, until you feel well.

THE MOST POPULAR SACRED VALLEY TOURS FROM CUSCO

Sacred Valley tours are the perfect opportunity to connect with Inca history. The day trip covers some of the key Inca sites in the region, including Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Chinchero! It is important to note that these day trips from Cusco follow two basic routes:

Ccorao / Pisaq Ruins / Pisaq Market / Ollantaytambo Ruins / Chinchero Ruins:

Start at: 8:00 am

Ends at : 19:00 pm

Good for: People who want to visit the sacred valley in a leisurely manner and avoiding the crowds.

It is called the classic sacred valley tour, because it begins in the upper part of the town of Ccorao, and the Taray viewpoint, later the ruins of Pisac are visited, and at noon you arrive at the town of Urubamba where you will have lunch In the afternoon we visit the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo, and to finish the town of Chinchero.

Chinchero / Maras and Moray / Ollantaytambo / Pisaq Ruins / Pisaq Market :

Start at: 6:00 am

Ends at : 19:00 pm

Good for: People who do not have much time on their vacations and want to see as many attractions in a single day

This tour is called the VIP valley, the first attraction to visit is the Chincheros textile center, and its Inca ruins. Later you will be arriving at the town of Maras where you will visit Moray and Salineras, at noon a stop is made in the town of Urubamba to have lunch. In the afternoon the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo and Pisac are visited, this circuit is much faster and with short stops in each place, you will be able to visit all the attractions of the Sacred Valley of the Incas in just 1 day.

THE MOST POPULAR SACRED VALLEY TOURS FROM CUSCO

EXPLORE THE SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS WITH SHORT WALKS

HIKE TO THE POC POC FALLS – URQUILLOS

This activity begins in the town of Chinchero, from where you descend towards the Urquillos valley. On the way you will enjoy eucalyptus forests, fields of potatoes, tawri and cereals such as barley and wheat. After 1 hour of walking you will reach the Poc Poc waterfalls, where you can cool off with its waters that come from the high peaks. Continuing with the Inca trail you will reach the town of Urquillos where you will enjoy the gardens and crops of roses, avocado, corn, pear, etc. This walk will end in the town of Huayoccari where you can take the return transport to Cusco.

TREK TO THE INCA RUINS OF HUCHUY QOSQO

To visit the Inca ruins of Huchuy Qosqo there are different access routes, but the most famous is the one that leaves from the archaeological complex of Tambomachay in Cusco. It is a walk of approx. 8 hours. Where you will pass through Andean moors and villages of shepherds of llamas and sheep. To get to the ancient Inca city, it is accessed by an Inca road that crosses a canyon, the landscapes are impressive, because from this space you can enjoy the best views of the Sacred Valley of the Incas in the Calca and Lamay sector, if you wish you can camping in the archaeological complex of Huchuy Qosqo to contemplate the sunset and sunrise.

HIKE TO THE YANACOCHA LAGOON

It is a walk of medium to demanding difficulty level, the ascent is made from the town of Huayoccari, it is approx. 7km to the first lagoon, during the journey you can see a thick vegetation of trees such as Lambran, Queña, Chachacomo, and many species of birds such as the beautiful hummingbirds, which perch on the Kantu flowers. From the highest part you have an excellent view of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Once you have reached the first lagoon, you have the option of visiting the Quellococha lagoon at the top, or you can also continue with the walk to the town of San Juan, to observe the snow-capped Chicon. And finally descend to the town of Yucay where you will see the largest terraces built by the Incas.

WALK TO INKA SUN GATE  IN OLLANTAYTAMBO

This alternative walk is recommended for outdoor lovers, its level of difficulty is medium. You have to make an ascent from 2,700 m to 4,000 m. The ascent is quite difficult if you are not used to physical exercise, but once you manage to adapt to the terrain you will be able to arrive in an average of 3 hours, from up there your senses will be delighted with the best landscape scenes of the sacred valley in the sector from Ollantaytambo. To return you have the option of visiting the Inca quarries in Cachiccata, and finally ending your walk in the town of Ollantaytambo.

EXPLORE THE SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS WITH SHORT WALKS

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