The Sacred Valley of the Incas has it all: a beautiful geography surrounded by welcoming rivers and towns, archaeological sites with a lot of historical value and thousands of adventures for people of all ages. Today, it is one of the favorite destinations for tourists from all over the world. Know the 10 best things to do in this fertile valley that was very much appreciated by the Incas.
1 – Visit the traditional market of Pisac
The traditional market of Pisac is located 40 minutes from the city of Cusco. It is a beautiful artisan market whose popularity has crossed the borders of Peru. It is believed that since the time of the Incas, the place was already an important commercial center. With the arrival of the Spaniards, this tradition lasted until now. The market offers ceramic crafts, fine alpaca clothes, silver jewelry and all kinds of souvenirs. Sunday is when it occupies most of the main square of Pisac, district where this important market is located.
2 – Visit Chinchero
Chinchero is 40 minutes from Cusco and is one of the most traditional and picturesque villages of the Sacred Valley. It is a district located at 3780 m.s. where many of the cultural traditions of past centuries are still preserved. The textile centers carry out the process of spinning and weaving in the ancestral style. On Sundays there is a fair where you can still trade by bartering. The ‘Varayoc’ or community leaders maintain the ancestral traditions as the typical dress of the village. Chinchero also has an archaeological site and a colonial church built on the remains of the Inca Tupac Yupanqui palace.
3 – Visit Urubamba
Urubamba, the capital of the province of the same name, is located 78 kilometers from the city of Cusco. It was one of the most important agricultural areas in the time of the Incas. Today, it produces delicious fruits and the so-called «best corn in the world». Its climate is a temptation for travelers, many of whom settled to live on their land. It has a beautiful plaza de armas where there is a colonial church adorned with beautiful works of art. Because it is a mandatory route to get to Machu Picchu, there is a lot of hotel and tourist offer
4 – Visit the Salineras de Maras and the Archaeological Center of Moray
Maras and Moray are two towns located west of Cusco at 3300 m.s.n.m. in an area far from the Sacred Valley. Both places are home to two of the most important tourist attractions in the region: the salineras de Maras and the Inca ruins of Moray. The first is 3000 wells of natural salt originated from 110 million years ago. Salineras is one of the only places in the world where «natural pink salt» is extracted. The archaeological center of Moray has circular terraces that, in the time of the Incas, were agricultural research laboratories. The beauty of the place captivates the visitor. Both sites distance 7 kilometers.
5 – Extreme glamping in the Sacred Valley
Glamping is a type of camping but extreme. In the Sacred Valley there is a store (glass pod) located on a cliff 300 meters above the Urubamba River. This shop is glamorous because it contains a bedroom for 4 people, a bathroom and a dining room. However, this adventure is recommended only for adrenaline lovers who are not afraid of heights. From there you can appreciate all the beauty of the Sacred Valley of the Incas crowned by the stars at night. To get to this site, you must climb stairs and paths on the edge of cliffs. Of course, how much with all the security measures.
6 – Visit the archaeological zone of Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo is located a little over 70 kilometers from the city of Cusco. It is a traditional town with a lot of historical value in the time of the Incas. This was an important administrative center and residence of the Inca nobility in the Tahuantinsuyo. Currently, one of its greatest attractions is its fortress located on a hill. It houses a series of stone buildings such as the Temple of the Sun and the huge monoliths. Because Ollantaytambo is a mandatory step to board the train to Machu Picchu and begin the 4-day tour of the Inca Trail, basic tourist services such as restaurants and hotels are very well prepared for tourists.
7 – Take a quad bike tour of the Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley of the Incas is the perfect place for lovers of adventure. Among them, the quad bike tour is one of the favorite experiences for the visitor. It is an adventure on four wheels through villages and natural roads. You can see impressive landscapes such as the mountains La Veronica and the Cordillera ‘Vilcanota’. It is also possible to visit the salt mines of Maras and the Inca Ruins of Moray. During the trip, you admire the customs of the local people and the immense green fields of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. On average, the tour lasts from 3 to 4 hours and includes guides and previous training.
8 – Take a bicycle tour through the Sacred Valley
For cycling enthusiasts, the bicycle tour of the Sacred Valley is the best adventurous experience in Cusco. It is a tour on two wheels through the different towns of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The roads go mostly downhill by asphalt. On the way, there is the opportunity to know the main attractions of the Valley, such as the traditional market of Pisaq, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. This adventure is carried out with all the security measures.
9 – Make zipline in Racchi
If you want to add a little more adventure in the trip to Cusco, zipline or zip line is the best option. This is an extreme sport that involves sliding down a steel cable at high speed and distance. In the Sacred Valley of the Incas, it takes place in the town of Racchi (40 minutes from Cusco), from where you can see all the splendor of the Sacred Valley. The place of operations has 7 cables of different distances and speeds according to the nerves of the visitor. This adventure can be done as a family since it has the necessary security measures
10 – Do boating on the Vilcanota River
The waters of the Vilcanota River run almost completely through the Sacred Valley of the Incas and are conducive to canoeing. Depending on the season of the year, this is done at different levels. In dry season (from April to October), the calm waters allow to do it in levels II and III (exciting with little risk). In rainy season (from October to March), it can be done in levels IV and V (risky and with a lot of adrenaline). These advanced levels are carried out in the Apurímac and Tambopata rivers. The tour includes guides and the necessary equipment