Peru| Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley of the Incas

A beautiful valley between Cusco and Machu Picchu along the Urubamba River

ruins

The Sacred Valley

This is a beautiful area called the Sacred Valley as the valley contains elements of nature that the Inca's worshipped. Rivers, fertile earth, and mountains. It is a lush valley that grows incredible crops particularly many varieties of corn and surrounded by majestic mountains. The scenery is spectacular. It is composed of valleys connected by the Urubamba River between the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo.

local people

Chinchero Market

This is a town at the half way point between Cusco and the Sacred Valley. If you are there on Sunday the Chinchero market is truly fascinating. This is not as much of a tourist market as a gathering place on Sunday mornings for the locals to get together and trade. They arrive piled in trucks and you can see what a social gathering this is for the families. Of course products for tourists are present as it has become a popular thing for tourists to see. Pictures from this market are shown below.

Pisac

Considered the beginning of the Sacred Valley. There are Inca ruins here which can be divided into three main groups, the fortress, the sanctuary or the Temple of the Sun and the city. There are also some beautiful terraces that the Incas used to grow crops. It will take about an hour to two hours to explore the archaeological site. The Picso Market in the town of Pisac, is a very well known market held on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday featuring all the traditional souvenirs that can be found at a local craft market. Silver, gold, embroidery and many types of local products on display. A small church is in the middle of the market. The sights and sounds of the market are fascinating whether or not you buy anything during your visit. Some pictures taken at the market below. Bargaining is of course the key ingredient to shopping here. Although the vendors will ask you to see their products they are generally less aggressive than in other areas of the world that feature similar market places.

Ollantaytambo

This is an example of an Inca village, still occupied today and using the Inca irrigation system. Ollantaytambo was a religious, political and military complex as well as a resting place for the Inca rulers. The old Inca walls still look incredible, surviving earthquakes and still standing. During the walk through the village, we were privileged to be able to enter a typical home. The homes open onto a communal courtyard and the people are very social and share their everyday lives. Often the homes are of relatives. Tiny one room dwellings are really all the homes consist of and all have the guinea pigs bred inside. This is a local delicacy only eaten on special occasions.


The courtyard of the homes

Inside a home

The guinea pigs

The Ollantaytambo ruins

Called Aracama Ayllu are at the end of the village and offer a great view of the valley below. It takes about one and a half hours to walk the ruins. This little town also offers internet service at a reasonable $3 an hour connection charge. The trains stop here from Cusco on the way to Machu Picchu. You can spend the night in the Sacred Valley and join the Hiram Bingham train and continue onto Machu Picchu.


The narrow alleys with the Inca Irrigation system still running

Ruins above the town

Walking the ruins above the town

Chicha

This is the local alcoholic beverage that is made from fermented corn. Long wooden sticks with red plastic tied to the end signify that the establishment offers chicha for sale. These "bars" are everywhere. Stopping in with a guide is quite an experience. They serve very large glasses taken straight out of a big pot full of chicha under a white cloth. This brew dates back to even pre-Inca times and is of course very popular with the locals. I am not sure tasting this brew is recommended, this is your decision.

Accommodations

There are no five star hotels in the Sacred Valley at this time. The two nicest properties are Hotel Sol y Luna, Casa Andina Private Collection, in the middle area of the Sacred Valley.

The Hacienda

This is a private restaurant that you can visit by special arrangement of our local tour company. The Hacienda is a private home that is almost like a museum and has been in the family for years. The house is located up in the hills with a view of the valley area. The setting is picturesque and the lawns and flowers are delightful. The house is full of interesting artifacts including some pottery dating back to the pre-Inca period. Prior to lunch you are served the drink of Peru - Pisco Sour. It tastes similar to a Margherita. A wonderful experience that you will always remember.


View from the lawn

Pisco Sours before lunch

The entrance to the Hacienda

GALAPAGOS / PERU