Interesting Facts About The Sacred Valley Peru
This area is known for its rich Inca culture, with many fortresses and towns situated along the valley. But it wasnt always the territory of the Incas, with the Urubamba Valley actually being incorporated into the Inca Empire gradually over a period of hundreds of years, from around 1000 to 1400.
Before this, however, the rich soil of the Urubamba Valley was utilized for agriculture from around 800 BC by the Chanapata civilization. Following that, it changed hands between various different civilizations, with the Qutacalla in the valley between 500 to 900 BC, and then the Killke people occupying the region from 900 BC until the Incas showed up. The Incas ruled until the arrival of the Spanish.
Today, the Urubamba Valley is a major tourist destination, welcoming over a million people to its archaeological sites and towns along the valley. There are many high altitude settlements and sights along the so-called Sacred Valley Pisac, for example, soars to 3,000 meters above sea level.
Mountains overlook the valley, with one of the most prominent being Veronica at 5,893 meters high.
The region has been intensely cultivated, and boasts many agricultural terraces these are called andenes and were developed by the Incas. It was the most important area for maize production in the whole of the Inca Empire.
Casa Andina Private Collection
Serenely sitting in the Andean foothills, Casa Andina is an exact middle point between the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and the Inca Ruins of the Sacred Valley. This four star superior hotel boasts a rustic décor that doesnt skimp on any modern amenities, including a gym, spa, planetarium, gardens, lounge and upscale restaurant serving chic Peruvian cuisine. The property has 92 spacious rooms with mountain views, terraces and balconies, as well as 4 private villas.
At a slightly more affordable price point than some of the other Sacred Valley luxury hotels, Casa Andina never fails to deliver with impressive facilities and attentive service.
Perfect for: Families, Couples, Groups
Pakaritampu Hotel, near the Ollanta Train Station
Sacred Valley Peru Hotel
We stayed at the Apu Lodge in Ollantaytambo. I LOVED our hotel! Look at this gorgeous room!!
The bed and pillows are super comfy and the water pressure in the shower is AMAZING. The staff is super friendly and helpful. They had great advice for where to go, what to do, and what to see!
The Apu Lodge is on a quiet, narrow, cobblestone, pedestrian street. As soon as you step into the beautiful courtyard youre greeted by sweet, fresh summery flowers.
Youre literally right at the base of the ruins! We had such a wonderful stay at the Apu Lodge in Ollantaytambo. It was so nice to get out of the city for a few days and fall asleep to the sounds of the river at night.
After our second day in the Sacred Valley Peru, we left first thing the next morning for Machu Picchu.
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Best Hotels In Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru, near the Inca city of Cusco, is one of the most beautiful places by nature that you will ever visit on your travels around the world. The valley was a favorite place for the Incas who used the area to live and grow food for the Inca Empire. Today you can visit some of the ruins left by the Incas in Pisaq and Ollantaytambo. And so see the genius and talent of the Inca builders. During your visit to the area, you will need to stay at one of the many hotels in Sacred Valley.
Depending on your budget, there is a hotel for you in the Sacred Valley. There are both luxury and budget hotels in the Sacred Valley. So let us review some of the best properties to look for as you research your stay in the Valley. That is why together with Machu Travel Peru, we have prepared a small article with those best hotels in Sacred Valley.
Some of the best hotels in Sacred Valley
Where Is The Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley is located around 20 kilometers north of Cusco, and around 100 kilometers from Machu Picchu. It is also known as the Urubamba Valley, named after the river of the same name that winds its way over 100 kilometers down from the Andes towards Urubamba, Ollantaytambo and on to Machu Picchu.
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Where To Stay: Ease Of Access And To Minimize The Altitudes Effects
Altitude-wise, the best town to stay in is Aguas Calientes. Its at 6,700 feet above sea level, below the altitude sickness zone. The levels of oxyhaemoglobin in your blood begin to drop at 7,000 feet above sea level, so sleeping in Aguas Calientes, 300 feet lower, isnt dangerous to your health.
The main parts of Machu Picchu itself are at 7,972 feet, just below the altitude sickness zone. Walking around the site isnt as easy as it would be sea level, but most people manage it just fine without taking Diamox or any other altitude medication.
Those who want to spend only an afternoon exploring the site can easily stay in one of the Sacred Valley towns and just take the train in the morning. However, if you want to see the sun rise over the Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu or have an early morning ticket, you need to spend the night before in Aguas Calientes.
The challenge is that, aside from being the gateway to Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes holds little charm. Plus, there are often tiny no-see-um insects that find ankles extremely tasty. You wont notice them biting, but many people have a strong allergic reaction and have painful swollen ankles and red-dotted legs for days afterward. Wear bug spray and, preferably, keep your legs covered, especially in town but also at Machu Picchu itself.
At Sumaq Machu Picchu, bartenders have perfected the pisco sour.
Johanna Read, TravelEater.net
What To Pack For Sacred Valley
As youll be hiking and walking around ancient sites in Sacred Valley, having a good pair of hiking boots is important. The walking paths are made of stone and can be very slippery when wet.
Bring a small daypack for your camera, water bottle and snacks. But note that large backpacks are not allowed into Machu Picchu. If your bag is larger than 15.7 inches x 13.7 inches x 7.9 inches it wont be allowed in. Only reusable water bottles are allowed !
Regardless of when you visit, the daytime and evening temperatures differ a lot in the Sacred Valley. Make sure to bring layers youd want to wear a fleece and jacket in the morning, and peel them off by noon. The sun can be strong in the afternoon, so a hat and sunscreen are essential.
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Let Us Plan Your Trip: Our Full Peru Itinerary
Now that you have mastered our guide to the Sacred Valley be sure to check out our full Peruvian Itinerary.
The Sacred Valley was one of my favorite areas in Peru and historically its one of the most important. A visit to these three towns doesnt have to break the bank. Let me know in the comments if you found a way to visit the Sacred Valley for even cheaper!
Pisac Market & Inca Ruins
Founded by the Spanish Conquistador Viceroy Toledo, Pisa town was constructed over an original Inca settlement. Located close to Cusco, Pisac offers up the top market in the region.
Packed with local produce and a wide array of locally produced arts and crafts, Pisac Market is the perfect place for a little shopping.
The ruins, which are located just 20 minutes drive from the town itself, are of fantastic quality and well worth the visit. Youll see military, agricultural and religious buildings, all of which are spread over one large complex! Make sure to walk around the Royal Sector of the site.
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From Cusco 5 Best Places To Go In The Sacred Valley Of Peru
If theres one location I would recommend anyone to visit in Peru, that would definitely be the Sacred Valley Peru. This is an amazing location that everyone will love, just because there are so many great views, and on top of that you will be impressed with how appealing and cool the entire location really is. With that in mind, there are a variety of places to explore and enjoy. Here are some of the best Sacred Valley Peru locations to check out.
Bring Snacks Sunscreen And Water
I had a big breakfast that morning in Cusco, but by the time we started the hike itd been over 3 hours since breakfast and I was STARVING. I almost skipped the hike, because I was so hungry and just wanted to get to the town and EAT. Im SO glad I didnt skip the hike, but I wouldve been so much happier if Id had a little snack before starting!
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Sacred Valley Peru Site #2 Ollantaytambo
We had our taxi driver drop us off at our hotel in Ollantaytambo. We dropped off our luggage and walked to the ruins at the Ollantaytambo Sanctuary. If youre doing this as a day trip, just have you driver take you straight to the ruins and wait for you there. It will take about 1 hour to visit the ruins.
You can enter the Ollantaytambo ruins with the Sacred Valley Peru combo ticket you purchased at Pisac. Be sure to hang on to this ticket! Youll need it for one more site the next day.
Sacred Valley Itinerary Attractions
Now that you have some background on how to get to and how to get around the Sacred Valley, lets now talk about the 5 different Sacred Valley attractions you can visit during you time there.
We will start off with the Ollataytambo Fortress, located just down the road from the train station.
7:00AM-6:00PM Entrance Fee: Tourist Ticket Required
If coming from Machu Picchu this will most likely be your first stop since it right nearby the train station. If driving from Cusco as part of a day trip, it might be your last stop before turning around.
These ruins are made up of huge rock formed terraces that line an entire mountainside.
They are very well preserved and are a must see while making your way through the area. Even if you have seen a bunch of different ruins in Cusco and/or Machu Picchu, this one will surely not disappoint. Besides for the mountainside terraces there are several other temples and ritual sites all along the area.
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Best Sacred Valley Restaurants
Dont expect to have Michelin starred meals in this rural part of Peru, but theres no shortage of wholesome, affordable home-cooked meals. Most restaurants serve a menu del dia during the day, which usually includes a soup as a first dish, meat with rice and salad as a main course , and a lemonade. Great value for money!
Tierra Bistro Organico, Pisac
This sunny cafe serves up the freshest ceviche and great vegetarian menú, plus homemade pasta, and house-made pizzas. We were really surprised to find such healthy, international food in small town Pisac. Read reviews here.
Parwa Community Restaurant, Huchuy Qosqo
A good stopping point near Museo Inkariy, the Parwa Community Restaurant uses all of its earnings to support community development efforts. Its a simple farm-to-table restaurant that serves delicious local dishes made with organic, local produce. Read reviews here.
Restaurante Willkamayo, Urubamba
We stumbled upon this quaint country restaurant in Urubamba and loved the lush gardens and view of the surrounding mountains. It was a glorious place to just lay on the grass and kick back! They serve authentic, Peruvian home-cooked food at great prices. Try the trout and chicharron de pollo!
Quinua Restaurant, Ollantaytambo
Overlooking the main square of Ollantaytambo, Quinua may look just like the other tourist traps in town, drawing in legions of backpackers. But it actually serves up pretty decent pizzas, pastas, and alpaca steaks. Read reviews here.
Current Peru Travel Restrictions
All land and air borders to Peru are now open. All vaccinated travelers must show proof of vaccination, while unvaccinated travelers must provide valid negative COVID-19 test results, issued up to 48 hours before boarding. Children under 12 are exempted. Check the Peru government website for up-to-date info.
Its important to have travel insurance regardless of how long youre traveling. Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.
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How Long To Spend In The Sacred Valley
Though it is possible to explore the Sacred Valley on a day trip, unless you absolutely have to due to a lack of time, I would recommend you spend longer. Otherwise it is easy to rush seeing all the sights here.
It is actually best to spend at least two days exploring the Sacred Valley , and then you can continue on to Machu Picchu. It enables you to get a better insight into this fascinating mountainous area of Peru.
Explora Valle Sagrado Hotel
Explora Valle Sagrado feels like a great option among the different hotels in Valle Sagrado. If you plan to visit Machu Picchu, this hotel is a great option. With wooden walls and floors, vaulted ceilings, and wooden walkways, the establishment gives a great rustic feel. This is a full-service resort hotel with a clear focus on adventure tours. Therefore, guests will be able to enjoy endless activities and 44 spacious rooms. Not to mention six other charming and exclusive suites. All elegantly decorated and suitable for all types of audiences.
MOUNTAINTOPS ARE FOR VIEWS AND INSPIRATION. BUT FRUIT IS GROWN IN THE VALLEYS.
We hope together with the experts from Machu Travel Peru to have been helpful. Remember these are just a few notable examples of hotels in the Sacred Valley, but the truth is that this is just a glimpse of everything you can enjoy. If you want to know other equally charming options, do not hesitate to consult with our qualified team. Together with our team of experts, we will be looking forward to your next visit to Peru!
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Rupa Wasi Lodge Machu Picchu Pueblo
In a prime location on the fringes of Machu Picchu Pueblo and the protected cloud forest, this eco-lodge is run by an enthusiastic team of young conservationists. The lodges wooden huts, all built using natural materials, blend in with the surrounding environment and are surrounded by avocado, walnut and native trees. The rooms are cosily furnished, with wooden beds and crisp, white linen and some have little balconies with cushioned seating overlooking the cloud forest and the town below. The lodges stylish restaurant, The Tree House, offers cuisine that blends the best of Peruvian, Asian, Italian and Latin American flavours. Guests can take two-hour cooking classes , focusing on Perus star dishes, including causita acevichada .Doubles from $65 B& B, +51 84 435 849, rupaswasi.net
Am : Perurail Train To Aguas Calientes
For the train to Machu Picchu, we chose the mid-range price option the vistadome. The Vistadome train has more windows, nicer seats, a drink, and a snack. The train journey is quite scenic along the Urubamba river with views of a few Inca ruins and part of the Inca Trail. We were given a slice of carrot cake as a snack that was average quality. I am still a bit undecided whether the extra price was worth it to take the Vistadome train.
View of Inca Ruins from Train to Machu Picchu
Mountain View from Vistadome Perurail Train
View from Machu Picchu Train
The train ride takes an hour and a half. We spent all of that mesmerized by the views out the window. The time flew by.
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The Best Hotels In Cusco
El Mercado offers a fabulous mix of tradition and contemporary decor in the centre Cusco. There are exposed beams and white washed walls but there are also some great pieces of modern art. There are 31 rooms plus a gorgeous terrace, perfect for drinks in the evening.
The Palacio del Inka is an elegant, 203 room hotel right in the heart of town. The decor is colourful, from the smallest room to the excellent Andean restaurant. Theres also a range of spa treatments available.
The Fallen Angel guesthouse is just a few hundred feet from Cuscos main square. Its five quirky rooms are decorated with bright contemporary art and the restaurant, which specialises in local cuisine, is top notch.
Getting To The Sacred Valley From Cusco
Learn the word collectivo. This is essentially a form of local transport like a bus but in the form of a mini-van. It leaves when full and doesnt operate on any particular time schedule. But there are so many they are coming and going in Cusco every 20-minutes.
They cost around 5-6 soles or $1.25-$1.50 from Cusco to each city in the Sacred Valley.
Head to in Cusco to find the departing buses. Taxi drivers will know where to take you.
Dont bother with the day trips from Cusco. They are overpriced. Some travelers will suggest making Cusco your home base & then taking an organized day trip to Ollantaytambo, Moray & Maras, and Pisac separately. This is a waste of valuable time & money. And the Sacred Valley is just too pretty to not stay overnight.
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