The Sacred Valley lies just 15 kilometres north of Cuzco, following the twisting Urubamba River on its course through hairpin bends and traditional villages dotted between the former Inca capital and Machu Picchu.
The region is a highlight on most multi-centre holidays to Peru thanks to its charming communities and stunning scenery. The valley also boasts a concentration of Inca sites including Ollantaytambo, whose narrow cobblestone streets have survived pavement-pounding and continuous inhabitation since the 13th century, and Pisac, a magnet for spirit-seekers.
Salt has been harvested from the terraces at Maras since pre-Inca times, and the 300 wells still provide a vital source of income for the local communities in the form of crumbly pink salt.
On our Sacred Valley holidays, visitors can tour the salt mines at Maras and view the fascinating Inca crop terraces at Moray. Resembling crop circles cut into an amphitheatre, the Incas used the terrace system to farm different crops in a small area.
The Incas believed that Lake Titicaca was the birthplace of the sun, and the Andean village of Chinchero marked the spot where the rainbow was born.
Chinchero has many archaeological sites spanning a full spectrum of time periods, from Inca ruins to colonial churches. With its lofty location between snow-dusted mountains, the village is quite beautiful and is famous for its weaving culture; pick up hand-woven baskets from the colourful Sunday market to take home as gorgeous souvenirs.
The Sacred Valley’s mild climate makes it an excellent destination for those wishing to indulge in more adventurous activities, and at a lower altitude than the rest of the city Cuzco, it’s an ideal place to acclimatise before travelling higher into the mountains.
Activities include short treks through the mountains, quad biking, horse riding and mountain biking, or taking to the fast-flowing waters of the Urubamba River on a river raft. The Sacred Valley is home to several striking protected climbing routes, and zip-lining and paragliding through the mountains alsoaffordsincredible views.
The serene lakes of the Andes are ideal for exploring on a stand-up paddleboard, with the magnificent rocky peaks rising up above you.