Speak to a travel expert: +1-877-240-4770

Sacred Valley
Travel Guide


Plan for Sacred Valley with Local Expertise

Get a Quote

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, which also goes by the less poetic name of the Urubamba River Valley, is a sprawling region of high, sloping mountains and low, fertile plains in the Peruvian Andes. Just 20km at its closest point to the central hub of Cusco, which many travelers use as a base for exploring the Sacred Valley and the surrounding region, it was formed by the Urubamba River and gradually became part of the Inca empire between the years 1000 and 1400 CE. Its low elevation on the valley floor enabled it to become a productive agricultural zone, with maize being grown in abundance in the valley. Throughout the rule of the Inca in the region, the Sacred Valley became something of an aristocratic enclave for this ancient civilization, where royal estates, citadels and country homes were built for emperors of the Inca. The remains of some of these complexes can still be seen and visited, the most famous being Machu Picchu, which is thought to have been built for the emperor Pachacuti.

Experiences around Sacred Valley

What not to miss

Visitors to the Sacred Valley will often base themselves in Cusco and do day trips to the surrounding sites, or undertake longer treks to more out of the way destinations in the region. For those looking to deep dive into this incredible ancient valley, some of the most important sites are the archaeological ruins of Pisac, Chincheros and Ollantaytambo, the remains of royal estates that are dotted around the area. One of the most notable features of the Sacred Valley are the terraced hillsides, which are called “andenes,” and were built by the Inca for growing maize. They are the most visible and prevalent traces of the Inca that you can see to this day. Spending a few days in the Sacred Valley will leave you in no doubt as to why this mysterious ancient tribe chose to use this captivating natural region and its surroundings as the capital of their empire.

Sacred Valley & Pisac Ruins tour Top

This is a full-day excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, alongside the Vilcanota River, where you will find native communities, impressive terraces and many important archaeological sites. While in Pisac, you’ll visit the small town and its colorful market. Above the current colonial village, which still preserves its Inca roots, one finds a hill called Intihuatana, with a set of platforms with very impressive views of the valley. There are archaeological remains of fine stonework that show the traditional simple way of burying the dead in the hillsides. In the afternoon you will visit the Inca town of Ollantaytambo, which has original Inca houses, streets and the fortress towering above the village. Private Service. Departure: Daily, at 09.00 am

Weaving Workshop in Ollantaytambo Top

The tour meets at Plaza de Armas, in front of La Esquina café at 09:00 am from Ollantaytambo, for a beautiful drive through the Patacancha Valley, lined with Inca terracing, waterfalls and traditional Andean farming practices. The alpine scenery and mountainous terrain are simply exquisite but what makes the tour really special is visiting the Patacancha and Huilloc communities, known for their traditional cultural practices. This tour gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in traditional Andean culture by taking part in a weaving workshop. Upon arriving to Patacancha, you will be given time to explore the quaint village and visit to the Awamaki Weaving Center, where you will get a demonstration of the weaving process, from shearing the wool from the alpaca or sheep, spinning it into yarn on the Andean drop spindle, an explanation of the natural plant dyes, and finally the tools and techniques used to weave the yarn into cloth, and then a wearable garment. During the scheduled, respectful and low-impact Quechua community visits, we hope to educate the responsible traveler about the ancient weaving tradition and Andean indigenous culture. It is a truly fascinating sight to see the textiles come to life in its natural habitat. After the demonstration, you will get the chance to try weaving yourself. One of the weavers from the women’s cooperative will act as your personal teacher to help you create your own bracelet which you can take home as a souvenir. You will then be invited into the weaver’s home to enjoy a lovingly prepared home-cooked meal. Our delicious lunch includes a soup and main course. Visitors also have the option of purchasing garments directly from their creators. Don’t miss out on this magical opportunity to experience a different way of life!

Short 2-Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Top

8 miles, Inca complexes and a maximum altitude of over 8,690 ft. lie between you and the ancient Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu as you depart on what is one of the most unforgettable travel adventures. If you’re short on time but want to experience hiking in the footsteps of the Incas, this is the perfect experience. Staying overnight in a hotel at the foot of Machu Picchu, you’ll be rewarded the following morning with watching the sun rise over Machu Picchu in one of the quietest hours of the day. You’ll have this profound experience almost entirely to yourself, as you soak in the fruits of your labor. Throughout the express Inca Trail and at Machu Picchu, your guide will provide you with all the facts, figures and legends while making sure you avoid the crowds to get the most from this once in a lifetime experience. Private or Group Service. Departures: Daily (Pending availability, best booked 3-6 months in advance)

Classic 4-Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Top

26 miles, three mountain passes and a maximum altitude of 14,000 ft. lie between you and the ancient Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu as you depart on what is one of the most unforgettable travel adventures. Having hiked through stunning cloud forests, slept out under the stars and admired the scenery of the Sacred Valley, you’ll be rewarded with watching the sun rise over Machu Picchu in one of the quietest hours of the day. You’ll have this profound experience almost entirely to yourself, as you soak in the fruits of your labor. Throughout the Inca Trail and at Machu Picchu, your guide will provide you with all the facts, figures and legends while making sure you avoid the crowds to get the most from this once in a lifetime experience. Private or Group Service. Departures: Daily (Pending availability, best booked 3-6 months in advance)

Maras, Moray and Salineras Top

Half day excursion to Moray and Maras. At Moray you will find pre-Inca and Inca ruins, such as circular platforms used as agricultural terraces with a complex system of irrigation. These ruins used to be an agricultural experimentation center, where the Incas re-created different micro climates in every terrace. From there, you will head towards Maras to visit the “Salinas,” a wonder of hydraulic engineering and a must for photographers. The saltpans are set on overhanging cliffs and command spectacular views of the Andes and the Urubamba River below. The mine has been working since the Inca times.

Chincheros, Maras & Moray w/ visit to a weaving cooperative Top

This full-day excursion will allow you to discover and explore the wonderful Incan sites of Moray, Maras and Chincheros. We begin in Moray by visiting the deep amphitheater-like terraces that are located nearby to the Maras Salt Pans. The layered terraces are carved into an immense earthen bowl, with each layer having its own microclimate, according to depth. Some theorize that the Incas used these terraces as a laboratory to determine optimal conditions for growing crops. The tour continues at the Maras salt flats, that perch on the edge of an overhanging cliff and command spectacular views of the Andes and the Urubamba River below, giving you excellent opportunities for some stunning photos. The extraordinary salt rocks that may be filled with water depending on the season you visit, starkly contrast with the vibrant green background. During our return to Cusco, we will stop off at the charming town of Chincheros. With locals wearing traditional dress, large Inca ruins that dominate the central plaza and a beautiful dazzling Church made from the white volcanic rock sillar, Chincheros will feel like stepping back in time. In Chincheros we will also visit a weaving cooperation, so that you may learn more about the ancient art of transforming alpaca wool to colorful textiles.

Peruvian Paso Horseback to Maras & Moray Top

In the morning, your private tour guide in Cusco and driver will pick you up from your hotel to start your Peruvian Paso Horseback Riding adventure. Our day begins at the incredible circular terraces of Moray, which were used as an Inca laboratory to acclimatize crops. After Moray, we will have a nice lunch at a nearby location. Our next stop leads us to the Salt Terraces of Maras to see and learn about an ancient pre-Incan method of producing salt. We then will then return the horses to the ranch and you will return to your hotel in the Sacred Valley. This tour is a full day horseback riding adventure with the unique Peruvian Paso breed. This noble animal, unique in its breed, gives a very smooth and elegant ride where no experience is necessary.

Mountain Bike Moray, Maras & Salineras Top

This tour visits the two astonishing and unique archaeological sites of Moray and the Maras Salt Pans, a must-see for anyone interested in Inca history and architecture. The ride is of intermediate level, basic off road experience is required, but with either one of these anyone can do this ride and enjoy it. The tour meets in Ollantaytambo to drive up for 30 minutes through the gorgeous Sacred Valley to the site of Moray, a set of circular terraces built by the Incas as an agricultural experimental station (or, another theory is that it was a ceremonial crop site). The entrance costs 10 soles. After spending approximately half an hour exploring the mystical site and soaking in its historical meaning, the main part of the mountain bike ride will start. The route consists of a 5 mile (9km) of gentle up and down with incredible views of lush farmland and of the Urubamba glacier range. After a 5 mile (9km) ride through the Andean altiplano, you will arrive at the town of Maras, originally settled as a station for distributing the salt supply. After a short break, the tour resumes down a steeper hill on a rocky path directly down to the Salt Pans. These Salt Mines were built before the time of the Inca themselves and are still in use today. The salt harvest happens between May and December and if visiting during those months, you can see the harvesting of the salt by local families, each of whom controls a share of the Salt Pans. You are welcome to go down into the salt flats to taste some salt or buy a small souvenir bag. Following the visit of the Salt Mines comes the final stretch of the journey on a mountain bike single-track before arriving at the Urubamba River. This same river snakes past the base of Machu Picchu, through the Amazon basin to empty out into the Atlantic Ocean. Upon arrival, the bikes are loaded onto the truck to head back to Ollantaytambo.

Peruvian Cooking Class Top

Local Ollantina cooks Irma and Tina have joined forces to teach a Peruvian home cooking class. Join one of the teachers in her home to prepare some of Peru’s many sumptuous dishes. The class begins with a guided visit by Irma and Tina to the vibrant Ollantaytambo market where you will learn about the benefits of local foods and how best to choose them. After returning to the teacher’s home, you will prepare a traditional drink, appetizer and a main course that will be enjoyed at their table with the rest of the class. This interesting and interactive cooking class will leave you licking your lips and with a collection of delicious Peruvian recipes that you can share with your family and friends back home!

Rafting Vilcanota & Urubamba rivers Top

At 9.30 am guides and all equipment will be waiting for you at your river location in Pachar in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here you’ll receive rafting equipment and a safety briefing (toilet facilities and changing rooms available). After a brief practice on the flat parts of the river, you’ll start your journey on easy water while you admire the spectacular views of the mountains and archaeological remains. Continue towards Ollantaytambo and its amazing Inca terraces, at the time you’ll experience class 2-3 rapids, to finish with “El Resbaladero” (The Slide), a strong class 3 rapid that includes waves and small whirlpools. You’ll reach the river take out located in the community of Cachiccata (Toilets and changing rooms available) just 10 minutes by car from Ollantaytambo.

Visit to Potato theme Park Top

You will be picked up at your hotel in order to start the excursion through the Sacred Valley. Your guide will show and explain cultural aspects of Andean life associated with the importance of potatoes in this culture. You will visit a demonstrative potato field where you will be able to participate in the harvest work (real or simulation depending on the season) in order to better understand the particularity of traditional agriculture in the Andes and the agro biodiversity of the potatoes. At a selected hour you will try some delicious specialties made from potatoes and other native products such as alpaca meat and aromatic herbs. After lunch you will be invited to visit a traditional Andean house that keeps cultural settings alive.

Zip Line & Via Ferrata Long Top

A zip-line (also known as a flying fox, foefie slide, zip wire, aerialrunway))[consists of a pulley suspended on a cable mounted on an incline. It is designed to enable a user propelled by gravity to traverse from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable, by holding on or attaching to the freely moving pulley]. Via Ferrata is a path used to climb a mountain with a safety system permanently installed. It gives people without any experience in climbing the opportunity to move through spectacular mountain scenery using a minimum amount of equipment. The service starts at 8am with passenger pick up from Cusco hotels, and continues with the road trip from Cusco to Pachar. On the way we will pick up clients staying at Sacred Valley hotels and this will be around 10 to 10:30am. Climb 400 meters of a rock face with via ferrata, metal steps and a life line that assures you safety 100% of the time. One hour of climbing approximately. Enjoy a box lunch at the highest point of the circuit and descend ziplining 6 cables from 700 meters to 250 mts, for a 2400 meters total.

Rafting Chuquicahuana & Zip Line Top

This exciting tour is specially made for all adrenaline junkies and adventure seekers! After being picked up from your hotel at 8:50, you will be driven to the Cusipata River Lodge camping site, where you can leave your possessions as you kit up to begin the rafting. Professional River guides will provide you with suitable rafting equipment such as a helmet, a wet suit, a spray jacket and a paddle. After a run through the safety instructions, you will be driven to the starting point where you will start your thrilling paddle down the Chuquicahuana River. This particular section of the river is rather intense with rapids reaching Class III and IV so bear in mind that this will be a wet and bumpy ride! After a tiring floating time of approximately two hours, you will be served a delicious hot lunch at the Cusipata River Lodge. The Lodge offers excellent facilities such as hot showers and a sauna, which you may use to relax and unwind after your great adventure. In addition, the lodge also has two 100-meter (330 feet) zip line cables that glide over the stunning Urubamba River.

Fast Facts on Sacred Valley

USEFUL TRAVELER INFORMATION

This section is a quick overview to help in planning your trip to Sacred Valley.

When to go

The best time to visit the Sacred Valley is in the dry season, which runs from April to October. The region enjoys clear blue skies, refreshing breezes and comfortable temperatures during these months, and it is easier to visit the ruins and undertake hikes outside of the rainy season, which happens between November and March. Be advised that the biggest crowds hit the valley between June and August, so you may want to choose a quieter month to visit. For anyone wishing to capture the valley at its most verdant, come at the end of March or beginning of April, when the valley, plains and mountains are lush and green after the rains, with an abundance of colourful flowers.

How to get there

Visitors to the Sacred Valley usually base themselves in Cusco, which can be reached by airplane from Lima, Puno, Arequipa, Puerto Maldonado and La Paz (although flights from Bolivia only run twice a week). There are over 15 daily flights from Lima to Cusco, so it is well serviced. Be advised that the altitude change can cause some passengers to suffer from altitude sickness, but we can tell you how to prepare for this in advance of your trip. There are two roads that go to the Sacred Valley of the Incas: one goes along the north side of Cusco, through the town of Chinchero, and the other one goes via a highway on the east side of the city through the town of Pisac. We will tell you everything you need to know about getting from Cusco to the Valley, and arrange transfers for you as part of your itinerary, so don’t worry.

Infrastructure

The Sacred Valley is a perfect stepping stone if you want to enhance your overall experience when visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu. Start your trip by arriving to Cusco and getting a transfer straight out into the Valley to one of the boutique lodges; there are a couple of different areas (Urubamba, Yucay, Ollantaytambo), all of which we offer some pretty incredible properties. There are three good reasons to go to The Sacred Valley before visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu. The first is that you will fly into Cusco which is over 11,000 ft (3,400 meters) above sea level, that altitude can catch people by surprise. The Sacred Valley drops you down in altitude, and can help a bit when acclimatizing to it. Another reason is that you can see the build up of the path to the Inca’s religious center at Machu Picchu. All the ruins around Cusco and throughout the Sacred Valley are a buildup to the capstone of their culture, so there is a story to be told along the way. Lastly, by taking the train from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu, you shorten the distance getting there and leaves you with the most scenic part of the train ride.

Tour Packages to Sacred Valley

Class Adventure Travel gets you the best Latin America has to offer!