Sacred Valley, The Complete Guide

Sacred Valley, The Complete Guide

For years and years, Peru has maintained a special place in the hearts of adventure tourists. This Sacred Valley of the Incas was the center of the Tahuantinsuyo, the most important recognized empire within the Western Hemisphere, spanning from Colombia and Ecuador, through Peru and Bolivia to the northern part of Argentina and Chile. Its capital is Cusco, which is referred to as the “navel of the world.”

If you are planning your trip to Peru and you are fascinated by the history of the Incas, you must add the Sacred Valley to your list of things to do in Cusco.

Stretching more than 60 miles from east to west, the Sacred Valley encompasses many of the most stunning environments in all of Peru. There is so much history, culture and natural beauty to discover there that it should be at the top of the record for any world traveler. Here’s what you’ll want to know before you go.

And so it should be! Brimming with historical past and wonder, Peru’s Sacred Valley is the most beautiful and unforgettable experience you can tackle. In this article, I will provide all the information a traveler needs to know before visiting the Sacred Valley.

Location of the Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley of the Incas is located 15 km northeast of the city of Cusco, and can be reached by a paved road. You can plan a car trip to one of the nearest towns, which will only take 40 minutes. You can go to the other towns in the Valley by local transport. The Sacred Valley was not only built for its agricultural value and in the image of the stars. This highlights the importance of the sky to the Incas and the religious importance of cosmology.

History of the Sacred Valley

In the 15th century, two Inca leaders, Pachacuti Yupanqui and Tupac Yupanqui built an infinite empire in South America. This empire ran an incredible distance from central Chile to southern Colombia. It occupied much of Peru, most of Ecuador, and parts of Argentina and Bolivia.

With the conquest, the Spanish divided up the fertile territories of the Valley. The main temples had been destroyed and Christian church buildings had been built in their place. As a result, many components of Inca archaeological sites are in poor condition, both due to the climate and damage caused by the Spanish. Even so, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is a highly visited vacation destination. The inhabitants keep many ancestral traditions, even from Inca times.

And Cusco was the center of everything. Cusco was part of the Sacred Valley and possessed a rare amount of monetary and agricultural wealth. It remained protected through Inca fortresses.

Most important towns to see in the Sacred Valley

The Inca city of Pisac

Pisac is mainly known as the gateway to the Sacred Valley and is located 33 kilometers from the city of Cusco. Pisac is the small but most beautiful town at the top, where you will find a diverse set of Inca ruins. Viceroy Toledo, a Spanish conquistador, founded this beautiful town in the Sacred Valley.

Pisac is world famous for its artisan market. It has an “Indian Market”, a good place to buy handmade jewelry, textiles, glass and other unique objects. Pisac also has the Archaeological Park; You can also visit it and see it full of history in bricks. Additionally, you can explore a military fortress and observatories. It also has the “largest Inca cemetery” in South America, so you might as well save your time and pay homage to it.

The living Inca city of Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is one of the best places to visit in the Sacred Valley, and is located 97 kilometers northeast of the city of Cusco. It has the most original and best preserved Inca and pre-Inca ruins in all of Peru.

This town is also known as the “Living Inca City”. It was a thriving city with temples, walls and urban and agricultural sectors during the Inca era. You can reach this town in approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes by car. You can also go to the hillside and hit the Inca fortress; It is truly a view that will give you the most beautiful experience and take your breath away. It is also an important archaeological site in Peru and South America.

THE Archaeological complex of Moray

This beautiful town, “Moray” of the Sacred Valley, is located 74 km from the city of Cusco and plays a central role in Inca agricultural production. It is one of the main agricultural research centers of the Inca empire. The most striking feature of Moray is that its terraces are built in concentric circles.

They opted for experimentation and planting crops from various places. The different climates and altitudinal range of soil temperature of approximately 20 °C (from first to last) have been constructed to take advantage of its potential for planting coastal and jungle products in colder climates and at higher altitudes.

Maras salt mines

To get to the Maras salt mines, you must walk into the canyon from Maras or from the street that connects Urubamba with Ollantaytambo. From Maras, walk in the direction of the Valley sting. If you are having trouble finding Salineras, you can ask a local and find the right way to Salineras, it is a 4k walk to the site from Maras.

The term “sal” is Spanish and means salt, so salt mines are ponds through which salt water flows and leaves salt crystals to be collected. The salt mines are one of the four places where you can find pink salt.

The town of Chinchero

Sacred Valley also has the town of Chinchero, located 28 kilometers from Cusco. In Chinchero, you’ll notice how locals extract, clean and dye alpaca hair and how they weave conventional artisanal items. It is located at the highest altitude: 3,772 meters above sea level (12,375 feet). It also has a craft market where you can still barter.

Chinchero has a wonderful 17th century colonial church with canvases from the “Cuzqueña school.”We recommend that you visit early in the day so that you have time to see both (the textile production and the archaeological site).


This small town has a peaceful charm, known for its Inca palace and terraces.


Sometimes called the “Pearl of Vilcanota”, Urubamba is the largest city in the Sacred Valley. It is often used as a base for those exploring the region, thanks to its good range of accommodation and restaurants.

When to go to the Sacred Valley?

The climate of the Sacred Valley remains the same throughout the year. However, from November to March there will be rainy days, showers and dark clouds.

During this time, the Sacred Valley remains calmer and clearer, although the weather makes it the least pleasant time to be there.

It will be the warmest, driest and most compatible climate between June and August.

Yes, it could rain or snow during these months; However, you can also find sunny days and warm temperatures. Therefore, you should pack for various circumstances and you will not be disappointed.

Frequently asked questions about the Sacred Valley

How to Get to the Sacred Valley from Cusco?

You need a car from Cusco via Pisaq, Chinchero or Huaroncondo . You have to choose one of the routes depending on where you want to go.

If you visit Pisaq, Calca, Lamay or Haran, you must travel from Cusco via Pisaq.

If you travel to Urubamba, Yucay or Ollantaytambo, you can take a shorter route through Chinchero

If you are traveling to Ollantaytambo or taking the Train to Machu Picchu, the fastest way to get there is via Huarcondo , following the train route. This route is closed during January and February due to heavy rain.

Is the Sacred Valley worth visiting?

The Sacred Valley is one of the most beautiful places in Cusco. We recommend you visit at least 3 days to explore these beautiful Inca sites and traditional markets.

How to get from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu?

If you are going to visit Machu Picchu after your visit to the Sacred Valley, this is a great idea. You must arrive in Ollantaytambo and go to the train station to board the trains to the town of Aguas Calientes (also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo)

How many days should I spend in Cusco and the Sacred Valley?

Before going to Machu Picchu, whether on a hiking tour or by train, we recommend 1 day in Cusco and 1 day exploring the Sacred Valley. This time will also help you adjust to the altitude while you rest for the big trip to Machu Picchu.

What is the altitude of the Sacred Valley?

The Sacred Valley has an average altitude of 3,000 meters or 9,842 feet.

Most important cities of the Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley, also known as the Urubamba Valley, is located in the Andean highlands of Peru. It was the heart of the Inca Empire and is a region rich in history and culture. These are some of the most important cities and towns in the Sacred Valley:

What to bring to the tours in the Sacred Valley of Cusco

If you want to visit the Sacred Valley of Cusco, we recommend you bring the following:

  • Light clothing or light jackets: The weather can vary, so it’s good to have something to keep you warm.
  • Comfortable, sturdy shoes or boots: Walks can be long and paths can be uneven
  • Sunglasses and/or protective hat: Protecting your eyes and head from the sun is important1.
  • Sunscreen (SPF 35 or higher): Altitude can increase the intensity of UV rays.
  • Umbrella, raincoat or waterproof poncho: To protect you from sudden rains
  • Reusable water bottle: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially at high altitudes

In addition, it is advisable to carry a backpack to store your belongings and a camera to take memorable moments.

How to Acclimatize for your visit to the Sacred Valley

To properly acclimatize before visiting the Sacred Valley, here are some tips:

  • Give your body time to adjust: Don’t try to adapt immediately. If possible, spend a day or two in Lima before flying to Cusco
  • Start somewhere with a lower altitude: If you can’t spend time in Lima, go directly to a place in the Sacred Valley with a lower altitude. For example, Ollantaytambo has an altitude of 9,160 feet
  • Rest and drink fluids: Once you arrive in Cusco, drink coca tea, take a nap and enjoy a relaxed walk. Avoid filling your schedule with intense activities
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before and during your trip to avoid the unpleasant symptoms of altitude sickness

By following these steps, you will be able to enjoy your visit to the Sacred Valley without health problems related to altitude.