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10 BEST THINGS TO DO: SACRED VALLEY / URUBAMBA VALLEY: Info & pix Saqsayhuaman, Q'enqo, Pucapucara, Pisac, Tambomachay, Chinchero, Ollantaytambo, Salinas




10 Best Things to do in Sacred Valley, Peru

In fact, the Sacred Valley of Peru, or, the Urubamba Valley was the heartland of the Inca Empire with a concentration of incredibly interesting Inca monuments, including those of Cusco and Machu Picchu.


Why consider booking our  Peru National Parks Tour? Because for the same price, our tour gets you to ALL places for which Peru is so famous, and on top of that, you get to see 9 National Parks/Reserves accompanied by a naturalist guide. There is nothing similar on the market. As Peru can be combined with other countries, we organize tours in modules: Lima Cusco, Machu Picchu module, Manu National Park module, National Parks Module, All modules.

Destinations Overview:  World Heritage Site LimaWorld Heritage Site Cusco, Amazon park Manu National Park World Heritage Site Valle Sagrado/Sacred Valley, World Heritage Site Machu Picchu, Cloud Forest Machu Picchu Sanctuary, Highland wetland Titicaca National Reserve, Uros floating islands, Altiplano wildlife park Salinas & Aguadas Blancas National Reserve, World's second deepest canyon Colca Canyon, Word heritage site Arequipa, World heritage site Nazca Lines, Pampas Galeras National Reserve, San Fernando National Reserve, Paracas National Reserve, Ballestas Islands National Reserve.


Several ruins are only a few minutes away from Cusco, whereas others are no more than an hour's ride away. As the Andes has very little land suitable for agriculture, this valley offered the relatively mild conditions, necessary to feed the large population of Cusco and its surrounding towns.

The Valley was also the access route to the tropical region of the Amazon, including to the region which is now Manu National Park, from where tropical products, like fish and fruits, were being brought in to Cusco.  


The different monuments showcase the incredible skills in engineering, stonework, and architecture:


Many of the underground aquaducts actually cross valleys and some are still fuctionimng;


The walls from hewn stones without mortar have proven to be remarkably resilient to earthquakes;


The remaining buildings show that they were beautiful and harmoniously built.


Including the Sacred Valley into your itinerary is an absolute must, as it gives you a far better understanding of the Inca Empire that a visit to Cusco and Machu Picchu alone. Each one of the sites has an amazing story to tell and by visiting the valley's highlights, you complete your picture of what the Incas stood for.



The walls at Saqsayhuamán are famous for their gigantic as well as for some of their extremely complex stones,carved into irregular shapes that fitted with such precision that a sheet of paper cannot be inserted into most seams. The complex included two watch towers. As it was used as a defensive fort during the battle with Manco Inca, Saqsayhuamán is believed to have served as a defensive structure.

Sacred Valley Peru: Saqsayhuamán wall.


The walls at Saqsayhuamán.

The perfectly fitting twelve-sided stone is the ultimate showcase of the precision carving.


Sacred Valley Peru: Saqsaywaman inca stones.

Sacred Valley Peru: Saqsayhuamán wall with gigantic Inca stones.

Some of the walls are built with gigantic stones, some of which weigh several tons.


Sacred Valley Peru: Saqsaywaman trapezium entrance gate door.

This doorway is an example of the trapezoid shape in which both doors and windows were built, a trade the Inca's had in common with the Mayas.

Sacred Valley Peru:

Sacred Valley Peru: Saqsayhuaman Inca slide.

The altar stone at Saqsayhuaman.

Still today the Inca slides at Saqsayhuaman have an irresistable attraction to the youth.



Sacred Valley Peru: Tombomachay entrance.

Sacred Valley Peru: Antes altiplano Polylepis incana trees.

The entrance to the Tambomachay monument.

The entrance road is lined with Polylepis incana trees that are endemic in the Andes. They can grow as high as 4,000m and were important for construction and firewood.


Sacred Valley Peru: Tambomachay Inca Temple wall

Sacred Valley Peru: Tambomachay ancient Inca fountain.

Still only minutes away from Cusco, Tambomachay is has several working fountains, fed by still perfectly functioning aqueducts. Some speculate this may served as a spa for the Inca emperor and his women.


Puka Pukara

Sacred Valley Peru: Puku Pukara entrance

Sacred Valley Peru: Puka Pukara ruins.

Puka Pukara  is believed to have been for food storage as well as a defense complex.



Q'uenqo - meaning red stone - may have been a sanctuary or the tomb on an important Inca.

Sacred Valley Peru: Hidden in a cave of Q'uenco you will find the altar.

Sacred Valley Peru: Altar hidden in the catacombs of Q'uenco.

Well hidden in the catacombs of Q'uenco you will find a fascinating altar.



Chinchero is a little village, where, as one approaches the church captures the eye. In fact, the church has been built on the walls of an Inca building, thus integrating the colonial and Inca architecture. The Plaza de las Armas show an impressive inca wall, lining the courtyard of the church.

Sacred Valley Peru: Church entrance at Chinchero.

Sacred Valley Peru: Plaza de las Armas in Chinchero shows a beautiful Inca wall.

Church entrance at Chinchero.

Plaza de las Armas in Chinchero shows a beautiful Inca wall.

Sacred Valley Peru: Woman in traditional clothes in the Sacred Valley.

Sacred Valley Peru: Women in traditional clothes in Chinchero are selling their woven products.

Women in traditional clothes in Chinchero are selling their woven products.



Moray is another ingenious Inca agricultural construction, though it is no longer in use. While it resembles a giant amphitheatre with concentric terraces leading to the ground, it was created for agricultural experimentation.

Sacred Valley Peru: The amphitheater shaped agricultural terraces of Moray.

Sacred Valley Peru: A trail takes the visitor around the crater-shaped mountain in which Moray was built.

The amphitheater shaped agricultural terraces.

A trail takes the visitor around the crater-shaped mountain in which Moray was built.


The Salinas de Maras are hundreds terraces of salt pans. Built by the Incas, Peruvians continue to extract their salt. Visitors can buy the salt from vendors at the location.



High above the present town of Pisac located 32 km east of Cusco, the Q'Alaqasa ruins showcase superb construction and design. Though smaller than Machu Picchu, this site too is one of the "must see" places in the Sacred Valley.



Q'Alaqasa ruins at Pisac.

Terraces at Pisac.



While most travellers to Machu Picchu spend the night in Aguas Calientes, at the foot of the Machu Picchu monument, alternatively, one can spend the night in Ollantaytambo and take the early morning train, while marveling at the Ollantaytambo archaeological site first. One can also start a trek on the Inca Trail to get to Machu Picchu at a distance of 43km.


Sacred Valley Peru: Trail along terraces leading to the Ollantaytambo ruins.

Terraces as Pisac.

Trail along terraces leading to the Ollantaytambo ruins.




Fountain at the Ollantaytambo monument.

Walls built from one single rock, called a megalithic rock, at Ollantaytambo archaeological site.

Sacred Valley Peru: The most common way to reach Machu Picchu is taking the train from Cuzco or Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes.

The most common way to reach Machu Picchu is taking the train from Cuzco or Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. Most tourists take the afternoon train and spend the night in Aguas Calientes, which allows you to visit the park before the worst of the crowds.



The Inca Trail takes you through landscapes varying from traditional farming land, cloud forests and Andes paramo with views of snow capped mountains and gorgeous flowers and with some luck fantastic wildlife.

Each day the scenery is totally different as the trail sometimes takes you on Inca-built stone pathways and steps, but most of the times over a regular trail. The trail is now government regulated and only a limited number of visitors per day is allowed on guided walks.


Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is one of the world's most famous archaeological sites. It is less known that it surrounded by a beautiful 37,000 ha mountain rainforest or cloud forest in the Machu Picchu historical Reserve, a visit of which, of course is part of the 10 best things to do in the Sacred Valley of Peru.

Sacred Valley Peru: Partiallly hidden in the clouds, a view of Machu Picchu during the rainy season, when it is much more mysterious.

Sacred Valley Peru: Some of the most fascinating structures of Machu Picchu is the Temple of the Condor.

Partially hidden in the clouds, a view of Machu Picchu during the rainy season, when it is much more mysterious.

Some of the most fascinating structures is the Temple of the Condor.


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