It might have a reputation as simply a pleasant preamble to its iconic neighbors, Cusco and Machu Picchu, but Peru’s Sacred Valley is ready for its moment in the international spotlight.
Nestled within the Andes Mountains along the convergence of the Rio Sagrado, Peru’s Sacred Valley represents the geographical and spiritual heart of the country. It is here where centuries-old traditions reside within the values of the local people and where charming indigenous villages, and well-preserved ruins and cities sit unassumingly among the breathtaking, undulating foothills.
Not only is it the perfect place to acclimatize to the region’s high altitude, but its five-star amenities and authentic cultural treasures make it a must-see highlight on any trip to Peru.
Here are some of Ker & Downey’s can’t-miss favorites in Peru’s Sacred Valley:
Pachamama Ceremony | It is truly an honor to take part or witness a Pachamama ceremony in Peru. The Andes Mountains are known for their energy, intensity, and magnetism, and at the center of it all is the Pachamama (Mother Earth), who brings clarity, well-being, and peace to the lives of the Andean people. Conducted by local priests, healers, or shaman, the ceremony involves offering up gifts to provide strength for the Pachamama so she can, in turn, continue generating life and blessing the land. Coming to know the Pachamama through the ceremony is a special way to appreciate the nature and customs of the Sacred Valley on a personal level.
Maras Salt Mines | The Maras salt mines offer a glimpse into the salt-mining trade that made the fertile valley a crucial breadbasket for the Incan empire. Today, the hundreds of pink and white-tinted terraced ponds have served as a source for salt since pre-Inca times. Not only are they a visually stunning sight to behold, but also the pink salts extracted from them are still ideal for food flavoring and medicinal purposes.
Moray Terraces | Nearby, the Moray agricultural terraces tell a unique story about the art of Inca farming and agriculture. Adopted during the height of Incan civilization in the 1400s, the terracing system exemplified at Moray ensured that crops were exposed to ample sunlight despite the steepness of the valley. These rings of stone terraces were carved into a natural depression in the earth and remain in impeccable condition hundreds of years later.
Luxury Train Ride | Luxury train journeys are a hallmark of any visit to the Sacred Valley. Traveling between Machu Picchu and Cusco, guests aboard these trains can settle into comfortable armchairs, indulge in a bygone 1920s ambiance, and dine on delectable meals as they witness the stunning Andes pass by through the Sacred Valley en route to and from the mighty Machu Picchu Citadel.
Private Picnic | A private gourmet picnic is the perfect way to harness the mysticism, beauty, and abundance of the Sacred Valley. This experience takes you to a remote corner of the Valley to indulge in a delicious multi-course meal, sourced from the region’s bountiful produce, with nothing but the mountains and the landscape in sight.
Local Markets | The Sacred Valley’s local markets are vibrant showcases of indigenous culture. In the lofty city of Pisac, the sacred ruins and shrines are the focus of a pilgrimage every September, while the retail pilgrimage happens three times a week at the massive textile, jewelry, and food market. Nearby, the colorful open-air market in the sleepy town of Chinchero is one of the most uniquely located and traditional artisan markets in all of South America. It is centered on a medieval plaza located 12,343 feet above sea level, and the artisans are renowned for their elite weaving skills, which are displayed in a sea of colors every Sunday. Finally, there is the picturesque market of Ollantaytambo, one of the most well preserved Incan towns in Peru. The charming market is surrounded by the authenticity and character of Ollanta’s large stone terraces and cobblestone streets and is the perfect place to secure souvenirs.
Yoga Retreats | The hills and ruins of the Sacred Valley are places of immense spiritual significance and tranquility. Allow a private yoga teacher to guide you to local shrines and ruins as you align your inner equilibrium to resonate with the rhythm of the Sacred Valley.
Community visits | The Sacred Valley is home to many traditional villages, each offering travelers a unique glimpse into the rural contemporary life, agriculture, textile weaving, and traditions of the local people. Whether enjoying lunch with friendly locals, visiting with school children, or learning how to plow the fields and dye wool in immersive workshops with community members, visitors will find a variety of ways to get involved and give back to the people of the Sacred Valley.
Horseback Rides | Adventurers discover serenity and community all in one during a once-in-a-lifetime horseback ride through the Sacred Valley. This exciting experience allows you to journey by horseback along the ancient Salkantay Inca Trail. Stay at enchanting mountain lodges, swim in glacier-fed lakes, hike in the cloud forest of the Salkantay River, pass through orchards and coffee plantations along the Santa Teresa River Valley, and trek between the famous Chinchero ruins and little-visited Machucollpa ruins to immerse yourself in history.
Whether exploring by horse, foot, vehicle, or bike, a journey to Peru’s Sacred Valley has the ability to open your mind, body, and soul to the beauty, wisdom, and mystical spirit of the Andean region.
It has the ability to transform you, if you only take the time to let it.
Contact a Ker & Downey travel designer to start planning your personalized stay in Peru’s Sacred Valley. We recommend staying at Explora Valle Sagrado and taking advantage of their many discounts available between April and September 2018 in celebration of Explora’s 25th anniversary.