The majority of our travellers to Peru opt to visit the Sacred Valley – its appeal is well-established. There is rich Inca history, indigenous local culture, striking scenery and a relaxing ambience. Whether you should go or not hardly warrants the question. How long you should go for – that’s a different thing.
The One Day Sacred Valley Excursion
This is a full day excursion setting off from Cusco in the morning. Drop down into the valley, pulling in to the village of Chincheros, once believed to be the birthplace of the rainbow. The bright bunting strung between buildings is a nod to this theory. Here the locals give a demonstration of their traditional Andean weaving techniques, including dyeing, spinning and threading. After the demo you can try your hand at weaving, before exploring the pretty local church and some of the Inca archaeological sites in the area.
Lunch in a country restaurant breaks up the day, giving you a chance to take in the beautiful surroundings and absorb the peaceful rural atmosphere.
The afternoon part of the excursion takes you to the town of Ollantaytambo – renowned as a “living Inca settlement.” It maintains the Inca town planning executed in the 15th century, and its narrow cobbled streets and stone houses have been continuously inhabited since then. Just above the town are the remains of an impressive Inca fortress, which you can explore before returning to Cusco.
The Two Nights in the Sacred Valley Excursion
Taking the extended Sacred Valley option has one big draw card – spending two nights in the valley gives you the opportunity to unwind completely amongst mesmerising scenery, and really absorb the ambience of the region.
At the end of day one, you return to a beautiful hotel in the valley instead of heading back to Cusco. The Hacienda Urubamba is a stylish, comfortable hotel designed with the setting in mind – big picture windows in the common areas take full advantage of the views, while the décor tastefully incorporates elements of Andean culture. Spend the afternoon wandering the grounds or simply sitting enjoying the views.
On day 2 visit some of the most fascinating Inca sites in the valley. Begin at the Maras salt evaporation ponds, where 3000 terraced salt ponds, designed by the Incas, are still in use by the local community. Continue to Moray, where the Inca ingenuity is demonstrated impressively by the circular and semi-circular agricultural terraces. Built into the top of a limestone hill, the terraces here were used as a botanical laboratory. Through trial and error they established which crops thrived at which altitudes.
In the afternoon, visit the traditional Andean community of Misminay, where you learn about local customs. Enjoy a traditional meal, prepared just for you, and then see a demonstration of their traditional agricultural techniques, which date back to the Incas. In the late afternoon return once again to the wonderful hotel, heading to Machu Picchu (or back to Cusco) the following morning.
In a nutshell, the one day Sacred Valley excursion is a lovely day of exploring the valley, visiting villages and archaeological sites, learning about its inhabitants and the fascinating history, and enjoying the striking scenery. The extended Sacred Valley excursion option allows more time in the valley so you can see more. You also get to spend time with the Misminay community and learn about their culture and traditions.
The extended excursion gives you more down time in the Sacred Valley to relax and enjoy the scenery, and is an overall great opportunity to spend some extra time in one of the most beautiful areas of Peru.
You can see the Peru excursion options here, or view all of our Peru holidays here.