By: Alexandra F. (Chile)
I visited the Sacred Valley of the Incas on my trip to Cusco. For that, I did a one-day tour with a tourism agency that some friends recommended to me. In total there were 14 hours of beautiful landscapes, Inca archaeological sites, very beautiful cultural experiences and a pleasant afternoon in a restaurant with Peruvian food. Know my experience!
1. The Taray viewpoint
The tour started at about four in the morning. I had already spent about two days in Cusco so I thought that nothing could happen to me. Unfortunately I was wrong. After being picked up at the door of my hotel, I boarded the minivan and began to feel the effects of altitude sickness. I even had to stop the car to throw up! I think it was the movement of the car or the breakfast, I don’t know. The truth is that after an hour we arrived at the Taray viewpoint. There, the fresh air and the beautiful landscapes of the Sacred Valley of the Incas brought me back to life. At the viewpoint we took some of the best photos of the trip. After 15 minutes of rest, we returned to the minivan to continue with the trip.
- More information: Dizziness and vomiting are caused by ‘altitude sickness’. This disease can happen to anyone. To lower your symptoms it is advisable to drink hot water. The guides always advised me to drink coca tea, an infusion made from coca leaves.
2. The Inca site of Pisac
After 1 hour 30 minutes of travel we arrive at the Inca site of Pisac, our first tourist destination of the trip. At the entrance door I was surprised by a falcon flying over the place. The tour guide walked us through the tour of this site. He explained that it was an Inca city with temples, stone buildings and, above all, huge terraces where they grew potatoes, corn and other products. I really liked the construction called ‘Amaru Punku’, a stone door of great size and firmness. Of course we take the required photos and return for more Inca constructions. We board the minivan ready to try Peruvian food at our next stop.
- More information: The tours already include the entrance to Pisac and the other archaeological sites of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. But if you go on your own there you can buy entrance tickets. The ticket is called ‘Cusco Tourist Ticket’. It costs 70 soles (20 dollars more or less). In addition to Pisac, it includes the entrance to Ollantaytambo, Chinchero and the Inca platforms of Moray.
3. Lunch in Urubamba
From Pisac we started the trip to the town of Urubamba. On the way we made a stop at a workshop where silver handicrafts are made. We took some photos with llamas and went back to the car. I think the ride took 1 hour or more. We arrived at the Tunupa restaurant in Urubamba around noon. The place was very spacious, clean and beautifully decorated with paintings and murals. Lunch was a buffet with options for starters, main dishes and desserts. I helped myself to a quinoa soup, noodles with alpaca meat, a chocolate cake and a little more of everything of course. The ceviche did not seem the best to us as we had already tried it on our trip through Lima. Overall though, it was an excellent lunch. We returned to the minivan ready for Ollantaytambo.
- More information: Urubamba is a large town compared to the towns of Chinchero, Ollantaytambo and Pisac. According to what the guide told us, there are hotels and restaurants of very good quality. So if you don’t want the cold of Cusco you can stay in this town that is warmer because it is at a lower altitude. The restaurant where we had lunch was good, for example.
Ollantaytambo, as the tour guide told us, is a town that maintains many aspects of its Inca past. That’s how its narrow streets with water channels seemed to me. As we approached the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo I felt transported back to Inca times. The Inca site of Ollantaytambo is difficult to walk around. You need to climb several stairs. However, once up the rest is simple. Everything is eye-catching. I highlight the temple of the sun and the Cover of the 10 niches. The guide explained that Ollantaytambo was a sacred site as important as Machu Picchu. The Incas built everything there, including baths for the royal class. We took photos in the famous Baños de la ñusta. Afterwards we return to the minivan a little tired but happy.
- More information: Ollantaytambo is famous for its Inca streets and also for its archaeological site. However, the reason why many tourists arrive there is because there is the train station that takes you to Machu Picchu. The station is at the end of the town, next to the river. There you can also buy tickets. However, as I have been informed, it is always more convenient to do it online in advance. Trains have limited availability.
5. Chinchero, Inca site and textile center
Chinchero was the place that I liked the most on the tour to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Its archaeological site is not as surprising as Pisac and Ollantaytambo but I liked its silence and landscapes. The guide explained that it was the palace of the Inca Emperor Túpac Yupanqui. However, on its ruins the Spanish built a colonial church. That is why you cannot see what remains of the palace. After visiting this place we went to a textile center in the same town. That was one of my favorite places. A beautiful woman received us dressed in her typical costumes. He explained to us how they make their clothing made of alpaca. They made us laugh with their jokes and we learned a lot about their traditions. In the end we chose some products to buy and take back to our countries. Delighted we take our transportation back to Cusco. We arrived at our hotels around 7 at night. Wonderful!
- More information: Chinchero is a town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas that is at the highest point. We were there at about 5 in the afternoon and the cold forced us to bundle up. Do not forget to bring a good sweater or coat for when you are there. In addition, in general, throughout the trip through the valley, it is important to wear a rain poncho. During my entire trip through Cusco I verified that it can rain at any time.