9 Things Not to Miss in The Sacred Valley of the Incas

The Sacred Valley was formed by the Urubamba River, which is part of the headwaters of the Amazon, and has a wealth of both natural and agricultural resources. This, and the proximity to the Inca capital of Cusco, made the region the heart of The Inca Empire and the path to Machu Pichhu.

Take the Scary (and insanely beautiful) Flight into Cusco, Peru

Flying into Cusco, you don’t have to descend very far from your cruising altitude. Just make an insane hairpin turn between mountains and land at one of the world’s highest commercial airports, over 11,000 feet up in the Peruvian Andes.

Find out what to do in Cusco once you’ve landed

Visit a Weaving Cooperative

Dying wool at the weaving cooperative in Chincheros, Peru

In the small town of Chincheros, get a first hand look at every step in the weaving process of the people of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Learn about what goes into the dyes that create the brilliant colors (absolutely amazing and a “wee” bit off-putting!), the ingenious way the yarn is spun, and how the patterns are crafted. More on this weaving cooperative

Learn How to (and how NOT to) to Deal with the Altitude

Coca Tea in Peru at Posada del Inca in Yucay

The locals swear by the leaves of the coca plant, the plant that produces cocaine, as an antidote to the thin air. Tea is made from the leaves and is easy to find. Other ways to get your fix is through candy or simply chewing the leaves themselves. For those hesitant to try the coca, we have more suggestions on how to cope (and NOT to cope) with the altitude.

Be on the Lookout for Shrines

Roof shrines in The Sacred Valley, Peru

On the roofs of most of the houses in the Sacred Valley are small shrines that include a cross indicating the family is Christian, ceramic bulls for strength and fertility, a cask of corn beer to tie them to their ancestors, and a vial of holy water to sanctify the house. (This shrine was in the town of Chincheros)

Explore Mysteries of the Enormous Ollantaytambo Ruins

The Ollantaytambo Ruins, Sacred Valley, Peru

One of the many mysteries of Ollantaytambo is how the massive rocks were hauled up the mountain without the use of wheels. It is also unknown how the stones were cut, because no metal hard enough to cut granite was available at that time. Since the Quechua language was not written, and the Spanish destroyed most evidence of methods used in construction, we may never know the answers. More Ollanyaytambo

Drink Inca Cola

Inca Kola

This popular, overly sweet, yellow beverage turned out not to be our cup of tea. BUT it’s a must for any adventurous visitor!

Ride the Train to Machu Picchu

PeruRail operates several trains a day to the town of Aguas Calientes, below Machu Picchu, along track originally laid in 1928. It’s the second highest railroad in the world, after the Qinghai–Tibet Railway. The narrow gauge ride down the Urubamba River showcases spectacular Andes mountain scenery and, with several events onboard, PeruRail turns the journey into an adventure on its own! More on the train to Machu Picchu

Discover The Lost City of The Inca, Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is not really the name for the city – that name is lost forever. When Hiram Bingham arrived in 1911, the locals told him of the ruins between Machu Picchu (old mountain) and Huayna Picchu (young mountain). When Bingham told the world of his “discovery,” (how does one discover something that lots of people already knew about?) the name stuck. More on Machu Picchu

Get Photobombed by a Llama!

Llama Photo Bomb!

These cousins of the camel pretty much have the run of Machu Picchu. The nimble buggers are everywhere, hiking side-by-side with visitors, stubbornly blocking paths and standing around looking pensive. More on the pensive llamas of Machu Picchu

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

See all of our adventures in Peru!

YOUR TURN: Have we convinced you to set out for the Sacred Valley? What’s the first thing you’d do? Have you been? Did we miss anything?

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15 thoughts on “9 Things Not to Miss in The Sacred Valley of the Incas”

  1. I have been to Cusco (& MP) twice. Loved it all. In downtown Cusco, (if you are looking towards the cathedral), there are shops on the left side, and a pizza parlor upstairs. Good Pizza. Each time I was there, two boys came in and played and sang songs – selling their CD’s (which I bought because I love their music). I loved to sit on their balcony – eat the pizza, and watch the people walking by. (Also) drinking huge amounts of that Coca tea in my hotel room really helped with the altitude problems. I am still living in South China (Nanning, Guangxi), and love it here also. I will go back to South Florida next spring for a short visit. David Troxel.

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