Updated: Apr 26, 2020
EL VALLE SAGRADO
The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a must-see in Peru. I visited various archeological sights on my way to Machu Picchu. Visiting the Sacred Valley was incredibly insightful, especially because I had spent my majority of time in the city of Cusco. Leaving to a much more rural area was comforting.
To get the most bang for your buck, get a tourist ticket! The tourist ticket allows one to have access to 16 of the most popular tourist attractions in Cusco and is valid for ten days. *BONUS* if you’re a student and have a valid student ID the ticket only costs S./ 70 or $21.58. For a regular adult ticket, it only costs S/. 130, or $47. Remember to bring your passport to these locations, as many attendants will check. A copy of your passport ID will not be sufficient. Additionally, if you bought a student ticket you will need both your student ID and passport!
I would suggest getting a tour to your desired locations. There are so many options when it comes to choosing a tour group. I found the app/ website, GetYourGuide to be very useful. You should definitely check out their website or app! The best part is, this app can be helpful for virtually any vacation you take in the future. I only paid $32 to be picked up from the house I was staying at early in the morning. I found my tour guide to be incredibly approachable and informative.
Here’s the link to check them out:
The first sight we visited was just about an hour from the Plaza de Armas in Cusco. The ride over was very scenic. The monument of Sacsayhuamán was apparent along the drive and gave me a great sneak peek to the site. Additionally, seeing Cusco from the height was honestly stunning and really put the city into perspective.
The tour taught us about the agricultural ingenuity of the Incas. These are terraces that were used for farming. Ultimately, the phenomenal agricultural skills of the Inca are what allowed them to thrive in such a difficult climate.
As underwhelming as this image may appear, the holes in the mountain are graves. This was a massive burial ground in the mountains surrounding Písac. The burial style of the Incas had some variation. In the case of these burials, the death was of natural causes. For naturally caused deaths, the body was dealt with by: cremation, traditional burial, or mummification. On another note, the Inca also had “social death,” in which a beautiful child was offered as a sacrifice. These people were then mummified and revered as heroic public figures.
First things first, llamas. They just roam around and honestly look super majestic with the wind blowing through their wool. Brown llamas were also considered holy!
Secondly, the views in this place were just stunning. Ollantaytambo was the estate of Inca Emperor, Pachacuti, who is known for the founding of Machu Picchu. This is an important piece of Peruvian history, as the town was originally built for religious ceremonies. If you would like to go on the Inca trail, a four-day hike, then this may be the ideal starting point for you.
Climbing the site may be hard for some people. The stones were slick in some places; and, it was not an easy walk. If you have asthma or another breathing complication, I suggest taking your time on this walk. That may mean planning a bit more ahead, but comfort and safety can make all the difference. Due to the location of the site, it gets a bit chilly and windy. I chose to put my hair back in a braid and wore a rain jacket to break the wind.
Aside from the archeological site is a beautiful village. There is a market between houses and the archeological site which would make a great stop for souvenirs. Coming from the busy streets of Cusco, Ollantaytambo was a relief. The altitude was much lower and the air seemed a look cleaner. If I could go back, I would have made sure that I could have spent more time in this village. Learn from my mistakes and make sure you have ample time to explore the village. You shouldn’t need too much time, maybe an hour, but additional time to see a village you may never get the chance to see again makes it worth it. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from!
The next step for me, and many others, is a train ride to Aguas Calientes. I stayed at a hostel for one night, and then left at 5 am to see Machu Picchu.
WHAT TO BRING:
Water- You should have opportunities to buy more if need be, but how hard is it to bring a water bottle?
Sunscreen- you’re in the Andes (you’re high up) and close to the equator
Layer up- The sun can sometimes be very strong and you’ll get hot. Ten minutes later you’re being pelted by a baby sand storm and shivering because the wind is so stron
If you’re traveling you should bring extra clothes. I was able to pack all that I needed (including camera equipment) in the 15″ x 10.6″ x 5.1″ Fjallraven Kanken backpack. Plus the bag is water resistant! Amazon has great deals on this bag.
5. Tote bag- A tote bag came in handy for me
since I bought a few gifts in Písac. If you
plan on gathering souvenirs, a tote bag
could come in handy.