The Sacred Valley, Peru

Posted: June 10, 2013 in Peru, South America

As soon as we had sorted out Mirella’s plans for her upcoming pilgrimage to Machu Picchu, we realised we had a few days prior to the hike and a whole valley of Incan ruins to go and see!

Ollantaytambo Ruins

Ollantaytambo Ruins

Often overlooked by visitors to Cusco and Macchu Picchu (as it was by me when I first came a few years back), the Sacred Valley is a series of Incan towns spread over a 100 square kilometre or so area.  The great majority of the sites are incredibly well maintained, and I think in some instances are as impressive (or more so) than the most famous site in Peru.

The valley is really easy to visit, a short bus ride will bring you to any of the main sites, including Pisac (known for a great market and ruins), Ollantaytambo (where the locals are still living in Incan houses!), and Urubamba.

Our first foray in to the valley was at Pisac, where Mirella decided she was in need of some retail therapy.  This resulted in a five hour market shopping spree, where we bought some incredibly cheap textiles.  This extravaganza of shopping did preclude a visit to the ruins perched on top of a mountain, as we were inundated under our own mountain of alpaca and llama goods!

Pisac Market Clothing!

Pisac Market Clothing!

Pisac Market

Pisac Market

So, our ruin expedition was a fail, but a superb day of shopping was had.

We set out again to Ollantaytambo, a town and ruins that is often compared to Machu Picchu, it is truly spectacular.  We stayed for a couple of nights, and had the chance to ride horses to another smaller ruin a few kilometres from town.

First time rider

First time rider

Mirella handled herself with aplomb, and rider and horse got on famously.  My nag was not as keen on my company, and repeatedly tried to remove me and smash me in to whatever was close at hand (walls, trees, rivers etc).  Mirella found this hilarious, me not so much.

The main ruins at Ollantaytambo are amazing, a few pics below.

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After a couple of days in Ollanta, we then headed out for a day tour of three other amazing sites in the valley, namely Moray, Maras and Chinchero.  This was one of the more spectacular sightseeing days of the trip so far, as we saw two incredible ruins and a huge salt mine.  With cameras working overtime, and our lungs bursting as we were well over 3500m above sea level most of the time, we spent the day in awe of the ability of the Incan people and their ability to create such incredible agricultural structures and beautiful cities.  The stonework has to be seen to be believed….

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As we descended back to Ollanta, we were met with this view, a really great day!

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Our last ruin viewing day was held much closer to Cusco, at a series of sites including Saqsaywaman (pronounced, believe it or not, as Sexy Waman!).  The stonework here was absolutely awesome, and we had the company of a llama or two as well!

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And so ended a great week around the Sacred Valley.  It was now time for me to retire to a hammock in the Amazon basin, and for Mirella to hike through the Andes.  We would meet up at Machu Picchu, one of the new seven wonders of the world.

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