Best Places to visit in the Sacred Valley 2021-2023
The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a must-see place when you visit Cusco, not only because you will pass through when you visit Machu Picchu but also because of its history, tradition, numerous Inca sites, Urubamba river, local villages, the food, the farming terraces, and many more reasons. You will find all the information you need to know about the Sacred Valley of the Incas on this page.
Location of the Sacred Valley in Peru
The Sacred Valley is located north of Cusco city; the closest town is Pisac, about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) away. Stretching from Pisac to Ollantaytambo, this fertile valley is irrigated by the Urubamba River, a tributary of the largest river globally, the Amazon river.
The Sacred Valley is the most important agricultural area of the Cusco region where maize is produced. The biggest towns are Pisac, Calca, Yucay, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo, located on the right bank of the Urubamba River.
Machu Picchu is located further down from the Sacred Valley; although it is not part of the Sacred Valley, it is still part of Urubamba Valley, located 100 km (62m) from the town of Pisaq.
History of Sacred Valley of the Incas
The Incas were the largest empire in South America in the 15th and 16th Centuries; they started in the Cusco valley and soon conquered the nearby regions. The Sacred Valley was incorporated into the Inca Empire somewhere between 1000 to 1400 AD.
The Sacred Valley was the preferred getaway place of the Inca Kings due to proximity to Cusco, lower altitude, warmer weather, and fertile lands where maize was produced widely from Pisaq to Ollanataytambo.
The Incas built agricultural terraces on the hillsides flanking the valley floor; today is possible to see this advanced agricultural engineering all along the valley from Pisaq to Ollantaytambo.
In January 1536, the battle of Ollantaytambo took place between the forces of Manco Inca and the Spanish Conquistador Hernando Pizarro. Despite the victory of the Incas, Manco’s forces retrieved further down to the Valley of Machu Picchu and Vilcabamba, and the Spaniards occupied the Sacred Valley.
On June 24th, 1969, the Land Reform in Peru replaced the Latifundio and Minifundio system with redistribution of rural land to the Campesinos organized in cooperatives and agricultural organizations. This reform eliminated a centuries-old system of debt peonage from the Colony.
Best places to see during the Sacred Valley Tour
Located 35 minutes from Cusco city, Ccochahuasi is a private organization dedicated to rescuing wild animals such as the Andean Condor, Puma, Spectacled Bear, deers, and many other local animals and birds from the area. By visiting Ccochahuasi, you will enjoy seeing these amazing creatures very close and will help with this project to keep rescuing endangered animals.
Awanacancha was established in 2014 as the first interpretation center of South American camelids. You will be able to see in situ the llamas, alpacas. vicuñas and guanacos. Learn the history, differences, their fiber, and uses of these handsome creatures.
The lookout point of Taray is a must-stop place when you are exploring the Sacred Valley. After driving through the mountains of Cusco, you will arrive at Mirador Taray, from where you will have an amazing view of the mountains, the Sacred Valley, and the Urubamba River.
Pisaq Archaeological Site
Located right above the town of Pisaq, this spectacular place is located on top of a mountain at approximately 3500 meters. Pisaq is one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in the Sacred Valley. You will be able to see farming terraces, religious sites, urban areas, and the largest ancient Inca cemetery with more than 10,000 graves.
Pisaq is famous for its local handicraft market; hundreds of visitors will bargain with local art and crafts every day.
During the Sacred Valley tour, you will pass by Urubamba, the less touristic place in this group. Urubamba is a perfect place to have lunch. Most restaurants offer buffet meals with fresh local products such as quinoa, potatoes, beans, cuy, trout, corn.
The Last Living Inca Citadel, Ollanatyatmbo, has been continuously inhabited since the 15th century. Explore the original cobblestone streets and visit the double Jamba doorways of the buildings where the locals live in the same building where the Incas lived 500 years ago.
Ollantaytambo also has an amazing Inca Site. The fortress of Ollantaytambo was under construction when the Spaniards arrived.
The circular terraces of Moray are located 38 km north of Cusco. This stunning archaeological site consists of 4 Roman amphitheater-style circular terraces located in huge holes in the ground with a depth of 30 meters. Although the purpose of these terraces is not clear, it is believed that these terraces were used for agricultural experiments and adaptation to different crops.
Located at 3376 meters, Maras is a picturesque district located in the upper of the Sacred Valley.
Maras was inhabited during the colony to harvest the salt in Salineras located in the lower part of the town. We can find narrow streets with beautiful doorways.
Salineras de Maras
Salineras is located near the town of Maras, with more than 3,000 salt ponds. Villagers in Maras harvest salt here using the evaporation system, irrigating the ponds every day for a month with salty water from the mountains. Once the salt is thick enough (about 10 cm), its harvested and shipped to the local market, each member of Maras village owns a certain number of ponds, and together they created a local company called MARASAL.
Located at 3760 masl, it’s famous for its local market, colonial church, and farming terrace.
The residents of Chinchero are dedicated to agriculture, mainly growing potatoes and textiles using Andean designs, natural colors, and ancient traditional tools to produce the best fabrics in the area.
Weather in the Sacred Valley
Sacred Valley in January
January is one of the rainiest months of the year in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Rains are expected almost every day; however, we can go almost weeks without rain in some years.
The temperatures will vary from highs around 72°F (22°C) and lows around 41°F (5°C). Despite the rains, travelers will visit this amazing place during January as the landscape is greener, fresh corn season, and less crowded sites.
Sacred Valley in February
Locals called this month the "Crazy February," less rainy days are expected than in January; however, rains are heavier this month as is the heart of the rainy season.
The temperatures will vary from highs around 71°F (21°C) and lows around 43°F (6°C). During February, the most famous Treks such as the Inca Trail and Salkantay trek are closed, but Machu Picchu is still open. Few visitors are expected this month which is an excellent option for those who would love solitude. The Sacred Valley landscapes are a beautiful green color.
Sacred Valley in March
The "Drunk March" is called this way since we will see the sun; however, the weather can change in minutes and start raining again.
March starts with the opening of the Inca Trail and the most famous Treks. The Sacred Valley also starts to change the color from green to yellow as we enter the harvesting season.
The temperatures in the Sacred Valley will vary from highs around 71°F (21°C) and lows around 39°F (4°C), and the amount of visitor will start to increase during this month.
Sacred Valley in April
The Shoulder season, April, is one of the best months to hike to Machu Picchu and visit around Cusco. This month is the transition between the rainy and dry seasons. It is expected to have less rain than previous months but also away from the cold weather of the dry season.
The temperatures in the Sacred Valley will vary from highs around 72°F (22°C) and lows around 38°F (3°C). Sacred Valley will start getting more travelers from all over the world; harvesting seasons start in the maize fields.
Sacred Valley in May
May officially starts the Dry Season. However, the weather in the Andes is unpredictable, and rains can take place at any time.
The temperatures in the Sacred Valley will vary from highs around 71°F (21°C) and lows around 37°F (2.7°C). The landscape is still green in the mountains, and in the farming lands starts getting grey as it starts the wheat and barley farming season.
Sacred Valley in June
During June, little rain is expected; this month is one of the driest ones together with July. This is a perfect month to hike in the mountains to Machu Picchu.
The temperatures in the Sacred Valley will vary from highs around 72°F (22°C) and lows around 34°F (1.6°C). The landscape starts turning yellow in the mountains and farming lands. Most Inca Sites ad local markets are full of visitors during this month.
Sacred Valley in July
July is the heart of the dry season, almost no rain is expected, but you must b always prepared for all kinds of weather, even in July.
The temperatures in the Sacred Valley will vary from highs around 74°F (23°C) and lows around 32°F (0°C). The Inca sites and local markets will get lots of travelers. Mountains start to get the yellow, grey color of the dry season. The farming season of corn starts.
Sacred Valley in August
August is the month when tourism in Peru gets to its highest number; thousands of travelers will arrive in Cusco and visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu.
The temperatures in the Sacred Valley will vary from highs around 75°F (24°C) and lows around 32°F (0°C). Places in Sacred Valley will be crowded; the days are sunny with windy afternoons.
Sacred Valley in September
September is expected to have the rains back; most farmers will wait this month to rain for their crops.
The temperatures in the Sacred Valley will vary from highs around 75°F (24°C) and lows around 39°F (4°C). The number of visitors to the tourist places will be reduced during this month, the nights will become cooler, and the landscaped starts getting green from the new crops.
Sacred Valley in October
The shoulder season between the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season. Rains are seen more often announcing the return of the wet season. Thsi is a perfect month to visit Peru, Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu.
The temperatures in the Sacred Valley will vary from highs around 78°F (25°C) and lows around 40°F (5°C). There are few visitors in all Inca sites, the long lines for trains, Machu Picchu, and buses are over. The green lush landscapes of teh Sacred Valley are back.
Sacred Valley in November
November is teh beginning of the rainy season. However, it is still a good season to hike to Machu Picchu and visit the Sacred Valley.
The temperatures in the Sacred Valley will vary from highs around 69°F (20°C) and lows around 43°F (6°C). Few visitors will arrive in Cusco, which makes a good month to enjoy the beautiful places in the Sacred Valley.
Sacred Valley in December
At the end of the year, the number of travelers will increase. The Sacred Valley tours are available every day and the fresh corn season starts in all the Sacred Valley.
The temperatures in the Sacred Valley will vary from highs around 69°F (20°C) and lows around 44°F (7°C).
Best Hotel in the Sacred Valley
Casa Andina Hacienda: Located in the village of Yanahuara, the hotel has a good location to enjoy a quiet rest before or after the long trip to Machu Picchu
Tierra Viva Valle Sagrado: Located in the Village of Yanahuara, good prices, good locations. Perfect for staying before traveling to the Inca Trail or Machu Picchu
San Agustin Recoleta: Located in Urubamba province, the hotel is a monastery built in the 17th century.
Sonesta Posada del Inca: Located in the town of Yucay, just 20 minutes from Urubamba, another 18th-century monastery.
De Pilar Hotel: Located in the village of Chilca, 30 minutes from Ollantaytambo district. Thsi is a perfect hotel if the next day you are starting the 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Sky Lodge: The first hanging lodge in the world, perfect for those who love adrenaline and adventure.
Sacred Valley Map
How To Get To Sacred Valley From Cusco?
You need to a car from Cusco via Pisaq, via Chinchero, or Huaroncondo. Depending on where do you want to go, you need to choose one of the routes.
If you visit Pisaq, Calca, Lamay, or Huaran, you need to travel from Cusco via Pisaq.
If you are traveling to Urubamba, Yucay, Ollantaytambo, you can take a shorter route through Chinchero.
If you are traveling to Ollantaytambo or you are going to take teh Train to Machu Picchu, the fastest way to arrive is via Huarcondo following the train route. This route is closed during January, February due to the heavy rains.
Is Sacred Valley Worth Visiting?
The Sacred Valley is a must-see place in Cusco. You need to take a day or 3 days to explore these beautiful Inca Sites and local markets.
How To Get from Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu?
If you plan to visit The Sacred Valley of the Incas and then take the train to Machu Picchu, this is a great idea. You must arrive in Ollantaytambo and go to the train station to board the trains to Aguas Calientes town (also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo)
How Many Days should I spend in Cusco and Sacred Valley?
Before going to Machu Picchu, whether on a hiking tour or by train, we recommend 1 day in Cusco and 1 day exploring the Sacred Valley. This time will also help you adapt to the altitude as you rest for the big trip to Machu Picchu.
How High Is Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley has an average altitude of 3000 meters or 9842 feet.