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Sacred Valley - Cultural Tour - Peru

My taxi driver Pablo picks me up at 7 a.m. at my hotel, Hostal Marani in Cusco, for my tour of the Sacred Valley.

Amazing mountain scenery is on view as we head to our first destination, Chinchero.

There is a huge market here on Sundays. There are more Inca ruins and terraces set among the beautiful green mountains here. After my driver and I hike around a little and explore a small church, we head towards Urubamba. Pablo asks if I'd like to see Moray, an Incan site currently being excavated. It is a huge spiral bowl with concentric circular terraces. Getting to the site takes nearly an hour, off-roading into the hills beyond the tiny village of Maras.


Donkeys are coming out of doorways and cows are being herded into the streets, which are really dirt roads. The ruin is interesting but I don't have the energy to climb down all the terraces. Or rather, I don't have the energy to climb back UP. I find the local people and scenery more interesting than the ruin itself.

Onwards to Ollantaytambo, another small town with impressive ruins constructed on the mountainside. Ollantaytambo is the beginning of the Inca Trail. There are a lot of backpackers wandering through town. Pablo drops me off at the gate to the ruins and will wait for me. I go inside with a group of about 100 students on a field trip. We all begin the climb up the main steps through the levels of terraces. Because we are at a slightly lower altitude than Cusco, it's still strenuous but easier than Pisaq and Machu Picchu. The steps at this site aren't quite as steep and seem to be more evenly spaced.

The paths off the terraces lead along the edges of the mountains past small huts and more stupendous views. Across the town, I can see another mountain rising up sharply, with more ruins clinging to the sides. There are people climbing there as well. It's similar to Huayna Picchu. I follow the pack of students, who generally leave me in the dust. Occasionally I ask one of them to take my picture. I'm constantly amazed how the Incas were able to build like this on the sheer mountainsides. There are many aqueducts here, a lot of running streams, and the colors are so vivid - green, blue, white. The sky is huge. Descending is fairly easy. The students go first, so at least I have something soft to fall on.

I arrive back in Cuzco at 1:30 p.m. I need to settle the hotel bill and pack for my flight to Lima tomorrow morning, and then home tomorrow night. I'm having such a great time that I don't realize I was supposed to leave for Lima TODAY. I notice this after I stop at an internet cafe to verify my flight information. The flight left this morning. Oops!


The manager of Hostal Marani kindly helps arrange for another ticket on a different airline tomorrow, which costs $100. It was absolutely worth missing the flight to see the Sacred Valley.


Cultural Tour

Travel Tips: Try to wait for a day or two in a new place before booking activities. You'll meet other travelers who can tell you about things to do, prices, etc. Also talk to locals residents.

Price Description: The private taxi I hired for about 7 hours cost only $30 plus tip.

Relative price: Budget

Travel Skills: beginner/easy.

You Need to Bring: Always carry bottled water, some snacks, small change for tips, tissues, and of course, a camera. Leave all jewelry at home and wear a cheap watch.

Here are other activities in and around Peru that may be of interest: Molino de Sabandía, InkaNatura Travel - Tours, Huancas, Casa Torre Tagle, Convento y Museo de la Recoleta, Toro Muerto petroglyphs , Ica Wineries, Casa Goyeneche and Mansión del Fundador .

By Aly
I've been a photographer and traveler for over 20 years. I love to travel and have been a full time photographer for the last 3 years. I travel as...
19 Dec 2007

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