Sacred Valley and Cusco Travel Facts
Cusco or Qosqo in Inca Language
Sacred Valley and Cusco Travel Facts–As locals from this historical city, we know how to showcase the hidden gems of the city and sacred valley. There is a lot to experience in this area of Peru, a customize Cusco and Sacred Valley tour can definitely be a game-changer.
The storied capital of the Inca Empire and gateway to the imperial city of Machu Picchu, Cusco (also spelled Cuzco) is one of the undisputed highlights of South America. Stately and historic, with stone streets and building foundations laid by the Incas more than 5 centuries ago , the town is much more than a mere history lesson; it is also surprisingly dynamic, enlivened by throngs of travelers who have transformed the historic center around the Plaza de Armas into a mecca of sorts for South American adventurers. Yet for all its popularity, Cusco is one of those rare places that seems able to preserve its unique character and enduring appeal despite its growing prominence on the international tourism radar. Cusco looks and feels like the very definition of an Andean capital. It’s a fascinating blend of pre-Columbian and colonial history and contemporary mestizo culture.
The Incas made Q’osqo (meaning “navel of the world” in Quechua) the political, military, and cultural center of their empire, which stretched up and down the Andes, from Ecuador through Bolivia and all the way to Chile. Cusco was the empire’s holy city, and it was also the epicenter of the legendary Inca network of roads connecting all points in the empire. Cusco looks and feels like the very definition of an Andean capital. It’s a fascinating blend of pre-Columbian and colonial history and contemporary mestizo culture. The Spanish conquistadors understood that it was essential to topple the capital city to take control of the region, a feat they ultimately accomplished after an epic battle at Sacsayhuamán. The Spaniards razed most Inca buildings and monuments, but, in many cases, they found the structures so well engineered that they built upon the very foundations of Inca Cusco. Many perfectly constructed Inca stone walls, examples of unrivaled stonemasonry, still stand. After a devastating earthquake in 1650, Cusco became a largely baroque city. The result is a city that showcases plainly evident layers of history. Cusco’s highlights include both Inca ruins, such as Sacsayhuamán, a seemingly impregnable fortress on a hill overlooking the city, and Qoricancha, the Temple of the Sun, and colonial-era baroque and Renaissance churches and mansions. The heart of the historic center has suffered relatively few modern intrusions, and despite the staggering number of souvenir shops, travel agencies, hotels, and restaurants overflowing with visitors, it doesn’t take an impossibly fertile imagination to conjure the magnificent capital of the 16th century. Today Cusco thrives as one of the most vibrant expressions of Amerindian and mestizo culture anywhere in the Americas. Every June, the city is packed during Inti Raymi, the celebration of the winter solstice and the sun god, a deeply religious festival that is also a magical display of pre-Columbian music and dance. Thousands trek out to Paucartambo for the riveting Virgen del Carmen festival in mid-July. Other traditional arts also flourish. Cusco is the handicraft center of Peru, and its streets and markets teem with merchants and their extraordinary textiles, many hand-woven using the exact techniques of their ancestors–Sacred Valley and Cusco Travel.
Unmissable places in Cusco: You can personalize your tour to any of the following places
- Qoricancha “the temple of the sun” (it was one of the most important temples across the Inca empire). Further details click here
- San Pedro Market (the first main and large market from the 1920s and still in operation even today).
- Basilica Mayor de la Catedral “the Cathedral of Cusco” whose construction took over 130 years. Further details click here
- The main square of Cusco “Plaza Wakaypata” (it’s been the main square since the Incan times)
- Sacsayhuaman (wrongly called as a fortress, it was the temple of the sun and other gods in the Hanan “higher” Cusco). Further details click here
- Qenqo (a place with an underground chamber where the Pachamama “mother-earth” temple is located).
- Tambomachay (a place with beautiful water fountains from the Incan times).
- Tipon (a gorgeous site with many aqueducts, probably built to learn about hydraulic engineering). Further details click here
- Pikillacta (a pre-Inca site from 700 AD, perfectly layout city).
- Andahuaylillas Church (Jesuit order church from the beginning of the 17th century, famous for its frescoes that cover the entire wall and ceiling). Further details click here
Sacred Valley of the Incas, also known as Urubamba Valley
Tucked between Cusco and Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley is a truly special place and it was during the Inca empire. A slightly warmer climate, the gentle presence of the Andes mountains at backdrops, a cradle of ancient temples and settlements, and villages steeped in age-old traditions is what you’ll experience on a private tour to the Inca heartland.
The capital of the Inca Empire was the city of Cusco, located between two large rivers: Apurímac river on the west and Vilcanota river on the east, the Vilcanota river is originated at 4,315m/ 14,157 and is fed mainly by the impetuous waters of the Salga River that stems from the Siwinaqocha lake, at the foot of the Ausangate mountain, located in Vilnota range. The river Vilcanota river, also known as the Urubamba river, flows into the Amazonian plains through the imposing Pongo de Mainiqui river. The river under the name of Bajo Urubamba joins the Tambo river and gives origin to the Ucayali river.
The Incas took advantage of almost the entire valley from the beginning until the end (from the southern part of Cusco until Machu Picchu) where today the Inca sanctuaries or ruins still stand called Willkanuta or House of the Sun by the Incas to different temples like Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Patallacta, Wiñaywayna, and many more.
The popular part of Sacred Valley of the Incas is located between Pisac and Ollantaytambo, this part of the valley draws many visitors, a section where Chinchero, Maras salt ponds, Moray, and other Incan ruins are located. The name of Sacred Valley is not from the Incan times, it is part of modern Inca inspired myths, based on the special importance that this valley had in the ancient Incan days. There are the area’s various other breathtaking Inca ruins that might be internationally renowned in their own right where they not overshadowed by the tourism juggernaut of Machu Picchu. There are endless chances to explore its natural landscapes as well as the living and ancient cultures. You can do so by road or, preferably, on foot, mountain bike or horseback. The Valley’s smaller towns and villages also have a laid-back pace that makes them ideal for decompressing, whether it is getting massages, doing yoga, or simply chilling in a hammock. Mountains were carved literally to build agricultural terracings, temples, cities, fortresses, they even channeled the Vilcanota river.
The last Inca emperors built-up cities with magnificent palaces as part of their royal estates, where they used to move from Cusco, used to meditate, and rejoice, on our Sacred Valley private tours you will have the chance to get the first-hand information from your private local guide who will lead into the lesser popular sides of each Inca site. For those making the once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to the Incan citadel or any hike, the Sacred Valley makes a perfect base. Locals still speak Quechua — the language of the Incas. They also grow corn, raise alpacas and weave brightly colored textiles much as their ancestors did before the violent arrival of the Spaniards five centuries ago–Sacred Valley and Cusco Travel.
Unmissable places in Sacred Valley: You can personalize your tour to any of the following places, further details at Sacred Valley Tour page
- Pisac (famous for its massive crops terracings atop the mountains) Further details click here
- Pisac market (used to be very authentic, it’s been losing its originality over the last decade, today is very bustling and colorful due to many crafts and textiles).
- Urubamba market (still unknown for tourists, very cool place to see the production of Sacred Valley).
- Chicheria (a place to drink home-fermented corn juice, for others corn beer, main alcoholic drink since the Incan times, there are many chicherias in the valley).
- Ollantaytambo Inca site (famed for its tremendous temple of the sun whose over 100 tons rock were dragged from 5 miles away). Further details click here
- Ollantaytambo town (also known as Inca living town due to its original layout streets from the Incan times, it’s a must-go place)
- Moray (it was the main Inca farming testing center) Further details click here
- Maras salt ponds (still farmed by hands even today, like in the Incan times, over two thousand ponds lay along the rugged ravine). Further details click here
- Local Quechua family home visit (immerse beyond just making a simple tour in the valley, this is just unique).
- Chinchero (another palace from the Inca times, with beautiful farming terraces and a church from the Spanish times). Further details click here