the sacred valley, peru


Although Machu Picchu is the poster child of the Peru, the Sacred Valley is so much more. 

We flew to Cusco, which sits at such an extremely high altitude that our heads hurt the minute we landed. From Cusco, it is a winding 2-hour drive down into the Sacred Valley. We had just come off the gorgeous landscape of Patagonia, Chile and yet we were still amazed by the Valley. Jagged peaks and lush green fields with small towns scattered in between. The homes all made of clay brick and tin roofs. 


The Sacred Valley was once the center of the ancient Incan civilization, sacred because pretty much anything could grow there. The Incan were masters of agriculture. In order to farm in the middle of the Andes mountains, they developed a system of terraces that resembled giant green staircases. The most amazing thing about the Sacred Valley was the preservation of ancient culture and traditions. 

People wore traditional clothing, spoke the ancient language Quechua, and lived off of the land. In the Sacred Valley, you won’t find huge pieces of privately owned land. Instead, the land is divided by communities who distribute the land to families or individuals for farming. Each year, the land is re-distributed and the location of your plot depends on a lot of factors, including age and physical ability. 

A lot of villages still don’t use a currency (they exchange goods), and they share the products of the land (i.e. corn, potatoes, sheep) amongst every member of the community. Respect for the sacredness of the valley was evident. 

We spent each day exploring a new Incan archeological site by walking, hiking, or biking. The valley is huge and we tried to cover all of it. (I like to think we did!) 



  • Hebert, a 27-year old Cusco native, was our Machu Picchu guide and guru. We were blown away by Hebert’s knowledge and passion for the culture and history of the Sacred Valley. He (as most guides did) spoke Quechua, the ancient language of the Inca empire, and taught us so much about the spiritual side of the Incans. 
  • Eric and Geraldo took us on a challenging 23 mile bike ride through various Sacred Valley towns and archaeological sites. These two were super fun adrenaline junkies.


  • Tambo del Inka Hotel
    • Our friend Paul put us up in this beautiful resort as a wedding present. The hotel is so serene - and even has its own luxury train station that you can take to Machu Picchu!
  • Explora Valle Sagrado Hotel
    • "An all-inclusive for people that hate all exclusives." The Explora hotel is the perfect option for any adventurer. The hotel takes care of all of the adventure details - daily excursions, knowledgable local tour guides, drivers, and makes sure you come home after a long day to great food and an insanely comfortable bed. We can't wait to stay at another Explora in South America! 
  • Ollantaytambo
    • A village that is stuck in time. We hiked in the ruins and enjoyed the culture of the town. 
  • Machu Picchu
    • 6:15am wake up call to set out for Machu Picchu. 1 hour car ride, 2 hour train ride through the Andes, and 40 minute bus ride up the mountain, we arrived at Machu Picchu. Rainy season here means it was a wet day but far less crowds. We hiked the Inkan trail to the sun gate, where the traditional 5 day trek to Machu Picchu ends. We were in awe of the historical significance and amazed by the beauty of the site. 


  • Pisac Market
    • Got a great recommendation via Instagram direct message from Kenny Lodge to visit the Pisac Market. Rows and rows of artisan shops and crafts. We could have spent the whole day exploring and talking to local artists. Found it pretty hilarious and incredible that every stand took visa credit cards. We purchased a painting and would highly recommend this Market to any Sacred Valley visitors.
  • Maras salt mines
    • Another traditional Incan practice, salt mining, is kept up by the community of Maras. The salt mines are split into small pools for each member of the community to mine and sell their own salt.