A visit to Machu Picchu in the Sacred Valley is an absolute highlight that should not be missed on your trip through Peru. But besides Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley has more to offer! Understand the architectural style of the Incas at Sacsayhuaman, meet the Yachaqs in Amaru, and escape the crowds on your quest for Chicha in Ollantaytambo.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas or Sacred Valley of the Incas runs parallel to the Urubamba River, the Sacred River, from the village of Písac to the ruined city of Ollantaytambo. In ancient times, the valley was one of the most important centers of agriculture and is still the best place for growing maize in Peru. The valley contains numerous archaeological remains and villages.
Understand the architectural style of the Incas.
You can visit the archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman; a walled complex on the northern edge of the city of Cuzco. It is an excellent place to understand the distinctive architectural style of the Incas. The Incas used hard, polished stones that they put together according to a specific pattern, but without cement. The structures are so sturdy that they survived earthquakes and the Spanish plunder. On June 24, the Cusqueños in Sacsayhuaman celebrate the Festival of the Sun, a kind of solstice festival they call themselves Inti Raymi.
Meet the Yachaqs in Amaru
You can also visit the indigenous community of Amaru. During your visit you will meet the Yachaqs (‘wise men’ in the Quechua language). These original inhabitants of this area are waiting for you in the center of their tourism association. With this the Yachaqs want to gain more prosperity and improve their tourist services.
Your new friends will welcome you with a traditional snack and tell you about activities to do. Then a guide will tell you more about the history and projects of the indigenous community. Afterwards you will meet the host families, with whom you will spend the night. They are happy to show you their houses and farms. Finally, you can participate in a workshop ‘weaving’. In it you will learn everything about the entire process of weaving, dyeing with natural plant dyes and trading fabrics.
You also have the option to participate in a trekking with a local guide. An absolute must, because the tour takes you to a beautiful lake in the area. There, a traditional soup from the Andes is served and you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the many bird species.
Escape the crowds in Ollantaytambo
Another highlight in the Sacred Valley is Ollantaytambo. Ollantaytambo is described as a living Inca city. The inhabitants honor the old traditions and, for example, still work their fields with foot plows. The place is named after Ollanta, the Inca general who fell in love with the daughter of the ninth Inca leader Pachacútec. He had to flee the city, but was reunited with her after Pachacútec’s death. The event is known as the greatest Inca victory over the Spaniards, before the city was taken in 1537. The city is divided into many canchas (courtyards) each with its own entrance.