Expert Review: Sacred Valley Tour
| Expert Advice
Recently, I had the pleasure to experience one of our best-selling land tours in Peru, the Sacred Valley tour. I was in the Sacred Valley for 1-Day only, so I couldn’t see everything I wanted to, however, I felt like I did get the complete experience. Ideally, I would recommend spending at least 2-3 days to really enjoy the beauty of the valley. Below you can read about the sites I did visit, and the ones I missed that I am saving for next time.
The Sacred Valley Tour (1-Day)
1. Maras Salt Mines
This was my first time visiting the Maras Salt Mines, and I have to say that this was one of the most unique sites I have ever seen. The strange but beautiful “salt ponds” make you feel like you are on another planet. The salt ponds have been around since pre-Incan times and are still used today to cultivate salt. Families from the local town own a pond and salt production is often their main source of income. The salt is collected in the ponds by evaporating the salty water that emerges from the underwater stream. The salt is known as a delicatessen and it is often compared to the Himalayan Pink salt.
2. Moray Ruins
This is another unique site that almost seems unworldly. Moray is an Incan site, believed to have been used for agriculture. These circular terraces have a very sophisticated irrigation system (like many other Incan sites). Each level has a different micro-climate and it is believed that the Incas used this to test different climate conditions on crops. It was truly amazing to see how precise the dimensions of these terraces are. I highly recommended visiting this site with a guide to get the full understanding of this remarkable ruin.
3. Pisaq Ruins and Market
The Pisaq ruins and the market can be an entire day trip in itself. We had to hurry though this part, and I wish I had more time for the market. There are so many beautiful Andean handicrafts there, you’ll want to spend a good amount of “shopping time” there. The souvenirs and handicrafts are made by Andean Artisans themselves. The Pisaq ruins are a hilltop Inca citadel, believed to have been a guard for the Urubamba valley below. Here you’ll see agricultural terraces, temples, ceremonial sites and more. You will definitely need a couple of hours to make the hike up.
What I Missed in the Sacred Valley
There is so much to do in the Sacred Valley that it’s impossible to see everything in one day. I missed the Incan town and ruins of Ollantaytambo and the small Andean textile town of Chincheros. Next time I am in the Sacred Valley, I would also like to spend some time exploring Urubamba! You’ll also want to make sure you have at least 1 or 2 days to explore the city of Cusco.
My Expert Tips
- Drink lots of water (have a bottle of water with you), the altitude can hit you in the valley, so be sure to stay hydrated.
- Bring your own toilet paper (or tissues). I know this sounds silly, but not all of the public restrooms in the valley have toilet paper.
- Wear sunscreen! Even if you are visiting in the winter, don't be fooled by the strength of the Andean sun.
- Wear layers. The climate can change very quickly and very drastically at any given moment.
- Drink Mate de Coca (Coca leaf tea) to help with the altitude
- Carry around small change, not all of the venders in the market will have change for big bills.
- Go with a tour guide. You definitely want to visit the Sacred Valley with a guide to get the full understanding of this remarkably destination.