This time I’ll talk about our experiences in the Sacred Valley. This 20km valley is just north of Cusco. Back in the days the inkas used to live here and nowadays you can find much proof of that.
We didn’t visit everything in the Sacred Valley but did quite a good job with visiting Urubamba, Moray, Maras, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Aguascalientes and of course Machu Picchu.
The journey through the valley started in Cusco (naturlich). From here we took a minivan to Urubamba for 6 soles each. In Urubamba there are not many options to stay, we stayed in Ayllu Hostel, which has a bed, toilet, shower and breakfast but nothing more. If you want something special you should check out Skylodge adventure suites. Unfortunately this wasn’t in our budget(1435 Soles per night), but one day I’ll sleep here. A very nice place we had dinner was Paca Paca. Besides that we walked a bit around but there isn’t something special to mention. Urubamba was for us a starting point to visit the Maras Salt Flats, Moray and the later decided also Pisac.
Moray and The Maras Salt Flats
We arrived around 2 in the afternoon in Urubamba and decided to visit Moray and Maras the same day. To get here we took a minivan from Terminal Terrestre. You’ll have to take the one towards Cusco and tell the driver where you’re heading to. The bus driver will then drop you off at a point where there are different taxis and minivans which can take you to Moray and Maras. Since it was getting late we decided to take the fastest way to visit these two places, a private taxi for 50 soles.
When we arrived at Moray we found out that you actually need a ticket to visit this place and they aren’t cheap if you got used to the Peruvian valuta. The ticket we bought included 4 sites (Other possibilities available): Moray, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero and Pisac (Which we decided later to visit). The price of this ticket was 70 Soles. The tickets are useally valid for two days, but since we didn’t do any research, this left our plan a little bit in a mess. This was because we planned to stay one more day in Urubamba before visiting Ollantaytambo (3 days Needed). Luckily a friendly person was selling us the tickets and got us a ticket for 3 days instead of 2 days for the same price (Excluding a tip we had to give to the police officer).
Once you got your ticket you can go on and see Moray. Moray is an inka archaeological site where you can find impressive circular terraces. It’s proven that there is a temperature difference of 15°C between the lowest and the highest level . People think that this was used to grow different crops, but its not proved.
You can have a walk around the circled terraces which takes you like 30 minutes (including your photoshoot). After this we just stepped in the car towards the Maras Salt Flats.
The entrance to the Maras Salt Flats is separate and costs 10 Soles. The Maras Salt Flat is a place where salt is being mined (Surprise). You’ve probably seen a picture of them before without knowing where it is, but now you know! The special thing about these Salt Flats is that they have been in use since the Inka times or before. So how does it work? Salty water from a natural source gets into the ponds and gets evaporated by the sun. What’s left after the evaporation? Salt! My explanation might miss some steps but this is how it works more or less. The mining of the salt can only be done by people of the community and the miner can keep the salt he or she mined.
It was definitely worth a visit! Like Moray you can have like a 30 minute walk at the Salt Flats, but this time only at the top of them. After this the taxi brought us back to Urubamba.
The next day was planned to chill in Urubamba, but since we had some tickets we decided to visit Pisac. We went here without even knowing what to expect (Again unprepared). We took a minivan from Parada Combis, because they didn’t leave from the main terminal. To get here we took a TukTuk from the terminal for like 2 Soles, but if you’re going to do it one day just go here straight. The bus trip from Urubamba to Pisac is around an hour.
I must say Pisac is a cute little town. I had the impression that alot of gringos stayed here for a while, but we didn’t, we came straight for the ruins. Before we started the hike we went for some food, which was the best idea we could have in that moment. The Maps.me app informed us that we needed to do a hike of like 30 minutes to get to the ruins, which was true, but in the end we hiked like 2 hours all the way up to have some beautiful views. The hike was totally worth it! I think Pisac has the biggest inka terraces, they are just huge! Besides that there are multiple ruins and you can go all the way up for some stunning views of the area.
After visiting Pisac we took the same minivan back to Urubamba to pickup our backpacks and left immediately to Ollantaytambo to spend the night. Since we were again unprepared we were very lucky to catch the last minivan at around 8. The price was 2 soles each, which is nothing. We took the bus from the terminal terrestre and arrived in Ollantaytambo in a minivan with more people than it should contain.
The plan for the next day in Ollantaytambo was to visit the ruins in the morning and go to Aguas Calientes asap. The reason for this was that the way to Aguas Calientes is quite long and we had tickets for Machu Pichu the day after (Early morning). Luckily it worked out! We went to the ruins in the morning which are really easy reachable. Of course there was one viewpoint somewhere up but we skipped the hike this time, which might was a pity. Besides this disappointment the ruins of Ollantaytambo were still impressive (Surprise).
After visiting Ollantaytambo we went to Aguas Calientes. Aguas Calientes is a small city, which functions as camp for people who are visiting Machu Picchu. Unfortunately the way to this camp isn’t the nicest (Unless you take the train for 80 dollars each way).
First we took a taxi to Santa Maria. This was probably the worst part of the way to Aguas Calientes. Since you go up a big mountain you can get a headache. Besides that it gets misty and really cold. On top of that the road is really curvy. Combining these ingredients for like 3 or 4 hours equals a feeling of throwing up. If I could do it over, I would go with a minivan instead of a taxi.
Once arrived in Santa Maria we still needed to take two minivans to Hydroelectrica. All the transportation is connected, so once you arrive in Santa Maria your next driver is ready to take your money. The two next rides take you around 1 hour together.
Once arrived in Hydroelectrica the final part could start, the walk. Currently no cars can reach the city because of some political blockade. Because of this you will have to walk for 2 hours. The walk starts promising with some climbs up but it turns into a boring straight walk next to the train rails real quick.
So once you made it to Aguas Calientes, you made it. You survived this long, boring and disgusting trip. Again, you can also just take the train for 80 dollars. You’ll get a coffee and you can watch all the people walking.
In Aguas Calientes we stayed in the hostel Supertramp. We got a discount because we booked the room from the hostel Kokopeli in Cusco. The hostel seemed to have good vibes, but we couldn’t experience much because we went to bed early to visit Machu Picchu the next day.
The main attraction of the Sacred Valley, Peru and maybe South America. Number four of the new seven world wonders. Im gonna surprise you again. I’m talking about Machu Picchu.
You can visit Machu Picchu in multiple ways. What are the options?
– Do a multiple day hike which ends in Machu Picchu like the Inka trail or the Salkantay trail. The Inka trail ends at the sungate of Machu Picchu which is your entrance and the Salkatay trail just at the regular entrance of Machu Picchu where you’ll get in line like all other people. The Inka trail is part of the way the Inkas used to walk to get to Machu Picchu and the Salkantay trail is just some other trail.
If you don’t wanne do a multiple day hike you can buy your ticket in advance online or in Cusco. You can decide to go in the morning or afternoon. Once you got your ticket you’ll still have two option to go to Machu Picchu.
– You can walk up from Aguas Calientes. This is like a 3 hour hike up and a 2 hour hike down.
– You can take the bus for 80 soles each way. The first bus leaves at around 5.
Of course a lot of people would like to be at Machu Picchu before it gets flooded with people. We wanted this aswell and we managed. So what did we do? The doors of Machu Picchu open for visitors at 6. This means you can start hiking at what time you want, but you’ll still have to wait if you make it before 6. Besides you’ll have to start hiking in the darkness which will make the hike harder and longer. To be part of the really first wave you can also just take one of the first busses and pass all hikers (That’s what we did). To take one of the first buses you’ll just have to be at the bus stop around 4 and wait for an hour. When we arrived at 4 there was already a line of like 75 persons, but 15 minutes later it was easily 3 doubled. Each bus takes around 25 people and when they start going they fill up all of them. For some reason I think our bus arrived faster or the others didn’t stand in line directly (So go stand in line). After like 15 minutes the doors opened and there you go, you’re in Machu Picchu before it gets flooded.
Inside you can do whatever you want. I would highly recommend to get a guide, since they can give you alot of information. We first went to the Sungate and returned to get a guide. Be careful since you’re only supposed to walk one way, you can be blocked on your way back to get a guide. Just make sure you don’t proceed into the ruins before you got a guide.
There is alot I can tell about Machu Picchu but I think you should just experience it by yourself. Machu Picchu is the super touristic highlight which can’t disappoint anyone in the end.