Sacred Valley – Moray/Salineras
A popular Peru vacation that explores the region of Cusco and all the best highlights of the Inca Civilization. An exquisite package tour that includes quality 3 to 5 star hotels (your choice) and first class services.
An off-the-beaten track addition to your tour are the circular agricultural terraces of Moray with their complex system of irrigation and terraces, and the ancient saltworks of Salineras. The less explored two small towns that lie in the middle of the Valley are Maras and Moray. Often passed over, these two places provide the perfect chance to get off the beaten track and get more intimate with the Incan history.
Moray or (Muray, in Quechua) is an archaeological site that contains unusual Inca ruins, mostly consisting of several enormous terraced circular depressions. The largest is approximately 30 m (98 ft) deep. As with many other Inca sites, it also has a sophisticated irrigation system. The purpose of these depressions is uncertain, but their depth, design, and orientation with respect to wind and sun creates a temperature difference of as much as 15 °C (27 °F) between the top and the bottom. It is possible that this large temperature difference was used by the Inca to study the effects of different climatic conditions on crops. Speculation about the site has led to discussion about Moray as an Inca agricultural experiment station. Its microclimatic conditions and other significant characteristics led to the use of the site as a center for the ancient study of domestication, acclimatization, and hybridization of wild vegetable species that were modified or adapted for human consumption.
We will also be visiting the salt flats of Maras – a true hidden beauty of the Sacred Valley. Passing through green mountain after green mountain of rugged Andean terrain, you’d be forgiven for never seeing them coming. Lying in the middle of inconspicuous mountains, with sun reflecting on it as though they were snow, the salt flats will stun you with their beauty, shining out like white gold. Depending on what season you travel you can see pools of water in each section of the salt fields, shining like shimmering mirrors in the sunlight. Pass through and admire the white salt rocks against the background of green mountains, which provides you with as great a natural contrast you are likely to see anywhere in the world.
The Sacred Valley is true to its name, a stunning area that combines all the natural beauty of the Andes with the incredible ingenuity of Incan industry. The Famous Valley is home to the town of Ollantaytambo with its imposing Inca fortress, one of the most visited tourist sites in Peru and a must-see for most tourists. Ollantaytambo is a magical place. Nestled in between energy bearing mountains, it was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region. Here, he built the town and a ceremonial center. Later, during the time of the Spanish conquest, It served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, the leader of the Inca resistance. We will visit the archaeological sites – the beautiful Princess Baths, Temple of the Sun and the Condor, and see the ancient graineries. Ollantaytambo is the only living Inca village that is still inhabited. You will have free time to explore the traditional Incan homes and shops – and soak in it’s special beauty!
Machu Picchu is tangible evidence of the urban Inca Empire at the peak of its power and achievement—a citadel of cut stone fit together without mortar so tightly that its cracks still can’t be penetrated by a knife blade. It stands 2,430 m above sea-level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, in an extraordinarily beautiful setting. It was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height; its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, encompasses the upper Amazon basin with its rich diversity of fauna. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley which is 80 kilometers (50 mi) northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows. No wonder it is one of the New Wonders of the World!
The complex of palaces and plazas, temples and homes may have been built as a ceremonial site, a military stronghold, or a retreat for ruling elites—its dramatic location is certainly well suited for any of those purposes. The ruins lie on a high ridge, surrounded on three sides by the windy, turbulent Urubamba River some 2,000 feet (610 meters) below. The Inca’s achievements and skills are all the more impressive in light of the knowledge they lacked. When Machu Picchu was built some 500 years ago, the Inca had no iron, no steel, and no wheels. Their tremendous effort apparently benefited relatively few people—some experts maintain that fewer than a thousand individuals lived here.
Cusco The city itself has been protected as a World UNESCO Heritage site since 1983 – this in itself just shows how marvelous it is! Our amazing tour guides will lead you throughout the ancient city, wonder by wonder – special for your own private group! You will learn about ceremonies, how people lived, and how they connected with the Pacha Mama – or “Mother Earth”. Our local guide will give you inside information passed down so that you will get the real story of what happened here. Situated in the Peruvian Andes, Cuzco developed, under the Inca ruler Pachacutec, into a complex urban center with distinct religious and administrative functions. It was surrounded by clearly delineated areas for agricultural, artisan and industrial production. When the Spaniards conquered it in the 16th century, they preserved the basic structure but built Baroque churches and palaces over the ruins of the Inca city. On our fully personalized city tour of Cuzco – the capital of the region, we will visit the famous local market of San Pedro. There is a huge diversity of products available. We will see the 12 square stones at Inca Roca Palace in Cusco. We will also visit the Cathedral and the Temple of the Sun. We will even have the change to enter Sacsayhuaman Temple, Tambomachay and Qenqo – famous sites around Cusco. Within Saqsayhuaman, our guide may even have a special surprise for waiting for us…
All of our trips provide a full guided tours by your English speaking guide.
Here is a SAMPLE itinerary for Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu:
Day 1 Arrive in Lima
- Pick up from airport and transfer to hotel.
Day 2 Lima – Cusco – Ollantaytambo
- Morning pick up from hotel after breakfast and transfer to airport.
- Fly to the Inca capital city of Cusco.
- Pick up from the airport and transfer to your hotel in Ollantaytambo.
- The afternoon is free to adjust to the altitude, and relax at your beautiful hotel which is surrounded by mountains.
Day 3 Sacred Valley – Moray Archaeological Site/Salt Mines
- Morning pickup to travel to the archaeological site of Moray
- Visit the unique salt mines at Salineras
- Explore Ollantaytambo on your own
Day 4 Ollantaytambo – Train to Machu Picchu Town
- Guided tour of the ancient sites at Ollantaytambo
- Train to Machu Picchu Town (Aguas Calientes) in the afternoon
- Visit the town of Aguas Calientes, enjoy the Hot Springs
Day 5 Machu Picchu ruins full day
- Early bus to Machu Picchu leaving around 5:30 a.m. to avoid the crowds and to see the sun illuminating the walls of this sacred and magical place.
- Explore the ruins for about 4 hours.
- Lunch at Machu Picchu.
- Afternoon train Back to Ollantaytambo and then to your hotel in Cusco.
Day 6 Cusco City Tour
- Morning walk starting at 9:00 a.m. We will see the 12 square stones at Inca Roca Palace in Cusco
- Visit the Cathedral and the Temple of the Sun
- Visit to Sacsayhuaman Temple, Tambomachay, and Qenqo
- Afternoon on your own
Day 7 Cusco – Tour of Lima – Fly Home
- Cusco – Lima
- Lima City Tour
- Farewell to Peru – Flight home!