The Sacred Valley of the Incas follows the Urubamba River valley between Cuzco and Machu Picchu. It has a mild climate, beautiful scenery and picturesque traditional villages. The Sacred Valley is also home to some very impressive and sizeable Inca sites such as Ollantaytambo. The surrounding markets are packed with colourful art and crafts and local produce with the markets at Pisac and Chinchero being the most popular.
The salt terraces at Maras also make a fascinating tour, where salt has been harvested from these natural rock pools in the same way for centuries. Being lower in altitude than Cuzco, it is also the perfect place for some laid-back trekking, horseback riding, mountain biking or river rafting on the Urubamba River.
Due to its temperate climate and lower altitude, you may prefer to head straight to the Sacred Valley on first arriving in Cuzco in order to gradually acclimatise. Many travellers choose to spend a few days relaxing here in one of the delightful hotels before setting off to Machu Picchu on the train from Ollantaytambo station. This is part way along the train route to the famous ruins and gives you a more leisurely start that morning. Then on your return, head back to Cuzco for a few days, as it would be a shame to miss this fascinating colonial city.
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