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Sacred Valley of the Incas: Day Trips and Tours from Cusco
Rich in history and natural beauty, Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas offers a wealth of attractions. Archeological remnants dot the entire region, and there are tours to appeal to every type of traveler.
Whether you visit by van, bike, ATV or on foot, a day trip to Sacred Valley of the Incas from Cusco is an excursion filled with sublime sights and cultural surprises.
Here's all you need to know about Sacred Valley of the Incas, one of the most exciting day trips from Cusco.
How to get to the Sacred Valley of the Incas from Cusco?
The Sacred Valley of the Incas is located outside of the town Yucay, 56 kilometers northwest of Cusco.
From Cusco to the Sacred Valley of the Incas by car
If you will drive from central Cusco, take the 3S for about 18 kilometers until you reach CU-1185. Follow CU-1185 for 30 kilometers to Yucay, your destination.
Guided tour to the Sacred Valley of the Incas from Cusco
Juggling transportation, entry tickets and language barriers are a struggle during any trip. Streamline your visit to the Sacred Valley by booking a guided tour. Enjoy transportation, admission to sites, an expert guide and more on one of the many options of day tours.
How much does the entrance ticket to the Sacred Valley of the Incas cost?
There are separate fees for different sites in the Sacred Valley.
Entrance fee to Moray: S/70 (US$18)
Entrance fee to Maras: S/10 (US$2.50)
In addition, a US$1 community fee must be paid.
There is a Cusco tourist ticket that allows you to enter the most popular tourist attractions, but it does not include entrance to the Maras salt mines.
A full Cusco tourist ticket costs S/130 (US$35) and provides 10 days of access to 16 sites in and around the city. Many tours require that you have a Cusco tourist ticket. You can purchase one at the start of most tours or in town before your excursion.
What is the typical itinerary?
Meet your driver at your accommodations in Cusco for the scenic 1.5-hour drive to the Sacred Valley. The valley was one of the most important sites in the Incan empire, and most tours visit at least one archeological site.
Chinchero, about 30 kilometers from Cusco, is commonly the first stop. Take in its Incan walls and fortress and colorful textiles at the market. Move on to Moray with its terraced farming pit followed by the salt pond of Maras.
Longer day tours continue to Ollantaytambo and Pisac. Ollantaytambo is considered the gateway to Machu Picchu and features fascinating ruins of its own. Often overlooked on trips in preference to its neighbor, Ollantaytambo is one of Peru’s most important archeological sites.
The town of Pisac has many allures. It has become a spiritual destination, and yoga, meditation and healing centers attract the curious. It’s also called “Potato Park,” due to the area’s dazzling variety of the tuber.
Your expert guide will lead you by van, ATV, bicycle, horseback or on foot from site to site while enriching your outing with knowledge about your surroundings. Most tours include a break for a buffet lunch featuring Peruvian specialties. Expect to return to Cusco around 5 PM.
What kinds of tours are available to go to the Sacred Valley of the Incas?
The Sacred Valley of the Incas’ rugged terrain lures thrill-seekers for climbing, hiking, paragliding and more. Whether you want to relax on a bus while witnessing pre-Columbian ruins or trek for days over mountain passes, options for day trips to the valley abound.
Guided tours to the Sacred Valley of the Incas from Cusco
Hop on a bus out of Cusco for a half- or full-day tour to the Sacred Valley. Sit back and absorb the scenery and history as your guide narrates the 1.5-hour journey to the valley.
While most tours focus mainly on the historical sites, some add a cultural highlight such as food tastings, artisanal demonstrations or a spiritual experience.
Hiking tours to the Sacred Valley of the Incas from Cusco
Hiking tours in Cusco lead you away from the crowds to waterfalls, sheer rock faces and high-altitude passes in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Pass by centuries-old structures and hear the stories behind them.
Bike tours to the Sacred Valley of the Incas from Cusco
Cover more ground of the Sacred Valley in a low-impact way with a bike tour in Cusco. Pedal to Maras-Moray or Pisac to gain a special appreciation for your destination.
ATV tours at the Sacred Valley of the Incas
Zoom down dirt roads to access the best of the Sacred Valley in little time. Follow a guide to Maras-Moray, Perolniyoc Falls or even to Machu Picchu on one of the best quad tours in Cusco.
Zip lining tours at the Sacred Valley of the Incas
Soar along a series of cables over Sacred Valley. Most Cusco zip lining tours take you to Racchi, an archeological site about 45 minutes from Cusco. Test your courage on a suspension bridge and four different lines of increasing speed and height.
Paragliding tours at the Sacred Valley of the Incas
Marvel at a condor’s view of Sacred Valley on a paragliding adventure from Cusco. Leap from Cerro Sacro with a guide for a tandem flight lasting from 15 to 20 minutes.
Horse riding tours at the Sacred Valley of the Incas
A peaceful horseback ride to the best of Sacred Valley is a great way to spend a day outdoors without exhausting yourself in the thin mountain air. Most horse riding tours in Cusco allow you to explore the Devil's Balcony, a famous rock formation with a magnificent landscape in the middle viewed from a fissure above.
Private tour to the Sacred Valley of the Incas from Cusco
If you want a memorable day without crowds and the luxury of your own pace, you have numerous options. Virtually every type of Sacred Valley tour is available as a private experience.
Multi-day tours to the Sacred Valley of the Incas from Cusco
With so much to see in the valley, planning an extra day or more to take it all in is wise. Accommodations range from camping to hotel rooms. The daring may choose a night in the Skylodge, a window-filled pod anchored to a cliff 400 meters above the valley floor.
How much does a day trip to the Sacred Valley of the Incas from Cusco cost?
Guided tours of the Sacred Valley from Cusco cost around US$20 per person for half-day outings and/or trips that do not include entrance fees to the sites. Shorter tours often stop at only Maras-Moray, Pisac or Chinchero but still include lunch.
ATV tours at the Sacred Valley cost around US$40 per person, zip lining and paragliding each costs US$60-US$75 per person, and hiking and bike tours each cost US$90 per person. Horse riding tours in the Sacred Valley of the Incas cost US$180 per person for a 6-hour tour.
Full-day guided tours cost about US$130 per person in a smaller group, and the price covers all entrance tickets and fees. Private tours cost from about US$100 per person to US$195 per person, depending on group size, inclusions and types of travel provided.
Multi-day tours from Cusco that visits the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountains cost from US$220 per person for 2-day tours to US$1,300 per person for 4-day tours. Prices depend on accommodations and transportation provided, and whether all fees and meals are included in the price.
What will you see and do?
The town of Maras in the Sacred Valley is home to two Incan archeological sites, the Moray Archeological Complex and the Maras salt mines.
Considered the ancient Incas’ “agricultural lab,” Moray’s terraced slopes are believed to be designed to improve growing conditions for their necessary crops. The concentric steppes descend into a pit that traps heat, creating microclimates to make farming possible in the Andean highlands.
A collection of more than 5,000 evaporation ponds make up the “Salineras de Maras,” salt pans that have been used for millennia. Since pre-Incan times, an underground saline stream has been channeled into man-made pools for the harvest of different kinds of salt.
Known to the Quechua as the “birthplace of the rainbow,” Chinchero is famous for its colorful dyed alpaca wool that’s crafted into weavings and knitwear. Not to be missed is a fortress built around 1400 for the Inca king, Tupac Yupanqui, a colonial church and the artisan market.
Historical Ollantaytambo is the entrance to the path to Machu Picchu. The town was designed as a military post to protect Machu Picchu from invaders. Ollantaytambo is the typical starting point on the 4-day trek to Machu Picchu but also houses a train station for easier access to the ruins.
The town of Pisac is found at the southeastern end of the Sacred Valley and has become a magnet for new age tourism. Must-see destinations in Pisac are the ruins and the market featuring potatoes and handicrafts.
When is the best time to visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas?
Book a day trip to the Sacred Valley of the Incas from Cusco in the dry season, from April to October, for the best weather for hiking and views. Rainy weather can make a visit to the Maras salt ponds less enjoyable, as the water may affect the appearance of the ponds.
Make sure to plan a visit to the Sacred Valley of the Incas after spending at least 2 days in Cusco to acclimate to the high altitude.