Luxury Travel in the Sacred Valley, Peru

If you want to experience the heart and soul of the Andes mountains, head to the lush green region of the Sacred Valley. Famous for its impressive collection of Incan sites and fertile soil, this beautiful part of Peru will leave any visitor longing to return. In the valley, plants burst into bloom year-round due to the unique micro-climate, and it’s common to see hummingbirds and butterflies feasting on the flowers. The name ‘sacred’ is certainly apt for this magical region which seems to buzz with life, both past and present, and it should be considered as a destination when planning a luxury holiday to Peru.

I recently spent a few days in the Sacred Valley, and here are my top tips, plus 5 of my favourite luxury hotels in the region;

Pisac

Looking over the ruins of Pisac.

THE SACRED VALLEY FACTFILE

How do I get there?
The Sacred Valley is in the heart of the Peruvian Andes, and surrounded by mountain peaks. Despite this, visiting this region is surprisingly easy and can be done a number of ways. The two most popular are to fly into the capital city of Lima, and then take a short flight across to Cusco. From Cusco, the Sacred Valley is a 2 hour transfer by land. Alternatively, You could fly into Bogota (Colombia) and then take a second 3.5 hour flight from Bogota to Cusco.
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Moray-RSZ

The striking site of Moray

Why do people visit?
The Sacred Valley is most famous for its wide ranging collection of Incan ruins including well known sites such as Moray, Ollantaytambo and Pisac. At the far end of the valley, the high Andean scenery changes to thick cloud forest and it is within this misty landscape that the most famous ruins of all can be found – Machu Picchu. Aside from these big hitters, there are also some smaller sites which are just as fascinating, including Ancasmarca and Choquequirao.
How do I get to Machu Picchu?
Although many people choose to hike the Inca Trail which finishes at Machu Picchu – there are other ways to get to this popular citadel. Strictly not actually in the Sacred Valley itself, but in an area where the valley ends and cloud forest begins, this is still the biggest draw to the region. There are trains which run daily from Ollantaytambo, offering a comfortable ride through the mountains with pretty views, dropping passengers off at Aguas Calientes – the small town at the foot of Machu Picchu. From here a short bus ride will take you up to the site. For more information on Machu Picchu, click here.
What is there to do?
Taking a tour of the Incan sites is the most popular activity here by far, and it is a very special feeling to wander among the perfectly carved stones and terraces that were built so long ago. In addition, the surrounding mountains offer some of the best hiking trails on the planet along with white water rafting, rock climbing and horse riding opportunities. If wildlife interests you, this huge area hosts a rich variety of bird life, including a small population of the magnificent Andean condor… if you are lucky! Driving between each small town is enjoyable too – with spectacular vistas and the warm welcome of each small town or village waiting at the other end – often with some excellent markets selling locally woven textiles.

Is altitude a problem?

Throughout Peru there are many areas of high altitude and the Sacred Valley is no exception. However, it is lower than Cusco (3400m.a.s.l) at just 2900 m.a.s.l. Even lower is Machu Picchu at 2400m.a.s.l. I personally did not get altitude sickness, however, it is always wise to drink plenty of water, eat well and not exert yourself whilst at altitude to keep the risk minimal.

What can I eat?

The people of the Andes offer some excellent dishes, most of which are produced locally, such as fresh trout, root vegetables and of course, lots of potatoes! For those wanting to get more under the skin of Andean food – alpaca (yes, alpaca!!) steaks and traditional guinea pig (or ‘cuy’) are easily found on the menu. Delicious warming soups and broths are also readily available, which will keep the cold out should the weather change. But if you would rather stick to classics, don’t worry – there are plenty of international dishes available too.
Chicha

Chicha Morada is a deep red, sweet juice produced from purple corn and is popular throughout the Andes.

When should I visit?
The wet season in Peru runs from November to March, this is also the warmest time of the year. Drier conditions from April through to September are ideal for trekking and outdoor activities but the temperatures can be very low. Generally, this region is a year round destination.

Where is there to stay?

There are many accommodation options in the valley, but here are my 5 most recommended luxury hotels in the region;

1. Sol y Luna
Private casitas are spaced throughout immaculate gardens in this centrally located hotel, and it’s not just the outside areas which are colourful. Inside, an extraordinary collection of artwork is on display in every room, giving this hotel the edge when it comes to sheer style. Guests will find the gym, sauna and jacuzzi all on tap, plus a divine spa which offers a selection of both traditional and alternative therapies. Two restaurants are located within the grounds, one of which is modelled on a ranch and an impressive horsemanship show is put on twice a day for diners. Each room, or ‘casita’ has a laid-back luxury feel to it, making this a romantic and unforgettable place to stay. Click here to read more about this hotel.
2. Explora 
The brand new Explora hotel is, without a doubt, one of the most architecturally outstanding buildings in the whole of Peru. Crisp lines and simple luxury are central to the impressive design of this hotel. But don’t be put off if you are still looking for history, as old colonial houses can be found in the grounds and have been artistically transformed into a stunning spa area. Guests here will be given a personal experience like no other, with all meals and activities included, plus some of the best local guides to complete the experience.
3. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba
As far as location goes, this colonial-inspired hotel takes some beating. Nestled below towering mountains and facing the sweeping valley, there are few better places to imagine waking up. The accommodation itself is simply marvellous, and guests can enjoy the indulgent facilities that each room offers –¬† suites and private casitas are both available. Throughout the property, there is a selection of antiques and artwork that have been carefully placed to evoke a sense of tranquility, and food served is from the haciendas very own garden, making this an extremely special place to stay in the Sacred Valley. Click here to read more about this hotel.
4. Tambo del Inka
This imposing hotel is a spectacular and yet charming option when visiting the Sacred Valley. Guests will be impressed with the spacious design, and contemporary artwork which can be found throughout. The property boasts a beautiful spa, full gym and pretty gardens, plus a restaurant which serves Andean inspired dishes. Each room is tastefully decorated and offers all the modern facilities of a new hotel. Click here to read more about this hotel.
5. Belmond Rio Sagrado 
With a wonderful location next to the Urubamba river, and a direct train link to the ruins of Machu Picchu, this hotel is hard to resist. Every room at the Belmond benefits from a view over the grounds and river, and many have private balconies. There is a peaceful onsite spa, an outdoor dining area, fire pit and the hotel even has its own pet alpacas which guests can feed twice a day! With every luxury one could ask for, this is a great option for a trip to the Sacred Valley. Click here to read more about this hotel.

Plan a tailor-made holiday to the Sacred Valley…

If you are interested in visiting this historic and tranquil part of Peru, let us put together a tailor made itinerary for you. Simply give us a call or fill out your details on our Contact Us page, and we will be in touch to help you plan the trip of a lifetime.

Blog post by Kim Mouncer
Product & Marketing Executive