South America Spotlight

Colca Canyon

Created by a vast geological fault, the Colca Canyon is thought to be the deepest canyon in the world measuring ...

Sacred Valley Holidays

Sacred Valley Travel


Tracing an astoundingly beautiful course from Cusco to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley encompasses the heartland of the ancient Inca Empire with the historic citadels of Pisac and Ollantaytambo standing guard over the opposite edges of this steep-sided river valley. Agriculturally exploited by the Incas, the fertile alluvial plain is fed by the Urubamba River, which passes the ancient villages of Calca and Yucay on its journey downstream to the Amazon.

Of all the ruins in Peru, Pisac and Ollantaytambo are perhaps the most evocative. Spectacularly stood on a mountain spur, the fortress of Pisac towers over the colonial village and affords magnificent panoramas across the valley. Centuries-old terraces are lined with rock-cut water ducts and steps and the Templo del Sol can rival anything at Machu Picchu. Constructed around a protrusion of volcanic rock, the temple is believed to have been used to calculate the changing of the season. Further north, the incredible ruins of Ollantaytambo are defended by giant, steep terraces with several stone storehouses built on the surrounding hills. Hemmed in by snow-capped mountains, Ollantaytambo is an awe-inspiring sight and one of the few existing examples of an Inca grid system.

Retaining a traditional Andean charm, the villages of Calca and Yucay line the road between Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The village of Calca is popular for the thermal baths located beneath the suspended glaciers of Mt. Sahuasiray. Late September and early October are a great time to visit when the village comes alive with local fiestas. Yucay is home to the exquisite stone walls of a ruined Inca palace with a number of Inca terraces nearby.

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