Moray - Sacred Valley

One Day in Peru’s Sacred Valley

Perus Sacred Valley - Pinterest Image

Most people visit Peru with one attraction in mind: Machu Picchu. We were those people, too! But, now that we’ve been there, we know the Sacred Valley is full of other ruins and attractions that you must see.

Moray Ruins - Sacred Valley - Peru

We visited Peru with a group of our friends using Gate 1 Travel company. With the help of our guide, we put together this awesome one-day Sacred Valley itinerary.

This schedule will definitely keep you busy and you’ll need a driver unless you’re very adventurous. We’ve done road trips in many other countries including Ireland and Curaçao, but some of the roads in Peru were the windiest we’ve seen!

RECOMMENDATION: Following advice from many reviewers on TripAdvisor, we hired Percy Salas as our driver for our day tour around the Sacred Valley. We seriously can’t recommend him enough! You can contact him by email at smunditur@hotmail.com.

NOTE: We had a group of five of us on our tour. I wouldn’t recommend more than that in the van, especially if you have guys with long legs! The vehicle could probably fit two more people but it would be pretty tight!

Our Sacred Valley Itinerary

First Stop: Chincero Weaving Center

Percy picked us up at our Cusco hotel at 8:00am and we got on the road toward the town of Chincero. The drive to this first stop is about 40-45 minutes.

At the weaving center, the Chincero women explain the traditional weaving process of cleaning the wool, dying the yarn, and creating the textiles. The demonstration takes about 15 minutes.

Chincero Weaving Center

The Chincero textiles resemble the rainbow and it was neat to see how they create the different colors. They make the dyes from all sorts of items including fruits, vegetables, roots, even bugs!

Chincero Weaving Center - Yarn

Once you’ve watched the demonstration, you’ll have a few minutes to shop the finished products which include blankets, scarves, sweaters, mittens, and more. We didn’t purchase anything and there wasn’t any pressure, but we did leave a tip for the woman who gave our demonstration.

Second Stop: Maras Salt Mines

Our next stop was about a 40 minute ride from Chincero. There is an entrance fee of 7 soles per person, but it is definitely worth it!  After the entrance, you’ll still have quite a windy road before you reach the actual site. From here, you’ll be able to see the salt mines in the distance.

NOTE: You can only pay in soles at the Maras salt mines. They do not accept any other form of payment.

Maras Salt Mines - View from Above - Sacred Valley

The Maras Salt Mines are such a unique site. They’re unlike anything we’ve seen before! The salt forms from an underground hypersaline spring. The pools are believed to have been built back in the 1400s and there are approximately 3,000 of them.

Maras Salt Mines - Sacred Valley

Another reason you’ll want a tour guide with you on this day trip is so you can learn about the history of each site. Percy explained that the salt mines are harvested by hand. For those who own the salt mines at the very bottom, they have to hike down, harvest the pools, and then carry the very-heavy bags of salt all the way back to the top!

Maras Salt Pans - Sacred Valley

Boleto Turistico

The Boleto Turistico is a tourist pass that you’ll need to visit certain sites in Peru. There are several different options depending on how many attractions you’ll be visiting.

NOTE: The full pass covers 16 sites and costs 130 soles. Sites included in this pass include Moray (the next stop on this itinerary) and Sacsayhuamán (also on our tour) and the pass is good for 10 days. There are also partial passes if you are only going to a few of the sites. You can learn more about the passes on TripAdvisor.

Third Stop: Moray

The Moray agricultural terraces are only about a 15 minute drive from Maras (once you get back up the windy road to the entrance of the salt mines).

Moray Ruins - Sacred Valley - View From Above

Although the purpose of the terraces is not for certain, Percy explained that it’s believed the structure served as experimental farmlands. Each of the circles is a slightly different altitude and the temperature changes as you climb higher up the structure. The difference in temperature from the bottom to the top is about 15°C (27°F). In this way, the Incas could have tested various plants and the altitude in which they grow best.

Moray Ruins - Sacred Valley

Besides the one very large terrace, there are also two other smaller circular terraces at Moray. Some parts of the two smaller terraces are currently undergoing reconstruction.

Moray Ruins - Sacred Valley - Reconstruction

Fourth Stop: Ollantaytambo

While Machu Picchu gets most of the hype in Peru, Ollantaytambo (in our opinion) is just as incredible. Perhaps the best part about these Incan ruins is the much lighter crowd at this site.

This fortress sits on the hill above the town of Ollantaytambo near the Urubamba River.

Ollantaytambo - Sacred Valley

Climbing Ollantaytambo is actually a lot more difficult than climbing Machu Picchu! The steps are a lot steeper and it is very windy so you need to be careful near the edges of the structure!

Ollantaytambo - Peru - Sacred Valley

Fifth Stop: Awana Kancha Alpaca Farm

The Awana Kancha Alpaca Farm was a fun attraction near the end of our long day tour. The alpaca farm is about 30 minutes outside of Cusco, so it’s a good stop on the way back from your Sacred Valley tour.

Alpaca Farm - Peru - Sacred Valley

The alpaca farm is home to alpaca, llama and vicuña and there are baskets of grasses available near the pens so that you can feed them!

Awana Kacha Alpaca Farm - Peru - Sacred Valley

The llamas and alpacas are very friendly and we took turns feeding them.

Alpaca Farm - Tour Guide - Peru - Sacred Valley

Baby alpaca wool products are the softest (and most expensive) items you’ll buy in Peru.

We were surprised to learn that purchasing a “baby alpaca” item does not necessarily mean the wool came from a baby alpaca. Percy explained that baby alpaca wool comes from the very first time the alpaca is sheared. Of course, the alpaca is usually still pretty young but not necessarily a baby. These alpacas have very long wool by the time they get their first shear.

Baby Alpaca - Peru - Sacred Valley

NOTE: It is free to visit the Awana Kancha Alpaca Farm, but you should leave something in the tip box to help with upkeep of the facility. Purchasing an item from the gift shop also helps with funding the farm.

Sixth Stop: Sacsayhuamán

We made it to this stop at the very end of a long day, just before it closed. The fortress ruins are very close to Cusco so it’s a good stop to make at the beginning or end of a day.

Sacsayhuamán - Peru - Cusco

This site is very crowded, unlike many of the other stops on our day tour. This is probably because of its close proximity to Cusco making it an easy tourist destination (unlike some of the other places we went that are much farther outside the city). Also, tour buses have easy access to this site so you will see many large tour groups.

Sacsayhuamán - Cusco - Peru

 

Relax and drink a Pisco Sour!

We hope you enjoy this day tour as much as we did! Of course, if you have more time in Cusco, we’d highly recommend visiting some of the other sites that we missed. Your Boleto Turistico covers entry into a variety of other sites that aren’t on this itinerary. We would have loved to check out Qenko, Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, and more, but simply didn’t have the time!

Have you been to the Sacred Valley? What was your favorite spot?

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11 thoughts on “One Day in Peru’s Sacred Valley

  1. Wow! Peru is so gorgeous! Those pictures are breath-taking!! I so have to go…. But I am afraid I won’t want to leave! I love gorgeous nature.

    1. Peru really is breathtaking and it’s like that everywhere you go within the country! We didn’t want to leave either! 🙂

  2. Hello,
    My daughter and I will be in Peru in June. We have reserved two full days for the tour of Sacred Valley. I saw your recommendation for Percy Salas. I sent him an email. I hope I hear back from him.
    Could you give me your recommendation for two-day tour based on your experiences?
    Thank you.
    Anna

    1. Hi Anna! Percy is one of the best and most thorough tour guides we’ve had while traveling so you’ll definitely be in good hands if you go with him. He provides multi-day tours and will also give recommendations for you on what to do each day of the tour! Give him a few days to respond- I remember it took him 3 days to get back to me when I first contacted him 🙂

  3. Do you did all of these things in one day? I’m just trying to figure out how many days to spend in Cusco. What do you recommend?

    1. We did do all of these in one day. However, if you have more time to spend, we would recommend it! We certainly were going nonstop and didn’t get a ton of time at each location.

    1. Hi Judy, We paid $35 per person, but it would likely depend how many people you have, the locations you are visiting, and how long you will have him as your guide. We also provided a substantial tip because in our opinion he was well worth more than $35 per person! 🙂

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