Sacred Valley

Whilst Cusco was a bit of a culture shock for us (after the relatively chilled out attitude to tourism in Bolivia), the Sacred Valley was much more relaxed. We stayed in Ollantaytambo for a few days and enjoyed free ruins, cute cafes and delicious food as well as side trips to the salineras and Moray agricultural terraces. It was a lovely respite from the crowds at Machu Picchu and the touts in Cusco.

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See also our photos from Machu Picchu and visitors’ guide.

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A postcard from the Salineras in Maras, Peru

The Incas receive so much praise and attention around Cusco that people often forget that they weren’t the only clever ones. A visit to the Salineras in the Sacred Valley is a good reminder of this. Long before the Incas, the people of this region diverted the flow of salty water from an underground stream into shallow pools that evaporate in the sun and leave salt behind. These pools are separated into terraces along a hill in an impressive and photogenic bit of engineering. At the site you can touch the water, even lick it if you’re so inclined. It’s salty (duh). Be careful not to fall in (Rosie almost did).

Cost: 7 soles

How to get there:

There are a few ways to get to the Salineras. The easiest, but most expensive, is to take a taxi from Cusco or Ollantaytambo. Be sure to negotiate the price beforehand. It’s a good idea to include a visit to the agricultural terraces of Moray in the same trip.

Another option is to go with a tour group (tours leave from both Ollantaytambo and Cusco). A half day tour from Cusco costs about 12 soles. There are also horseback and cycling tours available.

There is also public transport from Urubamba, but you will still have to hike from Maras, or the intersection of Urubamba and Ollantaytambo.