‘Once you’ve seen one Inca ruin you’ve seen them all’, is simply not true. They are all unique, incredible feats of engineering, and each one has something different to offer the inquisitive visitor.
The Sacred Valley of the Río Urubamba is situated about 15km north of Cuzco – as the condor flies. Its star attractions are the lofty Inca citadels of Pisac Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo.
It’s not hard to succumb to the charms of sunny Pisac (elevation 2715m), a bustling colonial village just 33km northeast of Cuzco at the base of a spectacular Inca fortress perched on a mountain spur. The laid back attitude of this delightful village is a welcome break from Cusco. The Inca citadel lies high above the village on a plateau with a plunging gorge on either side. It’s a steep 4km hike to get there but once you do it’s a jaw dropping experience.
In Urubamba (elevation 2870m), the nearby amphitheater-like terraces of Moray and salt mines of Salinas, where thousands of salt pans have been harvested since Inca times, are breathtaking places to visit. Very few tourists make it here thus providing an extremely peaceful and thought provoking visit
Tiny Ollantaytambo (elevation 2800m) is the best surviving example of Inca city planning and the most atmospheric of Sacred Valley destinations. Its massive fortress stands sentinel over the cobblestoned village like a guardian against the heavens.
Next stage: Cusco to collect replacement camera. Then to Arequipa, and Colca Canyon.