The Sacred Valley (Urubamba Valley), Peru
The Sacred Valley of the Incas, also known as the Urubamba Valley, is a valley in the Andean Mountains in Peru.
The Sacred Valley, or El Valle Sagrado was formed by the Urubamba River that runs through the area and is located north of the ancient Incan capital of Cusco. The area called the Sacred Valley encompasses the towns of Ollantaytambo, Urubama, Calca, Pisac and Chinchero. The proximity of the river, fertile plains and natural defences made this an ideal area of settlement for Quechua people and it was one of the last bastions of Incan culture before it was conquered by the Spanish.
To this day the area produces a lot of the crops that feed the nearby city of Cusco, but it is making an increasing amount of money from the tourist trade. Trips to Machu Picchu pass through this valley and locals have made a business out of selling everything from Quechuan cuisine to clothing/equipment needed to climb the mountains.
The area of the Sacred Valley is one of outstanding beauty and almost every point looks over a view like something out of Lord of the Rings (the good part, not the fiery hell part). I visited a couple of cottage industries while I was out there, drank some purple corn juice and generally just admired the views. My walk around Ollantaytambo was perhaps my favourite experience. The town has ancient Incan ruins, a small community feel and a landscape unlike anything I have seen anywhere else.
Although most of my hike to Machu Picchu took part in the Sacred Valley, the pictures below cover only the towns in the valley itself.
Travel Advice for Sikhs
Travelling around the valley is no problem at all. The Quechua people are darker skinned and the couple of weeks that I spent here almost made me forget that racism exists in the outside world. Seriously, its one of the few places in the world where the part of my brain that is constantly on alert for racism actually managed to switch off for a while.
That being said, when I tried to leave the area at Cusco airport, I did get taken away by the Police for questioning, had my bags searched, was almost forced to sign documents in another language and was probably one sentence, one punch or one slip up from being sent to prison. Yep, it was almost perfect.
San Pedro Market, Cusco
Main Square, Cusco, Peru
Nightfall, Cusco, Peru
Micro-locals, Sacred Valley, Peru
Lookout point, Sacred Valley, Peru
Chocolate factory, Urubamba, Peru
Views, Urubamba Valley, Peru
Inca, Ollantaytambo, Peru
British Sikh, born in the Midlands, based in London, travelling the world seeing new cultures.