When in Peru, no visit to Cusco is complete without time in the nearby area of the Sacred Valley (Valle Sagrado). With Inca fortresses and ruins, bustling local markets, stunning countryside and small pueblos of indigenous communities, the Sacred Valley is just outside of Cusco, but feels worlds apart.
This picture was taken during a visit to a local community, which is a highlight of our Urban Adventures Sacred Valley tour. On this particular day, we visited the Chincheros community and learned about the process of harvesting grain and local produce, including potatoes, quinoa and barley. But depending on the season and the activities during our visit, instead of learning to harvest, we might fish, cook, help with repairs or even play football (soccer) with the community and local kids!
In this photo, our host, Macario, looks contemplative and serene, but moments later, he was focused on the work of teaching us to use the hoz (sickle) to harvest the barley, and then laughing at our futile attempts to mimic his clean strokes.
Many of the typical tours that visit the Sacred Valley focus on the traditional markets and archaeological sites in Pisac and Ollantaytambo, whereas with Urban Adventures, we combine visits to the markets and ruins of the Sacred Valley with a visit to a local community to experience their daily life. Lunch in the community is included, and many will remember their first taste of cuy (guinea pig) as one of their more memorable moments!
The bright colours of the hat (chuyo) and scarf that Macario wears in this photo are typical of the weaving in the Sacred Valley, and while there is never pressure to buy, many visitors find themselves taking home a hat, scarf or other woven goods, which is not only a nice souvenir but a great way to help give additional income to the local people that we visit.
Only a short trip from Cusco, the full-day adventure to the Sacred Valley is a great way both to see the highlights of the Sacred Valley and to go beyond the typical tourist highlights to see a slice of the local lifestyle and the beautiful scenery. The Sacred Valley can also be visited on a day trip from Cusco or en route to Peru’s star attraction of Machu Picchu.