5 Must See Ruins in the Sacred Valley of Peru
Everyone goes to Peru to see the Incan Ruins of Machu Picchu, but did you know there are many more famous ruins in the Cusco area?
I volunteered in Cusco, Peru and every day after working I took the local bus to a different Inca ruin. They are easily accessible by bus or taxi, but you can also book a tour to take you through the ruins of the Sacred Valley.
These are the 5 must-visit Incan ruins in the Cusco area:
Saqsayhuamán is located inside the city of Cusco.
These ruins were featured on the TV show Ancient Aliens because of the 7-8 corner stones in the walls of the ruins. They believe the Incans used alien technology to carve the stones to perfectly puzzle themselves together. However these stones were made, the ruins are so well preserved you can picture the ancient people walking through the halls.
Pisaq is the closest neighboring city to Cusco.
Try to visit on Sunday when their local market is at its best. The hillside terraces were once used for agricultural purposes but now they are protected ruins of a national park.
This ruin is a top contender with Saqsayhuamán.
You have probably see photos of this ruin before, but it is 100 times more awe inspiring in person. It is incredibly deep and much larger than you can perceive from any photo. And the views are incredible.
Irrigation was mastered in this ancient city.
Ancient brick waterways directed the water flow straight to the agricultural fields and into fountains for the city dwellers. If you hike the hill to the top, you will find more ruins of a sun temple and the king’s home. And of course the king, being a king and all, would need his own personal fountain inside his home!
5. Machu Picchu
The most famous ruin of them all.
It is most famous because it is so well preserved. My trip included a tour guide through this ancient city. He knew so much about Machu Picchu! I wasn’t expecting to learn so much. Make sure you find a tour guide before entering! It is definitely worth it!
Travel Tips for Peru, Cusco and the Sacred Valley
If you plan to see the ruins throughout the Sacred Valley, be sure to purchase a tourist pass. It includes admission to all of these ruins (except Machu Picchu) and includes museum and cathedral admissions as well! You can pick one up at the first ruin you visit.
If you plan to take a volunteer trip through Cusco, Peru, I highly suggest using the company I went through: Maximo Nivel. They also put my travels to Machu Picchu together for me!
Maximo Nivel provides high quality, affordable study abroad programs in Latin America. Their programs in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru include Spanish immersion, volunteering options, international internships, semester abroad options and other inspiring adventure and culture programs.
Peru is known by tourists mainly because of the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu, high in the Andes mountains. However, this diverse South American country is also home to a section of Amazon rain forest and the region around Machu Picchu, including the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail and colonial city of Cusco, is rich in archaeological sites.
On Peru’s Pacific coast you find Lima, the country’s capital, with a preserved colonial center and important collections of pre-Columbian art.
Peru is a country that has a diversity and wealth not common in the world. Most Peruvians are great nationalists and love their country with pride. The country’s gastronomy, its colonial architecture, and its natural resources (a paradise for ecological tourism) make Peru well worth visiting.
If you are thinking about traveling to Peru I recommend checking STA Travel and Intrepid Travel who both offer a wide range of tours in Peru to make the most of your trip. With STA Travel also check if you qualify for any of their discount cards!
Safe Travels! Come back and tell us how your ancient Inca adventures were!
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