6 Adventures In Peru's Sacred Valley (Besides Inca Ruins)
Peru’s Sacred Valley is a dream destination for spiritual seekers and adventurers looking for a deep connection to Pachamama and the bounty of nature. A good way to visualize the Sacred Valley is the area between Cusco and Machu Picchu. The geography features winding mountains and valleys and numerous ruins from the vast Inca empire. The culture and sacred sites are so well preserved that it is easy to feel what life might have been like hundreds of years ago, living off the land and without the influence of modern society.
I spent 3 weeks in the Sacred Valley and some of the most surreal and life changing moments of my life were on Peruvian soil.
6 Adventures In Peru’s Sacred Valley
Stay at the Skylodge Adventure Suites
How comfortable are you with sleeping in a transparent capsule that hangs on the top of a mountain? How about the 400-ft vertical rock climb to get there and the zipline back down? The Skylodge Adventure Suites by Natura Vive is not for the faint of heart, and is one of my most adrenaline-filled experiences to date! Opened in 2013, the skylodge is the first of its kind and a completely unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Read all about what to expect, and see my photos from the journey here!
Go to the Sunday Market in Pisac
The colorful village of Pisac sits at just under 10,000 ft and is best known for its ruins and market, especially on Sundays when indigenous Quechua makers come from the surrounding areas to stock up on supplies and sell their work. You can find authentic gifts for everyone including yourself at the Pisac market - think jewelry, weavings, ceramics, Andean instruments, and alpaca goods - but be aware that it is a tourist spot and not all vendors value integrity. It’s a good idea to talk to whomever you buy from and get to know them and their relationship to what they are offering for sale! It is also customary to expect to pay if you want to take photos of local people.
Explore Maras Salt Mines
Image by Annees de Pelerinage
Anything hidden is automatically fun, right? Located just a few miles from my fairytale accommodation, Willka T’ika, lies the ancient Maras Salt Mines that have been in use for over a thousand years. The salt flats stack on steep mountainsides, and getting there is an adventure in itself. You can walk or drive, but you won’t see the salt from the road. Check out this detailed article on how to get there and what to expect. What’s really special is that no modern technology has ever been used to mine the salt here, and it continues to supply the surrounding area.
White Water Raft The Urubamba River
White water rafting the Urubamba River and getting to see and hear about the various Inca trails to Machu Picchu from down below in the valley was an awesome experience. I stayed in the Sacred Valley for a few days before my trek to Machu Picchu, and floating down the river was my first glimpse at other travelers hiking the same trail I would a few days later. We also looked up at just the right time and saw the Skylodge that we’d conquer the next week. We took on some level 3 rapids, and got to jump off a bridge into the river!
Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary
Just outside of Pisac we found the Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary, and had an amazing afternoon learning about the native species like the Andean condor, llamas, alpacas, and pumas. The center is family owned and their mission is to provide care and relief to any animals that are mistreated or at risk, and to educate the local youth on wildlife conservation. There’s also a high-end store with handmade goods nearby.
I hate to have visiting a city technically outside the Sacred Valley on this list, but the truth is I didn’t get near enough time in Cusco after all of my adventures to justify its own post. Cusco is one of the safest cities in all of South America and has a unique charm. I especially enjoyed my time in the San Blas neighborhood, which is filled with cafes and shopping and feels a bit like walking around Europe. Do yourself a favor and take a yoga class at The Yoga Room!