VALLEY OF THE URUBAMBA
Through the Sacred Valley of the Incas courses the River Urubamba. To the Incas, it echoed the shape of the Milkyway up in the Heavens. It brought fertility and life to the valley, supplying their capital with all its needs. Several towns are dotted along its course and in the hills which separate it from Cuzco. Many of these continue their traditional ways, despite the advent of what nears mass tourism -- for the market in the town of Pisac particularly.
The townsfolk often wear their traditional and colourful garb, and it's easy to head off the beaten path to a world seemingly light-years away from the 21st century.
Chinchero is a small town, about halfway from Cuzco to the bottom of the valley. It boasts a lovely painted colonial church and some nice ruins. Local artisans and people lay out their crafts and textiles on the main square, and there's a friendly, homely feel to the place.
Strategically placed on the banks of the Urubamba, the town of Pisac is another little gem. It's famous for its Sunday market, which smothers the entire square and surrounding streets. Pisac also has some fantastic ruins, perched on the hills above, with stunning views up and down the valley from their eerie.
Further down the valley, the old Inca town of Ollantaytambo also boasts impressive ruins on a hill dominating the houses below. The streets in much of the town are still laid out according to the Incas' original design, huge trapezoidal stone doors giving onto small family unit squares, where the temptation to take a peek at the locals' quotidian life is hard to resist. It's a lovely place to spend a few days, exploring the town, its very good local museum, and going for walks in the surrounding hills.
Chinchero photos >
Pisac photos >
Ollantaytambo photos >