Before describing our visit of the sacred valley, I wanted to make some confidences about how to get there and understand how the Peruvian touristic system organized itself so you don’t get lost. I wish I had more of these info before we did it as we would have done it differently… Anyway.
Below is the map of the valley:
The red area is the sacred valley along which flows the Urubamba river. This is the same river that is below the Machu Picchu site.
The blue area on the top left is the sacred area of Machu Picchu and the green area around Cusco is made of the sites we can visit walking straight from Cusco.
The three parts of the Sacred Valley
I would divide the valley into three distinct parts:
– A first part far enough from Cusco where a transport is required. In this area, you will find the following sites:
- Salinas de Maras
If you wish to visit all these sites, count on at least two days (depending how you do it) and don’t forget a guide otherwise they won’t mean anything.
– A second part around Cusco that you can reach just by walking from the center of Cusco and climb the north east hill side of Cusco. It is as well a good way to acclimate yourself if you then spend some times in Bolivia. Count on a good walking day. Dont forget your water, a hat and some warm clothes as once the sun goes down, it gets pretty cold.
The sites in this area are:
- Puka Pukara
– Finally the last part of the sacred valley is Machu Picchu and most of the information has been already given in this post here.
How much does it cost?
In Perou, the tourism systems are quite well establish but not really understandable on first approach.
The ticket for Machu Picchu can be bought online here. It is only valid for a specific day and allows only one entry. This ticket doesn’t allow you to enter other sites of the sacred valley. If you want to climb Machu Picchu mountain or Huyana Picchu, you will need to decide the day you buy the ticket as it will be part of Machu Picchu ticket. Be careful, entry to Huyana Picchu are limited and fills up quite quickly.
Don’t forget to present your passport once at the gate of MP, otherwise they won’t let you in.
Tickets cost (July 2013) are:
– Machu Picchu only : 128 Soles (46$ US)
– Machu Picchu & museum : 150 Soles (54$ US)
– Machu PIcchu & Huyana Picchu : 152 Soles (54.5$ US)
– Machu PIcchu & Machupicchu Montana : 142 Soles (51$ US)
Price are fixed so don’t try to bargain, you may look like stupid. If you buy a package through an agency, be careful, they may charge you a commission on the cost of the ticket.
Please note that if you pay by credit card (either online or at the ministery of culture) you will pay a commission of 2.6% on top of the ticket price.
The smart way…
It depends: If you go during the high season, you will no choice than to book and pay online as sometimes there is no spot to access MachuPicchu before a month… Today, the 7th of July, you can’t access Huyana Picchu until the 31 of July…
If you go in low season, you may buy it once you arrive in Cusco. You book it online and go to pay by cash at the office or in any official agency. You will find the adress in the help section of the official web site here.
The other parts of the sacred valley
To access the sacred valley, things get a little more complicated. Indeed you have the choice between differents tickets.
First you can buy the whole ticket which gives you access the to all the sites of the sacred valley (10 sites) (doesn’t include Machupicchu) plus 6 museums in Cusco (they are not all so great)
This FULL ticket costs (July 13) 130 Soles so around 46,5$ US
Below is the list of museum you can visit in Cusco with this ticket :
- The popular art museum
- Qoricancha site museum.
- Qosqo native art museum
- Pachacuteq monument.
- Regional history muséum
- Contemporary art muséum
If you don’t have much time and won’t be able to visit all the sites or if you are on a tight budget, you have the possibility to buy a partial ticket. There, it gets even more complicated as you need to choose between 3 tickets giving you access to different part of the sacred valley. This partial ticket costs 70 Soles or 25$ US.
The three different tickets are:
– A first ticket that includes only the sites around Cusco:
- Puka Pukara
– A second ticket that includes only Cusco public museum. I fully advise NOT to buy this ticket. (By the way, we consider that the best museum in Cusco may be La Casa Concha which relates about the Machu Picchu discovery and history)
– Finally, a third ticket that includes only 4 remotes sites:
What about if I am a student?
Good news for you. If you are less than 25 years old and can show your ISIC card when buying your ticket, you will have 50% discount on either Machu Picchu ticket and the sacred valley ticket. To get more info, you can go to this official Peruvian site: http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/items/estudiantes.html
How to get there?
To reach Machu Picchu without blowing your budget you can find information on the post written by Jacques&caro here.
To reach the sacred valley parts, different options:
– Cusco museums are accessible walking from your hotel.
– The sites closed to Cusco can be reached as well by foot or by taking local microbus.
– The remote sites can be reached by:
- by car if you rent one. In that case, it is nice to combine this with a night outisde cusco in the valley. This option is really interesting if you have a large budget. (It was not for us)
- By booking an tourist tour including a guide. This costs only 20 Soles or 7$ US. The downside of this option is that you will cover only two or three sites. This is probably a good option if you buy the partial ticket including the remote sites. You can book this through any tourist agencies in Cusco.
- Finally the latest option, which will take more time is to take your backpack and travel using the local bus. This is definitely the cheapest option but as well the one requiring more time. If we had prepared a bit better our trip in Cusco and therefore had more time we would have done it.
- Day 1: Leave Cusco to reach Moray village. The Inca site is outside the village and you would need to walk. When your visit is completed catch the local bus to Ollantaytambo where you will visit the site and sleep at the village
- Day 2: Catch the bus from Ollantaytambo to Chinchero. Visit the Chinchero Inca church. If you are there a sunday, there is a good local market to visit. You can then go back to Cusco.
- Day 3: Catch the bus to Pisaq and spend the morning there. From there you can either go back to Cusco or go to Pikillaqta site.
- Day 4: Walk straight from Cusco for the entire day to visit the closest sites.
If you have any comments, recommendations you want me to add or something incorrect, don’t hesitate to contact us or leave a comment.
Blog you soon,