Maras salt pans in Peru

The eight best experiences on a luxury tour through The Sacred Valley, Peru

It’s earnt the name.

Snaking its way through the Andean foothills, Peru’s Sacred Valley was long the epicentre of the Inca Empire. Today – between Cusco and Machu Picchu – remains one of Peru’s most breathtakingly beautiful regions. A place where alpacas run wild, hiking routes wrap around mountain peaks and ancient Inca ruins dominate the landscape. Naturally, there’s a Sacred Valley tour for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, culture vulture, foodie lover or adventure seeker, these are our top eight experiences to do on a Sacred Valley itinerary. If you’re going to explore one place in Peru, this most certainly is it.

Machu Picchu Inca ruins

1. Tour Machu Picchu with Dr. Decoster, Incan expert and Professor of Anthropology

We’ll start with the obvious. Shrouded in mistand mysterythe UNESCO-inscribed fortress dates way back to the 15th century and in 2007 earned its well-deserved place on the New Seven Wonders of the World list. Alongside one of our most passionate guides, and Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Jean-Jacques Decoster, you’ll uncover the ancient ruins and complex history of the Inca Empire in a way few people have experienced. This is your chance to ask Dr. Decoster anything and everything about Machu Picchu, so don’t be shy. 

Read more: After exploring Peru’s iconic ruins, cross over to Iguaçu Falls on this landscape-loving tour of Brazil and Peru.

2. Discover what makes the salt-crusted ponds of Maras so colourful

Cascading down a hillside 40km north of Cusco is one of Peru’s lesser-known, but spectacular sites. Think an Indonesian rice terrace but in the form of salt. Farmed and left by the Incas many moons ago, most of the 5,000 salt ponds in Maras have now been allocated to local families who continue to nurture, harvest and sell the salt on. With a local guide, you’ll discover the role of evaporation in the harvesting process and why some crystals appear white, some pink and some orange. A photographer’s dream, sit high above the trickling pools and listen on as the wind carries water from terrace to terrace. 

Read more: A short drive later and you’ll stumble upon the hypnotic, circular Incan terraces of Moray.

Potatoes in Peru

3. Meet Peru’s potato whisperer: Manuel Choqque

Today we’ll arrange a visit to a native potato farm in the Andean Highlands of Chinchero. Keep reading; it’s more exciting than it sounds. A fourth-generation potato farmer, and award-winning agricultural producer, Manuel Choqque will lead you around his fruitful farm, teaching you everything there is to know about Peruvian agriculture. Find some multiple deformed tubers, a twisted potato indigenous to the area, and Manuel will slice it up to reveal a spectrum of violet and golden hues inside – perfect for that Instagram shot. 

Read more: After some time in the field, taste Choqque’s renowned Oca tuber wines; Misky Oca.

4. Get a glimpse into one of the country’s oldest, most sacred traditions

An Andean tradition dating back hundreds of years; today you’ll give thanks to ‘Pachamama’ in a special Pago a la Tierra ceremony. In Incan mythology, Pachamama, or Mother Earth to you and I, is the fertility goddess and is said to bring rain, harvest land for farmers, cause earthquakes and ultimately control life on earth. So, led by a local shamam, you’ll get an insight into the ancient tradition, offering grains, fruit and coca leaves to Pachamama.

Read more: Head out on a guided hike through the Inca ruins of Chachabamba, taking in all the valley views.

You've got my attention

Inca ruins, salt pools, potato farms and Pachamama ceremonies; this is only the beginning. Keep scrolling to reveal more Sacred Valley tours or explore all of our Peruvian adventures.


5. Feast on a Peruvian meal at Ani’s house in Urubamba

Tonight, you’ll travel to a hidden villa deep in the Sacred Valley for an utterly exclusive and authentic dinner with one of our good friends, Ani Corpancho. Having lived and thrived in the Sacred Valley her whole life, you’ll get the chance to quiz Ani on all things Peru, as she whips up tasty Incan dishes using local ingredients. Lying next to the Urubamba River, as the foodie fumes waft through the villa, sit back and admire the breathtaking view of Pitusiray Sacred Mountain before tucking in. A true feast for all the senses. 

Read more: Before leaving the Sacred Valley, take a private tasting tour of Destilerias Andinas pisco distillery.

6. Feel at one with nature at Sol y Luna Hotel

Leading in the fight for sustainability and eco-initiatives, Sol y Luna in Urubamba is one of our favourite hotels in Peru. Framed by tropical, glowing gardens and rising Andean peaks, the cosy casitas at Sol y Luna are the perfect place to rest up and lay back after a day exploring the valley with a guide. In the pool, listen to hummingbirds sing, bumblebees buzz and birds flap above you before visiting their on-site school, built in 2010 in a bid to give back to the children of the Sacred Valley.

Read more: It’s not just Sol y Luna that’s on our list of top luxury hotels in Peru. Check out the other nine here. 

Sol y Luna, Peru

7. Bicycle through the Urubamba Valley to Huaypo’s blue lagoon

Beginning at Chinchero and ending at the waters of Lake Huaypo, with a private guide you’ll head out for a three-hour bike ride through Urubamba Valley. As you ride through breathtaking landscapes filled with cornfields, potato farms and majestic mountains, you’ll soon wind up at Huaypo Lake. Upon arriving at the gorgeous lagoon perched on the Andean peaks, you’ll feel as though you’ve reached paradise; so sit back, relax and watch the reflection of mountains in the piercing blue water. 

Read more: Just say the word and upon your arrival at Huaypo Lake, we’ll set up a private camping experience on the waters edge.

8. Get your taste buds tingling with Michelin-starred chef, Virgilio Martinez

We’ve teamed up with our good friend, and Michelin-starred chef, Virgilio Martínez to bring you a gourmet tour of the Sacred Valley. Owner of the fifth-best restaurant in the world, we hope you’ll trust our judgment on this one. From the marinating of raw fish for ceviche to the baking of bread in hot stone ovens, you’ll learn just how Peru’s traditional Andean dishes have become so popular by the side of a gastronomy expert – something many only dream of. Next up on the menu; a seven-course degustation at Virgilio’s new Mil restaurant in Moray and an exclusive tour led by Virgilio himself around his fascinating research centre next door, Mater Iniciativa.

Read more: As part of our Peru Tasting Notes itinerary, next on the menu is a traditional cooking class in Cusco.

Passionate about Peru?

A Sacred Valley tour in Peru will teach you the ways of the Inca Empire; from uncovering the ruins of Machu Picchu to giving thanks to Pachamama deep in the Andes. Speak to us today to start planning your perfect Sacred Valley itinerary.