The Sacred Valley, with its fascinating Incan history and lush landscapes, is opening up more and more to the global tourism. As its name might suggest, the Sacred Valley has always been a very special place. Sitting lower than the city of Cusco, it has a much milder climate and is friendlier to visitors that are not used to higher altitudes. But, not only is it s pleasant and beautiful place, it is also full of history and culture. Communities and historical sites are scattered throughout the whole valley.
Tucked under the tawny skirts of formidable foothills, the beautiful Río Urubamba Valley, known as El Valle Sagrado (the Sacred Valley), is about 15km north of Cuzco as the condor flies, via a narrow road of hairpin turns. It’s worth exploring this peaceful, fetching corner of the Andes with attractive colonial towns and isolated weaving villages. Star attractions are the world-known Machu Picchu, the markets and the lofty Inca citadels of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, etc., but it’s also packed with other Inca sites. Its myriad trekking routes are deservedly gaining in popularity. Adrenaline activities range from rafting to rock climbing.
Tranquillity is the name of the game here, after all! The only sounds you’ll hear are birdsong, and the rhythm of flowing water.
However the Sacred Valley gets its name not from religious mythology but from its agricultural and cultural richness. Here, petite Andinas (women of the Andes) wear intricately patterned skirts in saturated hues, wide-brimmed ornamental hats, and thick braids. Men work primarily in construction or as shepherds, guiding flocks of fluffy llamas and alpacas through the region’s rugged terrain as it morphs from snowcapped mountains to altiplano (“high plains”) to Andean jungle. The only thing in the shepherds’ path is the odd Inca ruin here or there. There are many, from the experimental farming terraces of Moray to the hilltop temples of Písac.
Sol y Luna opened its hotel in the breathtaking Sacred Valley area next to Urubamba in 2000; it’s one of the area’s most inspirational projects that combines philanthropy with exceptional service. As part of the Sacred Valley, they invest in the development of this community through a straightforward, sustainable model. They offer Sol y Luna hotel guests these unforgettable, authentic experiences among the adrenaline-charged adventures and unique cultural life of the Valley, because traveling at its best not only moves people from one place to another, but also creates opportunities that open hearts in ways that can change many lives in the process.
Sol y Luna offers the perfect access for exploring the epic Machu Picchu and other historic sites and local cultures. Machu Picchu was discovered over 100 years ago, but archaeologists are still trying to solve the mystery of its purpose. If mysteries were ranked, it would be on the top of the list for sure. This Incan site, destination for millions of tourists, archaeologists and researchers each year, is one of the biggest enigmas of Incan culture. Its mesmerizing view has prompted hundreds of unanswered questions about this civilization. Must see at least once in a lifetime!
This family-owned hotel is actively improving the future for some of the world’s poorest children in Peru. Non- profit civil institution fully financed with the hotel’s profits plus voluntary contribution of guests, friends and benefactors, the Sol y Luna Association supports the Sol y Luna Intercultural School and four foster homes for students from highland communities, and generates training and sustainable employment for members of the community.
Make yourself at home in one of the 43 casitas featuring iPod docking stations and minibars. Peruvian textiles and some of most interesting Sacred Valley artifacts, Spanish colonial style furniture, a plump king size bed or two double beds made with goose feather duvets and top quality Peruvian pima cotton sheets, and a spacious marble bathroom with deep soak bathtub, just as you might have at home! Your memory foam bed comes with down comforters. Within each private sanctuary there is an outdoor terrace surrounded by gardens filled with flora native to the Sacred Valley and all face the Andes Mountains where the Incas believed their gods dwelled. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available to keep you connected.
Pamper yourself with a visit to the intimate Yacu Wasi spa, which offers holistic relaxation with body treatments and facials. Native healing meets modern pampering as internationally trained therapists deliver rejuvenating massage, facial and hydrotherapy treatments incorporating organic, locally grown Andean plants and herbs. In order to catch nirvana between invigorating adventures around the Sacred Valley and excursions to Machu Picchu we really recommend to go with the signature spa package Andean Experience. Water remains as essential to our lives as it was for the Incas who revered a water god among their pantheon. This complete immersion in the hotel’s hydrotherapy facilities begins with a 15-minute dry sauna and 15-minute steam bath, followed by a 60-minute essential oil massage, a 40-minute therapeutic soak in the whirlpool bath and a glass of wine.
If you’re looking for recreational opportunities, you’ll find a health club, an outdoor heated pool with jacuzzi, and a sauna. The aromatic Andean herbal infused sauna offer two distinct ways to unwind. Both feel priceless yet are each complimentary for all Sol y Luna guests.
Grab a bite to eat or have a romantic dinner at one of the hotel’s fine restaurants. You can choose from Killa Wasi which contemporary interpretations of Sacred Valley’s rustic culinary traditions and refined Cusqueña cuisine incorporate the produce of the hotel’s organic farming neighbours as well as the chef’s discoveries in the Peruvian jungles and along the Amazon. We recommend to try Andean trout, grass fed beef, the signature crispy guinea pig with Maras salt potatoes and uchucuta salsa, a very local delicacy that we found surprisingly delicious!
Another restaurant is Wayra situated on a ranch with a beautiful terrace and charming indoor atmosphere with a fireplace, Peruvian art details, cosy lounge zone and a bar. Wayra offers seasonal dishes that cannot quite be contained by a single cooking style. At breakfast, lunch and dinner, Chef Nacho’s dishes honour the Andean ingredients grown by local farmers whom they know personally and highlight the rich, varied flavours of the Sacred Valley by cooking with traditional wood burning ovens.
We very much enjoyed our degustation lunch here followed by the breath-taking Peruvian Paso horse riding demonstrations. The Spanish Conquistadors did more than defeat the Incas in the 16th Century. They sowed the seeds for the evolution of a unique breed of horse, the Peruvian Paso Horse, which is often referred to today as the «smoothest ride in the world». Sol y Luna demonstrates the grace and beauty of these beautiful creatures, and it’s definitely must to see!
Tranquillity is the name of the game here, after all! The only sounds you’ll hear are birdsong, and the rhythm of flowing water. Careful you don’t miss your dinner reservation; once you recline on your terrace’s plush chaise, recovering from jet lag or a hike to Machu Picchu (or both) you’ll likely drift off into dreamland.