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We went to Cuzco (overnight), Pisaq/c, Chincherro, Ollyatombo (over night), Moray, and Salinas in the 2 days before Machu Picchu. I can’t stress enough how magnificent it is here. So many times we were silenced by it’s awe-inspiring landscape. Look people, it was like having a long orgasm everytime you saw something amazing…. which happened everytime we took two steps. YES. THAT gorgeous! We agreed that we were glad we did it before Machu Picchu to get acclimated to the weather and build up to the spectacular views there.  You can buy a boleto touristico, which is a 2 day pass (depending on your trip) for 70 soles ($23usd) and it covers most of the entry fees to popular sites in the SV. They have other options if you’re spending more time there.

Another great part about this area is being able to see the women in traditional Andean garb. Sure, there are the ones carrying a lamb or a lama decked out like it’s 1999- Andean style for pictures, but there are also women who are wearing what they wear because… well, that’s what they rock. The area is full of small Andean villages and is considered a very safe area compared to Lima. It’s also where I spent 10 minutes trying to convince a lady to sell me a belt for 50 cents less then she wanted. Shameful? Totally!

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Three areas that you must visit in the Sacred Valley:

Pisaq (pictured): The city of Pisaq isn’t the most exciting place to be. They have a fairly sizeable market which does get more festive on Sundays (so i hear), but one good reason to visit Pisaq is their ruins, Inca citadel, in the mountains above the town. It can be reached by cab. I’m sure we overpaid, but it was roughly 30 soles ($10 USD) all negotiable.  Don’t worry, cab drivers will find you before you find them. It can be a moderately tough hike due to the altitude. My smoking-out-of-shape-and-constantly caffinated friend had an extremely tough time with this hike. But it’s a great place to start before Machu Picchu to get your body acclimated to the thin air. Expect the hike to be about 1.5 hours round trip.

Ollantaytambo & Chincherro: Ollantaytambo was my least favorite town. Because of the PeruRail, it is a popular tourist layover, however it does have it’s own ruins.  Chincherro is a traditional Andean village with ruins and a church. The view around the area is gorgeous with the sheeps and cow farmers. Between Pisaq, Ollantaytambo, and Chincherro expect a 45 minute to 1 hour drive.

Salinas & Moray: From Ollantaytambo, we headed to Salinas to check out these crazy salt pans and Moray to see a circular terrances carved into the ground by the Incans.

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