Hiking Trails in the Sacred Valley

Energetic travelers with a fierce desire to get outdoors and exercise their legs in the Sacred Valley can do much more than the standard ruins treks and even the Inca Trail, although the latter is certainly the best-known trek in Peru. Other trails are considerably less populated, so if you’re looking for isolation in the Andes, give some of these treks a try. The entire valley is virtually tailor-made for treks, but Ollantaytambo and Yucay are particularly excellent bases for treks into the lovely, gentle hillsides framing the Urubamba Valley. The Cusco office of South American Explorers (tel. 084/245-484) is very helpful, with trip and trail reports for members.

* Km 82 of the Inca Trail: Whether or not you’re planning to do the Inca Trail, hiking the section from Km 82 to Km 88 is a nice addition to the classic or mini route. By staying to the north (or railroad) side of the Río Urubamba, you’ll pass several good ruins sites, including Salapunku and Pinchanuyoq, finally reaching the Inca bridge at Km 88.

* Pumamarca ruins: You can reach the small but well-preserved Inca ruins of Pumamarca by a pretty trek along the banks of the Río Patacancha, which takes you through tiny villages. The walk from Ollantaytambo takes about 5 hr. round-trip. To get there, take the road that leads north out of Ollanta along the Patacancha. After it crosses the river, it turns into a footpath and passes the village of Munaypata. Veer left toward the valley and terracing, and then turn sharply to the right (northeast), toward the agricultural terraces straight ahead.

* Pinkuylluna: The mountain looming above Ollantaytambo makes for an enjoyable (though initially very steep) couple-hour trek up, past Inca terracing and old granaries. However, the trail isn’t very clearly marked in sections, so it’s worthwhile to ask around town for a guide.

* Huayoccari: Adventurous trekkers in search of solitude should enjoy the 2-day hike (one-way) from Yucay to the small village of Huayoccari, which passes some of the valley’s loveliest scenery, from the Inca terraces along the San Juan River ravine to Sakrachayoc and ancient rock paintings overlooking caves. After camping overnight, trekkers continue to the Tuqsana pass (4,000m/13,100 ft.) and descend to Yanacocha Lake before arriving at Huayoccari.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.