The indigenous Quechua villages in Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Inca provide a view into the past. Inhabited by descendants of the ancient Inca people, these communities—such as Pisac and Chinchero—have preserved handicraft traditions, speak in the original Quechua language, and live in harmony with the mountains they regard as sacred.
Andean mountain towns such as Pisac and Chinchero hold markets where you can find unique handicrafts, clothing, textiles, ceramics, and even delicious traditional foods. Experiencing these villages, especially on market days, enables you to get a real feel for the Quechua way of life.
There are many ways to explore Quechua villages as part of private or group half-day, full-day, or multi-day tours. Many tours incorporate the most alluring attractions inside the Sacred Valley, including important archeological sites on the way to Machu Picchu. Most tours include a guide and round-trip transport but not food or drink; check specific tours for details.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Quechua villages are ideal for culture enthusiasts and all first-time visitors to the Sacred Valley.
- Come prepared with comfortable walking shoes and sun protection.
- Remember to bring water to keep hydrated, which helps you acclimate to the altitude.
How to Get There
The Quechua villages of the Sacred Valley are an easy day trip from Cusco: Pisac is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northeast, and Chinchero is about 19 miles (31 kilometers) from Cusco, on the way to Urubamba. Minibuses run from Cusco and take about an hour; taxis are also available to make the trip.
When to Get There
The Pisac market is open Tuesday and Thursday, but nothing compares to Sunday when the market expands exponentially. Arrive early so you can catch Mass (conducted in both Quechua and Spanish) attended by artisans in vibrant garb. Chinchero’s market is every Sunday. For the best weather and thinnest crowds, visit the Sacred Valley during the spring (May and June) and fall (September and October).
Visit the Ollantaytambo Ruins
Combine a village and market visit with a tour of the fascinating Ollantaytambo ruins, the Inca Temple of the Sun, and a fortress made of gigantic 12-foot (3.5-meter) stones, mysteriously placed to perfection. You can choose to take the hike (about an hour) from Pisac to the ruins, which are perched dramatically on a magnificent mountaintop.