Peru Family Vacation: The Sacred Valley
This post is part of our Two Weeks in Peru with a Toddler series. The Introduction, route map, and itinerary can be found here.
Days 1-2: Arequipa
Days 3-4: Colca Canyon
Days 7-9: Cusco
Days 10-11: Machu Picchu/Aguas Calientes
Days 11-13: We checked ourselves into the lovely Sol y Luna Lodge in the heart of the Sacred Valley. The hotel is tucked away behind high walls and is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the town streets outside. The hotel grounds are extensive and exquisite. Bird watchers will be loathe to move from the patio of their private casita. Beautiful landscaping and unique artwork is found throughout the hotel and the rooms were both spacious and comfortable. We visited in late September and there was a slight nip in the air: it was too cold for the on-site pool but each evening we made sure to make use of the free sauna available in the spa.
One our first day we discovered the horse stables and thus found ourselves making daily forays to pet and feed our new equine friends. There was also a large menagerie of chickens, rabbits, and guinea pigs housed behind the stables. Our son was delighted. We didn’t have the heart to tell him they supplied the onsite restaurant. No wonder the guinea pigs were so skittish!
Additional expeditions from the hotel including guided hiking, mountain biking, and ATV excursions are available for an additional fee. This was actually our only source of frustration with the hotel: it would have been nice to have had the front desk simply point out the hiking trails that left from the immediate vicinity; instead nothing was available without an expensive guide and thus we ended up passing on all of the activities.
The following day we hired a car and drove to the nearby town of Pisac, home to a nice tourist market and some additional Incan ruins. The Pisac Ruins are dominated by agricultural terraces and while certainly interesting, simply cannot compare to Machu Picchu. See these before MP, if at all possible.
We spent an enjoyable few hours visiting Awana Kancha, part zoo, part textile living museum. The center houses an extensive collection of llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and guanacos. Fiber from the animals is harvested and local craftswomen give on-site weaving demonstrations. Their finished products are stunning and can be purchased at the gift shop. Be forewarned: the rugs and garments are of far higher quality than those found in Cusco or Pisac; they’re also appropriately pricey.
And that is the conclusion of our trip. After that, it was back to Cusco for connections back to Lima, Miami, and then, finally, home to Seattle.
If we’d had more time:
I would have liked to have visited the Maras Salt Mines or the circles of Moray. Both will probably appeal to older kids; the younger ones will probably quickly lose interest.
Pisac – Touristy market and Incan ruins make for a nice little day trip within the Sacred Valley.
Awana Kancha – Camelid zoo and textile weaving center.
Maras Salt Mines – Salt evaporation ponds, many of which have been used since the Incan times
Moray – Unusual concentric Incan ruins, thought to be used for crop experiments.
Sol Y Luna Lodge and Spa $$$ The hotel is lovely and the grounds are spectacular. Guests are housed in private casitas. Onsite spa, pool, and conference center. The included breakfast is top notch. If you can, the staff will occasionally lets hotel guests watch the horsemanship show at the restaurant. If you miss the show, it’s still working going by to say hello to the friendly equines.
Part 1. Arequipa
Part 2. Colca Canyon
Part 4. Cusco
Part 5. Machu Picchu
Part 6. The Sacred Valley