The 70-mile narrow strip of land, in the Peruvian Andes, that runs roughly from the old imperial capital of Cusco to the enigmatic citadel of Machu Picchu remains a place of eerie natural beauty.
Against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks, the fertile river valley winds below steep forests and ancient agricultural terraces while the mountain light at dusk gives the landscape an otherworldly glow.
Many locals still speak Quechua — the language of the Incas. They also grow corn, raise alpacas and weave brightly colored textiles much as their ancestors did before the violent arrival of the Spaniards five centuries ago.
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Then there are the area’s various other breathtaking Inca ruins that might be internationally renowned in their own right were they not overshadowed by the tourism juggernaut of Machu Picchu.
For those making the once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to the citadel, the Sacred Valley makes a perfect base.