Despite the conquest, Inca culture has proven remarkably resilient over the centuries, which creates the sensation of time standing still. Visitors to the Sacred Valley will still find stone huts, freshly tilled potato and quinoa fields, herds of alpaca, and Quechuan communities. Quechua, the Inca language that is spoken by six million Andean highlanders, is heard as often as Spanish along the narrow alleyways of Cusco. Inca Trail hikers who arrive at dawn at the Inti Punku, or Sun Gate, will see the fog rise gently from the terraces and perfect stone buildings of Machu Picchu, which was lost for centuries and therefore perfectly preserved.
We suggest that visitors to this region follow a deliberate sequence in order to best enjoy and understand the area. Start by spending a few days in the Sacred Valley to acclimatize to the altitude and experience the incredible natural and cultural world of the Inca. From the Sacred Valley, take an early morning train or hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the maximum incarnation of the Inca’s spiritual beliefs. And, after a full day at the ruins, return in the evening to Cusco and spend the next few days experiencing the complex colonial city, the amalgamation of the Inca and the Golden Age Spanish, which is best understood after spending time in the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Cusco & Machu Picchu.