Carved by the rapids of the Urubamba River, the Sacred Valley is dotted with ingeniously engineered temples and citadels, especially in the villages of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The latter preserves its original Inca layout, and strolling around the dramatic ruins of the fortress built into the walls of a steep gorge, it is easy to understand why this was the site of one of the rare Inca military victories over the Spanish. The Incas also constructed a complex system of agricultural terraces on the steep hillsides, which is still in use today.

Machu Picchu is glorious but suffers from excessive tourism. Today many of the most romantic Inca ruins are to be found in the Sacred Valley, some accessible only by a guided hike.

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