Peru's Sacred Valley
A quieter wonder of the world, just down the road from Machu Picchu
About nine miles north of Cusco is the Sacred Valley, a lush landscape fed by the winding Urubamba River and flanked by a stand of glacier-capped mountains, many of which rise even higher than Machu Picchu. And yet Machu Picchu still tends to be the only reason that tourists scurry, heads down, through this marvel. Yet at such a loss! Back in the 1400s, the Incas built royal estates in the area. They knew what was up. This, my friends, isn't a place to pass through. It's a place to hunker.
Lousy with Incan ruins, some of the most stunning views of your life, badass women's textile collectives, cobble-stoned towns where you won't be trampled by tourist hordes, and all the giant-kerneled choclo corn your heart will soon know it desires, the Sacred Valley is, soles to donuts, the perfect place to get your adventure and your relaxation on, with radically different vistas to be seen within the span of a short drive.