During a trip to Cusco in Peru, I was lucky enough to take an Urban Adventure tour with Intrepid Travel. Their Sacred Valley Tour takes you to the famous area and allows you to have a very local experience – visiting a market, tasting Chicha beer, trying local village activities, and eating typical foods. In fact, Chocla con Queso – a corn on the cob with enormous kernals and topped with cheese and chili sauce – is my new favorite food.
Sacred Valley, or Wilma Mayu as the Incas called it in catchua, is named after its Sacred Valley River. Driving through, you’ll see beautiful mountain landscapes with colorful crops and terrace farming, which the Incas invented due to their high elevation. Because of this, the major crops are corn, potatoes, and quinoa, which come in many varieties and can be sampled on the tour in many ways.
The first stop of the tour was the Pisaq Market, the biggest market in Cusco. People come from hours away on Sundays to attend church and buy and sell goods. Our guide, Hermando, led us around and showed us the different handicrafts, foods, herbs, and spices. We got to sample mana, a local corn-based cereal, and see a demonstration of mineralized colors being used to paint and dye wool. You can also see locals dressed in authentic dress for the Sunday church procession.