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Introducing Cuzco & the Sacred Valley

Incas deemed this spot the belly button of the world. Sure enough, a visit to Cuzco tumbles you back into the cosmic realm of ancient Andean culture – one that was knocked down and fused with the finest colonial and religious splendors of Spanish conquest, only to be repackaged as a thriving tourist trap. Welcome to a mystical and whimsical world of paradox. But Cuzco is only the gateway. Beyond lies the Sacred Valley, Andean countryside dotted with villages, high altitude hamlets and ruins linked by trail and solitary railway tracks to the country’s biggest draw – Machu Picchu.

Old ways are not forgotten. Colorful textiles link to the past, as do the wild fiestas and carnivals with the fiber of pagan tradition in solemn Catholic rituals. Just as dynamic is a landscape that careens from Andean peaks to orchid-rich cloud forests and Amazon lowlands. Explore it on foot or by fat tire, rafting wild rivers or simply braving the local buses to the remote and dust-worn corners of this far-reaching department.