Uncovering the most incredible UNESCO Sites in Latin America
“Rich in culture, history and intrigue – the most magical spots that America’s lower hemisphere has to offer” – Wanderlust
Wanderlust, the UK’s leading independent – and multiple award-winning – travel magazine, recently published a run-down of 21 incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Latin America.
And the best bit – not only are 3 of them in Peru, but 2 of them are within easy striking distance of Sol y Luna itself, the only Relais & Chateaux hotel in the Sacred Valley.
Packed with inspiring travel ideas, creative writing and incredible images, Wanderlust is the go-to travel magazine for countless intrepid souls around the globe. Covering the world’s most exciting destinations and off-the-beaten track experiences, the magazine is full of insightful tips and locations, written by a team who live and breathe travel. So when they say somewhere is worth going to, they mean it!
Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador & Peru
Heading up the list at the number one spot is the Incan network of roads built to connect their capital Cusco to outposts across their vast empire, from the Colombian sierra in the north to what is now Santiago, Chile in the south.
Without horses or even the wheel the Incan road system was used by Chasqui – agile, quick and highly trained messengers who operated a relay system to transport messages and small goods up to 240km per day.
The Chasqui’s skill was not only in being fast and physically fit. They were also trained to read and translate the quipus – knotted patterns of strings used to keep records and record information, vital to Incan administrators, tax collectors and military leaders in organising people, armies and goods across expansive lands.
The road system, and rope bridges used to traverse Andean rock faces and cross gorges, was also used by traders as they lead llama caravans from one settlement to the next, as well as soldiers, pilgrims and travellers.
Although many stretches are overgrown, some of best examples are on the Sol y Luna doorstep in the Sacred Valley, as the path makes its way through the Andean altiplano towards Machu Picchu along the famous Inca Trail. In fact, it was these roads that inspired the paths that wind their way through our gardens.
Spanning six countries, the network crosses high Andean plains, arid deserts and rich rainforest over a length of almost 30,000km – an incredible feat of engineering and testament to the skills, determination and organisation of the Incan empire and its peoples.
Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu in the Andes, Peru
No list of the top sites in South America would be complete without Machu Picchu. The awe-inspiring citadel, perched high in the Andean foothills and hidden by thick temperate rainforest, is the bucket-list destination to end all bucket-lists, one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world and for good reason.
No visitor can fail to be awestruck by the setting. Near vertical slopes on all sides, surrounded by towering, tree-covered peaks and accessible via a winding road that climbs its way from the glistening river far below and clings to the mountainside above precipitous cliff edges.
The ruins themselves are a fascinating example of Incan architecture – vast building blocks carved from rocks have been heaved in to position to fit perfectly, intricately, jigsaw-like, with their neighbours.
The precision required to construct such buildings is remarkable. Some of the stones are enormous, requiring huge teams of labourers to drag the stones before lifting them using ropes and swinging them in to position.
Built in the mid 1400s, the citadel was thought to be built as a retreat for the Inca emperor Pachacutec Inca Yapanqui, before being abandoned about 100 years later during the time of the Spanish conquest.
Easily accessible from Sol y Luna, via the train from Ollantaytambo, a trip to Machu Picchu will surely be any visitor’s highlight in the Sacred Valley.
We offer various expeditions that include a day trip to Machu Picchu available for guests of Sol y Luna – complete with train tickets, entrance fees, a private guide and transport, along with visits to various other sites nearby in the Sacred Valley, including other Inca ruins, salt mines and local towns.
Please contact us if you would like any further information or to start planning your trip to visit us at Sol y Luna, the ideal launch pad to visit Machu Picchu and beyond.