South Valley of Cusco: Complete guide to the south of Cusco

26 de February de 2024

The Southern Valley of Cusco is a historical and natural jewel located in the southern region of the city of Cusco, for it has breathtaking landscapes and a rich living culture that captivates all who visit it. From its ancient archaeological centres to its charming traditional villages, the Southern Valley offers a unique experience that combines the ancient with the contemporary.

Location and general information

The South Valley of Cusco extends to the south of the city of Cusco, encompassing a region of natural beauty and cultural richness, along the way we can observe various villages and landscapes, curiously some places expose Inca remains that we will detail below.

What is the South Valley and why visit it?

The Southern Valley is a region enriched with a fascinating history, unparalleled natural beauty and a vibrant culture that captivates visitors. Here, tourists have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the legacy of the Inca civilisation, explore breathtaking mountain landscapes and connect with the living traditions of the Andean people. From its ancient archaeological sites to its charming villages, the Southern Valley offers an experience that combines adventure with cultural learning.

History of the South Valley of Cusco

The South Valley has a rich and diverse history dating back to the time of the Incas, before and during the height of the Inca Empire, this region played a crucial role in the development and expansion of the Inca civilisation. Within its geographical area there are large archaeological sites.

Among them are Tipón, Pikillaqta and Raqchi, archaeological sites that show the greatness and ingenuity of this ancient civilisation. Because of this, the South Valley has also been home to indigenous communities that have preserved their ancestral traditions over the centuries, and today you can learn about their history.

South Valley Tourist Attractions

The Southern Valley of Cusco is full of tourist attractions that delight both history lovers and nature lovers, from archaeological sites to charming traditional villages and breathtaking natural landscapes, it is definitely a place where you can get to know every detail that this valley has to offer.

Archaeological Centres

Among the archaeological sites we will get to visit are:

Tipon: Inca Hydraulic Wonder

Tipon, an architectural gem located in the southern valley of Cusco, is recognised for its advanced hydraulic system built by the Incas. This archaeological site offers a fascinating window into the hydraulic and agricultural engineering of the ancient Inca civilisation.

The canals, aqueducts and agricultural terraces present at Tipon show the ingenuity and skill of this culture in managing water and agriculture in a mountainous terrain. Visitors can explore these structures while learning about the importance of water in the life of the Incas and their ability to adapt to the natural environment.


Pikillaqta: Pre Inca City

Pikillaqta is an archaeological site that stands out for being a pre-Inca city influenced by the Wari culture. This ancient city dates back to the pre-Inca period, you can see the urban and architectural organisation of the Wari civilisation.

It displays its straight streets, squares and stone structures, allowing tourists to explore the vestiges of an ancient society that flourished in the Andes before the rise of the Inca Empire. In addition, its strategic location in the South Valley makes it a must-see stop for history and archaeology lovers.


Raqchi: Temple of Wiracocha

Raqchi, also known as the Temple of Wiracocha, is an Inca archaeological complex noted for its imposing architecture and its religious and cultural importance. The main temple, dedicated to the god Wiracocha, is one of the largest buildings constructed by the Incas and shows the architectural skill and ingenuity of this civilisation. In addition to the temple, Raqchi houses other structures such as dwellings, storehouses and ceremonial plazas, giving visitors a complete picture of life in Raqchi.


Charming villages and traditions

Several villages retain their charm and traditions, including Oropesa and Andahuaylillas, each of which are living witnesses to the rich Andean culture and offer a unique experience for visitors seeking to immerse themselves in the authenticity of ancestral Peru.

Andahuaylillas and its Sistine Chapel

Andahuaylillas is a picturesque village known for having the "Sistine Chapel of America", this small colonial church, also called the Church of San Pedro Apostle, is famous for its impressive interior decorated with mural paintings and works of sacred art belonging to the Cusco school.

Every visitor who enters here is amazed by the beauty and artistic richness of this temple, which reflects the fusion of European and Andean culture in colonial times. In addition to the chapel, Andahuaylillas offers travellers the opportunity to explore its cobblestone streets and learn about the traditions and customs of its inhabitants.


Oropesa: Capital of Bread

Oropesa is a charming town known as the "Capital of Bread" due to its centuries-old baking tradition, all visitors can enjoy a stroll through its streets full of traditional bakeries where a wide variety of breads and pastries are made using ancestral techniques.

In addition to its bakery fame, Oropesa offers tourists the opportunity to get to know its colonial church, its squares and its local customs, making it an unmissable destination for lovers of gastronomy and culture.

Lagoons and natural landscapes

The South Valley of Cusco, dazzles with its natural beauty, highlighting its impressive lagoons and picturesque landscapes, among its treasures are the Huacarpay lagoon, reflecting the blue sky and the surrounding vegetation and the Huasao wetland.

These captivating landscapes offer an unforgettable experience for nature and adventure lovers.

Huacarpay Lagoon

The Huacarpay Lagoon, located in the southern valley of Cusco, is a haven of biodiversity and natural beauty. This wetland is home to a great variety of migratory and native birds (a total of 108 species), making it a paradise for birdwatchers.

The Huacarpay Lagoon also offers stunning mountain scenery and the opportunity for outdoor activities such as hiking and nature photography.

Huasao Wetlands

The Huasao Wetland is a unique ecosystem found in the southern valley of Cusco. It is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including waterfowl, amphibians and native plants.

The Huasao Wetlands are an important water reservoir that contributes to the conservation of the local ecosystem and the well-being of the communities that depend on it. In addition, visitors can explore these wetlands through nature trails that offer views of some of the sculptures found here.

Among the sculptures that we will observe will be: Groot, Baby Groot, reptiles, amphibians, auquenids and mermaids; sculptures that reach up to 3 meters high and are perfect for taking pictures and give us the opportunity to connect with nature.

Tours and excursions in the South Valley.

In the Southern Valley of Cusco, tours and excursions offer a variety of experiences that combine adventure with culture, street tours, experiential tourism and more.

There are from archaeological tours to outdoor activities, in this case you can visit the different attractions of the South Valley: Tipon Archaeological Site, Piquillacta Archaeological Site, Andahuaylillas Colonial Church, Raqchi Archaeological Site, Huasao Wetlands, Huacarpay Lagoon, Oropesa Village and wetlands.

These visits can be done privately or with a travel agency who will provide you with an unforgettable experience that combines history, nature and adventure.

Group guided tours.

Guided group tours are an excellent way to explore the main sights of the South Valley while learning about its history and culture. These tours often include visits to major archaeological sites, picturesque villages and natural landscapes, all accompanied by expert tour guides who provide detailed information and historical background.

Private excursions with Illapa Culturas Andinas.

For those seeking a more personalised and exclusive experience, private tours with Illapa Andean Cultures are the ideal option. These excursions offer the opportunity to explore the South Valley at your own pace, with itineraries customised according to the travellers' interests and preferences.

In addition, local guides from Illapa Culturas Andinas provide a unique and in-depth perspective on the history, culture and daily life in the South Valley, ensuring an authentic and enriching experience.

In short, the Southern Valley of Cusco is a must-see destination for those wishing to immerse themselves in Peru's rich history, natural beauty and vibrant culture. From its ancient archaeological centres to its charming villages and breathtaking natural landscapes, this valley offers a unique experience that captivates all who are lucky enough to explore it. If you would like to visit each of these sites, please contact Illapa Culturas Andinas on WhatsApp +51 944 714 563, email [email protected].

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