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The Southern Sierra region of Peru is characterized by high mountains and steep, deep valleys. Many roads are unpaved. Thus, travelling is often somewhat troublesome and slow, but the scenery is amazing.

Regions

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Map
Map of Southern Sierra (Peru)
  Sacred Valley of the Incas
This valley holds many famous and beautiful Inca ruins, including Machu Picchu, Choquequirao, and Sacsayhuamán.

Cities

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  • 1 Abancay — a base for visiting the the Ampay National Sanctuary, and the Clouded Forest of the Amazonian Basin
  • 2 Andahuaylas — the capital of the Andahuaylas Province known as the "prairie of colored clouds")
  • 3 Andahuaylillas — its church is described as the "Sistine Chapel of America"
  • 4 Andagua — the major centre for visits to the Valley of Volcanoes
  • 5 Ayacucho — home of the Morocucho people, a group of the Quechua
  • 6 Cachora — the most popular starting point for travelers who want to see the Inca site Choquequirao
  • 7 Chahuay
  • 8 Chinchero
  • 9 Cusco
  • 10 Huancavelica
  • 11 Huancayo
  • 12 Jauja
  • 13 La Merced
  • 14 Paucartambo
  • 15 Pichanaki
  • 16 Pisac
  • 17 Quillabamba
  • 18 Santa Teresa
  • 19 Tarma

Other destinations

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Understand

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Get in

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Get around

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You can fly between Cusco and Ayacucho, but the most common method of travel in this region is by bus.

See

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Do

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Hiking: See Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Choquequirao, and Colca Canyon.

Eat

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Drink

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Stay safe

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Go next

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Into the jungle (2-3 nights) - If you're game, fly to one of the following two lodges between Days 1 and 2, because anything after Machu Picchu is sure to be a letdown. Pack one bag and leave in Cusco what you don't need. The Manu Wildlife Center, owned by a nonprofit environmental conservation group, has the most creatures but fewer comforts. If you want a taste of the jungle in an elegant setting, go to Reserva Amazónica. The surrounding cattle ranches mean fewer wild animals, but the huts are plusher and there's a masseuse. Reserva is also a better option if you have only two nights (although three is ideal in either location) because the 30-minute charter flights to Manu are highly undependable. Reserva also offers community visits, which Manu doesn't. Wherever you land, take part in as many outings as you can.

Urubamba Weavers' Route Trek (2 nights) - The classic Inca Trail was the primary route between Cusco and Machu Picchu, but the Incas traversed hundreds of other paths, and you can as well. Instead of catching the train to Machu Picchu on Day 3, drive to the trailhead of the Urubamba Weavers' Route. This hike from Ollantaytambo to Lares takes you through villages unchanged for centuries. The first camp lies in the shadow of 17,400 ft (5,300 m) Terijuay. The middle of Day 2 marks the high point of the trek, literally — 14,764 ft (4,500 m) — after which a gradual descent leads through potato fields and into the tiny village of Cochayoq. Midway through Day 3, the trek reaches Lares and then you are returned to the Sol y Luna Lodge & Spa. It is recommended that you purchase the services of a trekking company for this hike since it is at such a high altitude. This is a moderate-to-strenuous trek, with four to six hours of hiking on each of three days and recommended for experienced hikers only. Although the spongy moss underfoot makes this a relatively low-impact route-the Inca Trail, in comparison, is paved with stones-the altitude is a challenge. If you do have trouble, you can always take a hit of oxygen from your guide's canister or jump on the "ambulance horse." If serious symptoms persist, getting to a lower altitude is essential.

This region travel guide to Southern Sierra is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!