Machu Picchu may be the main draw, but it is far from the most charming part of Peru. Certainly cross off the extraordinary manmade settlement (one of the New Seven Wonders of the World) etched into the Andes Mountains if you haven’t already. But if you want to bypass the crowds (it can feel like Disneyland out there, it gets so packed), head straight to the Sacred Valley—the epicenter of the Inca Empire—for an off-the-beaten-path experience of the ancient civilization’s old stomping grounds. Stay at the new Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, which opened last summer right in between Cusco and Machu Picchu, to get the best access to hiking, rafting, and mountain biking. Be sure to factor in a “rest day” where you stick around the chic hacienda-style property to enjoy activities, such as making Chicha de Jora, a delicious Andean beer made from corn.
>>$462 per room, includes breakfast buffet and on-property excursions. Peak season for this part of Peru is May to September (inkaterra.com).
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