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In Peru’s Sacred Valley, also known as Urubamba Valley, nature blends harmoniously with art. Set amidst the slopes of the majestic Andes Mountains, the valley is infused with a natural creative energy. It’s no wonder that this area, with its Sacred River and diverse landscapes, has inspired generations of local artists.
At Sol & Luna Lodge and Spa in Urubamba, walking the grounds is like stepping into a living painting: Lush landscaping is studded with fragrant blooms, and vines climb the edges of guests’ casitas. Outdoor terraces provide the perfect spot to start your morning with a cup of coffee and a panoramic view of the Andes.
The landscape’s natural beauty gives way to the artist’s hand inside each casita, where walls are dotted with local sculpture and hand-painted murals, all with Peruvian folk flair. The murals are the work of Federico Bauer, a Peruvian contemporary artist. Inspired by the colonial school of art in Cusco (Escuela Cusquena), he depicts traditional Catholic icons alongside vibrant local flora and fauna. The result is a whimsical style that is a true representation of the Sacred Valley; a lively blend of Catholic tradition and reverence for Mother Earth.
Accommodations are luxurious and comfortable, each outfitted with a marble bath and an outdoor terrace. Some units provide fireplaces, spacious seating areas, heated floors in baths and outdoor soaking tubs. Local art is evident throughout the property in details such as stained-glass window features, folk sculptures and hand-embroidered fabrics. An on-site art boutique features a collection of work by local artists, doubling as both a shop and gallery for guests.
Seeing the handiwork of local artists may inspire travelers to embark on artistic projects of their own. If so, they’re in luck — the Sacred Valley is full of inspiration. Whether your medium is an iPhone camera or a paintbrush, this destination is the perfect place to express your creativity.
To see artisans at work, take a drive with a local guide through the Sacred Valley to Chinchero, a small village known for its exquisitely woven fabrics. You can peek into several small shops to find women fully engaged in their craft, their hands swiftly darting across the looms as they create bright garments and tapestries. Chinchero also hosts a wildly colorful artisans’ market on Sunday that shouldn’t be missed.
Located in Urubamba, Peru, in the Sacred Valley, Sol & Luna Lodge and Spa is about an hour drive from Cusco. // © 2014 Sol & Luna Lodge and Spa
Each Sol & Luna casita features its own outdoor terrace with seating, and some also feature outdoor heated whirlpools and soaking tubs. // © 2014 Sol & Luna Lodge and Spa
Accommodations are decorated with local art, including murals by Federico Bauer, a contemporary artist who blends motifs of nature and the Escuela Cusquena. // © 2014 Sol & Luna Lodge and Spa
Sol & Luna’s spa offers stained-glass windows and an array of massage treatments. // © 2014 Sol & Luna Lodge and Spa
The outdoor pool provides ample outdoor seating and mountain views. // © 2014 Sol & Luna Lodge and Spa
Fare at Sol & Luna highlights local ingredients and flavors. // © 2014 Sol & Luna Lodge and Spa
Women in Chinchero use hand-dyed Alpaca wool to weave clothing, blankets and tapestries. // © 2014 Megan Leader
The ruins at Moray consist of concentric stone circles that create farming terraces, each with its own distinct microclimate. // © 2014 Megan Leader
Locals have mined salt at the Salineras de Maras salt evaporation ponds since before Inca times. // © 2014 Megan Leader
For a glimpse of spectacular beauty on a large scale, venture to the geometric ruins of Moray, a valley ringed with concentric stone circles. Their origin is still somewhat mysterious, but it’s believed that they once served as a sort of agricultural test lab. Each ring of stones creates its own microclimate, which farmers used to determine optimal growing conditions for their crops. Set against the craggy Andes Mountains, the view is magnificent.
Another stunning vista can be seen nearby at the Salineras de Maras salt evaporation ponds, which have been used to mine salt since pre-Inca times. The view is unlike anything else you’ll see in Peru —hundreds of white salt pools cascading down the mountainside like a colossal, natural mosaic.
With its location not far from the city of Cusco and at a lower elevation, the Sacred Valley is a great place for visitors to acclimate to the high altitude of the Andes, making it a popular destination for many on their way to Machu Picchu. With such spectacular views and attractions, plus a vibrant arts scene, travelers often find the Sacred Valley to be the highlight of their trip to Peru.