In Peru’s Andean Highlands, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is one of the most remote and mystical sites in the world. Rugged and mountainous, the landscape that once sheltered pre-Columbian civilizations remains rich in archaeological sites and villages where time stands still.
In the heart of this high country, adventure travel operator Explora has opened its newest experiential hotel which, like sister properties in Chile and Argentine Patagonia, is rooted in sustainable design. Explora Valle Sagrado leans on the history of the area, as well as the famous architecture of the Incas in Machu Picchu. Located at the site of an ancient corn plantation, the property was designed in four bays on terraced cornfields near Urquillos, beneath the gaze of the Andes range. Because of the area’s rich cultural heritage, work was performed under the supervision of the Peruvian Institute of Archaeology, so that artifacts excavated during building could be properly preserved.
The architecture both reflects the region’s history and respects the land that surrounds it. Exteriors and interiors are coated in adobe and Jahuacollay hawthorn, both traditional materials. There is an honesty and a simplicity to the design, a true subservience to nature. This is part of the Explora philosophy of building locally and sustainably, and reusing as much material as possible. For a company that offers rigorous exploration of the world’s most beautiful and environmentally sensitive places, such a tactic is vital.
The precious gem in Explora Valle Sagrado’s crown is its spa, located in the Pumacahua Bath House, a colonial mansion originally built in the 17th century. The historical treasure (it once belonged to a Peruvian revolutionary) has been restored and is accessible via a trail that traverses four Inca platforms — and 500 years of history.
Text by Daphne Nikolopoulos
Photography courtesy of Explora