Dates: Privately on Request
This is a marvelous, unhurried introduction to the Peru's Andean Quechua culture of today and the Inca civilization of the past. Your in-depth exploration will include the city of Cusco and the nearby ruins, the surrounding villages and markets of the Urubamba Valley, and the mysterious ruins of Machu Picchu. More than other trips you will gain a broad view of the vanished cultures of the high Andes through interpretive insights of a native guide. We are happy to customize this trip just for you, to fit your particular interests or travel dates. Extend your stay with an optional 4-day excursion to the Peruvian Amazon.
Day 1: Lima. Arrive in the Peruvian capital of Lima, a mainly modern city situated on the coastal desert. You will be met and transferred to your hotel for the night.
Day 2: Lima/Cusco/Pisac Ruins & Market
Your day begins with an early morning flight to Cusco, high in the Andes near 11,000 feet, where you will be met and transferred to the Pisac market in the Sacred Valley. Pisac is famous for its traditional market where locals barter for food, clothing, animals, and other supplies. It is open everyday, and you can always find many souvenirs of local textiles and crafts, no matter what day of the week you visit. The ruins above Pisac are surrounded by spectacular Inca terraces, and if you choose, you can hike up the steep Inca steps cut into the side of the mountain up to the ruins – the altitude is still fairly high at 10,600 feet, but the climb is well worth it (you can also reach the ruins by vehicle). Explore the buildings, look-outs, terraces, tunnels, and irrigation channels before returning to Pisac by the same Inca steps (or by car). Continue to your overnight accommodations in Ollantaytambo, where you will stay for the next two nights. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: Salt Pans & Ollantaytambo Ruins
Head further into the Sacred Valley today to visit the sites of Maras and Moray and explore the ruins and town of Ollantaytambo. Since Incan times, the local people have been using the terraced salt pans of Maras. This site is not commonly visited by many tourists, but it is spectacular. Wind your way through the salt pans and take an easy walk down to the floor of the Urubamba River Valley. See evidence of Incan crop experimentation at the amazing circular agricultural terrace at Moray before returning to Ollantaytambo.
Ollanta is remembered as one of the few places that the Spanish lost a major battle during their conquest. It is 200 steps straight up the stone stairway to the top of the huge Incan fortress, which offers great views. The unfinished temple at the top was still being built when the Spanish eventually conquered the area. This is also a good site to see Incan city planning: each cancha (block) had one entrance to the central courtyard, from which individual homes were entered. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: Ollantaytambo/Machu Picchu
After breakfast, take the 1 ½-hour Vistadome train ride from Ollanta to Machu Picchu, the “lost citadel” of the Incas. From the station at Aguas Calientes, it is another 30 minutes (5 miles) by bus up to the entrance of the site. Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins this afternoon with time afterwards for individual exploration. Be sure to read about Machu Picchu in advance to fully appreciate your guide's expertise. Stumbled upon by accident in 1911, it remains a mysterious site, as there are no Spanish records, Incan legends, or oral histories which explain its exact purpose. Elegant ornamental stonework hints at the possibility of Machu Picchu's importance as a ceremonial center. Stay overnight in Aguas Calientes for the next 2 nights (Upgrade to the Sanctuary Lodge, additional $275pp double/$450 single per night.) The elevation at Machu Picchu is 7,900 feet.
One-Day Inca Trail Trek Option: For those with some interest in light trekking, we can offer the one day Inca Trail Trek. Take the train towards Machu Picchu and disembark at kilometer marker 104 to cross the hanging bridge to the Chachabamba site. After a brief visit, begin a 3-4 hour ascent to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna, an important ritual site. The Inca Trail cuts across the ridge above Machu Picchu to finally reach the Gate of the Sun (Intipunku) for your first awe-inspiring glimpse of Machu Picchu. Total hiking time is about 6 hours. Bookings must be made at least 90 days in advance. Please call for more details. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: Machu Picchu. Return to the ruins by bus to explore more of Machu Picchu on your own. You will have the option to climb the steep path to Huayna Picchu for a spectacular view of the ruins. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Aguas Calientes/Cusco. The morning is free for you to relax at your hotel or walk around Aguas Calientes. There are many shops and street vendors where you can find such things as weavings, carvings, wind chimes, pottery, jewelry, and clothing. This afternoon, take the 4-hour ride back to Cusco on the Vistadome train through the spectacular scenery of the Urubamba Valley. You will be met at the station and transferred to your local hotel. Includes: (B).
Day 7: Cusco. Enjoy the morning at your leisure in Cusco. Enjoy an easy afternoon walking tour of the ancient city. From the Plaza de Armas, you can visit many of the city’s historical sites, see Incan stone walls serving as the foundations of Spanish architecture, and view the cathedral built atop the ruins of an Incan temple. For lunch and dinner, enjoy the variety of great places to eat in the city. Includes: (B).
Day 8:Cusco Ruins & the Jakima Project
This morning you will have a guided tour of the four extraordinary nearby ruins, Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puca Pucara, and Tambomachay. Cusco was the head of the Incan Empire and was built in the shape of a puma. The city itself is the puma’s body, and the enormous Sacsayhuaman ruins represent the head and teeth. The largest and most impressive of Sacsayhuaman’s original rocks are still in place, though only about 20% of the entire site remains today. Qenko, meaning zig-zag, consists of a large limestone rock covered with carvings with mysterious caves and alters below, and its zig-zag walls and channels are thought to have been used for ritual sacrifices.
Puca Pucara, or red fort, is a small site that appears red when viewed in the right light. Tambo Machay, another small site, is known locally as “El Bano del Inca,” or the Incan bath, as it has beautiful ceremonial stone fountains and bathing pools. In the afternoon, visit the Jakima Project of Chincheros at the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco (CTTC). The Center was formed in response to concerns that valuable 2000-year-old textile traditions are in danger of being lost during our generation. The Jakima Project was created to engage as many children as possible from communities around Cusco to learn the basic skills of weaving and the designs native to their respective communities. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 9: Cusco/Lima/Onward
You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Lima. Enjoy a tour of the city and the use of a day room at a local hotel. On your tour, you will drive to the Plaza de Armas, the newly refurbished main square, where you will appreciate the majestic colonial architecture. You can see the Government Palace where Francisco Pizarro took up residence in 1538 and the cathedral/museum that houses Pizarro's remains. You may also visit the Archbishop's Palace with its beautiful balconies, the catacombs and library of the San Francisco Church and Monastery, and Plaza San Marin. Finally, you might also opt to visit the Gold Museum or the Larco Herrera Museum, which has 45,000 pieces, mainly pottery, that were excavated by Peruvian archaeologist Rafael Larco Hoyle. You will be transferred to the airport for a late flight to the U.S. Includes: (B).
Also see tour packages in:
South America Peru Local Culture Cultural Journey Archeology/History
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