Some of the most spectacular ruins in the world are found in the Andes of Peru. This eight day cultural and soft adventure expedition focuses on Cuzco, its neighboring villages and markets, and on Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas.
In Cuzco, archaeological capital of South America and the cradle of Inca civilization, you’ll wander along narrow, cobblestone streets lined with Spanish colonial buildings built on Inca foundations. (You may even enjoy a listening or participatory seminar on Andean Music, take a Peruvian Cooking class and/or meet with an Andean Mystical Healer, a “curandero”, who will demonstrate several fascinating methods of curing ill patients!)
Next explore the incomparable Lost City of Machu Picchu, perched atop a mountain ridge in the Vilcabamba range, above the Urubamba River gorge. This wonder was “lost” until American explorer Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911.
Your trip will be enhanced by two very scenic, low-intensity adventures (elective but included): whitewater rafting down the Urubamba River (class 2-3 rapids); and bicycling or horseback riding near picturesque Andean villages and Inca ruins. You may even decide to go hot air ballooning over the Sacred Valley (optional). Ask about an extension to the Galapagos Islands, Lake Titicaca, Trujillo/Chiclayo (Lord of Sipan) and/or the Amazon!
Optional Supplemental lectures/workshops: Peruvian Culinary Class; Inca architecture and archaeology; Amazonian flora and fauna; Paso horses; Gemology and the Lord of Sipan; Natural healing in the Amazon; The Nazca culture; Mummies of the Andes; Overview of Peruvian History. Surcharge applies.
Note: We will gladly customize an itinerary to meet your preferences.
Day 1: En Route to Lima.
Fly to Lima, arriving in the evening. Upon arrival, you will be met by a private guide and taken to your hotel. Your formal touring of Lima will be done on the last day of your tour (so as to save one day). Costa del Sol Ramada Airport Hotel (4 stars). Note: If you prefer to stay in downtown Lima, then you may upgrade to the deluxe 5 star Casa Andina Private Collection or Miraflores Park Hotel.
Day 2: Sacred Valley - Awanacancha/Pisac/Maras/Moray.
Short morning flight to Cuzco, where you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred to the Sacred Valley so that you may acclimatize at a lower altitude. You’ll first visit Awanacancha to observe traditional Andean weaving and to see the four types of camel-related Andean animals – llamas, guancos, alpacas and vicunas. Then explore the colorful market at Pisac, an Indian village in the Urubamba Valley, or Sacred Valley of the Incas. Many of the wealthiest Inca families had their country estates in this area — their first experimentation with private property.
After lunch, you’ll be driven to the nearby town of Maras so that you can visit the photogenic salt ponds of Salinas. Along the way you’ll observe many cactus plants and the occasional eagle, not to mention wonderful views of the impressive Andean peaks. The approximately 3,000 mountainside salt ponds at Salinas date back to the early Incas, and current residents of Maras still trade the salt at nearby markets.
After exploring the salt ponds, you may either hike downhill for 30 minutes to the town of Pichingoto or visit the nearby ruins of Moray, where the Incas built an outdoor agricultural laboratory to study how crops fared under different microclimates. Hotel Sol y Luna (B, L)
Note: Depending upon the time of your flight, it may not be possible to visit all of the places described above.
Day 3: Paso Fino horseback riding or whitewater rafting / Ollantaytambo.
This morning, you’ll have a choice of two great soft adventures. Your first option is to enjoy an easy 2 hour ride on typical Peruvian Paso Fino horses. After a short orientation, you will set off on rural paths, across small villages and communities such as Palcaraqui, Rumichaca, San Jose de Media Luna, Pumahanca and Chichubamba. As you travel, you will witness the rural lifestyle, meeting and greeting villagers in their everyday wear as they cook, herd cattle and till their fields. Your ride will be along mostly rural routes and paths – no asphalt, very few to no cars.
Your second option is to go on an exciting, scenic, and low-intensity whitewater rafting trip down the Urubamba River (class 2-3 rapids). You'll pass by picturesque Andean villages and Inca ruins, enjoying the backdrop of the snow-capped Andes. Note: If you would instead prefer a cultural excursion, we can instead arrange a private tour to Chincheros market (best on Sundays), Piquillactas and/or Andahuaylillas.
After lunch at a good restaurant, you will visit Ollantaytambo, a very impressive mountainside fortress and supply station that was successfully defended by Manco Inca against Hernando Pizarro in 1536. Inca terraces around the fortified city are still used by today’s inhabitants to grow crops.
Time-permitting, your day will conclude with a short visit to a special ceramics workshop that uses pre-Columbian methods to produce beautiful clay artifacts. Hotel Sol y Luna or Hotel Rio Sagrado (B, L, D)
Optional volunteer service project in the sacred valley: If you would be interested, you may also have the opportunity to volunteer for one of four interesting service projects. One option is to supply a healthy breakfast to local schoolkids. Helped by your guide, you’ll purchase the ingredients at Ollantaytambo market, prepare the nutritious breakfast and then serve it to the students.
A second option is to work on a door to door hygiene project, providing remote villagers with soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste and teaching them how to use them.
A third option is to work on a native tree project in which you will plant native trees and also ensure the irrigation of the trees as part of a larger reforestation project. A fourth option is to help build the water irrigation system that will help sustain the reforestation project. Cost will depend on which project you select, the number of travelers and on whether the project will replace or supplement other activites in the itinerary.
Days: 4 – 5 Machu Picchu.
Morning train ride (optional Hiram Bingham upgrade) on day 4 to Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas and one of the most intriguing remnants of civili zation in the world. This well preserved city of stone homes, temples and an elaborate system of agricultural terraces, discovered by Prof. Hiram Bingham of Yale University in 1911, was unknown to the Spanish during the Conquest four centuries earlier. You’ll have ample time for on-site lectures and personal exploration during your two-day stay, including an optional hike up Huayna Picchu. Overnight on day 4 at Inkaterra Machu Picchu or Sanctuary Lodge (B,L,D) We have included the second park entrance ticket for day 5. Return by train to Ollantaytambo or Poroy on the afternoon of day 5. You will be met and privately transferred to your hotel in Cuzco. Hotel Libertador or Hotel Monasterio (B-2,L-2,D-1). Note: Optional second night at Machu Picchu.
Day 6: Cuzco.
Once the center of the Inca Empire, Cuzco is a fascinating city rich in archaeology and Spanish colonial heritage. According to legend, Cuzco was founded in 1200 B.C. by Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, who emerged from Lake Titicaca at the command of their father, the sun. You’ll enjoy a private historical tour of Cuzco, passing through narrow cobblestone streets and visiting the nearby Inca ruins of Tambomachay, situated in the rolling hills above Cuzco. You’ll also visit the mysterious carved rock Kenko shrine and the massive fortress of Sacsayhuaman, with its zigzagging walls of precise stonework. Hotel Libertador or Monasterio (B). Note: You may also upgrade to La Casona.
Optional Extra day in Cuzco:
Today you may choose one of four activities. Your first option is to enjoy an educational meeting with an Andean Mystical Healer, a “curandero”, who will discuss and demonstrate several fascinating methods of curing ill patients. Second, you may take a Peruvian Cooking class in which you will learn how to prepare ceviche and pisco sour at a top local restaurant. Third, you may take a listening or participatory seminar on Andean music at the local musical institute (novices welcome!). Your fourth option is to enjoy a tour of the excellent Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. Free afternoon to explore Cuzco’s art district of San Blas. Libertador or Hotel Monasterio (B) Note: We can also arrange hands-on educational seminars on traditional mask making, ceramics, Mendivil sculptures and/or painting. Surcharge for additional day: call for quote
Days 7-8: Lima / Homeward Bound.
Fly to Lima on day 7. You will be met and taken on a private afternoon tour of Lima. Named the “City of Kings” by the Spanish Conquistadores, Lima was founded in 1535 as Spain’s South American capital. Today, your private tour will visit Lima’s principal attractions, including the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral, Government Palace, and either the famed Larco Museum or the Museum of Archaeology, which houses a priceless collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. You will then be driven back to the airport for your late evening flight. You will arrive home on day 8. (B)
Note: If you have an early flight on day 8, then you may prefer to overnight at the Costa del Sol Ramada Airport Hotel.
Note: We will gladly customize an itinerary to meet your preferences. Optional side trips or extensions to Galapagos, Lake Titicaca, Amazon, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Arequipa and/or Colca Canyon.
End of Tour. (Code: B-Breakfast; L-Lunch; D-Dinner).
Above price is only valid for above itinerary without any customizations
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