From the colonial and pre-Columbian grandeur of Cusco, with all the comforts it offers to travellers from all over the world, we explore the land of the Incas. The Sacred Valley of the Incas was the fertile heart of the Inca Empire and its people still farm amid the ruins of their ancestors’ culture and trade in their colourful markets. From the valley we journey by train to Machu Picchu, still surrounded by the dense tropical forests rich in biodiversity that hid it from view for so many centuries.
We will pick you up from the airport in Lima, and we will transport to your hotel. Depending on your time, you could visit the center of Lima city.
Cusco, the archaeological capital of the Americas and the oldest continuously inhabited city on the continent, lies in exceptionally beautiful Andean countryside. It is 3400 metres above sea level and its legacy as the hub of the Inca Empire is readily apparent: Most of the city streets are lined with Inca-built stone walls and crowded with Quechua-speaking descendants of the Incas.
The city of Cusco and Sacsaywaman (half day):
We begin our tour with a visit to the cathedral, which was built between 1560 and 1654 on the site of the palace of the Inca Wiracocha. It is a magnificent example of European art made by the indigenous population. Its main altar is completely covered in silver, and the church contains many fine paintings from the Cusco School of religious art. From the cathedral we move on to Qoricancha, the Inca Temple of the Sun, where we will be able to see some of the finest remaining examples of Inca stonemasonry.
We will explore this ancient Inca sanctuary with its immense monolithic walls built from stones that weigh up to 130 tons each, all joined perfectly together. Sacsaywaman witnessed great events and bloodshed during the siege of Cusco at the time of the conquest. We will then visit the amphitheatre at Qenqo, the fortress of Puka Pukara and the ritual Inca baths at Tambomachay.
The colourful markets of the valley are open during the mornings, when you will be able to buy Peruvian crafts, jewellery and textiles, and see the traditional produce market where local people trade. Pisaq market is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and Chinchero market is open on Sundays.
The village of Ollantaytambo retains the original street plan of the Inca town, making it the only surviving example of Inca urban planning. Our tour will include a visit to the agricultural areas around the village, the irrigation system, granaries and the fortress-temple built by Inca Pachacuteq using stonemasons from the Colla culture around Lake Titicaca.
Machu Picchu, the so-called “Lost City of the Incas”, remains intact because it was never discovered by the invading Spanish. Constructed on a high, forested mountain overlooking the Urubamba River, Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu were lost in time and dense foliage until they were discovered in July 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham.
Our guides will carefully explain the history of this unique place and guide us around its terraces, temples, palaces and watercourses.
Things to bring on the trip
To be in good health and shape to be part of this adventure (Try to train by walking each day for at least two weeks before departure).