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.
Day 1: Transfer to the hotel in Lima
Day 2: Transfer to airport in Lima and to Cusco hotel
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 Saqsaywaman (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. Saqsaywaman 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.
Day 3: the Sacred Valley of the Incas, (full day) Pisaq market
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.
Day 4 & 5: Wiñay Wayna - Machu Picchu Wiñay Wayna
Cusco or Ollantaytambo to Km 104 by Vistadome train or Backpacker train. On reaching Km 104 we cross the Urubamba river and head for Choquesuysuy. Here the trail climbs to half-way up the mountain where we arrive at Wiñay Wayna, surrounded by lush vegetation. We pass a high waterfall where we can cool off. The Wiñay Wayna complex was once inhabited by farmers who used terraces to reclaim these steep slopes for agriculture. We will encounter about twenty constructions which have all been recently restored, as well as an irrigation system and a splendid Inca temple. That afternoon we will continue along the trail to Machu Picchu, enjoying along the way the spectacular scenery, with the river far below, and the snowy peaks emerging from the surrounding cloud forest. Following a path which is very narrow in places, we eventually arrive at the Sun Gate above Machu Picchu from where we will get our first glimpse of the ruins below us. From here it is a forty minute walk to Machu Picchu. We stay at a hotel close to the ruins or in the village of Aguas Calientes (hotel not included).
Day 5: Machu Picchu
We get up early to visit this lost city which was rediscovered in 1911. This citadel, standing at the top of a steep, forested hill overlooking the Urubamba River was hidden by dense vegetation for centuries until Hiram Bingham began to clear the site. Today the city has been completely restored and even if it has lost some of its mystery it still remains an unforgettable sight. Our tour includes a visit to the temples, plazas, palaces, watercourses and residential areas and will also leave you time to explore the ruins on your own. Return to Cusco by train, transfer to hotel
Day 6: Transfer to airport
Book an extra one or two days in the Tambopata National Reserve
Spend more time in the Amazon forest! Our experienced naturalist guides are on hand to reveal to you the many wonders of the rainforest and to answer your many questions during forest walks and while travelling on rivers and lakes. In the evenings we hold brief conferences and presentations on different aspects of the fauna, flora and ecology of the tropical forest. And of course, you might choose to remain an extra day or two at our Eco Lodge in order to simply relax and enjoy its comforts and cuisine.
Titicaca: Sacred Lake program
Why not choose to extend your stay in Peru and visit the shores and islands of Lake Titicaca?.
Among the attractions of Lake Titicaca are the many archaeological sites in the area around the lake, and islands where life has gone on largely unchanged for centuries. The floating Uros reed islands were established by a pre Inca culture to isolate themselves from more dominant ethnic groups, while the picturesque islands of Taquile and Amantani are inhabited by descendants of the Incas who continue many of the customs of their forebears.
Trekking in the Andes
Our experienced staff has been outfitting and leading treks in the Andes for more than 25 years. Choose from one of our many programs and join us on a journey into Peru’s ancient past and living cultures travelling on foot as the people of the Andes have always done.
Peru is a trekker’s paradise. We offer hikes along the several routes leading to Machu Picchu, as well as to Machu Picchu’s Sister City, Choquequirao. In addition, our guides can lead you into the remote Vilcabamba Triangle in search of the final resting place of the Incas, or into the Lares Valley to meet the weaving communities where life has continued largely unchanged for centuries.
All necessary land transport.
All tours and transfers with English-speaking tour guide.
Entrance fees for all tours and excursions, parks and museums.
Accommodation at selected hotel with private bathroom (double room basis).
Single supplement includes: single room where available.
Meals according to itinerary.
Second day bus services to Machupicchu.
Second day entrance fee to Machupicchu.
Domestic flights unless you book directly.
Tips to guides.
Airport taxes approximately $6 USD for each domestic flight and $28 USD for the international flight.
Tips to the staff.
- Personal expenses: clothing and sleeping bag, laundry, telephone calls, etc.
- Meals not included in the program.
What to bring on the trip
- Passport, (bring additional photocopies of your passport).
- A big and small backpack.
- Warm coat for Andean region.
- Rain jacket.
- Long sleeved shirts (cotton).
- Shorts for walking.
- Cap and sunglasses.
- Bathing suit and sandals.
- Sun block insect repellent.
- Digital camera or 35mm film camera
- Bags for garbage.
- First-aid kit.
To be in good health and shape to be part of thisadventure.