Step into the magical, vibrant world of the Peruvian Andes and get a glimpse into a way of life very different from your own. Explore ancient ruins and elaborately designed temples and hike the Andean countryside, enjoying panoramic mountain views. Mingle with folks from traditional Andean communities and share food, fun, and culture, culminating with the Inti Raymi Festival, where the resplendent Inca and his retinues of ornately costumed dancers, singers, and priests celebrate the annual Return of the Sun in a spectacularly vivid ceremony.
6 Days / 5 Nights
20th of June
The group arrives in Cusco in the morning, and we will all meet up at 12:00 noon at Cusco’s Pachapapa Restaurant, renowned for its delectable Andean-style cuisine. We’ll get to know one another over a welcome lunch and then spend a delightful afternoon wandering around the ancient city of Cusco and visiting its main attractions. You’ll be struck by the unlikely yet intriguing combination of ancientness and modernity in this urban wonderland, as you traverse its streets and feast your senses on its eclectic sights and sounds. A city replete with history on every corner, the ancient Inca capital is among the most visited urban areas in South America. Fashionably dressed modern Cusqueñans stride down the streets, intermingling with campesinos, or country folk, often dressed in traditional garb and leading alpacas or donkeys, while carrying great bundles on their backs. During this half-day tour, we’ll visit the most important sites of this folkloric Andean city. You’ll traverse cobblestone streets lined with original Inca walls on the way to the ancient Inca Temple of the Sun (Qoricancha) found inside the Church of Santo Domingo. Once completely covered in gold, and housing hundreds of golden artifacts, the sight of Qoricancha so excited the lust of the conquistadors that they had thousands of irreplaceable artworks and sculptures melted down so that they could send the gold to the king and queen of Spain. Visit the Plaza de Armas, once the Inca’s main city center, and learn about its dramatic and sometimes violent history. Two churches stand on the Plaza, the Cusco Cathedral, the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cusco, dating from 1654; and the even more ancient Church of the Triumph, which was built on top of the Suntur Wasi, an Inca religious temple. Note the significant works of art depicting Mary and the infant Jesus, saints, and apostles from the Cusco School of Painting, There is a “Last Supper” painting that depicts the main course in the center of the table as a guinea pig or cuy; it was painted by Quechua artist Marcos Zapata in the 18th century. The Plaza de Armas is a gathering place for locals, especially on weekends, and boasts lovely flower gardens, benches for the repose of locals and tourists, and central statuary. The tour will proceed at a gentle pace to give you time to acclimatize to the high- altitude and to present questions to your guide.
After we finish our tour, we will drive up to Lamay where we will spend the night at a nice local hotel on the Sacred Valley.
(L / D)
Duration of the walking city tour: 4 hours
Driving distance: 46 km (28.6 mi) – Time: 1 hour
Meeting place: Pachapapa, Carmen Bajo 120, Cusco 08003
Time of meeting: 12:00 hrs
Note* You can arrive earlier if needed.
Overnight: Nunu Hotel
Join us on a visit to the mountain community of Huama and participate in the “La Base Lamay” Project. We’ll meet at La Base, where the community will welcome us and include us in their daily life, agricultural activities, and colorful traditions for the day. We’ll participate in a “Faena Agrícola” (Community Labor Day) and hang out with the villagers, observing how the members assist one another with their labors. Marvel at these industrious, resourceful villagers as they demonstrate the traditional farming techniques used to produce a variety of local crops, including corn, potatoes, quinoa, tarwi, beans, legumes, and more. After the agricultural portion of the activity, we’ll enjoy a typical lunch made from the fresh ingredients produced by the community. In the afternoon, the women will demonstrate their skill at the ancient art of weaving, using natural, plant-dyed yarn from alpacas and sheep, and discuss the very important place weaving holds in village life. Our visit contributes to the sustainability of this community’s nature-based lifestyle.
Duration of the activity: 6 hours
In the afternoon, we will explore the Pisac Ruins and enjoy the bustling and colorful open-air market. After a winding 45-minute drive passing through serene Andean mountain countryside until arriving at the historical village and surrounding farmland of Pisac. We will get our first view of Pisac’s impressive ruins on the mountain across from us. Passing through the village, we’ll drive up to the Inca citadel and explore some of the most impressive ruins in the Sacred Valley, whose structures are in excellent condition, although the original purpose of the site remains a mystery. It has been speculated that the ruins were part ceremonial center, part residential site, and part military fortress. Climbing to the high point of the ruins, we will be greeted with an amazing view of the Sacred Valley and its surrounding peaks, or Apus. Their names are Apu Linli, Apu Intihuatana, Apu Chiwuanco, Apu Ventanayoc, and Apu Ñusta, and they stand as guardians and protectors of the valley and its inhabitants. From here, we’ll return by the same road we came up, or, time permitting, we may choose to take a leisurely hike down to the village on a well-maintained trail that winds its way through extensive Andean agricultural terracing (still in use today) and stunning mountainside vistas. Now we’ll have the chance to explore the picturesque and welcoming Andean village of Pisac. The village is known for its large open-air market, where vendors sell everything from local crafts of all kinds to semi-precious stones, hand-woven garments, sweaters, ponchos, jewelry etc. Tuesdays and Sundays are Pisac Market Days, when villagers from miles around arrive with colorful fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs, flowers, and many varieties of Andean potatoes for sale or barter. There are also food booths on market days, where you can try traditional Andean meals, like Caldo de Pollo, a hearty and comforting chicken and vegetable soup, or fried Andean trout accompanied by potatoes and rice.
(B / L)
Duration of the activity: 6 hours
Duration transportation (RT): 1:30 hours
Overnight: Nunu Hotel
After breakfast, we´ll head to Moray, where you will have the privilege of exploring one of the earliest agricultural experimental “labs” in existence on the planet. It is believed that the beautiful and elegantly constructed descending circular terraces were used to support a variety of microclimates, encouraging the growth of specific crops that are attuned to each climate. The temperature difference between the uppermost and lowest levels can vary by as much as 15 °C (59 ℉). Plants that thrive at the deepest level of over 30 meters (98 ft) are different species from those that thrive at the uppermost levels. To think that indigenous Peruvians used experimental techniques to nurture diverse food crops, centuries before modern greenhouse techniques were invented, is truly impressive! We’ll next enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery. We’ll shortly arrive in Maras, famously known for its spectacular mountainside salt ponds. Here residents “mine” 3000 bright white and multicolored salt ponds, which are divided among local families. You will be able to observe the saltpans from an overlook and taste the famous Maras salt, known for its beneficial health properties. You’ll get a glimpse into a lifestyle very different from your own, as you learn about the techniques used to extract this mineral-rich condiment. Purchasing a bag of the precious salt will help support this community in maintaining their centuries-old traditional way of life. In the afternoon, we’ll head to Ollantaytambo, a town that still retains the original street planning set in place by the Incas centuries ago. Climb the ancient stone steps of the archeological Inca fortress, which is arranged as a series of terraces and platforms with amazing views of the surrounding mountains. In 1537, this fortress was the site of one of the few battles against the Spanish in which the Inca were victorious! Descending from the fortress, we’ll stroll through the town, where we’ll discover traditional Inca canchas; enclosures of multi-family living quarters that share just one exit, ingenious stonework throughout the village, ancient cobbled streets, and an extensive communal water system planned by the Inca that continues to operate to this day. A day replete with history and wonder, you’ll have much to contemplate as you return for a much-needed rest and time to dream of ancient Peru!
(B / L / D)
Duration of the activity: 4 hours
Duration transportation (RT): 2 hours
Overnight: Machu Picchu El Mapi
Join us for a mystical journey back in time, to the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu! We’ll start out after breakfast to reach the Ollantaytambo train station to board the train to Aguas Calientes (renamed as the town of Machu Picchu a few years back). The train journey itself traverses the spectacular terrain of the Urubamba Gorge, with the sight of tropical valleys, misty cloud forest, and farmers (and children) with their animals along the way. The 2-hour train ride winds up in the train station at the town below the citadel; from there it’s a short walk to the bus for the 30-minute ride up an ascending road to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Marvel at the iconic view of the ancient Inca city with its stone steps, temples, walls, and multi-purpose structures; and soak up the poignant vibrations of the dreamlike atmosphere. Your guide will accompany you on an informative tour as you make your way around the site, through the various sectors, entering some of the rooms and temples, and learning about their significance. You’ll see amazing views of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu Mountains, and marvel at the setting of the citadel, seemingly one with its natural surroundings. Once you have immersed yourself in the energy of this powerful site and heard the guide’s stories about its place in time, you will enjoy a sumptuous lunch at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, with the opportunity to experience the delights of Andean gastronomy. After lunch, we’ll return to Machu Picchu Village to board the train to Ollantaytambo. Arriving in Ollantaytambo, you will be transferred to your Cusco hotel, having fully enjoyed what for many is the experience of a lifetime.
(B / L)
Duration of the activity: 3 hours
Duration train (RT): 4 hours
Duration bus to Machu Picchu (RT): 1 hour
Duration of the transportation (RT): Cusco: 5 hours
Overnight: Casa Andina Catedral
The Inti Raymi or Sun festival is an Incan religious celebration replete with ceremony, prayer, music, and dance. It takes place each year during the time of the Winter Solstice in June around the ancient site of Sacsayhuaman, located in the hills above Cusco. According to historians, the Incas perform the ritual to petition the waning Sun to return for another year of giving life and warmth to the people. The ceremony lasts for nine days and includes parades, dances, music, and animal sacrifices to give thanks to the Father Sun, Inti, and the Mother Earth, Pachamama, and to request their help with an abundant crop for the new agricultural season and a prosperous year ahead.
Departing early from our hotel, we’ll bring a box lunch (purchasing food at the sacred archaeological site is not permitted) and head for Sacsayhuaman. We will be seated in the reserved seating area, and enjoy the show from close up, from approximately 10:00 hrs to 12:00 hrs.
The great “Inca,” in splendid golden garb, will officiate over the many colorful dances and prayers, giving thanks to the Sun and asking for his help. Prophecies will be made with coca leaves and prayers, and a llama will be “sacrificed” (though the llama is no longer slain during the ritual.) Once the ceremony is complete, we will return you to your hotel. Dinner on your own.
(B / BL)
Overnight: Casa Andina Cathedral
The time to depart from the mystical Inca capital of Cusco has arrived. If you have an extension or another place in Peru you are interested in visiting, please consult with our destination specialist, who will help you to plan your further adventures in Peru.
End of services
B – Breakfast / L – Lunch / BL – Box Lunch / D – Dinner
– Train Tickets
– Professional bilingual guide
– Entrance tickets to mentioned attractions
– Meals where mentioned
– All hotels
– Personal travel insurance
– Additional Services
– Day Pack (preferably with rain cover)
– Layered clothing systems are best for Peru’s diversity.
– Rain Protection Gear
– Reusable water bottle or Vacuum Bottle
– Sunglasses, sunblock, and lip balm
– Good walking shoes (Rubber soles)