From the colonial and pre-Columbian wonder 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 Machupicchu, still surrounded by the dense tropical forests rich in biodiversity that hid it from view for so many centuries.
Day 01: Arrival in Lima
Transfer to the hotel in Lima.
Day 02: Lima – Cusco
Transfer to airport in Lima and to hotel in Cusco. 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 visiting 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 50 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.
Day 03: The Sacred Valley of the Incas
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, and the fortress-temple built by Inca Pachacuteq.
Day 04: Cusco Machupicchu
Machupicchu, 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, Machupicchu 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.
Day 05: Machupicchu Cusco
Is an opportunity to explore the ruins by yourself, before returning to Cusco by train in the afternoon.
Day 06: Cusco – Lima
Transfer to the airport.