Explore the scenic Sacred Valley of the Inca, including an overnight at magnificent Machu Picchu!Overnight at Machu Picchu and the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco (Cusco) and visit incredible archaeological sites for an outstanding cultural experience. The 8-day adventure offers a great introduction to the colorful Andean peoples, their environment, history and art. Operated with private guide service, it is an excellent value and you may customize the itinerary.
This cultural exploration into the Heartland of the Inca Empire includes an overnight (a must to allow adequate exploration time) at Machu Picchu, one of the greatest destinations in the world. The architectural wonders of the Inca combined with the striking backdrop of the Andes mountains offer sights that you will remember for a lifetime. Cuzco and its surrounds are a photographer's dreamland with incredible archaeology sites, terraced valleys, mountain vistas of snow capped peaks, outstanding early colonial architecture and most of all the beauty of the Peruvians themselves. For many, the resident Quechua Indians and their arts and handicrafts are reason enough to visit this extraordinary part of the world.
ANDEAN INCA EXPLORATION - 8 Day TourDay 1:
For those continuing from an Amazon tour, you have the option of staying this night in Iquitos (recommended), or Lima. (B) Those participating in this Andean Inca Exploration only, will arrive in Lima this night. After reception at the airport, you will be transferred to the Hotel Antigua Miraflores.
A morning flight from Lima over the Andes Mountains to the city of Cuzco transports you to a dramatically different environment. Upon seeing the beauty of Cuzco, situated in a scenic valley at 11,000 feet, it is much easier to understand what may have prompted the Inca to call this area the "navel of the world". After a welcome cup of coca tea and orientation lecture, you are encouraged to relax at your hotel and get acclimated to the altitude. After lunch, a walking city tour introduces you to your surroundings in this historical city, including the San Blas Chapel, Arzobispo Palace and the Main Cathedral.
You begin the day visiting spectacular Inca ruins and historic colonial architecture, including a tour of the immense Inca fortress-temple of Sacsayhuaman, strategically built overlooking Cuzco. The scale of the construction, with the use of stones larger than cars, is sure to astound.
A short (5 minute) morning drive takes you to the train station for travel further up the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu. The rails run along side the Urubamba River, past towering mountains and through lush forests. Upon arrival at the Machu Picchu train station, a 20 minute bus ride takes you 2,000 feet up to the site's entrance. After an introductory walking tour, the remainder of the day is free for self-exploration and discovery of this magnificent site, which was built on a mountaintop and surrounded on three sides by the Urubamba River. By staying overnight in Agua Calientes at the base of the mountain, you can experience the two most spectacular times at Machu Picchu, sunset and sunrise! Night excursions into the site can sometimes be arranged. Overnight is at Inkaterra’s El Mapi (or similar), conveniently located in colorful Agua Calientes. (B/L)
[If you desire to stay overnight at the hilltop Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, there is an additional surcharge which also includes dinner. You may also upgrade your stay in Agua Calientes to the beautiful riverside Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.]
Dawn is an incredibly beautiful sight at mystical Machu Picchu. The play of light and shadow from the sun and clouds paints a photogenic and ever-changing landscape as the day continues. This is a free day for personal exploration and contemplation. Time to wander explore more of the archaeology, visit and shop in Agua Calientes, enjoy the surrounding verdant cloudforest, river and hot springs, climb overlooking Huanya Picchu (requires advance ticket) and/or hike the Inca trail to Intipunku (Gate of the Sun). The unrivalled scenery will provide lasting memories. The late afternoon train takes you to the Poroy train station for a road transfer back to Cuzco (to save time) for overnights at the Casa San Blas. (B/L)
Note that the $12 round trip bus between Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu and the $75 admission fee to the main ruins are not included for this day to save you money in case you do not want to go back into the central site.
This is a free day in Cuzco for personal exploration and relaxation to allow you the maximum amount of choice on activities. Cuzco is one of the world's top travel destinations and a myriad of options are available. If desired, you can arrange a day of white-water rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, or explorations of surrounding remote Inca ruins. The city of Cuzco also offers wonderful art and history museums, countless shops with a great variety of handicrafts, a wide variety of restaurants, pubs & peñas, numerous churches, cathedrals and other outstanding historic architecture line the cobble stone streets.
Free morning in Cuzco. Afternoon transfer to the airport for the flight to Lima and connections for night international flights out. For an additional $75/dbl/pp you may choose to overnight in Lima and fly out the next day, or your continue travels in Peru. (B) (Note that lunch is not included on this day to allow you the most options.)
CHINCHERO OPTION: If you have an extra day, or only want one day at Machu Picchu, we can add a second overnight in Ollantaytambo for another day of great touring. Then instead of taking the train from Machu Picchu back to Cuzco, we can drive you a different route from Ollantaytambo through Chinchero back to Cuzco. This allows you time with weavers in Chinchero, visit to the archaeology site of Moray and to see the Salinas salt works along with more incredible scenery. We can also arrange this option in the same amount of days if you only want one full day at Machu Picchu by deleting the night in Agua Calientes and having a second night in Ollantaytambo. See below for example.
Chinchero Day Tour (B/L)
We then begin our return to Cuzco, taking a different route and touring the traditional Indian village of Chinchero, the Moray Inca ruins, and the ancient and still used, salt works at Salinas along the way.
We next visit the Quechua town of Chinchero which is famous for its colorful weavings and Sunday market.
Our travel through the scenic mountains also allows you to view the impressive salt pools at Maras. The ancient pools form by water emerging from the mountain and the evaporating ponds are still used to extract salt.
We then visit one of the Inca's engineering marvels, the ruins of Moray. The site's agricultural terraces form a sunken amphitheater that creates a variety of mini ecosystems
You then continue the drive through the mountains back to Cuzco and transfer to the Hotel Casa San Blas for the overnight.
SOUTH VALLEY OPTION: If you have an extra day, here is another great day tour from Cuzco you may add. You will have your own private guide and transportation, so you have more control of time spent at each location.
South Valley Day Tour (B/L)
A day of great food and sights as we explore the less visited South Valley from Cuzco, which follow the Huatanay River. We drive through agricultural fields dotted with willow trees and eucalyptus groves, and outlying communities gathered around colonial churches.
Lunch is in the village of Lucre, famous for the way the locals prepare duck and desserts made with milk.
We will be traveling through quaint Inca towns of such as Oropesa, where we can visit one of the 47 bakeries that have provided Cusco with its daily bread for generations.
We then tour the Inca ruins of Tipon and marvel at the scale and immensity of the Inca agricultural terraces which are fed by natural springs. The tall terraces which run up the narrow valley are irrigated by an aqueduct from Pachatusan, the mountain above the site. Tipon ruins contained baths, a temple complex, canals and many aqueducts. It is is one of the lesser visited sites in the Cusco area but it is equally as impressive as those in the Sacred Valley.
And on the return to Cuzco, we may stop in the village of Saylla for a snack as it is famous for its many restaurants that serve chicharron, or pieces of fried pork. Late afternoon return Cuzco and transfer to the Hotel Casa San Blas for the overnight.