Day 1: Arrival in Cusco & city tour
Upon arriving in the city of Cusco, you will be welcomed by one of our representatives, who will give you a brief introduction to the city and to our services while en route to the hotel. You will be free for the rest of the morning so that you can adjust to the altitude. History-filled alleys, churches, walls and archeological treasures await you in the magnificent Incan capital. In the afternoon, the tour begins with a visit to San Blas, a quaint neighborhood that is home to many renowned artists. Stroll along its cobblestone alleys as you make your way toward its church, which features a beautiful pulpit carved from a single block of wood. Next, you will head towards Hatum Rumiyuq Street (which in Quechua means “Of the Old Rock”), where you will be able to admire the famous Piedra de los Doce Ángulos (Twelve-Sided Stone). The exploration of the Imperial City continues with a visit to the Mercado de San Pedro (St. Peter’s Market), which being the city’s main street market, will give you an opportunity to get to know the products of Cusco, overwhelming you with the sights, aromas, tastes, and colors of the region. Just a few blocks away, you will discover one of the most impressive buildings of Incan Cusco: the Korikancha (the Golden Temple) – a temple dedicated to the worship of the Sun God, whose interior walls were said to have been covered in gold. You will complete the day with a stroll through the Plaza de Armas (Main Square), where you will visit the Cathedral and admire its exquisite vestibules and priceless paintings from the Cusco School of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Day 2: Cusco South Valley
In the morning, you will set out on a day trip to see some of the sights of Cusco’s southern region. After fourteen miles (23 km), you will take the turnoff toward the ruins of Tipón, an amazing archeological complex of elevated platforms and terraces, where spring waters still flow through the site’s impressive system of fountains and aqueducts. Continuing the trip, you will make your way across stunning Andean landscapes filled with quaint, remote villages until you reach the pre-Incan citadel of Pikillakta (City of Fleas). You will stop to visit this impressive site of nearly 120 acres (50 hectares) of small enclosures, terraces, stone walls, and storage buildings. After your visit, you will stop to picnic at a predetermined site. Next, you will head towards Andahuaylillas, which is home to San Pedro Apóstol (St. Peter the Apostle), one of the most outstanding churches in the Andes. Known as the Sistine Chapel of Peru, this church will dazzle you with the beauty of its splendidly decorated murals and frescoes. Return to the city of Cusco.
Day 3: Excursion to the Sacred Valley
You will begin your journey toward Valle Sagrado (Sacred Valley) by enjoying the best view of the city of Cusco from atop Cerro Pukamoqo (Red Peak), a natural scenic overlook from which the outstretched arms of Cristo Blanco, a massive white statue of Christ, embrace the city in a benevolent gesture. You will then visit the nearby Fortaleza de Sacsayhuamán (Fortress of Sacsayhuamán), a colossal structure of enormous stones, carved and fitted together with incredible precision. Continuing on once more toward Valle Sagrado, you will soon reach the must-see stop of Awanakancha. Here, you will learn about the various types of camelids (Llamas, Alpaca, Vicuña, and Guanacos) that live in the Andes region. Additionally, the local villagers will teach you about the ancestral methods and techniques used to produce their textile art. A few miles farther along, you will reach Pisac, a beautiful place where Incan and Colonial influences have reached a perfect balance and created the unique way of life of the local inhabitants. You will get a chance to explore this quaint town, famous for its artisan markets where you can find extraordinarily fine jewelry and ceramic and textile craftwork. You will have lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, you will visit the workshop of the renowned ceramic artist Pablo Seminario, where you will learn about some of the techniques and designs used by ancient Peruvian cultures. And, of course, you will have the opportunity to purchase beautiful pieces made by the artist. Stay the night in Valle Sagrado.
Day 4: Visit to Maras, Moray & Ollantaytambo
In the morning, you will cross the Urubamba River and head towards Salinas de Maras (Salt Pans of Maras). The sight of this still-operating salt mine, in use since Incan times, will amaze you the stark white of the steeply descending salt pans juxtaposed against the green of the surrounding mountain slopes. Your journey will continue on until you reach the archeological site of Moray. Used as an agricultural testing ground, the site’s system of circular terraces descends 490 feet (150 m) from where you will stand, serving as a perfect testament to the level of advancement achieved by the Incas, who excelled at building masterful constructions in harmony with nature. You will have lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, you will visit one of the last remaining Incan towns, Ollantaytambo, which was once fiercely guarded by a massive fortress. Discover the large archeological complex of what used to serve as a wayside inn for royal delegations on long journeys. Surviving structures here include multiple walls and towers that were used to protect the citadel from possible invasions. Time permitting you will get a chance to mingle with the locals at a typical Peruvian Andes establishment, either at a “chichería” (establishment for the brewing and sale of chicha, the famous traditional Andean drink made of germinated corn) or a bakery with still-functioning traditional ovens. At the Ollantaytambo train station, you will board the afternoon train and depart for the Aguas Calientes Station, enjoying a spectacular view along the way. Upon your arrival, one of our representatives will be waiting to escort you to the hotel. You will have dinner and spend the night in Aguas Calientes.
Day 5: Machu Picchu excursion
Early in the morning, you will get on a bus that will take you to the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu. This way, you will be able to enjoy a relaxed visit before most of the other visitors arrive. Rediscovered by Hiram Bingham more than a century ago, Machu Picchu is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Its architectural beauty, spectacular natural landscapes and the energy held in its enigmatic structures will take your breath away. You will follow in the footsteps of the ancient Incans as you explore this magical citadel along with your guide. After the tour, you will stop at a local restaurant for lunch. Time permitting you will be able to head back to the site for a second visit. At the scheduled time, you will be picked up and taken to the Aguas Calientes train Station, where you will board your return train. Upon your arrival at the station just outside of Cusco, a private transfer service will be waiting to take you back to your hotel in the city.
Day 6: Cusco departure
At the scheduled departure time, you will be met by the transport service and escorted to the airport or station, as needed.