This unique experience will take you into the heart of the Inca capital, Cusco, with its architectural marvels, cultural prowess and historical magnificence. The glorious rolling countryside of the Sacred Valley with its impressive Inca sites and its quaint traditional villages, will lead us to the marvel of the Inca civilization, Machu Picchu. Further south, is the legendary birth place of the Inca´s, Lake Titicaca, following the unique route of the sun, worshipped and adored by the Incas. This Inca Encounters tour, will take you along ancient pathways and back in time, on a unique and historical adventure in The Andes.
Our staff will be waiting for you at the Cusco Airport, to take you to your hotel, just let us know your exact arrival time and flight number. Here, you will be welcomed with a hot cup of the famous coca tea. You will have a free afternoon to acclimatize, as the city of Cusco is at an altitude of 3,399 m (11,151 feet)
IMPORTANT ADVICE ON ARRIVAL TO CUSCO
Please be prepared for the fact that the high elevation, will make you feel more tired than normal on your arrival, so we recommend that you take the afternoon easy. If you are feeling fine, then have a cup of coca tea, which will help you acclimatize quicker. It is recommended to take a light walk, maybe to see The Plaza De Armas, to see the incredible colonial buildings, built on top of Inca foundations. It is important to drink a lot of water at high elevation, which will help you with the process of acclimatization. For the first few days at high elevation, it is also important toe at light meals as your digestion will be slower and later on you will have the opportunity to try the famous Guinea pig, a dish which was revered by the Incas and is still a national dish of The Andes and is eaten on special occasions and celebrations. One thing you must not miss on one of your free days is a visit to the “Centro QOSQO” of native art a show which demonstrates traditional dances, costume and music of the region.
The show begins at 6pm, but we recommend that you arrive 40 minutes earlier and wait in line, as many people want to go to the see this unique spectacular. If you have the “boleta turistica” included in your package, you will have free access to this incredible show.
Drink the coca tea on offer and each morning to help you acclimatize. Remember that it has a similar effect to caffeine so don´t drink it too late in the evening or you sleep will be affected. Bring a decent and comfortable pair of walking shoes. We suggest a visit to the Plaza de Armas with its colonial and Inca temples, The Regional History Museum, The Contemporary Art Museum, the Museum of The Qoricancha, and the Museum of popular art. These places will make your trip an even more unforgettable experience and give you the perfect insight into local culture.
Overnight: Hotel in Cusco
Today, we will visit some of the most interesting sites in Cusco and the surrounding area. We will begin with a visit to the Cusco cathedral found on the Plaza De Armas and is the principal church in this imperial city. It was built on the foundations of the temple of The Inca Wiracocha. The cathedral displays over 300 paintings belong to the Cusco school of art. We will then head on to the Qoricancha which is the Quechua Word for “Temple of Gold”. This was the first temple to be constructed by The Incas, and was originally covered with large amounts of silver and gold. We will next head out of Cusco City to the close by ruins of Saqsayhuaman, famous for its enormous megaliths and giant stones, that weigh over 150 tonnes. During Inca times, it was considered the “Temple of lightening”, in honour to the deity Illapa. We will then head to the nearby ruins of Q’enqo, a religious site dedicated to the Mother Earth where you can still see carved stones and constructions. There is also a sacrificial altar where the Incas were thought to make offerings and sacrifices to The Mother Earth. After this, we will visit the to the impressive Inca fortress of Puka Pukara, which means “Red Castle” in the ancient Inca language of Quechua. Our final visit will be to Tambomachay, where we can appreciate a sacred temple dedicated to an ancient water cult which probably also functioned as a purification bath for the Inca governors. We will then return to Cusco City, where we Will drop you off at your hotel or in the central “Plaza de Armas.
The City Tour will begin in the afternoon. You will have a free morning to acclimatize and drink a coca tea with your breakfast. Wear comfortable walking shoes/boots. We suggest that you visit the Plaza de Armas with its colonial and Inca temples, The Regional History Museum, The Contemporary Art Museum, the Museum of The Qoricancha, and the Museum of popular art. These places will make your trip an even more unforgettable experience and give you the perfect insight into local culture.
Overnight: Hotel in Cusco
Today we will visit stunning villages and colonial houses, on this unique and wonderful tour. We will be able to appreciate the hidden treasures of these sacred lands. We will start our day with a visit to the archaeological complex of Chinchero, a beautiful Inca site built with cyclopean stones that rise above and surround the town, with ceremonial sites on the stone terraces. We will also visit one of the textile centres which maintain the weaving traditions still in use today and passed down through the different generations. We will then head to the experimental agricultural terraces of Moray. These groups of circular terraces, measure up to 150 metres deep. According to Historians, these stone constructions were an important Inca agricultural laboratory, due to the irrigation channels and their microclimates inside the circular structures. What is of interest, is the temperature difference between the top and the bottom of the structures which can differ up to 15°C. We will next head to the colonial town of Maras that still maintains its traditional and Andean customs. We can appreciate its impressive and beautiful architecture and its houses with colonial stone frontages. Our final stop will be at The Salineras of Maras. These salt mines are still used to this day to extract salt and the local people have worked the mines every day since Inca times. We will then return to the city of Cusco where we will drop you off at your hotel, marking the end of this tour.
Overnight: Hotel in Cusco
Today you will discover the incredible Sacred Valley of the Inca, also called the Vilcanota Valley after the river that flows through it. After breakfast, we will first head to the artisan centre of Awanacancha, where we can see up close the famous llamas. You will also have the opportunity to chat with the local craftsmen and learn about the techniques and appreciate the intricacy of their Peruvian textiles and artwork. This is the perfect place to buy souvenirs for your loved ones back home and contribute to local craftspeople and artisans of The Andes, as well as purchase an intricate and authentic piece of fine textile, with an original beauty that can only be found in this region. We will then head to the archaeological site of Pisac, situated on the mountain top. This magnificent site is composed of many sections of terraces and archaeological structures, built on the hillside of the high mountain. The perfect example of stunning countryside and impressive stonework, which combine to make this spectacular site. We will then head down to the town of Pisaq and its famous handicraft market, where local people sell their variety of handmade products, using techniques dating back to ancestral times. We will then head along the Sacred Valley to the town of Urubamba, where we will stop for lunch and where we will have the opportunity to sample some of the local delicacies, of the Peruvian kitchen including salads, soups, ceviche a variety of main courses and delectable desserts. After lunch, we will visit the impressive archaeological site of Ollantaytambo, quite probably constructed to monitor the entrance into this part of the valley and protect the Incas from possible invasion. We will have the opportunity to walk through its narrow, cobbled streets and gain a better idea about how this site functioned during Inca times, as a strategic military outpost as well as a religious and cultural centre. After the visit, we will then board the train that will take us to Aguas Calientes, at the base of Machu Picchu. On arrival, the hotel representative will be waiting for us to take us to the hotel.
After a hearty breakfast and the recommended coca tea, we suggest that you just take an overnight bag /daypack to spend the night in Aguas Calientes. (Include money, light clothing, travel documents, camera, repellent, sunhat, sunscreen and personal hygiene products). Your trip will be more comfortable for doing so. The rest of your baggage can remain at your Cusco hotel as you will be returning there tomorrow.
Overnight: Hotel in Aguas Calientes
Early in the morning at the agreed time, your guide will collect you from your hotel to head to the bus station for the 30 minute journey up to Machu Picchu. We will zigzag up 400m of road to arrive at the “Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu” also known as “The lost city of The Incas”. On arrival at the citadel with your guide, we will queue at the entrance to Machu Picchu and we will begin our tour of this mind-blowing, archaeological site. For two and a half hours, we will visit the principal sites inside the site such as the Plaza Mayor, The temple of the Sun, The Sacred Sun dial (Intiwatana) the royal quarters, The Temple of the Three Windows, The Temple of the Condor, as well as other important sites inside the citadel of Machu Picchu. After the guided tour, you will be allowed time to take photos, before we return to the town of Aguas Calientes. You will be able to have lunch in one of the many restaurants (lunch is not included), after which we will board the train on our return journey to Ollantaytambo (Depending on the departure time of the train) and we will return along the same road as we arrived, to get to the city of Cusco. In Ollantaytambo, our staff will be waiting with a sign, with your name on it, to take you on the final leg of the journey back to Cusco.
From the 1st of January 2019, the rules changed with regards to the Machu Picchu. The visit to the archaeological site will all be in one direction, which means that once you have passed by a certain site, you are not allowed to return. There is no re-entrance to the site, if we leave the site for any reason, we are not allowed to re-enter. The only exception to this new rule is, if you have an entrance ticket to either Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu mountain. Also, if you wish to climb one of these mountains, the guided tour of the main citadel will be reduced to coincide with the mountain entrance time. In the case of Machu Picchu Mountain, your guided tour will be for one hour to allow time for you to climb the mountain; In the case of Huayna Pichu, the tour of the main citadel will be for 2 hours.
Before you go up to Machu Picchu, we recommend that you leave your overnight bag /daypack at the hotel in Aguas Calientes and only take water, (please remember that Machu Picchu is a plastic free zone so plastic water bottles will be confiscated on entry). passport, cash, entrance ticket, sunhat sunscreen and insect repellent. When you head back down to Aguas calientes, you can collect your overnight bag from the hotel. If time allows, we recommend a visit to the Chávez Ballón Museum, the museum of Machu Picchu. There is a free entrance after midday and you simply need to show your passport. We should also take into account that there is usually a queue for the shuttle bus, to and from Machu Picchu. There is also usually a queue for the train back to Ollantaytambo also, so we will need to allow plenty of time in each case. Your guide will be there to orientate you in the best possible manner.
Overnight: Hotel in Cusco
Early in the morning, we will collect you from your hotel to head to the bus terminal for our journey along the “Route of The Sun” along which, we will visit the most impressive sites between Cusco and Puno. Our first stop will be at the Temple of Andahuaylillas, where we will visit the famous 16th century church, known as “The Sistine chapel of The Americas” due to the massive number of religious paintings on the walls and roof. The church is home to an ornately decorated organ, with angels and surrounded by the prodigious murals painted by the famous artist, Tadeo Escalante. We will then continue along our way to the archaeological site of Raqchi, which was a temple built in honour to the pre-Inca deity, Wiracocha. Here we will be able witness remains of the Inca Civilization and the Wari Civilization. Our next stop will be at Sicuani, where we will enjoy a traditional lunch of the region. After lunch, we will head to “La Raya” which is the highest section of the journey to Puno, and marks the official border of Cusco and Puno. Here, we will make a brief stop to appreciate the magnificent views of the surrounding snow-caps. Our final stop along the journey, will be at Pukara, where will learn all about the ancient civilization of the same name, who lived there. We will also visit the church in the village and the attached museum. We will arrive at the City of Puno, early evening, where our guide will be waiting to take you to your hotel for the night.
IMPORTANT ADVICE: The City of Puno, is found at 3,800 metres elevation (12,467 feet), On your arrival, make sure you have a warm jacket as temperatures often drop to around 2°C. After the tour, you will quite likely be hungry. We highly recommend the restaurant “Los Balcones de Puno”, in the centre, for amazing food and a traditional folklore show.
Overnight: Hotel in Puno
In the morning, at the pre-arranged time, we will collect you from your hotel and head to the port of the great lake to embark on the “Titicaca Express” boat. We will head south of Taquile Island, until we arrive at an idyllic white sandy beach. We will then disembark and walk through some spectacular countryside passing by pre- Inca ruins and through local communities with their unique handicrafts, traditional family life, culture and textiles. We will then continue on to the community of Santa Maria, found on the Capachica and Llachon peninsula. Here, we will take part in a traditional, cultural experience with the local people. We Will see their dances and can even take part in a unique, ancestral activity. We Will also participate in a “Pachamanca”, which is a traditional way of cooking, offering a totally different perspective of gastronomical prowess. For the adventure lovers, we also have the option to kayaking around the peninsula of Llachon. After this incredible experience, we will leave the Santa Maria community and head to the Uros Titono Island, found in the Lake Titicaca reserve. This is considered one of the last floating islands. The inhabitants of the Uros floating islands, are descendants of one of the oldest civilizations in all of South America. There is also an optional boat ride on a “Totora” boat, made of reeds from the lake. After this incredible experience, we will begin our final stretch of the journey back to Puno, where we will take you back to your hotel.
Overnight: Hotel in Puno
In the morning, at the pre-arranged time, our representative will collect you from your hotel, to take you to the Juliaca airport. This marks the end of our services.