Embark on a voyage of discovery to Peru’s ancient Inca cities. This journey is one of the world’s most dramatic experiences, taking you into the historic heart of the once-mighty Inca Empire and to the stunning peaks of the Andes. Discover Cusco, the Inca capital, which is now one of the most beautiful colonial cities in the Americas; explore the ruined cities and fortresses of the Sacred Valley of the Incas; and cap it all off with a mesmerising trek to the Machu Picchu, the fabled ‘lost city’ of the Incas, which was reclaimed from the jungle just over a century ago. This spellbinding tour combines history and culture with dramatic scenery over five intriguing days. Groups vary in size but are typically made up of about 6-10 travellers.
Andean sunrise: Head to Cusco’s San Cristobal lookout to catch the sunrise over the city and to see the sun light up the mythical Mount Ausangate to the south
Pisco sour: Learn all about Peru’s national cocktail at the Museo del Pisco and then savour one of the variations of this refreshing mix such as aguaymanto (made with Andean wild cherry tomato)
Cusco cool: Enjoy a modern take on traditional Andean designs and concepts at the avant garde Galeria Puna
A wide range of optional excursions and pre and post-programme extensions are available on request. Please ask tour designer Cynthia Zagazeta for rates and conditions
Colonial Cusco: The Spanish conquistadors built a beautiful colonial city over the ruins of their conquered adversary. Visit Santo Domingo Convent and the baroque cathedral among other sights and attractions
Imperial Cusco: Admire Inca ruins that somehow survived centuries of destruction such as Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo and Tambomachay in the city’s outskirts
Awana Kancha: Learn all about local camelids such as llamas, alpacas and vicuñas at this farm and observe how their fine wool is woven
Sacred Valley: Discover the ancient town of Pisac and the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo
Machu Picchu: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located on a ridge above the Sacred Valley. Its palaces, temples and homes offer an awe-inspiring insight into Inca civilisation
Pick-up and transfer from your hotel to Lima Airport to catch a flight to Cusco. A meet and greet service on arrival is followed by transfer to your selected hotel. In the afternoon, enjoy a guided tour of this charming city, which was the capital of the Inca Empire. The tour starts with a visit to Santo Domingo Convent, a large Renaissance-baroque complex, which was built over the Inca Koricancha temple. It was one of the most important temples dedicated to the worship of the sun and its foundations are still prominent at the base of the convent. Ancient chronicles say the temple was covered in gold leaf and filled with golden representations of nature. Head towards the elevated neighbourhood of San Cristobal and pause to take in the magnificent views of the city, before proceeding to explore a series of Inca ruins in the outskirts of Cusco. Visit the remains of the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, whose imposing ramparts offer a stunning panoramic view of Cusco, the ruins of temple and amphitheatre of Qenqo, and the archaeological site of Tambomachay, where the god of water was worshipped. Return to Cusco and pause at the pretty Plaza Regocijo before continuing to Plaza de Armas to visit the cathedral. It features an elaborate Renaissance façade and, like other important monuments in the city, was built over a demolished Inca temple. At the end of the tour, transfer to the hotel with the rest of the day free.
Relax over breakfast at the hotel before departing to explore the River Urubamba valley, which is popularly known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The first stop is at Awana Kancha, a farm-cum-zoo, where indigenous South American camelids are bred. Learn all about the friendly and adorable llamas, alpacas and vicuñas. Their wools produce superb fibres, which are woven using ancient techniques into items such as ponchos and the ubiquitous chullo hats. Proceed to Pisac, a historic town situated on the floor of the valley, where you can browse the local handicrafts market and bargain with vendors. Break for lunch at a pleasant hostelry in the countryside and continue to the ruins of the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo, which protected access to the Sacred Valley. The site appears to have been built just before the Spaniards arrived and evidence of how it looked in its prime is still appreciable.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before transferring to Ollantaytambo station to catch the train to Machu Picchu. After a scenic journey through the dramatic Andean landscape, arrive at the station in Aguas Calientes. Here you board a coach for a 25-minute ride to Machu Picchu itself. The ‘Lost City of the Incas’ had lain abandoned in the heavens for four centuries until American explorer Hiram Bingham happened upon it in 1911. Machu Picchu is believed to have been built in the 1450s by Inca emperor Pachacuti as a holiday retreat yet within a century the city would be abandoned following the Spanish conquest. The Spaniards never found it so it was spared the destruction they wrought on other Inca sites. Instead, it was slowly swallowed up by the jungle and hidden from harm. A guided tour explains the origins behind this awe-inspiring citadel and the most prominent landmarks among the 200 or so buildings such as the monumental Main Square, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of the Three Windows, the Circular Towers, the Sacred Sun Dial and the Burial Grounds. Return to Aguas Calientes for lunch at the famous Café Inkaterra, a beautiful thatched-roof restaurant hemmed in between the railway and a mountain.
Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a free morning. We strongly recommend that you wake early today and make your way to see the sunrise over Machu Picchu. This is a genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience. The best views are from Huayna Picchu, which is about 360 metres above Machu Picchu, and Inti Punku, which offers even better views from some 390 metres above the citadel. In the afternoon, return by train to Ollantaytambo station and, on arrival, transfer to your selected hotel in Cusco.
Transfer to the airport after breakfast at the hotel to catch your flight to Lima. Upon arrival at the capital’s airport, we provide assistance on any requirements you may have for international departures.