In July 1911, Hiram Bingham, a Yale lecturer, traveled through the region of the Sacred Valley of Peru and with help from local residents, found Machu Picchu. The citadel of Machu Picchu still stands as one of the most impressive examples of Inca architecture integrated into the landscape. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hiram Bingham's rediscovery, Adventure Life developed this 8 day trip to explore Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley with our expert local guide, Marcos Palamino. The trip departs July 20th.
Day 1 : Arrive Lima Day 2 : Fly Cusco Day 3 : Sacred Valley - Chinchero, Maras, and Moray Day 4 : Sacred Valley - Pisac and Ollantaytambo Day 5 : Machu Picchu 100th Anniversary Day 6 : Machu Picchu. Return to Cusco Day 7 : Cusco Free Day Day 8 : Fly Lima. Return Home
Andean history comes alive in Cusco. Quechua-speaking descendents of the Incas fill the streets and markets, colonial churches sit atop bases of smooth stonework laid centuries before the Conquistadors, and campesinos (Peru's rural farmers) in colorful dress move busily back and forth across the plazas. Today you will explore this former Inca capital with your local guide, Marcos Palomino, who is your host for the week, and he will give you a good orientation of Cusco and its nearby ruins and historical sites, such as Koricancha (the Temple of the Sun). Overnight tonight at the Casa Andina Koricancha.
This morning journey into one of the most beautiful areas of Peru. We begin the day with a visit to Chinchero, a village known for its rich weaver heritage, market, and white-washed colonial church that was built on the foundation of an Inca temple or palace that overlooks beautiful terraces and Inca ruins. We will visit the church and ruins as well as the market before going to the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco, a local organization committed to preserving the region's weaving traditions. Watch weavers demonstrate their craft and learn about the history and processes of Peru's most well-known art form.
After lunch, we continue to the seldom-visited town of Maras and its pre-Columbian salt mines (still in use today with salt being collected in traditional fashion in open-air pools of water). The day ends with a special visit to the the Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. At Moray, we have arranged for a special ceremony with a local shaman with your guide, Marcos, to translate from the local Quechua language into English and to explain the significance of the ritual. This is a time for personal meditation or simple observation to get an understanding of the Inca beliefs and the connection between man, Pachamama (Mother Earth), and the spiritual world represented by the "apus", the spirits who inhabit the Andean mountain peaks that surround Moray.This experience will provide a unique insight to traditional cultural beliefs that remain strong and influencial in the Andes today. Eventually, you will make your way to the living Inca city of Ollantaytambo where you can relax for the night at the El Sauce Hotel.
Leave early to drive east along the Urubamba River as we follow the length of the Sacred Valley to Pisac. Our visit begins at the Inca ruins that sit high above the valley floor that are believed to have began as a military fortress to guard against enemies from the east before expanding to become a center for agriculture and religion as well. The vistas from the Pisac ruins are phenomenal as the terraces drop down to the valley floor with the snow-capped peaks looming above. We will descend to the Pisac market, one of the largest artesenal markets in South America but also a traditional barter market where villagers come from the countryside to trade their wares for other goods.
In the afternoon we return to Ollantaytambo, the last town in the Sacred Valley before the Urubamba descends through deep canyons toward Machu Picchu. It is also one of the best preserved Inca villages in Peru with the large Inca fortress looming just minutes away on foot from your hotel, and we will have the afternoon to explore the ruins and ancient alleys of this beautiful city.
Follow the Urubamba River as it tumbles its way towards the Amazon and the sacred city of Machu Picchu. We board the Vistadome train in Ollantaytambo for the scenic trip towards Machu Picchu. The day is spent exploring the citadel with your guide, learning about the architecture of this mountaintop marvel, and imagining what Machu Picchu was like during the time of the Incas. Ancient canals still bring water from the high mountains to the baths used by Inca priests. As visitors, you're welcomed to respectfully dip your hands in the cool water. Marcos will also discuss what this area was like 100 years ago when Hiram Bingham came to this vine-tangled hillside in search of the Lost City of the Incas to return a year later to begin the extensive excavations.
We have the option to stay until the park closes before returning to Machu Picchu Pueblo (formerly called Aguas Calientes) to the Hotel Sumaq, our home for the evening , for dinner. We are still waiting to hear on what festivities will be organized for Machu Picchu Pueblo, but it should be fun!
Today is your chance to watch the sunrise at Machu Picchu and to listen to the spirits of the city's past inhabitants before the hikers from the Inca Trail arrive. Later you can climb the sacred peak of Huayna Picchu or take a walk through the lush cloudforest to the Temple of the Moon. In the late afternoon you'll return to Cusco to the Casa Andina Koricancha
Today is free to relax and explore with your guide or on your own. Travelers can go on a city tour of the churches and surrounding ruins, such as the enormous Sacsayhuamán ruins that overlook Cusco (these ruins showcase building blocks the size of SUVs). You can also wander through the bustling Plaza de Armas in the heart of Cusco, shop for love potions in the local markets, or people watch from the cafes and restaurants that line these lovely streets. For those bursting with energy, horseback riding, mountain biking, or even whitewater rafting (Class III-IV) can be arranged. The evening is yours to take in some of Cusco's varied and exciting nightlife.
Day 8 Fly Lima. Return Home
Or with more time, extend your trip with a visit to the Amazon or to Lake Titicaca. Click here to see our Peru extensions!
Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.
When to Go
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Typically not offered during this period because of weather conditions.