Arrive to Lima on the flight of your choice today. After picking up your luggage and clearing customs, walk across the street to the comfortable and conveniently located Ramada Costa del Sol Hotel. Settle into your room and rest up after your travels. You have an exciting week ahead, filled with ancient ruins, local markets and the amazing Inti Raymi Festival!
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. In the afternoon, you'll tour Cusco's largest open market and the adjacent witches' market. After tasting a few unique local foods, you will visit the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco, a local organization committed to preserving the region's weaving traditions. (If visiting the Sacred Valley on Sunday, you will visit their center in Chinchero instead). Watch weavers demonstrate their craft and learn about the history and processes of Peru's most well-known art form.
Enjoy local exhibitions and dancing as people converge on Cusco for the weeklong celebration of the Inca sun god. The Inti Raymi Festival begins a week leading up to June 24th!
Today is free to relax and explore with your guide or on your own. You can visit the churches and surrounding ruins, such as the enormous Sacsayhuamán ruins that overlook Cusco (these ruins showcase building blocks the size of pickup trucks). 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. Live folk music and excellent food abounds in Cusco!
During the days leading up to the Inti Raymi Celebration, Cusco is full of life and activity. Every day has its events, from daytime expositions, street fairs and people dancing in the streets. In the evenings, live music can be heart from the best Peruvian groups at Plaza de Armas, drawing crowds for the free concerts. In addition, actors participate in free outdoor plays, depicting historical events and important Incan figures.
This morning, journey into one of the most beautiful areas of Peru. The Sacred Valley often becomes one of the highlights of your trip and you will soon see why! You'll test your bargaining skills with the locals while visiting one of the great textile markets in the area. You may also hike to the inspiring ruins of Pisac or take a short walk through the countryside to the seldom-visited town of Maras, where pre-Columbian salt mines still operate today. Visit the Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. Eventually, you will make your way to the living Inca city of Ollantaytambo where you can relax for the night.
In the morning, visit the ruins and town of Ollantaytambo. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo served as a royal estate and later a refuge after the Spanish conquered Cuzco in 1537. The ruins feature expansive terraces and well-preserved architecture, and the town is still laid out as it was during the Incan empire, allowing its visitors to glimpse the history which still exists within its boundaries.
Board the train and follow the Urubamba River as it tumbles its way towards the Amazon and the sacred city of Machu Picchu. Ancient canals still bring water from the high mountains to the baths used by Inca priests. As visitors, you are welcomed to respectfully dip your hands in the cool water. After your tour of Machu Picchu, you'll return to the village of Aguas Calientes (located at the base of Machu Picchu). Enjoy one of many excellent local restaurants or end your day soaking in the hot springs after exploring one of the most magical archaeological sites in the world.
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, hike to the Sun Gate which overlooks the ruins or take a walk through the lush cloudforest to the Temple of the Moon. In the late afternoon you'll return by train to Cusco with your guide. Enjoy the evening concerts and entertainment as locals prepare for the main day of the festival tomorrow.
Today join the crowds for the main day topping off the week long Inti Raymi festival. The Festival of the Sun begins in front of Santo Domingo church, and then continues in a procession to the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuamán. The streets are covered in flowers and people preparing the way for the procession. Here crowds gather to watch the 5-6 hour performance during which time you will see many brightly dressed actors and dancers reenact this ancient Inca ceremony, including speeches and a sacrificial llama!
As a part of our tour, you will receive a VIP pass to sit front and center at the festival, enjoying the best views to be had. Your guide with accompany you to the festival, explaining all of the meanings behind the proceedings. Click here for a more detailed account of the festival.
Or with more time, extend your trip with a visit to the Amazon or to Lake Titicaca. Click here to see our Peru extensions!
$650 single supplement
June 18 itinerary shown here.