Every year, hundreds of thousands of people converge on Cusco from around the world to partake in the second largest festival in South America. Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun, is a weeklong celebration marking the beginning of the Incan New Year. This tour focuses on the festival and the days leading up to it. After the festival, explore the wonders of the Sacred Valley and the famous ruins of Machu Picchu. This easy-paced weeklong journey is perfect for anyone with a sense of curiosity and adventure.
Tour one of Peru's most scenic regions, the Sacred Valley
Enjoy local exhibitions and dancing for the weeklong celebration of the Inca sun god
Explore the sacred city of Machu Picchu, the former retreat of Inca king
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!
Walk across the street to the airport in Lima for your domestic flight to Cusco.
Andean history comes alive in Cusco. Quechua-speaking descendants 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.
You will be picked up at the Cusco airport and taken to your hotel to drop off your luggage and rest. In the afternoon, you'll begin to explore Cusco on a guided walking tour of the city. The sites visited today are flexible, as your guide sets the pace and agenda according to your interests and your ongoing adjustment to the altitude.
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 explore with your guide. 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 in advance.
The evening is yours to take in some of Cusco's varied and exciting nightlife where live folk music and excellent food abounds! Enjoy the night of your Peru vacation.
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! The day is flexible based on your interests, market days, and the weather. 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 make your way to the living Inca city of Ollantaytambo and overnight.
Day 5: Ollantaytambo Ruins | Train to Machu Picchu
In the morning, visit the under-rated ruins of Ollantaytambo before the larger groups of tourists arrive. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo served as a royal estate and later a refuge after the Spanish conquered Cusco. The ruins feature expansive terraces, giant building blocks and well-preserved architecture. Even the town itself is still laid out as it was during the Inca empire, allowing its visitors to glimpse the history which still exists within its boundaries.
Board the Vistadome train late this morning and follow the Urubamba River as it tumbles its way towards the Amazon and the sacred city of Machu Picchu, Peru. After checking into your hotel and enjoying lunch in Aguas Calientes, take the short bus ride up to the gates of Machu Picchu and begin exploring this amazing site - the former retreat of Inca kings. After walking amongst the massive complex of ruins and learning about its fascinating history, you'll return to the village of Aguas Calientes (located at the base of Machu Picchu). Enjoy one of many excellent local restaurants after exploring one of the most magical archaeological sites in the world.
Today you will return to the ruins of Machu Picchu for further exploration. Return early with the hope of catching the sun coming up over the mountains at Machu Picchu. Depending on your preference in permits, arrive in time to hike to the top of Huayna Picchu for incredible views of the entire area or choose to simply walk amongst the vast expanse of ruins and listen to the spirits of the city's past inhabitants with your guide. (The basic re-entry permit is included in the cost of this tour. Hiking permits require additional costs and should be reserved at the time of booking your tour due to limited availability.)
After your final exploration of Machu Picchu, return to Aguas Calientes to catch an afternoon train toward Cusco. Settle into your hotel or head out on a famous Cusco culinary adventure.
Day 7: Inti Raymi Festival
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.
Day 8: 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!
Beyond expectations! Then again we weren't sure what to expect. Lovely stay at the lodge, met other like-minded travelers (many had their trips planned by Adventure Life) and the owner was a gracious hostess. It felt like you were one happy family, visiting with a favorite aunt.