Experience the essence of the ancient Inca empire with a journey that takes you to the legendary Sacred Valley of the Incas and the Anta Valley with its it's magnificent Inca complexes of Pisaq, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero against a stunningly dramatic backdrop of the high Andes. Visit the engineering wonder of the Maras salt mines worked since the pre-Inca times and still in use today. Submerge yourself for two unforgettable days in the cloud forest and explore the sacred heart of the Inca empire at Machu Picchu while you marvel at its timeless mystery. The journey will end in Cuszco with a guided tour of its greatest cultural and historical treasures, retracing the history of the longest inhabited city in the Americas with its magnificent churches and Inca temples like Coricancha and Sacsayhuman. A brief journey, yet packed with all the true marvels of what remains of the Inca world. (NO CAMPING)
Arrive in Cuzco. A representative from the tour company will meet you at the airport. Transfer to the Urubamba Valley. On the way to our hotel in the Urubamba Valley, a 60 minute drive from the airport, we will stop at Pisaq, a picturesque Andean village, best known for its indigenous market. After visiting the market, we will travel to the hotel to register and then have lunch. In the afternoon we will drive to Ollantaytambo, a fortress and town which defended Cuzco from incursions from the jungle tribes to the north, because it stands at a strategic spot at the northern end of the gentle valley, where the river begins to plunge steeply into the Amazon and the valley gradually narrows to a gorge. One of the most interesting aspects of the town is its street plan, which has survived pretty much as the Incas laid it out hundreds of years ago. Overnight at hotel in Yucay.
After breakfast we will travel to Chinchero. This typical Andean village is located in one of the most spectacular high plateaus with tremendous views of the Cordillera Vilcabamba Mountain range as well as the majestic Salkantay Mountain that reaches almost 20,000 ft in elevation.
From Chinchero, we will drive to Las Salinas salt mine. Salinas is a hydraulic engineering wonder and a must for photographers. The saltpans on overhanging cliffs commands spectacular views of the Andean mountains and the Urubamba river valley bellow. The mine has been worked since the Inca times. Overnight at hotel in Yucay.
After a very early breakfast we will be picked up at our hotel to begin our journey to Machu Picchu - the "Lost City of the Incas". After a short drive to Ollantaytambo, we will board our train for the Putucusi Rail Station where we will climb a final 2,000 feet by minibus to the citadel of Machu Picchu. Rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu was unknown to the Spaniards. Its reason for existence remains under debate. Some argue it was built and populated by the family of one Inca ruler, Pachakkutek; others have proposed the principal function of Machu Picchu was to maintain a reliable supply of coca leaves for the priests and royals of Cuzco. Bingham fostered the school of thought that the city existed primarily for strategic and defensive purposes, but other findings support the hypothesis that Machu Picchu was a university where the children of the leaders of other Andean cultures conquered by the Incas were taken to Machu Picchu to be taught the Inca way of life. At any rate, as we wander through the maze of empty plazas, chambers and dwellings saddled atop steep mountainsides, we will be unable to resist our own speculations at the impenetrable mystery of these stones. After lunch and thoroughly exploring the significance of a variety of stone structures and ruins, we will descend to the village of Aguas Calientes. Overnight at hotel in Aguas Calientes.
You will spend the morning around Aguas Calientes to photograph the market and town or back up at the ruins, continuing your exploration of the forests around the famous citadel. You will have the option of retracing the Inca Trail for as far as you like in order to photograph the cloud forest surrounding the ruins and the complex of Machu Picchu from a high vantage point. After lunch, you will retrace the route to the Urubamba Valley by train and travel to the city of Cuzco. Meet our representative for hotel transfer. Overnight at hotel in Cuzco.
Open morning to explore the city of Cuzco. At 11,200ft. above sea level, Cuzco is the heart of Tahuantinsuyo, Peru's pre- Colombian Empire. Cuzco today is the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America, a fascinating and colorful paradox of the past and the present. After lunch the group will have a guided city tour.
Sites the group will visit in Cuzco with city tour:
Santo Domingo.- This church is built over what once was the most magnificent temple in the Americas, Coricancha or Temple of the Sun. Its courtyards were filled with life-sized gold and silver representations of all the flora and fauna of the Empire. Pizarro's men looted the temple as part of Inca Atahualpa royal ransom who was held prisoner in Cajamarca by the Spaniards and later killed. An earthquake destroyed the Santo Domingo church in 1950 revealing the Inca walls that were hidden or plastered over. These walls of the Temple of the Sun are the finest example of Inca stonework in existence.
The Cathedral.- The church is located in the northeast side of the Plaza de Armas, built in 1550. It contains over four hundred XII century paintings done by the members of the renowned Cuzco School. The Lord of the Earthquakes altar weights over 52 pounds and is made of solid gold and studded with precious stones. The main altar is covered with sheets of silver.
Plaza de Armas.- Called Huacaypata by the Quechuas, signifies cry or moan, and originated in the expressions of reverence and submission with which the religious or military ceremonies were carried out in this place. Colonial arcades, remains of ancient Inca temples and churches, today surround the plaza.
Sacsayhuaman.- Located two kilometers from the city of Cuzco, the immense walls of the complex made up of huge stones distributed in a zigzag pattern in three platforms with an average of 1,181ft in length. These platforms are connected by flights of stairs and doorways also in stone; one of these is 29ft tall and 15ft wide and weighs more than 100 tons. The largest stone block found in Sacsayhuaman stands 27.88ft high and weighs 361 tons. Inca Pachacuti employed 20,000 men for the construction of the complex and it took approximately 50 years to complete. Overnight at hotel in Cuzco.
Morning transfer to airport for flight out. B
End of services
This is a private departure trip, which can leave any time with a minimum of two participants. Pricing depends on your accommodation requirements and whether you want all private services or a mixture of private and pooled services. Please ask for a quote.
Journey requires moderate walking at high altitude (11,000 feet). Travelers with health conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure should consult their physician before traveling.
For further information and booking inquiries, please contact Sacred Earth Travel.