Wander the ancient streets of Cusco and witness the mingling of Inca and Spanish colonial architecture.. Walk through the breathtaking hills of the Sacred Valley and visit a local community.. Explore an array of Inca ruins and sites, including Ollantaytambo, Sacsayhuaman and the iconic Machu Picchu.. Enjoy a luxurious brunch on board the Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu.
Imagine adventurer Hiram Bingham’s wide-eyed awe when he first discovered Machu Picchu, the Inca ruins buried deep in the Peruvian Andes. Today the journey to the citadel is far more comfortable than what the intrepid explorer would have experienced in 1911. Ride aboard a lavish train to the base of Machu Picchu and discover the site for yourself with the help of a local guide. Then visit the breathtaking Sacred Valley and myriad ancient ruins on a journey that traces the history of the Spanish conquest. With a blend of history, ancient culture and spectacular scenery, this is a unique Independent Experience that will stay with you long after you’ve left this mystical land.
What is an Independent Experience?
Independent travel, without the stress. Peregrine’s Independent Experiences are a range of short ‘mini tours’ that you can add to other Experiences or as an extension to a longer tour, to craft your perfect holiday itinerary. Independent Experiences are for 1-3 travellers, come accompanied by a local Peregrine guide and depart daily.
Please note, on this trip not all services are private. During the Machu Picchu tour you will have a local guide employed by Belmond Hiram Bingham and there may be up to 14 people in the group for tour.
Breakfast Included: 5 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included:
Bienvenido! Welcome to Cuzco, the historic heartland and former capital of the Inca Empire. Arrive at Cuzco airport and be greeted with an arrival transfer to your hotel. Your local guide will meet you this evening at approximately 7pm at the hotel to explain what will be happening over the next few days. In the meantime, perhaps step outside and start exploring the city’s ancient streets and Baroque cathedrals. At 3,450 metres (11,150 feet) above sea level, this is also an opportunity to give your body time to acclimatise to the altitude.
Cuzco is a popular destination for many visitors to Peru thanks to its fascinating history and wealth of ruins and museums. The city itself is the continent's oldest continuously inhabited city and was the home of the Inca Empire for two centuries before the Spanish built their first capital here. Today Cuzco is a fascinating combination of both cultures. Its main sites radiate outwards from the central Plaza de Armas, which is dominated by a 17th century Baroque cathedral. It was in this very plaza that the Spanish conquistadors put to death the last Inca king, Tupac Amaru I. Despite the Spanish conquest, Inca-built walls still line the central streets and many of the elegant colonial buildings are built on or around Inca foundations.
Leave the hotel between 8am and 9am this morning for a walking tour with your local guide. The walking tour lasts approximately 4 hours and will visit a number of key sites in Cuzco. One such site is Koricancha, which was once the richest temple in the Inca Empire, but all that remains today is the temple’s masterful stonework. In Inca times, Koricancha (Quechua for ‘Golden Courtyard’) was literally covered with gold. The temple walls were lined with some 700 solid-gold sheets, each weighing about 2 kilograms. Afterwards, visit the cathedral in Plaza de Armas, which took almost a century to build. Today it houses an impressive collection of art, and boasts a silver-coloured neoclassical altar. In the same plaza you’ll also see the Stone of Twelve Angles – a masonry marvel that demonstrates the Inca’s impressive engineering skills. Later, explore the San Pedro Market and perhaps try a variety of local cheeses and chocolates. Many locals come to the market to eat ‘mystery soups’. Sometimes the soup is just chicken, however the more unusual varieties, such as frog soup, are the most popular with the locals. The walking tour comes to an end just in time for lunch.
Tonight perhaps head to the main square and enjoy the breathtaking views of the city at dusk. Have dinner at one of the many restaurants in the square or surrounding streets – you certainly won’t be short on choice!
Hiram Bingham Train to Aguas Calientes / Ollantaytambo
Today you’ll encounter Peru’s iconic citadel: Machu Picchu. Be picked up at the hotel at approximately 7:15am and transferred to Poroy Train Station, where you will board the Hiram Bingham train. Named after the explorer who rediscovered the Inca citadel in 1911, the train has two dining cars, an observation/bar car and a kitchen car serving brunch and dinner. After departing at 8:10am, you’ll have the opportunity to experience a deluxe brunch on board. Enjoy a glass of sparkling wine or freshly squeezed juice with a traditional Peruvian appetiser, followed by a main course and dessert. The menu is seasonal but usually includes delicious dishes such as quinoa tabouleh and smoked trout, or a traditional lomo saltado (similar to a beef stir fry). Arrive in Aguas Calientes around 12:30pm and then board a bus to Machu Picchu for a guided tour. After the tour comes to an end, you will have some additional free time to explore the ruins at your own pace. After working up an appetite, enjoy tea and snacks at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge – the only hotel that operates at Machu Picchu. In the early evening, take the Vistadome train to Ollantaytambo. Arrive around 8pm then transfer to the hotel. For dinner, you can choose to dine at the hotel or visit a local restaurant in town.
Sacred Valley / Cuzco
The ancient town of Ollantaytambo holds particular significance in Peruvian history as it is one of the few places where the Inca were able to successfully repel the Spanish invaders. This is partly due to the town’s location at the base of the mountains and its steep terraced fortress, which is the main archaeological site today. Try and spot the faces that appear in the surrounding cliffs and hear how food was precariously stored at height. Ollantaytambo is also an entry point to the Sacred Valley, which lies between here and the nearby town of Pisac. The Sacred Valley was greatly treasured because of its climate, fertile land and the presence of the Urubamba (Sacred) River. Embark on a bus tour of the Sacred Valley, where evidence of the Inca’s advanced engineering skills is present at every turn: ancient aqueducts, irrigation canals, dams, agricultural terraces and centres of worship dedicated to Pachamama (Mother Earth). Visit a local community to gain a greater insight into their lifestyle and enjoy lunch with the locals. If your visit happens to coincide with market day there will be an opportunity to wander the stalls and hunt down beautiful hand painted beads and ponchos. Return to Cuzco in the afternoon, stopping just outside the city to visit the stone fortress of Sacsayhuaman. This ancient site was the scene of a ferocious siege between the Inca and Spanish forces and today only the immense stone walls remain. The fortress was strategically built on a hill overlooking the city, which makes it a great place to take photos of Cuzco.
This Independent Experience comes to an end today after breakfast. If you are departing today you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. To assist us in making this arrangement, please provide us with your flight details at the time of booking. If you would like to extend your stay in Cuzco, we will happily organise additional accommodation on your behalf. Simply tell us at the time of booking.
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