Explore the beautiful Spanish colonial architecture of Cusco and the ancient ruins that surround this former Incan capital. Walk through the breathtaking hills of the Sacred Valley. Explore an array of Incan marvels in these hills, from Pisac and Ollantaytambo to the iconic Machu Picchu.
The purpose behind Machu Picchu may always be a mystery, since no historical records of the complex exist. In fact, none were made in the first place, since the Incas had no written language. Some historians have argued it was a place of spiritual worship; others, a military stronghold, and some even think it was a prison. Most archaeologists, however, believe it to be the 15th-century headquarters of ‘he who shook the earth’, Emperor Pachacuti.
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. /experiences
Breakfast Included: 5 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included:
Arrive in Cusco, historic heartland and former capital of the Incan Empire.
Your trip starts today in Cusco with an airport arrival transfer. Your local guide will welcome you this evening at approximately 7 pm at your hotel and explain the next few days' activities.
Cusco is a favourite destination of many visitors to Peru. Its main sites radiate outwards from the Plaza de Armas, which is dominated by the 17th century Baroque cathedral. It was in this very plaza that the Spanish conquistadors put to death the last Inca king, Tupac Amaru I. As you wander the streets and side alleys of the city you will witness the perfect tapering Inca stonework that provided the foundations for many of Cusco’s colonial and modern buildings.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 Cusco is a fascinating combination of both cultures. Inca-built walls line the central streets and many of the elegant colonial buildings are built on or around Inca foundations. This is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend and is a perfect base for explorations into the Inca world or to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.
Take the time to acclimatise to the city's 3450-metre high (11,150 ft) altitude and explore the many Baroque churches and ancient temples that dot the city.
This morning you have an included walking tour.
The walking tour will start in the morning with a pick-up from your hotel at approximately 8 am or 9 am, depending on what you decide with your guide the evening before.
During the walking tour we visit multiple sites. The order in which we do this is quite flexible and also will depend on which hotel you’re staying at. The duration of the tour is approximately 4 hours.
We visit Koricancha which was once the richest temple in the Inca Empire, but all that remains today is the 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.
Visit the cathedral, which took almost a century to build! It houses an impressive collection of art, and boasts a silver-coloured neoclassical altar.
Stroll down the plaza to see the Stone of Twelve Angles – a marvel of Incan masonry.
Explore the San Pedro Market where you will find vegetables, meats, local cheeses (which you should certainly try), local chocolates, herbal medicines and many local handicrafts. It’s a great place to purchase some souvenirs. The market is also a place where many locals go to eat ‘mystery soups’. Some may be just chicken; however, the most popular amongst the locals are usually the more unusual ones like frog soups or soups that contains nose to tail of various animals.
Your city 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 whilst lit up at night. It’s truly beautiful! Have dinner at one of the many restaurants in the square or surrounding, you won’t be short on choice!
Sacred Valley - Aguas Calientes
Head to the Sacred Valley for a full day of sightseeing before spending the night there.
The Sacred Valley, located between the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, was greatly treasured because of its climate, fertile land and the presence of the Urubamba (Sacred) River. On your full day tour of the Sacred Valley, you will see evidence of the Incas' engineering skills in the ruins of ancient aqueducts, irrigation canals, dams on the Urubamba River, imposing sets of terraces and centres of worship dedicated to Pachamama (Mother Earth).
At the Sacred Valley you will visit the stone fortress of Sacsayhuaman where massive stone blocks that form the walls of this site give you an awesome picture of how highly developed Inca engineering was. Looking over the city from its hilltop position, the fortress is built out of massive stone blocks and is the ultimate example of the Inca's military strength.
You will visit a local community here, to gain a greater insight into the local lifestyle. If it happens to be market day, you will be able to wander the stalls and hunt down beautiful hand painted beads and ponchos. You will enjoy lunch with the local community.
Next you will head to the town of Ollantaytambo. Built over an ancient Inca town, which is a magnificent example of Inca urban planning, this is one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish. Ollantaytambo's archaeological site is located to the east of the Plaza de Armas and the upper terraces of this site offer great photo opportunities of the squared grid town below.
Later you will take a train to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu - Cusco
Take a very early (5:30 am) bus along the winding road to Machu Picchu (approximately 30 minutes), where you will be joined by a guide who will take you through the ruins. Looking at Machu Picchu for the first time, as it sits against a backdrop of forested mountains, is a truly breathtaking experience. No matter how many photos you've seen, it is hard to prepare for its awesome beauty.
Built around 1450, the city was deserted less than a century later following the Spanish invasion and ‘lost’ for hundreds of years before it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. The architecture of Machu Picchu is quite extraordinary, with the mortar-free design particularly earthquake resistant and the stones so precisely cut that to this day not even a knife fits between them.
You will have a guided visit (approximately 1.5 to 2 hours) with plenty of free time afterwards. After taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to return to Cusco for a well-deserved shower and a pisco sour.
You will have the rest of today free to further explore Cusco.
Visiting Machu Picchu:
According to Machu Picchu visiting regulations, all visitors must follow a pre-determined route within the site. This route must be followed in one direction only and once the guided visit commences exiting and re-entering the site is not permitted. Once the guided visit concludes, visitors must exit the site and personal exploration of Machu Picchu is not permitted.
Your Independent Experience will come to an end today after breakfast.
You will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. Please ensure we are advised of your flight details booking your Machu Picchu Experience.
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