Highlands / Cusco, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu
Cusco is the capital of the Cusco region, and was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th until the 16th-century. In 1983, Cusco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Stunning destinations and examples of fine engineering by Inca stonemasons can be seen such as “Valle Sagrado” (Sacred Valley). It is called this way to the end of the extensive valley of Urubamba, near Cusco where the agricultural cattlemen and beautiful towns were concentrated since Inca times. The valley is characterized to have very special conditions, as an excellent climate, very fertile lands and the waters of the sacred river of the Inca, the Vilcanota that, in the town of Urubamba, changes name to Urubamba River. "Valle Sagrado" is embraced between the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, with wonderful landscapes where its inhabitants (native of the Quechua ethnic) conserve many customs and ancestral rites.
Machu Picchu it is the most famous archaeological site in all Southamerica. It is an Incan city surrounded by temples, terraces and water channels, built on a mountaintop. It was built with huge blocks of stone joined to each other without any mortar. Recognized for outstanding cultural and natural values, the mixed UNESCO World Heritage property covers 32,592 hectares of mountain slopes, peaks and valleys surrounding its heart, the spectacular archaeological monument of “La Ciudadela” (the Citadel) at more than 2,400 meters above sea level. Built in the fifteenth century Machu Picchu was abandoned when the Inca Empire was conquered by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. It was not until 1911 that the archaeological complex was made known to the outside world.
What can we do in Cusco, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu ?
City Tour of Cusco
You will begin your tour as you enjoy the best view of the city of Cusco. You will then visit nearby Fortaleza de Sacsayhuamán (Fortress of Sacsayhuamán), a huge structure of enormous stones, carved and fitted together with incredible precision. As you return to the lower part of the city, you will discover one of the most impressive buildings of Incan Cusco: the Korikancha (the Golden Temple)—a temple dedicated to the Sun God, whose interior walls were said to have been covered in gold. Continue to the Plaza de Armas (Main Square), where you will visit the Cathedral and admire the famous paintings from the Cusco School of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Maras & Moray
Visit the town of Maras, which since ancient times is dedicated to the exploitation of its salt mines and salt big banks dating from Inca times. We walk through the village, colonial church, old houses. We will continue the tour to reach the town of Moray, and the archaeological site consists of a set of platforms in circles, used for agricultural research and experimentation of crops at different altitudes.
Pisaq & Ollantaytambo
Tour to the Valle Sagrado (Sacred Valley), where you will soon reach the must-see stop of Awanakancha. Here, you will learn about the various types of camelids (Llamas, Alpacas, Vicuñas, and Guanacos) that live in the Andes region. Additionally, the local villagers will teach you about the ancestral methods and techniques used to produce their textile art. A few miles farther along, you will reach Pisac, you will get a chance to explore the town, famous for its artisan markets where you can find jewelry, ceramic and textile craftwork. You will have lunch at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon, you will visit one of the last remaining Incan towns, Ollantaytambo, which was once fiercely guarded by a massive fortress. Discover the large archeological complex of what used to serve as a wayside inn for royal delegations on long journeys. Surviving structures here include multiple walls and towers that were used to protect the citadel from possible invasions. It is the area where you can appreciate and magnify the high technological development that the Inca, reached in the agriculture through "andenería" systems (platform systems that are a group of earth patches arranged in steps on the hills to be used in the sow). These systems are still today in full production, with sophisticated designs and hydraulic engineering.
Each town in the "Valle Sagrado de los Incas” today has the coalition of the Inca and Spanish architectural style.
Chincheros is a small village with colonial style and was a major agricultural center during the Tawantinsuyo times. You can walk around the streets and appreciate the stone walls with trapezoidal niches that provide the setting for the traditional market. The Chincheros women can always be recognized for their very distinguishing clothing and braided hair.
This day, you will visit the Santuario Histórico de Machu Picchu (Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu). Aboard a comfortable train, you will depart for the Aguas Calientes train Station, enjoying a spectacular view along the way. Upon arrival, you will transfer to a bus that will take you to the entrance gate of the citadel of Machu Picchu. Rediscovered by Hiram Bingham more than a century ago, Machu Picchu is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Its architectural beauty, spectacular natural landscapes and the energy held in its enigmatic structures will take your breath away. You will follow in the footsteps of the ancient Incans as you explore this magical citadel along with your guide. After the tour, you will stop at a local restaurant for lunch in Aguas Calientes. At the scheduled time, you will be picked up and taken to the Aguas Calientes train Station, where you will board your return train. Upon your arrival at the station just outside of Cusco, a transfer service will be waiting to take you back to your hotel in the city.
Highlands / Arequipa
It is Peru’s ashlar (white stone) city with snow-capped mountains, volcanoes (e.g. Misti), deep canyons (e.g. Cotahuasi and Colca), renowned gastronomy, small coves and beaches. Nestling between the coast and the southern highlands of Peru, Arequipa is the land of great destinations with heights on snow-capped peaks such as Ampato (6,288 m), volcanoes like Chachani (6,075 m) and El Misti (5,825 m, from where it is possible to make out the city of Arequipa, the Chili River Valley, and the Chachani and Pichu Pichu volcanoes). Colca Canyon it is Peru's third most-visited tourist destination. With a depth of 3,270 m, it is one of the deepest in the world and second in Peru after the Cotahuasi Canyon. The Colca Valley is a colorful Andean valley with pre-inca roots, and towns founded in Spanish colonial times, still inhabited by people of the Collagua and the Cabana cultures.
What can we do in Arequipa ?
City Tour of Arequipa
Enjoy 3 hours tour visiting the city and the highlights of the well-known “White City”, which got this name since the historic center and most of the old colonial houses have been built with “sillar” white volcanic stone. The first stop is Santa Catalina Convent, founded in 1579, just get into the adobe building is going back 400 years in time where you will walk down narrow streets, courtyards, chapels, small squares as well as utilitarian areas such as kitchen or laundry. The journey continues with the visit the Church of the Jesuits Company and the impressive facade on Baroque style. Then we leave the city center towards Mirador del Carmen Alto to enjoy a breathtaking landscape. Our tour ends in Yanahuara, a painteresque neighborhood which offer the best view of the city; you will surely enjoy walking around the main square.
Day 1 Arequipa - Colca
Early morning start for a two day excursion by bus to the Colca Valley. The first stop will be Pampas Cañahuas in the Aguada Blanca National Reserve, home of Guanaco, Alpaca, and Vicuñas. Continue our journey admiring the fascinating landscape and volcanoes and snowy peaks mountains surrounding Arequipa. On the spot you will also see the pre-Hispanic Andean terraces that were built by the Acient Collagua and are still used by the community. Arrive in Chivay and lunch.
Day 2 Colca - Puno
Early in the morning, you will travel to the Mirador de la Cruz del Cóndor. Considered as one of the best places in the in the world to see the Giant birds flying.
Continue the trip, with spectacular views and impressive landscape of the Majestic Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world (3,000 m deep). Continue and arrival at Puno.
Highlands / Puno
Located on the Andean plateau, this region is dominated by Lake Titicaca (the highest navigable of the world), sacred place of the Incas and home to natural and artificial islands. There are pre-Hispanic archaeological sites with circular constructions that still go by their original name of “chullpas”. Its churches are characterized by their distinctive colonial architecture. Its inhabitants are proud of their Quechua and Aymara past, and their folkloric tradition that can be seen every year in the form of dances and rituals during the Candelaria festival. Puno is a legend, a multicolored festival, and home to natural and artificial islands. Puno is a legend, a multicolored festival, and home to natural and artificial islands. Located in the mountainous south of Peru, the land mostly flat, much of it is on the Collao plateau. As it shares a border with Bolivia it is the perfect place to connect Peru with Bolivia.
What can we do in Puno ?
Sillustani is a complex of large cylindrical tombs, set over Lake Umayo, were used to bury the Colla nobility. Carved stones and decorated with sculptures.
Uros & Taquile islands in Titikaka lake
You will enjoy a nice experience across the Titikaka Lake, world's highest navigable. Few minutes from Puno, we reach the Uros floating islands. These are a 40 small islands made of totora, (natural reed). See closely about their lifestyle and traditions.
Continue the tour to Taquile Island, one of the most important Quechua Island in the Titikaka, we will spend the day with them learning about their customs and sharing a typical lunch.