This amazing trip will focus on Peruvian history with a special emphasis on learning about the agriculture and foods of the Incas which still in use today in the Sacred Valley. We will also focus on honoring Pachamama and will have spiritual ceremonies along the way
Day 1: Airport pick up and transfer to hotel in Sacred Valley and acclimation
Arrive in Cusco(70 minute flight from Lima) where you will be met at the airport. You will then be transferred by private van to your accommodations in the Sacred Valley. Cusco is at an elevation of 11,150 feet while the hotel sits at an elevation of 9,400 feet. Immediate transfer to the Sacred Valley will allow for ease of acclimation. Leaving Cusco, we get views of snow capped mountains and descend into the Sacred Valley of the Incas, following the Urubamba river through fertile farmlands and bustling towns to reach your hotel. Drink Coca tea, rest, acclimate, relax and re-convene for a welcome dinner with a concert of local folkloric music.
Day 2: Pisac, potatoes and picnic
We will pick up at your hotel at 8:30 and drive 2 hours to the Parque de la Papa, an agricultural park dedicated to preserving the biodiversity of the thousands of varieties of potatoes that have cultivated in Peru sine Inca times. This park is working on developing sustainable agricultural techniques to allow the locals to continue producing the main staple of the Peruvian diet. We will then have a picnic lunch prepared by a local chef serving a menu that will highlight some of the many different kinds of Peruvian potatoes.
Then we will drive 40 minutes to the majestic ruins at Pisac we will visit terraced Inca ruins that are situated high on a mountain. From here, we will climb to the top of the ruins and take in amazing views of the Sacred Valley Your guide will teach you about the religious, astronomical and military functions of the site and see the terraces that allowed the Incas to grow food above 11,000 feet. After visiting the Inca ruins, there will be a chance to hike on a little known, seldom used original Inca trail and through a tunnel that was build by the Incas. One of the largest Inca cemeteries is also located in the ruins at Pisac and we can tour this part of the site as well.
We will conclude the tour with a trip to PIsac handicraft market in the town to browse such things such as ceramics, jewelry, and weaving and return by private transfer to your hotel.
Day 3: Salt mines and Moray, Pachamanca and visiting Pillaray school
This tour takes you to visit two incredible sites in the Sacred Valley; the salt mines of Maras and the Incan agricultural laboratory of Moray. We will also have the chance to visit a local school that is the site of one of our social projects.
We will pick you up at your hotel at 8:30 am, and will start our day with a tour of Maras, a collection of salt mines that have been used since pre-Inca times to evaporate salt from an underground stream. It is truly a breathtaking site.
We will then travel a nearby village called Pillaray where we have sponsored a local school and are supporting them with our social projects. We will interact with the children and you can even bring things to give the kids if you would like (ask us for ideas!). Then we will walk to the home of a local family where a picnic lunch will be prepared--we will have a chance to make a Pachamanca which comes from the Quechua words “Pacha” or earth and “Manka” or pot. Lunch will be prepared in this oven of hot stones, covered in earth and we will have lunch with a local family.
We then continue on to Moray we will look down below to contemplate the concentric circles that made up an Incan agricultural laboratory. Hike down into the archaeological site with a private guided tour of the ruins that served as one of the main amphitheaters for the Incas where they performed rituals and ceremonies.
Private transport back to your hotel.
Day 4: Chinchero: Weaving, quinoa soup and Inca temples
You will be picked up at 8:30 by private driver at your hotel in the morning. We will drive 45 minutes drive through beautiful mountains and farmlands to the town of Chinchero. Our visit to Chinchero will consist of 3 parts. First we will visit the temple of the rainbow which was one of the biggest temples that the Incas built and learn about why they worshipped the rainbow.
Next we will visit the church with beautiful murals depicting the Cusqeñan style of painting which combines traditional Inca imagery with Christian motifs. We will then walk through the beautiful village in Chinchero, ending in the women's weaving cooperative where we will watch a demonstration of local weavers who are using Inca techniques for dyeing fabric and for weaving traditional patterns. Here you will have time to browse the shop which sells Inca style purses, tablecloths, wall hangings, and many other colorful and exquisitely patterned artesanal goods.
This will be followed by a cooking lession, where the ladies will teach us how to make quinoa soup, a staple of their diet, and then we will share lunch with them. If you would like, you can dress up in the traditional clothing and hat of Chinchero and take some photos with the local women.
On the way back to your hotel, we will stop at a rarely visited Inca site called Machu colca which was one of the biggest storehouses in the area. Because this area is at high altitude with a lot of cold wind coming off of the mountains, the Incas used this site as a natural refrigerator for long term storage of crops such as quinoa and potatoes.
Private transfer back to your hotel.
Day 5: Sacred Valley: Local market, ceramics, farm visit and chicha, Ollantaytambo, transfer to Aguas Calientes
This tour takes you to places that are off of the normal tourist route, so that you can see how locals live and work their land. Highlights of the day include a visit to a bustling local market in Urubamba where we will taste some of the many fruits and vegetables in the Sacred Valley and learn about the ingredients needed to make chicha, a corn beer that has been an important part of Peruvian culture since Inca times.
We will then visit the workshop and gallery of an amazing local potter, Pablo Seminario (http://www.ceramicaseminario.com/en/) where you can observe artisans and work have the chance to buy beautiful ceramics.
We will then drive 20 minutes to visit to a farm in the sacred valley, where we will tour the farm lands, cut alfafa to feed the guinea pigs, and see first hand how chicha is made. This will be followed by a picnic lunch, which will be eaten outside overlooking the Sacred Valley. We will also visit a local chicheria, to taste chicha play Sapo, a traditional Inca game.
After lunch we will visit the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo, which was the lodging of the Inca emperor Pachacutec and later served as a military checkpoint for the Incas trying to protect the roads to Machu Picchu from the invading Spaniards. Enjoy a guided tour of the terraced ruins, fountains and aqueducts and see storage houses that were used by the Incas to maximize winds to keep crops cool and preserved. We will then have time to wander the streets of one of the oldest towns in Peru, where many 15th century Inca buildings still stand today.
In the late afternoon, we will board the train for a 2-hour journey to the town of Aguas Calientes, which is the base for visiting Machu Picchu. The train ride allows for spectacular views of the countryside. Arrive in Aguas Calientes in time to wander around the town on your own before meeting for dinner.
Day 6: Machu Picchu and transfer to Poroy
Today we will have a very early start so that we can arrive at Machu Picchu in time for the majestic sunrise--a once in a lifetime opportunity. You will have breakfast at your hotel and your guide will pick you up and walk with you to the bus station where we will catch the bus that takes us to the entrance to Machu Picchu.
After stopping to take photos, your guide will give a 2-3 hour guided tour of Machu Picchu. We will then take a break to rest and have snacks. There is an option to hike up to the Inka Bridge or to Inti Punku, the sun gate, which used to be the main entrance to Machu Picchu and offers phenomenal views of the entire site.
You will then have two hours of free time to explore on your own before taking the bus back down to the town of Aguas Calientes where we will have lunch and then take a mid afternoon train back to Poroy and you will then have private transport back to your hotel in Cusco.
Day 7: Cusco city tour
This tour will take you to local sites not included in most other city tours. You will be met by your guide at your hotel and we will walk to the bustling San Pedro market, where many Cusqueños start their day. We will stop to have coffee or tea and take a tour of the stands that sell everything from fruits and vegetables, meats and medicinal plants. You will then be led on a tour of the most important historical sites of Cusco including the Plaza de Armas and the main cathedral. Inside the cathedral, you can see a massive silver altar and a painting of the last supper where they are eating guinea pig. We will also will give you a tour of Coricancha, which was the most sacred Inca temple dedicated to Inti, the sun God. When the Spaniards arrived to Cusco, they demolished the temple, using the existing foundation on which to build a colonial church. We will then have lunch in a local restaurant where you can taste cuy (guinea pig).
After lunch, we will drive 15 minutes to the Unesco world heritage site of Sacsayhuaman. Located on a steep outcropping overlooking Cusco, this Inca site is composed of massive boulders held together without mortar. It was an important site for military and ceremonial purposes. You will be given a private tour of the site and we will go to a vista where there are great views overlooking the city of Cusco. Return by private transport to your hotel in Cusco.
Included: All accommodations- all breakfasts, private transport, lunches days 2,3,4,5, dinner day 1, train to and from Machu Picchu, bus to and from Machu Picchu, Boleto turistico (covers entrance to Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, Moray, multiple museums in Cusco, and Sacsayhuaman), snacks
Not included: Lunch days 6 and 7, Dinner days 2,3,4,5,6,7, alcohol, gratuities
Price: Contact us for pricing, will depend on the size of your group and the kind of accomodations you desire