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Cusco Imperial: 4 Days (includes Machu Picchu)
Situated in the heart of the centreal Peruvian Andes, the city of Cusco sites at 3,400 m (about 11,200 feet) above sea level, in a fertile alluvial valley fed by several rivers. The site was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th into the 16th century until the Spanish conquest. The Constitution of Peru designates Cusco as the Historical Capital of Peru.
Day 1: Cusco City Tour
Upon arrival in Cusco you will be met at the airport and transported to your selected hotel, then have the morning free, including lunch as you choose (we can recommend restaurants to suit your tastes). At 13:30 pm we begin a guided tour through the city. The highlights include Qoricancha (Golden Place), now the Santo Domingo Convent, one of the most important religious centers of the Inca period, and the Cathedral of Cusco, which houses about 300 religious paintings and other fine works of the Cusco Art School.
Next we head to the outskirts of the city to Inca sites that have remained intact over the centuries. Sacsahuaman (Puma’s Head) is a majestic place of impressive stones, some up to 120 tons, which were carried by workers from remote quarries. The famous Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun is celebrated every year at Sacsahuaman. The other sites are Qenqo (Labyrinth) and finally Pucapucara and Tambomachay, which housed baths and quarters for the Inca ruler ('Inca' in fact means 'supreme ruler') and his extensive retinue of soldiers and attendants. We end the tour by returning you to your hotel, for an overnight in Cusco.
Day 2: Cusco - Sacred Valley of the Incas - Aguas Calientes
After enjoying breakfast at your hotel we will pick you up to begin the day's journey at 8:30am. We travel in a comfortable bus along the Sacred Valley to the small market town of Pisac. Here we are at a significantly lower elevation (about 2,900 meters or 9,700 feet). We'll have a beautiful walk on original Inca trails, built in the 15th - 16th centuries, observing the brilliant engineering of the Incas.
After a buffet lunch we continue our travel back in time at the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo, about 60 km (37 miles) northwest of Cusco. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti. During the Spanish conquest the town was a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance. The ruins here encompass the military, religious, administrative and agricultural spheres of the Incan world.
From Ollantaytambo we travel by train (as there are no roads that follow this route) to Aguas Calientes (also called Machu Picchu town), which is 112 km (70 miles) from Cusco. During the journey we see the Urubamba River (which is known upstream by its Aymara name Willkanuta, hispanicized as Vilcanota), and the snowy capped peak of Veronica Mountain. Our staff will be waiting for you at the train station to take you to your hotel, where you can relax and enjoy a walk around this compact little tourist town. Overnight in Aguas Calientes.
Day 3: Machu Picchu - Cusco
From Aguas Calientes it's a comfortable but winding 20-minute bus ride up to the Machu Picchu ruins. Your expert guide will tell you all about Machu Picchu’s fascinating history and legends, bringing alive the ancient stones. Situated on the spine of a jungle-cloaked granite peak towering 600 meters above the meandering Urubamba below, the site is frequently shrouded in misty clouds pierced by the powerful equatorial sun. Constructed from precisely sculptured granite blocks carefully joined with the projecting exposed stone of the surrounding mountain, the site may well be the finest architectural achievement of the new world.
Highlights of the tour include the general archeological site, its craft industry, agriculture, housing, royal tomb, the temple of the sun, Inti Huatana (a ritual stone associated with the Incan calendar or astronomic clock), the famous three windows structure, the sun dial, the gazebo, and more. In the afternoon we take the train back to either Ollantaytambo or Poroy station then return the rest of the way to Cusco by car or bus. Overnight in Cusco.
Day 4 : Maras, Moray, Salt Mines Of Maras
In the morning, your private tour guide and driver will take you off the beaten path to Maras, a typical Andean village 51 km (30 miles) northwest of Cusco. Maras is situated on a high plateau at about 3,500 meters (11,500 feet). Here you will walk through the streets and get a sense that you are walking during the time of the Incas as a lot of the culture has remained very similar. The people continue to wear traditional clothing and the town is lined with historical buildings. You will visit the very impressive San Francisco Church, including visits to the baptism room and bell tower, where you will have a great view of the village and its surrounding snow capped mountains. Next, we will drive you to the incredible circular terraces of Moray, which, like so many Inca sites, has a sophisticated irrigation system. It is thought the terraces were used as an Incan laboratory to test and acclimatize crops, because of the microclimatic conditions and other special characteristics. After Moray, we will have a nice lunch in a local house nearby. Following lunch, you will have an opportunity to visit the salt terraces of Maras, to see and learn about an ancient pre-Incan method of producing salt. Our vehicle then returns us to Cusco.
After an early breakfast at the hotel you will be transferred at the airport for your journey home or on to your next destination.
- All transfers to hotels, airports, and stations
- Tours in Cusco, Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Moray and Maras
- All transportation for the tours and bus tickets
- Train tickets roundtrip Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo
- Professional tourist guide (fluent in English, Spanish, German and Quechua)
- Entrance tickets to all the attractions on the tour
- 3 nights hotel in Cusco
- 1 night in hotel in Aguas Calientes
- 4 breakfast buffet in hotels, 1 lunch buffet in the Sacred Valley
- Meals, other than noted above
- Discretionary spending, tips
For tips on what to bring, check our Travel Tips page.