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Cusco Traditional: 3 Days (includes Machu Picchu)
The Cusco traditional tour is the best option to visit Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Cusco is best approached at a leisurely pace, especially for those just arriving at such an elevation (3,400 meters or 11,200 feet). Give yourself at least a day to adjust to the altitude, as well as the ins and outs of life in Cusco. This small, vibrant city of almost half a million people is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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.
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 - Aguas Calientes
After enjoying breakfast at your hotel we will pick you up to begin the day's tour 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 peaks of the 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 City
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: Transfer to Cusco Airport or Train Station
After an early breakfast at your hotel we'll take you to the airport or train, as required, for travel to your next destination.
- Transfers from the hotel to the train station and airport and back
- Tours of Cusco city, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu
- 3 nights accommodation (double occupancy room)
- 3 breakfast, 1 buffet lunch
- All entrance fees
- Bus and train transportation
- Professional guide for the 2-day tour (fluent in English, Spanish, German and Quechua)
- Ticket reservations for transportation, tourist sites, and hotel rooms
- Meals other than noted above
- Discretionary spending, tips
For tips on what to bring, check our Travel Tips page.