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Value Peru: Sacred Valley of the Incas to Lake Titicaca

12 days from £1797pp

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Value Peru: Sacred Valley of the Incas to Lake Titicaca

12 days from £1797pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Lima. Airport assistance.
 

You will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel just a few steps from the airport.

Day 2

Fly to Cusco; guided tour of the city and Sacsayhuamán temple fortress.
 
Return to the airport for the one hour flight to Cusco.

The name Cusco derives from the Quechua word for navel, indicating its location at the centre of the Inca Empire. Today its many impressive original Inca walls display extraordinary craftsmanship, while the bustling squares are dotted with ornate baroque colonial churches. It’s a vivacious city, where shoeshine boys and postcard sellers jostle for your attention in cobbled streets lined with handicraft shops and cafés. In the evening, the town centre fills with people flocking to the many restaurants, bars and cafés.

Today take a guided tour of the city. You visit Q’oricancha, once the principal Inca Sun Temple, with extraordinarily intricate stonework, and then explore the colossal zigzag walls of Sacsayhuamán, brooding on a hillside above Cusco. The first conquistadores to see this temple fortress were awestruck; centuries later it is still an extraordinary and imposing sight.

Cusco

Day 3

Day at leisure in Cusco.
 

Day at leisure to explore Cusco.

If you are staying during the week then there is the opportunity to visit a charity set up by a Dutchwoman, Jolanda van den Berg, to fund the provision of daily hot meals, warm showers, medical/dental care, homework and sports lessons for 500 extremely disadvantaged children in Cusco. There is no charge and no request for money; donations are accepted from anyone who wishes to contribute to the project's continuing success.

Los Ninos treet children

Day 4

Guided exploration of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
 
A guided tour exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The drive takes in several of the villages and temple fortresses that pepper the valley. You visit the artisan market in Pisaq village, dominated by the terraces and fortress high above. Continue along this picturesque, patchwork valley to the fortress/temple of Ollantaytambo. The snow-capped Andean cordillera forms a stunning backdrop. The village sits sitting strategically at the gateway to the Amazon basin.

The fortress, the colonial grid plan and the Inca foundations are still intact and there are wonderful views down over the sloping hillsides and into the fertile valley.

Sacred valley

Day 5

At leisure in the Sacred Valley.
 

At leisure in the Sacred Valley. You can go horse riding, biking or walking. Alternatively relax in the tranquil countryside.

sacred valley

Day 6

By road and train to Machu Picchu, guided tour of the site.
 

By road back to Ollantaytambo to board the train (1.5hrs) to the ruins of Machu Picchu. As the river Urubamba enters its narrow gorge between thickly-forested granite hills, there is room only for a single track, which hugs the right bank and passes through hamlets that are no more than a collection of shacks beside the railway. Close to the foot of the mountain on a saddle of which the citadel was built is the lively village of Machu Picchu dedicated to serving the many visitors with artisan markets, bars and restaurants.

The majestic ruined city, reclaimed from tropical cloud forest, is reached by minibus up a sinuous road, or on foot up a near vertical rocky path. The American explorer Hiram Bingham discovered it in 1911, by which time it was completely buried beneath jungle vegetation. It is set on a ridge spur amid forested peaks and above a roaring river canyon. You will have a guided tour of the ruins and there is time later to take one of the many trails within the site itself, such as the hike to the vertiginous Inca Bridge, carved into a cliff edge; or wander amongst the stone buildings and llama-dotted grassy ledges, soaking up the atmosphere.

Machu Picchu

Day 7

Return by rail and road to Cusco.
 

There’s the opportunity to return to the site of Machu Picchu. Getting up early and taking the first buses up to the Machu Picchu is well worth it... The site is virtually empty and the early morning mists swirl around the surrounding mountain tops. There’s an option to climb the torturously steep Huayna Picchu mountain (must be booked in advance); alternatively enjoy the thermal baths or walks in the village below. Return to Cusco by rail and road.

machu picchu

Day 8

Day at leisure in Cusco.
 
At leisure in Cusco.

Cusco is a compact city, easy to explore on foot independently. You are at leisure to discover the colourful markets, the many churches and museums, and to wander the attractive narrow streets.

There are optional excursions in the surrounding region, including a trip to Maras and Moray, about an hour’s drive from Cusco, should you wish to venture outside of the city. Moray is a system of ancient agricultural irrigation paths which now form circular depressions in the earth, with wonderful views into the Sacred Valley and in the shadow of the snowy peak of Mount Veronica. From here it is a short walk to the salt pans at Maras, circular pans of glistening white carved into the mountainside. Feeling you’d like to be active? White-water rafting, cycling and horse riding are on offer.

Moray

Day 9

By coach to Puno on Lake Titicaca.
 
By public coach (tourist service) to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

The lonely road follows the fertile Urubamba valley, through fields of crops and livestock and adobe villages, up to a windswept grassy plain framed by jagged mountains. During the 9hr hour journey there are short stops at: Andahuaylillas, where the town's ornate, baroque 17th-century church has beautiful frescoes and an impressive gilded altar; Huaro, Raqchi, here the Temple to Viracocha is the largest roofed building ever built by the Incas: this is one of Peru's most stunning Inca sites; and Pucará, famous for its pre-Inca ruins and local pottery, where you visit the little museum.

There is a short stop at la Raya, with a backdrop of snow-capped peaks, and a buffet or three course lunch is served at Sicuani. There is an English-speaking guide, refreshments and a toilet on board.

Andahuayillas church

Day 10

By boat to Taquile Island; overnight with a family at Luquina Chico.
 
Take a boat trip to the remote and tranquil island of Taquile with its stunning views of Lake Titicaca. Around 1,500 Quechua-speaking indians continue to live in this remote community and many still wear the traditional hand-woven dress. The island, 7km long, is devoid of roads and vehicles, its terraced hills scattered with pre-Inca ruins.

Continue by boat to the indigenous village of Luquina Chico on the Chucuito Peninsula. This community-based tourism initiative has strict controls over visitor access and a visit allows you to spend time with locals and learn more about their way of life. During the afternoon, walk along the lakeshore and enjoy the scenery.

Overnight with a family in the village.

Taquile ladies

Day 11

Return to Puno.
 

After breakfast with the family there is time to go for a walk or rent a sailboat before a restaurant lunch. In the afternoon, visit the floating Uros Islands, constructed and reconstructed from layers of tortora reeds by the Uros indians over several centuries. Today no pure-blooded Uros remain, but the islands are still home to several hundred inhabitants.

Although the islanders now earn a living mainly from tourism, their unique way of life continues to be totally 'interwoven' with the tortora reeds - their boats, houses and even the football pitch are all made from this material. Afterwards, return to Puno.

Uros islands

Day 12

Visit Sillustani ruins, fly to Lima and connect with international flight home.
 
En route to Juliaca airport you will visit the ancient burial ground of Sillustani, 32 km from Puno. The site lies on top of a small hill overlooking Lake Uyamo, and is most notable for its chullpas - the funerary towers where the Aymara-speaking Colla people buried their nobility. Although not built by the Incas - the engineering involved in the construction is regarded as far more complex than that seen in much Inca construction - most date from the period of Inca occupation.

The most impressive of the towers, of which there were thousands, are 12m high and are scattered throughout the area. A closer look at those still standing reveals some interesting carvings of reptiles and mammals.

Transfer to airport for flight to Lima, connecting with international flight home.

Sillustani

12 days from £1797pp

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