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Still shrouded in the mysteries of Inca civilization, Cusco’s Sacred Valley is a treasure trove of ancient sites, dramatic landscapes, and Andean villages that still cling to age-old traditions. Starting in magical Cusco, trace the legacy of the Inca all the way to their crowning achievement: the citadel of Machu Picchu. Immerse yourself in this enchanting land, meeting artisans and farmers and getting acquainted with daily life in the Andes. Stay in a historic manor house, go stargazing high in the mountains, and enjoy two full days to explore Machu Picchu and its environs.
Arrive at Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco, the gateway to Peru’s Inca heartland. Settle into your hotel, a restored 16th-century manor once home to Simón Bolívar, and enjoy an architectural tour of the manor. Take the rest of the day to relax or explore Cusco’s old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Embark on a sightseeing tour of the sacred city of Cusco this morning with your Local Specialist, admiring the 16th century Spanish colonial buildings that stand on the foundations of former Inca temples and palaces. See the baroque Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas and 17th century Church of Santo Domingo. Visit the site of the Sacsayhuaman fortress and see nearby warehouses where the Incas once stored their grain. In the afternoon, explore this captivating city further at your leisure.
Begin your three-day journey through the Sacred Valley of the Inca. In Awanacancha, learn about the history of llamas and other camelids that call this region home. Test your bargaining skills in the colorful stalls of Pisac’s famous market and visit the studio of an artist who uses ancient Peruvian ceramic techniques. Continue to your lodge, perched on the emerald slopes of the Sacred Valley. This evening, join a naturalist in the lodge’s on-site Chicha House for a hands-on lesson in brewing, chicha de jora, a popular local drink made of fermented corn.
Follow the Sacred Valley’s most scenic roads, passing through a patchwork of verdant fields set beneath snowcapped peaks. At a weaving center supported by The Center of Traditional Textiles of Cusco, attend a private demonstration on the production of Andean textiles. Traditional weaving and wool-dying practices have been recently revived thanks to the efforts of Nilda Callañaupa, a master weaver native to the valley and her family. See the terraced remains of impressive Inca agriculture systems at Chinchero and Moray. Then visit the white salt mines stacked on the slopes of Maras.
The mystical Society of the Incas takes centre stage today. Explore the town of Ollantaytambo, where colonial buildings were erected upon the original Inca street plan. This afternoon, learn about everyday life in the Andean village of Patakancha.
Make your way to Machu Picchu, the renowned 15th-century Inca citadel rediscovered by a local Farmer, Agustín Lizárraga in 1902 and excavated by Hiram Bingham in 1911. Choose to take the scenic train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes or disembark early for an optional short trek on the Inca Trail with a private guide (at an additional cost). Hike through lesser known Inca sites to the famous Sun Gate, where you can take in your first views of Machu Picchu. Your home for the next two nights is a hotel nestled within its own private cloud forest reserve just below the citadel. At twilight, stroll through the grounds with a lodge guide to hear the sounds of the cloud forest.
Choose to rise early to catch the early morning light over Machu Picchu. Delve into the mysteries of this once-great civilisation, admiring the 15th century stone ruins of temples, palaces and terraces perched high amidst the clouds. Join your Natventure Expert for an exploration of the iconic great Temple of the Sun, the House of the Priest, the Sacred Plaza and the Intihuatana, an intricately carved rock most likely used as a sundial centuries ago. Spend the afternoon immersed in the magic of this mysterious and awe-inspiring place.
Go on a guided nature walk through the lush grounds of the lodge, where hundreds of orchid, bird, and butterfly species make their home. Join a naturalist for a visit to the lodge’s spectacled bear rehabilitation program before traveling back to Cusco, where you have another free afternoon to explore. This evening, gather for a regional dinner at a local restaurant, enjoying Cusquenian dishes, ancestral dance performances and Pisco Sour.
After breakfast, transfer to the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport and connect with your flight home or consider extending your holiday. Please note: if you have a long layover in Lima, we can arrange a tour of the city’s highlights. Discover the cathedral and other colonial buildings of the historic center, a World Heritage site, and examine pre-Columbian treasures at the Larco Herrera Museum.
This Expedition has an activity rating of light/moderate and suits a range of interests and abilities. Travelers should be physically fit and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods, navigating uneven or steep terrain, and climbing stairs without handrails. Excursions include city walking tours, visits to archaeological sites, and moderate hikes, with options for more strenuous hikes. You will be traveling at high elevations throughout the expedition: Cusco is at an altitude of 3,400 meters, the Sacred Valley is at 2,800 meters, and Machu Picchu is at 2,400 meters.
Throughout the Expedition, you’ll stay in accommodations selected for their exceptional quality, location, and character.
A top private guide will accompany you throughout the Expedition, and local experts will meet with you along the way as described in the itinerary.
We have arranged all of your transportation needs during your stay in Peru as specified in your Expedition itinerary. When spending time on your own, you may choose to visit a site that requires transportation. If this is the case, your private guide will happily recommend convenient transportation options.
Please note that the activities at Inkaterra La Casona, Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, and Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel may be a shared service with others outside your travel pod.
Natventure Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. These Expeditions are designed to fit into your schedule. You choose your desired departure date, and we’ll make all the arrangements.