8 days

Cusco & the Sacred Valley

Cusco & the Sacred Valley

UNESCO World Heritage-listed historic centre of the Peruvian capital Lima

UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient Inca capital of Cusco

The towering Inca citadel at Ollantaytambo

The colourful market town of Pisac

The 'Lost City of the Incas' - UNESCO World Heritage-listed Machu Picchu

Trip rating
  • It's possible in just over one week to sample some of Peru’s rich mix of culture, history and mountain scenery. After exploring the main sights of Lima’s colonial centre, we cross the mountains to Cusco and visit the massive fortifications, temples and colourful towns of the Sacred Valley. After catching a train to the town of Aguas Calientes, we visit the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu. The Spanish Conquistadors missed the ruins during their conquest of the region and they remained lost to the outside world until American explorer Hiram Bingham discovered them in 1911. There are plenty of sightseeing options in Cusco and we also have time to wander the narrow streets and shop for some great keepsakes, including alpaca sweaters and colourful Indian hats that are unique to the Andes.

    Itinerary

    Day 1-2 - Lima

    On arrival at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport you are transferred to your hotel in the well-known coastal suburb of Miraflores. In the evening you meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. Please check the noticeboard near the hotel reception for confirmation of the exact time and place of the meeting (please note that if a significant number of group members are arriving late into Lima, this meeting may be held sometime on Day 2). This meeting is generally followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant. Lima has some of the most superb cuisine in South America and is especially renowned for its exceptional seafood. During your time here, you may wish to try ceviche, Peru’s national dish, which is raw fish marinated in lime juice and often served with hot peppers. This culinary delight is a must for all seafood lovers!

    On the morning of Day 2 we start our exploration of the Peruvian capital with a half-day city tour. Founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro, it was from Lima that all Spanish territories in South America were governed. Few cities at that time could rival Lima’s power, wealth and opulence. However its glory days ended in 1746 when the city was virtually destroyed by an earthquake. Many of the colonial buildings were rebuilt and we get a first-hand look at several of them on our tour. The striking Plaza Mayor (Plaza de Armas), flanked by some of the most important buildings in town such as the cathedral, the huge Government Palace and the Archbishop’s Palace, constitutes the heart of the city. We visit the cathedral and the nearby San Francisco Monastery, with its catacombs containing some 70,000 human remains. We also visit the impressive National Museum of Anthropology, Archaeology and History of Peru, which is home to a wonderful collection of cultural exhibits tracing the history, arts and accomplishments of the people of Peru, ranging from the original inhabitants of the land through to the Inca Empire and the Spanish conquerors. The afternoon is free to do your own exploration of Lima. You may wish to wander around Miraflores or perhaps catch a taxi to visit the Gold Museum or the Larco Museum, which is renowned for its ancient pottery collection. Please remember that you must agree on a fare with the driver before catching a taxi, as the taxis here do not have meters. (Miraflores-Downtown approximately 10-15 soles)

    Breakfast

    Day 3-4 - Cusco - The Sacred Valley

    Today we fly to the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, where we take an afternoon walking tour to explore this fascinating city. Please remember to walk slowly and take it reasonably easy upon arrival, as you will no doubt feel the effects of altitude as we have travelled from sea level up to 3350 metres. Cusco is a favourite destination of many visitors to Peru. Its main sites radiate outwards from the Plaza de Armas, which is dominated by the 17th century Baroque cathedral. It was in this very plaza that the Spanish conquistadors put to death the last Inca king, Tupac Amaru I. As we wander the streets and side alleys of the city we witness the perfect tapering Inca stonework that provided the foundations for many of Cusco’s colonial and modern buildings. Our comprehensive sightseeing tour of the city’s main sights includes the cathedral and Koricancha Temple. We then take to the surrounding hills and visit the impressive ceremonial ruins of Sacsayhuaman, where massive stone blocks that form the walls of this site give us an awesome picture of how highly developed Inca engineering was. In our free time, it is also possible to visit the Inca Museum, Religious Art Museum, Church of San Blas and Santa Catalina Museum.

    The Sacred Valley, located between the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, was greatly treasured because of its climate, fertile land and the presence of the Urubamba (Sacred) River. On our full day tour of the Sacred Valley, we will see evidence of the Incas' engineering skills in the ruins of ancient aqueducts, irrigation canals, dams on the Urubamba River, imposing sets of terraces and centres of worship dedicated to Pachamama (Mother Earth). At the Sacred Valley we visit the Awana Kancha tourist centre where we see llama, alpaca, vicuna and guanaco all in the one place, the ruins at Qenko, the colourful market town of Pisac and the towering Inca citadel at Ollantaytambo. Built on a steep mountainside this grand citadel served as both a temple and fortress. A walk up to the top is rewarded by fine views over the village and out further into the valley.

    Breakfast

    Day 5 - Peru's Challenge Community Project - Cusco

    This morning we enjoy a visit to the Peru's Challenge Community Project at Pumamarca, located in a beautiful valley just 10 kilometres from the centre of Cusco. The Peru's Challenge Program works to create opportunities for children living in the Andes region. The program was started by Australian, Jane Gavel and Selvy Ugaz from Peru. Since October 2003, Peru’s Challenge has helped nearly 1000 families and started to educate over 500 children in numerous communities. We are a sponsor of the Peru’s Challenge program at Pumamarca, providing support through the 'Small Loans for Community Development’ scheme and through the Peregrine Community Trust. The visit offers a rare look at the challenges faced by many small farming communities around Peru. It is both educational and inspirational.

    During our visit we wander through the fields and watch the locals tend their crops, whilst in the village we visit the local school and also see the women working in the handicraft centre. If you wish to make a donation to the Peru’s Challenge program, the Peregrine Community Trust is the easiest and most convenient way to do so. Details on our Trust can be found at http://www.peregrineadventures.com/community-trust.

    We return to Cusco in the early afternoon.

    Breakfast

    Day 6-7 - Machu Picchu - Aguas Calientes - Cusco

    We board an early morning train to the town of Aguas Calientes where we overnight. There are some small shops and restaurants in the town where we can while the time away. The next morning we take a bus up the steep, zigzagging road to the impressive Lost City of the Incas - Machu Picchu. Built around 1450 the city was deserted less than a century later following the Spanish invasion and ‘lost’ for hundreds of years before it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. The architecture of Machu Picchu is quite extraordinary, with the mortar-free design particularly earthquake resistant and the stones so precisely cut that to this day not even a knife fits between them. We tour the site with our guide and then have some free time to explore by ourselves, before taking the bus down to the small town of Aguas Calientes. In the late afternoon we take the train back to Cusco.

    Breakfast

    Day 8 - Lima

    After breakfast we are transferred to the airport, where we fly back to Lima. Our tour ends on arrival at Lima Airport. If you wish to extend your stay in Lima tonight and on any other subsequent nights, as well as arrange an airport to hotel transfer, it is possible to book these additional services at the same time you book your main tour. If you are planning to depart Lima today, we advise that you do not book to depart until at least after 6pm (18:00 hrs).

    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Peregrine tour leader, arrival transfer, transport, sightseeing and entrance fees.

    Not Included

    • International flights, domestic flights, airport departure taxes, visas where required, meals not included in the itinerary, insurance, laundry, any optional tours or activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature.
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Cusco & the Sacred Valley

    David and Lynda - New Zealand, 18 Mar, 2013
    5
    Overall Rating

    This was the first time we had been on a tour and we were not disappointed. The history and historical sites of Peru were fantastic. Our guides were excellent and we shared the trip with a great group of people.

    Cusco & the Sacred Valley

    Michael - Australia, 1 Apr, 2013
    5
    Overall Rating

    I took this trip as a recon tour.Basically to fine out more about Peru.How to get around,money,people,culture,history and the food. This tour ticked all the boxes.The tour guide were outstanding always helpful and very knowlegdable.The whole tour was run smoothly without hassel. Out accomodation excellent.I rate Peregrine tours as the best tour company i have ever traveled with. Thank you Peregrine and our tour leader Daniel Ramos. So impressed i will return with to Peru again.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PSCS
Group size 4 - 15
Start City: Lima
End City: Lima

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