Naturally a visit to Machu Picchu is at the top of everyone’s list when visiting Peru and there are of course many, many companies offering tours. That’s why at Vicuña Adventures we like to offer itineraries that are a little different from our competitors, tours that allow our customers to get just that little bit closer to the true Peru, and the real spirit of our ancestors. This exciting 4 day itinerary is definitely no exception!
Known across the planet as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the ancient Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu is by far the most spectacular creation of the 15th century Inca Empire. No matter how many National Geographic photos you may have seen, nothing will prepare you for seeing those views for the first time. It really is a moving, often spiritual experience. Nestled amongst massive rock formations high above the Urubamba river and in the middle of a tropical mountain forest it is no wonder the site was never discovered by the Spanish Colonists.
This 4 day itinerary begins with a full day city tour of Cusco, taking in not only the most important sites in and around the city but also visiting the bustling local market of San Pedro. Day Two takes us deep into the Sacred Valley where we will have an opportunity to see local artisans working their craft, as well as visiting the visually stunning ruins at Moray and the fascinating salt mines at Maras. Day three is all about Machu Picchu! Starting with the spectacular sunrise over the Andes we make our very own pilgrimage to the Sacred Citadel, where our expert guide will provide fascinating 2-3 hour tour of the site. The final day of this tour is in some ways our favourite, as it is an opportunity to really give our customers an authentic local experience. As well as visiting some of the most spectacular ruins in the area, we will also visit a thriving local market and spend time at a working farm where we will enjoy a picnic lunch with the family, surrounded by the best views that the Sacred Valley has to offer!
We arrange all tickets and transfers, your hotel on Day 2 and meals where indicated. So you really can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!
Cusco city tour
We love our Cusco City tour as it takes you to truly local sites not included in most other city tours. Our friendly, expert guide will meet you at your hotel and we will walk to our first stop of the day, the bustling San Pedro market. We will have coffee or tea alongside the many Cusqueños starting their day before taking a tour of the market stalls, selling everything from fruits and vegetables, to meats and medicinal plants.
Next we take a tour of the most important historical sites of Cusco including the breathtaking, bustling Plaza de Armas and it’s spectacular main cathedral. Inside the cathedral, you can see a massive silver altar and a painting of the Last Supper where, like true Peruvians, they are eating guinea pig!
Coricancha was the most sacred Inca temple and was dedicated to Inti, the Sun God. When the Spaniards arrived in Cusco they demolished the temple and used the existing foundation to build a colonial church. After taking a tour of the site we will have lunch in a local restaurant where you can taste Guinea Pig for yourself (just like the Disciples!)
After lunch, we drive 30 minutes to the ruins at Tambomachay where the Incas performed sacred water rituals, and then on to Pukapucara, another important ceremonial site. Next we visit the Unesco world heritage site of Sacsayhuaman. Located on a steep outcrop overlooking Cusco, this Inca site was an important site for military and ceremonial purposes and is composed almost entirely of massive boulders held together without mortar (don’t worry, they haven’t moved yet!)
You will be given a private tour of the site before we head to a vista where there are great views overlooking the city. Here we will take a rest and enjoy the sunset before returning by private transport back to your Cusco hotel.
Another option for this tour is to start at Tambomachay and hike down to visit the other Inca sites, then walk from Sacsayhuaman to Cusco (about 2.5 hours total of walking) having lunch in the main square before finishing the afternoon touring the city.
Chinchero, Maras, Moray and transfer to Aguas Calientes
You will be picked up from your hotel at around 0830 for a 45 minute drive through beautiful mountains and farmlands to the town of Chinchero. A town where many of the old traditions still exist, we will visit the women's weaving cooperative to watch a demonstration of local weavers who are still using Inca techniques for dyeing fabric and for weaving traditional patterns. There will be time too to browse the shop which sells Inca style purses, tablecloths, wall hangings, and many other colourful and exquisitely patterned artisanal goods.
About 50km from Cusco, and a little off the beaten track, are the magnificent ruins of Moray. The deep bowl-shaped hollows of Moray resemble a Roman amphitheatre. Circular in shape, and with step-like terraces rising high above the valley floor, the exact purpose of these intriguing concentric terraces is only speculated, although it is widely believed to have been some kind of Incan agricultural laboratory.
The Salt Mines at Maras are our final stop before lunch. Located in the high plains above Urubamba, these ancient mines were created by the Incas but (thanks to the interest of some celebrity Peruvian chefs!) are still in use today. The thousands of pools or ‘pocitos’ are a spectacular site, each yielding around 150kg of salt per month. The famous Peruvian Pink Salt found in markets throughout Peru is sourced here at Maras.
We will enjoy lunch together at a local restaurant in the Sacred Valley town of Urubamba before driving to Ollantaytambo. This 15th Century town still retains much of it’s ancient splendour and you will enjoy wandering the small cobbled backstreets before dinner.
After dinner we take the train for a spectacular 2-hour journey to the town of Aguas Calientes, our base for visiting Machu Picchu. As the train carves along the Sacred Valley floor, you will get spectacular views of the surrounding area from the comfort of your seat.
Arriving in Aguas Calientes, your guide will escort you to your hotel to checkin for a comfortable nights rest ahead of our early start for Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu and return to Cusco
Our 2nd day starts early, as we want to arrive at the gates of Machu Picchu in time for the majestic sunrise over the Andes. This in itself is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Your hotel will provide an early breakfast and your guide will pick you up to walk with you to the bus station where we catch the bus together to Machu Picchu. Driving for 45 minutes on a winding road upwards, you will see and feel the day beginning to break across the mountains.
Entering the Sacred Citadel for the first time is a memory that will stay with you forever. No amount of National Geographic photographs can do it justice! For many people, standing in the same place as the ancient Inca pilgrims is a truly spiritual experience.
There will be plenty of time to take photos before your guide begins a 2-3 hour guided tour. Experts in the history of the site, our guides and their stories provide the perfect complement to the magnificent ruins that surround you.
Taking a short break to rest and maybe enjoy a snack, there is an option to hike up to the Inka Bridge or to Inti Punku, the Sun Gate, which used to be the main entrance to Machu Picchu and offers spectacular views of the entire site. You will then have two hours of free time to explore on your own before taking the bus back down to Aguas Calientes.
We will have lunch together before taking a mid afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo or Poroy where you will have a private transfer back to your hotel in Cusco.
Ollantaytambo, lunch and Sacred Valley farm , local market & Pisac
Collecting you after breakfast from your hotel, we will drive to visit the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo. Once the lodging of the Inca emperor Pachacutec it later served as a military checkpoint for the Incas trying to protect the roads to Machu Picchu from the invading Spaniards. Our guide will take you on a tour of the terraced ruins, fountains and aqueducts as well as the storage houses that were used by the Incas to maximize winds to keep their crops cool and preserved.
We will then have time to wander the streets of one of the oldest towns in Peru, where many 15th century Inca buildings still stand today before driving 20 minutes to the town of Yanahuara where we will visit a working farm. Touring the farm lands with the farmer and our guide you will cut Alfalfa to feed the guinea pigs, and see first hand how Chicha (corn beer) is made. After such a busy morning we will enjoy a picnic lunch together with the family, sat outside overlooking the Sacred Valley.
After lunch , we visit the authentic locals market in Urubamba. Here we will see families selling an eclectic mix of fruits, vegetables, flowers and natural medicinal plants. If you’ve never visited a South American market before, then the variety of smells from the many different types of food, the noise of the market sellers bartering with their customers, and the vibrant, vivid colours are a real attack on the senses! In the capable hands of your guide, you will have a tour of the market and even have the opportunity to sample some unusual Peruvian fruits such as Lucma, Chirimoya and Passion Fruit. You will also get a lesson on the ingredients involved in making Chicha, a corn beer that has been an important part of Peruvian culture since Inca times.
Then we will drive for an hour to the majestic ruins at Pisac where we will visit the spectacular terraced Inca ruins that are situated high above the valley floor. We will climb to the top of the ruins for amazing views of the Sacred Valley, and here your guide will teach you about the religious, astronomical and military functions of the site and the terraces that allowed the Incas to grow food at altitudes above 11,000 feet!
After visiting the ruins, there will be a chance to hike on a little known, seldom used original Inca trail and through a tunnel that was built by the Incas. One of the largest surviving Inca cemeteries is also located in the ruins at Pisac and we will also tour this part of the site.
Pisac is perhaps most famous for its lively artisan handicrafts market in the main square, and this last stop on our tour gives us the perfect opportunity to mingle with the local people and maybe buy some authentic local souvenirs before taking the private transfer to your hotel in Cusco.
- Groups of 2: $840 per person
- Groups of 3-4: $820 per person
- Groups of 4-6: $800 per person
- Groups of 6 or more: $750 per person
INCLUDED IN PRICE
- Private transport pickup & return to Hotel
- Train to and from Aguas Calientes
- Bus tickets to and from Machu Picchu
- Entrance fees to Machu Picchu & private guided tour of the site
- Hotel in Aguas Calientes (Tierra Viva or similar caliber. Upgrades possible on request)
NOT INCLUDED IN PRICE
- Lunch and dinner both days
- Boleto Turistico for entrance into Ollantaytambo (130 soles ($37) covers entrance to Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, Moray, multiple museums in Cusco, and Sacsayhuaman or half ticket: 70 soles ($23) which covers only some of these sites)