Immerse yourself in Peruvian tradition, from pre-Inca to the present, on this weeklong cultural tour around Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Along the journey, you'll see all the major sights, including Cusco's Qoricancha, the UNESCO-honored Machu Picchu, and the ruins of Pisac. But you'll also get off the beaten path, enjoying authentic experiences with locals. Hike with llamas, learn about Inca weaving techniques, and surround yourself with locals in Cusco's central marketplace — these are just a few of the unforgettable activities you'll enjoy on this insightful 7-day adventure.

Highlights

  • Tour Qoricancha ("The Temple of the Sun") and other Cusco landmarks
  • Observe locals and sip a smoothie at Cusco's San Pedro Market
  • Learn about the artisan traditions and techniques of Inca weaving 
  • See the ancient salt "ponds" and terraces of the Sacred Valley
  • Hike with llamas and chat with Peruvian guides
  • Trek to lakes and lagoons, followed by a soak in natural hot springs

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cusco & Get Oriented Cusco
Day 2 Tour Sacsayhuamán & Shop in San Pedro Market Cusco
Day 3 Enjoy a Llama Trek & See the Salt Flats of Maras Sacred Valley
Day 4 Visit Machu Picchu Sacred Valley
Day 5 Tour Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero  Cusco
Day 6 See the Seven Lakes & Hot Springs of Ausangate Cusco
Day 7 Depart Peru - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cusco & Get Oriented

Private Transfer Cusco Airport (CUZ) - Cusco
Cusco, Peru

Welcome to Cusco, Peru! This ancient city is the former capital of the Inca empire, which reigned from the 13th to 16th centuries. Remember: you will be 11,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level, so take it easy and remember to drink lots of water. Since Cusco was designed by the Incas as a city for walking, start your exploration of the narrow stone alleyways on foot. Take a walk through the plaza — if the weather is beautiful, it's a perfect place to sit on a balcony and have a cup of coca tea while adjusting to the elevation. 

Day 2: Tour Sacsayhuamán & Shop in San Pedro Market

Inca ruins at Sacsayhuamán
Inca ruins at Sacsayhuamán
Today you'll tour Cusco and its surrounding area, starting with Sacsayhuamán and Quenqo, archaeological complexes used mostly for religious and agricultural rituals. Although the site of Sacsayhuamán was religious, the Spanish considered it a military fortress because of its location and the way it was built. From here, walk through San Blas, an old bohemian quarter famous for its picturesque white walls, blue doors, and creative artisan community. Continue to the Plaza de Armas, where you will be able to explore the Cathedral and admire its exquisite interiors and priceless paintings. Its construction lasted for almost 100 years, beginning in 1560 and ending in 1654.
 
Just a few blocks away, you will explore one of Cusco’s most impressive buildings, Qoricancha ("The Temple of the Sun"), with interior walls once covered in gold. The temple was built by the Incan Emperor Pachacutec (1438-1572), and after the arrival of the Spaniards, it became the basis for the construction of the Santo Domingo Convent. Your guide will point out smaller temples dedicated to the moon, rainbow, stars, lightning, and thunder, among others. From Qoricancha, you will head to the local San Pedro Market. The locals shop at this market every day to stock up on produce and groceries. Do as the Peruvians do and sample a fresh fruit smoothie from one of the market's many food vendors.

Day 3: Enjoy a Llama Trek & See the Salt Flats of Maras

Peruvians posing with llamas
Start the day early, setting off on a scenic drive to the village of Umasbamba in Chinchero, where you'll go on a walk with llamas and local guides along a light blue shimmering lagoon surrounded by Andean landscapes. Arriving in a village, you'll learn about the techniques and traditions of Inca weaving, including the use of natural plant dyes.
 
Continue your explorations of the Sacred Valley. On arrival in Moray, you'll see three famous amphitheater-like terraces made by the Incas. These bowl-shaped terraces are carved deep into the earth. It is believed that the Incas once used these terraces as agricultural laboratories to determine the optimal conditions for growing crops. When you are done exploring Moray, continue onward to the salt mines of Maras. This village is known as a former salt-producing center and is thought to date back to pre-Incan times. There are over 3,000 salt pools carved into the mountainside, filled daily by a stream of water. You'll overnight at a hotel in the Sacred Valley.

Day 4: Visit Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu in the early morning
This morning you will be transferred to the Ollantaytambo train station to catch your early morning train to Aguas Calientes. From there, it's an easy 25-minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu. Get an early start to beat the crowds and get the best views of the ancient ruins. The 15th-century Inca citadel is located at 7,970 feet (2,430 meters) and is a masterpiece of engineering that served as a sanctuary and retreat for the Incan Emperor Pachacutec and his royal court. Machu Picchu, which means "Old Mountain," is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Built as a seasonal residence for the emperor's family, Machu Picchu was rarely home to more than 800 people; during the royals' absence, a mere 100 servants would remain at the site to maintain the grounds. Machu Picchu was abandoned 100 years after construction and remained largely hidden to the outside world until the early 20th century. 
 
Your guide will lead you around the site and explain the different buildings and curious corners of the building complex. Approximately one-third of the site has been reconstructed into its original structure, giving visitors a sense of the grandeur and artistry of the original citadel.  After the tour,  you will have time to explore Machu Picchu on your own, then take the bus back to Aguas Calientes and have a late lunch or drinks in the picturesque town center. Then ride the train to Ollantaytambo and transfer to Cusco for an overnight.

Day 5: Tour Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero 

Ruins of Pisac
Terraces in the Sacred Valley
This morning you will depart from your hotel in Cusco and travel to Pisac, one of the most important archaeological sites in the region. In this area, you'll explore ancient Inca burial grounds, irrigation systems, and astronomy centers. Next, go down to the town of Pisac, located at the bottom of the valley. This town is famous for its bustling textile market. Select from a wide assortment of colors, styles, and designs for gifts and souvenirs to take home with you.

Next, you'll stop for lunch, enjoying traditional Andean cuisine at a restaurant in a beautiful setting overlooking the Urubamba River. Then head to the ancient Incan city of Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that have retained their original Inca urban planning. Walk through the streets with Inca-era canals and view the ancient houses still in use today. Climb the agricultural terraces where you can enjoy an Inca’s-eye-view of the valley. From the top, you’ll be able to see some of the quarries from where the stone for Ollantaytambo was sourced. It’s amazing to think how far these large stones were transported from, especially considering the Incas didn’t have pack animals strong enough to carry them. Finish the day's tour in Chinchero, exploring more ruins before making your way back to Cusco for the evening.

Day 6: See the Seven Lakes & Hot Springs of Ausangate

Groupal Ausangate  Seven Lakes tour & Hot Springs
One of the seven lakes of Ausangate

Today you'll experience the best of Ausangate! Rise early for the drive to Pacchanta at an elevation of 14,108 feet (4,300 m), passing by quaint villages and mountain scenery on the trip. After breakfast, you will start hiking towards a series of lakes and lagoons, including Azulcocha, Otorongococha, Pucacocha, Alqacocha, and Q’omercocha. Each lake has a stunning view of surrounding mountains. Soaring ice-tipped peaks, native Quechua people, native flowers, and songbirds will complement your hike through highlands, spotting llamas and alpacas along the way. At the end of the hike, you will soak in the hot springs to relax your muscles. You'll head back to Cusco in the evening and enjoy one last Peruvian-style dinner before the trip ends on day seven.

Day 7: Depart Peru - End of Trip

Cusco's Plaza de Armas after dark

Today the trip comes to an end. You'll transfer to the airport to catch a flight out. Safe travels!

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