Discover the spectacular land of the sun-worshipping Incas, with its breathtaking mountain landscapes, mystical fortress-cities, and thriving cultural and artistic heritage. With your private guide, enjoy an insider’s walking tour of Cusco, ancient heart of the Inca Empire, and nearby Inca sites including awe-inspiring Saqsayhuaman, the majestic fortress overlooking Cusco. Next you’ll head out to the beautiful Urubamba Valley, sacred to the Incas, to discover the stupendous ruins of Pisac, with its Inca-built terracing, and majestic Ollantaytambo, the hilltop fortress where rebel Manco Inca and his men held out against Pizarro’s forces. Your grand finale brings you to glorious Machu Picchu, a stunning city of stone perched on a sheer precipice 1,500 feet above the Urubamba River. So well hidden in the jungle-covered ramparts of the Cordillera Vilcabamba that the Spaniards never knew of it, this “lost city” allows a vivid experience of the Inca world.
The trip was amazing and beyond my expectations. Our guide was knowledgable, flexible, and just plain fun. It was a treat to not have to think about our next step, just follow him and know that everything was taken care of.
— Bill Z., Burlingame, CA
Cusco, Heart of an Empire
With its maze of cobbled streets and beautiful broad plazas, Cusco is an entrancing city with a unique blend of historical and contemporary cultures. Your private tour takes in Cusco’s lively traditional markets, the artisans’ quarter of San Blas, and, above the city, Sacsayhuaman fortress, whose massive walls of superbly interlocking stone blocks zigzag for almost half a mile.
Inca Fortresses, Quechua Villages
The magnificent Urubamba Valley, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, is filled with traditional Quechua villages and Inca ceremonial sites in fantastic settings. The Incas placed their sacred sites high above their beloved valley, and the crown jewel, Machu Picchu, is perched on a promontory at its easternmost reaches. Explore the off-the-beaten-path village of Chinchero, an old colonial settlement set on a commanding rise at the head of the valley, and meet Quechua master weavers with their intricately crafted textiles. Walk through the ruins of Pisac, the largest fortress-city complex of the Incas, possessing the lofty setting of a condor’s nest, then climb up to the grand stone ruins of majestic Ollantaytambo, terraced beneath the soaring peaks of the Andes. Below the ruins, stroll the lanes of the traditional town of Ollantaytambo, the only Inca settlement still inhabited in Peru—the town retains its original Inca street plan and trapezoidal shape.
Machu Picchu, Lost City of the Incas
Perched on the edge of a sheer precipice above the Urubamba River, Machu Picchu is simply breathtaking, not only for its stunning setting but for the many beautiful structures of intricate stonework. This bewitching sanctuary is the most perfect surviving example of Inca architecture, never looted or damaged by the Spanish conquistadors. A guided walking exploration acquaints you with the mysteries of this stone citadel, a once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll never forget. Return to Cusco on the late afternoon train on Day 5.
Enjoy a final day to savor Cusco, to sample its Nuevo Andino cuisine and fine restaurants, wander the cobblestone streets, or visit its art galleries and museums. Depart on Day 7.