Cusco is the heart of Tahuantinsuyo, Peru’s pre- Colombian Empire. It is the oldest inhabited city in South America, a fascinating and colorful paradox of the past and the present
At 11,200 feet above sea level, Cusco is the heart of Tahuantinsuyo, Peru's pre- Colombian Empire. Cusco today is the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America, a fascinating and colorful paradox of the past and the present. Discover the Sacred Valley and see the town of Ollantaytambo where the inhabitants still live much the same way as the Quechuas did during the Inca times. Shop in the picturesque indigenous market located in Pisac and visit the ruins surrounded by the most impressive Inca terraces in all of Peru.
Travel by train following the course of the mighty Urubamba River and spend two magical days exploring Machu Picchu and its surrounding areas. The complex was so well hidden by the towering jungle covered ramparts of the Cordillera Vilcabamba that it was never discovered by the Spaniards. Machu Picchu preserves the most perfect picture of what the Inca world must have been like. However, much of its origins and purpose are lost in time. Explore Cusco visiting the Temple of the Sun, the Cathedral and the immense walled complex of Sacsayhuaman.
- walk the ancient villages of Ollantaytambo and Pisac
- photograph alpacas and vicuñas at Awanacancha
- visit the Inca temple of Koricancha (Temple of the Sun)
- guide tour of the historic Cusco Cathedral and central square
- walk the grounds of the majestic complex of Sacsayhuaman
- stunning scenery during train ride to Machu Picchu
- private guided tour of Machu Picchu
- nature walk in the cloud forest near Machu Picchu
- explore historic Cusco and it’s most important sites
Cusco – Awanacancha - Sacred Valley
Arrive in Cusco. Meet Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC (MVE) representative and travel to the Urubamba Valley. On the way to your hotel in the Sacred Valley, a 1h.30m. drive from the airport, you will stop along the way to photograph the magnificent landscape and the towering Andean mountain range. We will also stop at Awanacancha project to see the four different Andean camelids--llamas, alpacas, guanacos and vicunas, along with textiles and dyeing. After arrival at the hotel time to relax and acclimatize to the altitude. Lunch and dinner at the hotel. Overnight at hotel in the Sacred Valley.
Sacred Valley: Ollantaytambo – Pisac
Early morning breakfast. Later you will travel to Ollantaytambo. The most fascinating aspect of this town is visitors have the opportunity to see how the Quechuas lived their lives during the Inca times. The walls, homes, canals and streets have survived intact despite the rigors of time and the Spanish conquest. To reach the fortress overlooking the town, one must walk up some very steep steps (over 200) that make up part of the fortified terracing used for the protection of the complex. The Spaniards lost a battle here and never conquered this area in battle. The most magnificent aspect of this ruins are the six huge stones located at the top of the complex in the Temple of the Sun. This site was never completed.
Later in the afternoon drive 45 minutes to the village of Pisac located on the banks of the Vilcanota River. Pisac is a very picturesque town famous for its Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday indigenous market. You will have a chance to visit with locals, practice your photographic skills, do some shopping or just take in this memorable experience. Later in the afternoon, you will travel to the ruins of Pisac. The ruins are located on a mountain top, 2 1/2 miles away from town and are surrounded by some of the most impressive Inca terraces in all of Peru and dramatic Andean scenery. These terraces are still being used for farming today. Later in the evening return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Sacred Valley – Machu Picchu
Early morning breakfast at hotel. Transfer to train station in Ollantaytambo. Her you board your train to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is located in the highland jungle of the Urubamba River. The complex is so well hidden by the towering jungle covered ramparts of the Cordillera Vilcabamba that it was never discovered by the Spaniards. Machu Picchu preserves the most perfect picture of what the Inca world must have been like. Its origins and purpose are lost in time. In the afternoon, you will retrace your route back to Aguas Calientes and walk to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Cloud Forest Nature Trails – Cusco
After a very early breakfast we depart on our nature walk of choice at one of the hotel’s with one of the expert resident guides. Attractions include 162 different bird species—36% of all the bird species recorded at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary can be seen in the Hotel gardens, 16 hummingbird species and other awe-inspiring species including the Peruvian Cock of the Rock, the golden-headed quetzal, the aquatic Mirlo, the highland motmot, and the white-capped dipper. The Pueblo hotel is also home to the largest native orchid collection in the world with a total of 372 species, a word record. There are 108 butterfly species, more than 200 species of trees and a great variety of reptiles and mammals, including two spectacled bears.
Lunch at hotel. Later in the afternoon we walk to the train station for our return to Cusco.The journey to Cusco takes about 4 hours. Upon arrival in Cusco we transfer to our hotel. Free evening for dinner. Overnight in Cusco.
Morning open to exploring and shopping. At 11,200 feet above sea level, Cusco is the heart of Tahuantinsuyo, Peru's pre-Colombian Empire. Cusco today is the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America, a fascinating and colorful paradox of the past and the present. In the afternoon you will have a guided city tour. You will visit the Inca temple of Koricancha or the Temple of the Sun with walls demonstrating some of the finest examples of Inca stonework in existence. The Santo Domingo church was built over this magnificent temple. During the Inca times its courtyards were filled with life-sized gold and silver representations of all the flora and fauna of the Empire. Pizarro's men looted the temple as part of Inca Atahualpa royal ransom who was held prisoner in Cajamarca by the Spaniards and later killed. An earthquake destroyed the Santo Domingo church in 1950 revealing the Inca walls that were hidden or plastered over.
You will visit the Cathedral located at the northeast side of the Plaza de Armas, which was built in 1550 and contains over four hundred XII century paintings done by the members of the renowned Cusco School. In the cathedral you will see the Lord of the Earthquakes altar weighing over 52 pounds made of solid gold and studded with precious stones.
You will also explore Sacsayhuaman, located two kilometers from the city of Cusco , an immense walled complex made up of huge stones distributed in a zigzag pattern in three platforms with an average of 1,181ft in length. These platforms are connected by flights of stairs and doorways also in stone; one of these is 29ft tall and 15ft wide and weighs more than 100 tons. The largest stone block found in Sacsayhuaman stands 27.88ft high and weighs 361 tons. Inca Pachakutek employed 20,000 men for the construction of the complex and it took approximately 50 years to complete. You will also visit the sites of Qenco and Tambomachay. Overnight in Cusco.
Cusco – Out
Breakfast at the hotel. Depending on your flight departure time, you will have an early or late morning transfer to airport for flight out.
Hotel accommodations based on double occupancy. Meals as specified in the itinerary, B=Breakfast; L= Lunch; D=Dinner. Private guide for the duration of the program. Private transportation and transfers in Cusco and Sacred Valley. Entrance fee to all historic sites in Cusco and Sacred Valley. First Class train to/from Machu Picchu with reserve seating. One day entrance fee and bus ticket to complex of Machu Picchu. All private transfers from/to airport in Cusco.
International or domestic airfares, airport departure taxes or visa fees, excess baggage charges, additional nights during the trip due to flight cancellations, alcoholic beverages or bottled water, snacks, insurance of any kind, laundry, phone calls, radio calls or messages, reconfirmation of flights and items of personal nature. Tips
Pricing upon request
No fixed departure dates. You choose when you want to go. There can be just two of you or a group of friend. You can also plan it as a family vacation. We are flexible and able to make adjustments to the program in order for us to meet all your needs and expectations.
Journey requires moderate walking at high altitude (11,000 feet). Travelers with health conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure should consult their physician before traveling.
All participants must be in good physical condition and be well coordinated. Journey requires getting in and out of buses, moderate walking on uneven terrain at high altitude during your visit to Sacred Valley, Cusco & Machu Picchu. Most archaeological sites are exposed to the elements; the steep steps do not have railings and steps are not uniform in size.
Travelers with health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and weight problems should consult their physician before traveling. It is very important and your responsibility to provide us with accurate information in order to make available to you proper advice. The length of walking activities may fluctuate from 1 hour to 3-hour walks according to the day activities. Always ask your guide before departure what to expect.
Before you depart for an extended vacation, you should consult your physician. Make the doctor’s appointment no less then 8 week before departure. You will need some prescriptions, inoculations and perhaps some special advice that relates to your own physical condition.
If you have any special conditions or allergy that might require attention overseas, have your physician write a letter describing the nature of the condition and the treatment. Carry the letter with you. You should be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip.
Important: Be sure to bring enough of the prescription medication that you are currently taking. When you pack, make certain that you have ALL your medication in your carry-on luggage. NEVER pack any of your medications in your checked luggage.
Travelers to the Andean region of Peru, including the Sacred Valley, Cusco and Machu Picchu need to take common sense measures in regards to altitude acclimatization. Cusco is located at about 11,300 feet above sea level. Machu Picchu is located at above 8,600 feet above sea level. Visitors are encouraged to limit exertion for the first few hours and maintain themselves adequately hydrated. Avoid all alcoholic beverages at least for the first 24 hours. Coca tea is available at all hotels and assists in the acclimatization process. Individuals with coronary or other health problems should consult their physician before deciding to travel to Cusco and other high altitude locations.
High Altitude Medication: If you have issues with altitude or suffer from high blood pressure, ask your doctor about the use of high altitude medicine. Diamox is the most popular and tested drug for altitude sickness prevention and treatment. Increases the amount of bicarbonate excreted in the urine, making the blood more acidic. Acidifying the blood drives the ventilation, which is the cornerstone of acclimatization.
For more information on medical considerations please contact the:
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
It is vital that persons with medical problems or special diet requirements make them known to us well before departure so that land operators are properly informed.
The climate in Peru is generally divided into two seasons. The dry season and the rainy season. Because of resent unpredictable weather conditions everywhere in the world predicting is very unpredictable. We highly recommend that our clients visit a weather website to get the latest weather information before departure.
In the mountain regions of Peru the dry season is from May to September. The days are for the most part clear and sunny and the chances of rain are minimal.
From October to April the weather is less predictable since it is the rainy season. Normally the sun shines in the morning and rains late in the afternoon. The average day temperatures in the Andean region are between mid 60s and low 70s and nights in the low 40s with occasional freezing at high altitudes.
Cloud Forest – Machu Picchu:
Machu Picchu is located at 2,020 meters above sea level (6,627 feet) at a lower altitude than Cuzco in a pleasant cloud forest region with a subtropical highland climate: warm and humid. Orchid season is from November to April and dry season is from May to October. The temperature during the day is typically 18°C (64°F) with a small drop at night.
Dry Season: May – October
Orchid Season: November – April
Annual Rainfall: 400 - 1000 mm/ 16 - 39 inches
Temp. Range: 8 - 22 °C/ 47 - 74 °F
Average Tem: 18 °C / 64 °F
During your Peruvian flights you will be allowed to check-in 25 kilosand your carry-on bag have to meet international standards for size and weight. If you travel business class you are allowed 30 kilos and one carry-on.
When packing please considers the use of quick drying, lightweight, active wear clothing. Casual wash and wear clothing is most appropriate during your journey. Rain gear is useful for brief showers. For evenings in the city, dress as formal or as casual as you like. Light/heavy long-sleeve shirts/blouses and sweater and well-insulated windbreaker is necessary for cool nights in the highlands and even the jungle. Avoid packing cotton clothing. Wet cotton does not wick water away from your skin. Also when cotton gets wet, it ceases to insulate your body from the cold.
What to Bring Checklist
- Waterproof rain poncho.
- Long & short sleeved shirts / T-shirts.
- Pile pull-over or jacket.
- Well-insulated gore-tex windbreaker or jacket.
- Hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes.
- Flip-flops or sandals.
- Long pants.
- Wide brimmed cloth hat / bandana.
- Gloves / mitts.
- Sunglasses (UV protection type).
- Extra pair of prescription glasses if necessary.
- Eyeglass straps.
- Insect repellent & sunscreen.
- Hand sanitation cream or towels.
- Canteen or small water bottle, plus personal toiletries and medicines.
- Powerful flashlight and a headlamp. Highly recommend the use of a headlamp so your hands are free during activities.
- Camera with flash and extra batteries. Plenty of extra film if you are not using digital technology or memory cards.
- Camera screwdriver set & epoxy glue.
- Swiss army knife & sewing kit with scissors.
- Travel alarm clock & plastic adhesive tape.
- Extra camera & flashlight batteries.
- Duck tape
- Extra duffel bag I you plan to do some purchases.
- Notebook & reading material.
Important note regarding photography at complex of Machu Picchu
For participants bringing professional photo/video equipment the Machu Picchu authorities are now charging an average fee of about US$ 80.00 (subject to change) per person. Please call us for more details. The permit if require can be obtained at the gate. Speaking from experience we can tell you that best way to avoid having to purchase the permit is to enter with only one camera and a versatile lens like a 24 to 70 mm zoom. Do not bring a tripod since this is red flag that you are not a casual photographer to park authorities. Also it is important to note that the authorities are not consistent with the rules they create. You may show up at the gate and everyone is so relax that they are not enforcing the rules. This is very frustrating since you could have showed up with more equipment. All we are trying to do here is give you a heads up of what to expect in case you are in front of a inflexible park authority at the gate. The goal here is to spend more time exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu than having waste an 1 hour pulling a permit with a pack full of fancy equipment.
On the Train to Machu Picchu
Please note that Peru Rail and Inca Rail (train companies covering the service to Machu Picchu) don’t allow passengers to travel with voluminous baggage, allowing only a small piece of hand luggage that should travel with the passenger. This is why we suggest traveling with a small backpack or bag, where you can pack only what is strictly necessary to spend the day or an overnight in the Machu Picchu area. Your drive will take your luggage to your hotel and have the hotel staff store it for you. Upon your arrival in Cusco you will find your luggage in your room.
As specified by Peru Rail:
“Please note that in order to keep safety protocols of our company, we kindly ask you for your support by instructing your operational teams and clients about hand luggage policies on board of our different train services from August 6th, 2012, when PERURAIL will apply ZERO TOLERANCE.
- Hand baggage must include those items that due to its significance; a traveler shall take along on board.
- All hand luggage must be store in/on the compartments provided by PERURAIL for this purpose, that is why it is not allowed to exceed the regulations bellow:
Hand Baggage Allowance
Each passenger may take
Baggage that exceed the measures will not be allowed
BLOCKING EXITS IS PROHIBITED BY LAW
- The hand baggage must not be placed on aisle, exit doors, emergency windows, or on the seats.
- The hand baggage will be transported on board the train, under the passengers´ custody and liability.
Until 23kg per passenger FREE OF CHARGE
PERURAIL has a Storage Service available at Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu stations. Working hours:
- Ollantaytambo: Monday to Sunday 07:00hs to 19:00hs
- Machu Picchu: Monday to Sunday 10:30hs to 16:30hs
Storage service is FREE OF CHARGE, by showing valid ticket.
TO AVOID DELAYS ON THE DEPARTURES, THE LUGGAGE CHECK-IN WILL BE MADE AT THE STATION MAIN ENTRANCES.
The staff involved in your trip to Peru is well paid, but if you consider that they deserve a special recognition for their services, they will warmly accept a tip.
Although not mandatory, tipping in Peru has turned to be an extended practice. Tipping in dollars is the easies way to go about it. There are some standards that may give you an idea of what are the general uses:
Lima/ Cusco/Machu Picchu
- Restaurants: Average 10%
- Bag carriers: Average US$ 1.00 per bag
- Drivers: US$2 – 3 per person per day
- Guide: US$7 – 12 per person per day
- Assistant guide: US$5 – 6 per person per day
Machu Picchu Cusco