Experience the essence of the Andes
IMAGINE stepping back in time
Join thousands of pilgrims from across the Andes on a pilgrimage that is relatively unheard of to the outside world. We’ll trek to the base of a sacred mountain for the annual celebration of Qoyllur R’iti, the “Snow Star” festival. Traditional dancers, colourful costumes and music fill the air as we join in the ritual of giving offerings to the Spirit of the Mountain in order to manifest our dreams into reality.
EXPLORE ancient Inca sites
From the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu to the majestic Ollantaytambo fortress, the circular terraces of Moray, the salt pools of Moras and the colourful market town of Pisac. We’ll explore ancient Inca sites that are of the greatest artistic and architectural achievements in the world.
EXPERIENCE traditional Andean culture
Peru is an eclectic mix of Spanish and indigenous cultures which we’ll experience firsthand as we are welcomed into the heart of an Andean village that is home to women weavers and agriculturalists. We’ll participate in ceremonies that deepen our insight into these traditional cultures as we give offerings to Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the Apus (Spirits of the Mountains).
our original route
June 10 – 20, 2019
10 days / 9 nights
Day 1: Arrive Lima (June 10)
★ Free time to explore
★ Dinner on the town
Welcome to Lima, the capital city of Peru known as the City of Kings. Perched on atop jagged cliffs that plunge into the pacific ocean, Lima is a bustling city known for its manicured parks, elegant boulevards, pre-Columbian art museums, vibrant night life, and culinary delights.
During the day there are no planned activities so check into our boutique hotel in the heart of Miraflores and enjoy this time to explore the city. In the evening, we’ll gather for our Welcome Meeting followed by dinner on the town.
Day 2: Cuzco
★ Morning Flight
★ Visit San Pedro Market
★ Free time to explore
A morning flight takes us to the city of Cuzco and the heart of the Andes. Once the capital of the Inca Empire and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture.
After lunch we’ll go for an afternoon stroll along cobblestone streets to visit the colourful San Pedro market. Enjoy free time to explore the city streets or sip a coffee overlooking the central square. Dinner on the town and an evening briefing with our local guide.
Day 3 & 4: Traditional Andean Village
★ Visit Sacsaywaman Inca site
★ Daily life in a traditional Andean village
★ Women’s Weaving Project
★ Despacho Ceremony
We’ll begin our journey through the Sacred Valley with a visit to Sacsaywaman, one of the most astounding megalithic structures of the ancient world, followed by lunch at a community-owned restaurant. Over the next two days, we’ll get a glimpse of daily life in a traditional Andean village. Beginning with a Despacho ceremony, we’ll ask for blessings on our journey and give offerings of gratitude to Pachamama (Mother Earth). We’ll join in activities alongside our host families such as helping to prepare a traditional lunch, working on their agricultural plots of land, and visiting the school. We’ll learn about ancient Inca weaving techniques and have an opportunity to purchase items directly from the women that make them.
Day 5: Sacred Valley
★ Sacred Valley Inca Sites
★ Journey by train
★ Hot Springs
Today we continue our journey through the Sacred Valley stopping at various Inca sites along the way. We’ll visit Moray, a deep spiral of circular terraces used by the Incas as an agricultural laboratory to test the cultivation of crops at different altitudes in the Andes. Next we’ll visit Maras, an ancient site with over 3,000 salt pools that are harvested by local families, similar to over 1,000 years ago. We’ll make one final stop at Ollantaytambo, an ancient fortress built on the side of a mountain. After lunch we’ll journey by train along the Urubamba River to the town of Aguas Calientes and end our day relaxing in the hot springs.
Day 6: Machu Picchu
★ Explore Machu Picchu
★ Optional Hike to Wayna Picchu
Today, we’ll experience the magic of Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca citadel set amidst a dramatic landscape between the high Andes and the Amazon Basin. We’ll learn about the historical, cultural, and spiritual importance as our guide leads us through this magnificent Inca site.
Overnight in Aguas Calientes.
Day 6: Optional Hike to Wayna Picchu
For many trekkers, climbing Wayna Picchu (aka Huayna Picchu) is one of the highlights of their visit to Machu Picchu. From a distance Wayna Picchu appears to be a technical climbing endeavour but is in fact just a steep hike which requires no technical skills or climbing gear. The trail involves a series of switchbacks, a narrow 8m rock tunnel, the famous death stairs, and sections that include railings and cables for support.
Hiking time is approximately 1 hr each way and the total ascent is just over 360m (1,000 ft).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Anyone with a decent level of fitness can climb Wayna Picchu but if you are afraid of heights or susceptible to vertigo then this climb is probably not for you. If you would like to climb Wayna Picchu please let us know at the time of booking so that we can check availability as permits are limited. If you choose not to climb Wayna Picchu or if permits are sold out, you will have more free time to explore Machu Picchu.
Day 7: Pisac Market
★ Pisac Town
★ Pisac Market
Today we’ll travel back to Cuzco by train and private transport through the Sacred Valley, stopping en route in Pisac, a colourful Andean market town. Enjoy free time to explore the market where local artisans sell everything from handcrafted jewelry, ceramics, paintings, alpaca sweaters, and people from the surrounding Quechua communities come to sell their produce. Overnight in Cuzco.
Day 8: Cuzco
★ Explore Cuzco
Spend a free day discovering more of Cuzco and the surrounding area. Stroll along cobblestone streets, visit the bohemian neighbourhood of San Blas, check out the famous 12-sided stone, visit museums, cathedrals, the Temple of the Sun, or take a cooking class.
If you’re feeling adventurous, spend your day white water rafting, hike to the White Christ statue for a birds eye view of the city, ride a horse through the rolling countryside, or take a day trip to Rainbow Mountain.
Day 9 & 10: Qoyllur R'iti Festival
★ 2-day Pilgrimage to Ausangate Mountain
★ Qoyllur R’iti Festival
With an early morning departure, we’ll drive 3 hours to the town of Mahuayani where we’ll join thousands of pilgrims from across the Andes on a pilgrimage to the base of a sacred mountain to witness the festival of Qoyllur R’iti We’ll see a mix of Indigenous customs and Christianity and participate in traditional games and rituals to manifest our dreams into reality. The trek is 3-4hrs each way to the sanctuary (4,700m / 15,420 ft) with plenty of time to rest along the way.
Dress warmly as we’ll be camping at high altitude at the base of a glacier. A local guide and a chef will accompany us, and camping gear will be provided. Return to Cuzco in the afternoon of Day 10.
Day 11: Departure Day (June 20)
Today there are no planned activities and you are free to depart Cuzco at any time.
Want to stay longer? If you’d like to extend your stay in Peru, let us know. We can help you arrange a variety of trips including a journey to the Amazon.
Please note that you are responsible for booking your return flight to Lima.
Additional post trip accommodation in Cuzco and/or Lima can be arranged at the time of booking.
Qoyllur R’iti Pilgrimage
Witness one of the most vibrant & authentic celebrations of the Andes.
Ausangate is the highest peak in the Cuzco region and the site of Qoyllur R’iti festival. The pilgrimage is a 3-4 hour trek along an 8km winding mountain path. Together we’ll hike alongside a steady stream of Pilgrims to the base of the glacier and the Sinakara Valley (4700 m/15,420 ft).
The festival lasts for three days with music, dancing, processions and elaborate costumes. With an eclectic mix of Andean culture and Christianity, we’ll see stations of the cross along the path and makeshift stalls selling miniature houses, cars, wads of fake money, University degrees, marriage certificates etc. Pilgrims purchase these items as symbols of what they desire and believe that one must attend Qoyllur R’iti three times in order to manifest their dreams into reality.
Like stepping into a page of a National Geographic magazine, be prepared to be surrounded by a sea of thousands of pilgrims, dancers, musicians, costumes, food stalls, and tents. Expect an intensely cold evening with temperatures below freezing and likely very little sleep due to festivities that continue all day and all night. For all these reasons, it is important to come prepared, mentally, physically, and by bringing clothes suitable for cold weather conditions.
We’ll stay in charming hotels, each with their own unique design and character.
7 nights of double-occupancy accommodations are included in the cost of the tour plus 2 nights community homestay and 1 night camping.
If you wish to upgrade to private, single occupancy accommodation where available, please enquire for cost.
Extra nights of accommodation in Lima and Cuzco are available if you wish to extend your stay before or after the tour.
★ Meals: 10 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners
★ Accommodation: Boutique Hotels (7 nights), Family Homestay (2 nights), Camping (1 night)
★ Transportation: Flight Lima to Cuzco (1 way), private bus or van, train
★ English Speaking Tour Leader & Local Guide
★ Sacred Valley Tour to Inca Sites: Moras, Moray, Ollantaytambo and Pisac market
★ Tourist Ticket for Inca Sites and Entrance fee to Machu Picchu
★ Family homestay in a traditional Andean village
★ Traditional coca leaf ceremony and offering to Mother Earth with an Andean Shaman
★Guided tour of Machu Picchu
★ 2 day/ 1 night Qoyllur R’iti Pilgrimage
★2 people per tent (3-season)
★One foam sleeping pad per person
★One duffel bag which can carry up to 15lbs/7kg of your personal belongings
★Dining tent with tables and chairs
★Toilet tent, plus toilet paper and hand sanitizer
★Horsemen and horses to carry tents, food, cooking equipment, duffle bags
★1 emergency horse every 6 people
★Hot water in the morning and evening for washing
★Boiled water to fill your water bottle in the morning and at night
What’s Not Included
★ International Airfare
★ Domestic flight from Cuzco to Lima, approx $150 (1 way)
★ For meals not included budget $300USD
★ Airport transfers on arrival and departure day (budget $25 in LIma and $15 in Cuzco)
★ Tips for local guide, cook, assistants (budget $150 USD)
★ Extra money for shopping, drinks etc.
★ Sleeping bag (can be rented locally if needed, $35 USD)
If you’re looking for an authentic Andean experience, this trip is for you.
June 10 – 20, 2019
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