Inti Raymi Festival and Machu Picchu
A private tour of the Peru’s Heartland – Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley –
which includes Inti Raymi, the famous Inca Sun Festival.
Inti Raymi Festival and Machu Picchu
8 days from £2,055 pp
Attend one of the Andes’ most definitive festivals, Inti Raymi, in the city where it was originally celebrated, Cusco. In addition, as you visit some of the Incas’ most majestic constructions – unmissable Machu Picchu and important towns in the Sacred Valley – you will appreciate how the sun and nature played such a significant part in their culture.
Cusco is the focal point for any journey in this region. It is a colonial city built on the foundations of the Incas’ capital and now is the nerve centre of Peru’s Andean tourist industry. The Inti Raymi festival brings together all those elements, mixing the ancient and the modern in a most spectacular way. Before you leave Cusco you will have a guided tour of the historic centre, plus time to explore on your own, so that you can get a feel for the many sides of this fascinating place.
Outside the city is the more low-lying Sacred Valley where the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo offer traditional markets and significant Inca ruins. Further from Cusco still is what for many is the highlight of a trip to this beautiful part of the world, Machu Picchu. At once breath-taking, mystical and enigmatic, it has been voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and you will have two opportunities to uncover its secrets.
Throughout the holiday your guides will give you the knowledge you need to make the most of the time when you can explore on your own. All your transfers, transport and accommodation are taken care of, so for the whole trip all you have to do is enjoy the wonderful places you’ve come to see.
Inti Raymi Festival and Machu Picchu Highlights
Guided tour of Cusco and surroundings
Full day at the Inti Raymi festival
Towns and archaeological sites in the Sacred Valley
Train ride to Machu Picchu
Guided tour, plus time on your own, at Machu Picchu
See how Andean textiles are made
Good accommodation in convenient locations
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Why not extend this trip to include the rainforest, Lake Titicaca, or other areas of Peru before or after this itinerary. Or combine with other South American destinations such as Galapagos.
DAY 1: ARRIVE LIMA
Fly to Lima today, where you'll be met and transferred to the Wyndham Costa Del Sol Lima Airport hotel, which makes a convenient overnight stop. As well as comfortable accommodation, the hotel offers a restaurant, bar, indoor swimming pool, fitness centre and spa. Relax after your flight and enjoy a good night's sleep.
DAY 2: FLY TO CUSCO
This morning you'll return to the airport for your hour-long flight to Cusco. You'll be met at Cusco airport by our local representative and transferred to El Mercado Hotel. The hotel, parts of which at one time were the farmers’ market, is 3½ blocks, from the central Plaza de Armas, a short walk. In the afternoon your guide will give you a brief walking tour to get your bearings in the city. As this will be your first day at altitude (3,300m), we suggest you take it easy while you acclimatise: find a café, have some coca tea, eat lightly and soak up the atmosphere.
DAY 3: INTI RAYMI FESTIVAL
Today, the 24th June, is the southern hemisphere winter solstice. This date also marks the celebration of the Inca New Year and, according to the chronicles, the founding of the Inca dynasty. Each year a festival re-enacts these events at Sacsayhuaman, a 15th-century Inca ceremonial complex just north of the city. Many of its stones were used to build the cathedral (which you will visit tomorrow), but those that remain in situ are massive; how they were brought here is an unsolved mystery. The festival begins at the Qoricancha, the Incas’ Temple of the Sun (again, see tomorrow’s itinerary), where the actors representing the Inca and his entourage salute the sun. From there you will follow the procession to Sacsayhuaman for the main rituals which involve hundreds of Cusco residents wearing colourful costumes. You will have a picnic lunch during the festival and will be taken back to El Mercado afterwards.
Breakfast, box lunch/snack
DAY 4: IN CUSCO
This morning you will return to the Coricancha as it will be the first stop on your half-day guided tour of the city. Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the temple walls were covered in gold sheets and its courtyards filled with golden images of crops and animals. Having plundered the gold the conquistadores built the Convent of Santo Domingo on top of the Inca walls. From here you will visit the Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas. This fine colonial building has an extensive collection of art from the Cusco School and other exhibitions. After the tour you will be taken back to El Mercado for lunch at the hotel or in a nearby restaurant. There are plenty to choose from. Breakfast
DAY 5: TO THE SACRED VALLEY
After breakfast you will leave the hotel for a full-day guided tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Your starting point is Awanakancha, a farm about 30 minutes from Cusco, which breeds llamas, alpacas and vicuñas. You can see the animals and, equally important, learn about the traditional weaving and garment-making process, so central to indigenous culture. The farm’s store is open if you wish to buy something special. From here you move on to another invitation to shop, the market in the town of Pisac. The stalls fill a square surrounded by colonial buildings and sell colourful alpaca textiles, replicas of Inca artefacts, necklaces, paintings and other crafts. Above the town are the ruins of a remarkable Inca complex, with an impressive area of agricultural terraces. After lunch you will head to Ollantaytambo to explore the old town, a living example of Inca urban planning, and the breath-taking ruins, also Inca, on a high promontory above the town and valley. They include a ceremonial complex, baths and unbelievable stonework. You will spend the night at Pakaritampu Hotel, which has lovely gardens and is on the street leading to the train station. Ollantaytambo has loads of restaurants from which to choose for dinner. Breakfast, lunch
DAY 6: MACHU PICCHU
Today is Machu Picchu day, no more, no less. From Ollantaytambo it’s a 1½-hour train ride to Aguas Calientes (also called Machu Picchu Pueblo), the town below Machu Picchu itself. You’ll travel in style in a carriage with picture windows and arrive in time to take the 20-minute bus ride, zig-zagging up the hill to the sanctuary. Your tour of the site will be with a guide who can bring the history and significance of the ruins to life. Lunch is served at the Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel next to the site entrance. At the end of your visit to Machu Picchu you can take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes, where you will spend the night at the Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel, at the edge of town by the river. Sumaq is known for its cuisine so we have included dinner at the hotel for you tonight. Note: don’t lose your entrance ticket as you will need it tomorrow. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 7: MACHU PICCHU TO CUSCO
This morning you may return to Machu Picchu for some private time at the site. This is where you will need your previous days entrance! You can take trails and visit areas that you may not have already seen and take a few moments to meditate on how beautifully the buildings echo the mountains around them. In the afternoon you will take the train back to Cusco, where you will return to El Mercado for the night. Breakfast.
DAY 8: CUSCO TO LIMA; FLIGHT HOME
In the morning you will fly back to Lima. Usually flight connections are such that there will be enough time to enjoy some of the sights of Lima. Depending on the hours available and on your interests there are a number of options. The historical centre has many colonial buildings, such as the Cathedral on the large Plaza de Armas. Also in the centre is the Casa Aliaga, the oldest residence in the city and lived in by the same family since the 16th century. Another must is the Larco Museum, in the Pueblo Libre district, which houses one of Peru’s most famous collections of pre-Inca ceramics, gold and silver. Speak to our representative about what you can do before you have to be at the airport for your flight home. Breakfast
Guide price from (pp sharing):2019 prices from £2,055 based on travel throughout 2019.
Dates: This trip starts on 22nd June
Includes: 7 nights accommodation in the properties mentioned; private transfers; private sightseeing tours with an English-speaking guide in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and Lima; entrance fees in Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lima; return train ticket to Machu Picchu; meals as indicated in the itinerary.
Excludes: International and domestic flight (we would normally book these for you and add this to the package); visas (not currently required by British passport holders); insurance; Huayna Picchu entrance; meals not mentioned as included; drinks; tips; personal expenses such as laundry.
The climate in the Andes varies according to the altitude. In general though, the rainy season is from December to March, but it varies in intensity from area to area and from year to year. For most people the best time to come to the Andes is between June and September. Days are mostly dry and sunny, but it can be cold at night. April and May, after the rains, and October and November are also good months to visit the Andes. Being at high altitude you will need to pack for variable weather at any time of year.
This trip is timed to take in Inti Raymi Festival on 24th June. During this festival period there will be high tourist occupancy then.
On the Pacific coast of Peru, the climate is sub-tropical and dry. Temperatures are warmest in the summer from December to March, when they can reach up to 30°c. The winter lasts from June to September, when temperatures can drop to 15°c and days are usually misty (locally called garúa) and damp. You are more likely to experience some rain in these months.
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