Cusco, Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu
The Inca civilization began as a tribe in the Cuzco area, where the legendary first Sapa Inca, Manco Capac founded the Kingdom of Cuzco around 1200. Under the leadership of the descendants of Manco Capac, the Inca state grew to absorb other Andean communities. In 1442, the Incas began a far-reaching expansion under the command of Patchacuti. He founded the Inca Empire (Tawantinsuyu), which became the largest empire in pre-Columbian America.
The empire was split by a civil war to decide who would be Inca king.The problem was that Huascar was a direct son of the Inca King and the Inca Queen and Atahualpa was a son of one of the concubines of the Inca King and his large family it is believed that one of the brothers was from the Norht part of the Empire(Quito,Ecuador) and the other from Cuzco as they were part of the family of their mothers), which pitted the brothers Huascar and Atahualpa against each other. In 1533, Spanish Conquistadores led by Francisco Pizarro, took advantage of this situation and conquered much of the existing Inca territory. In succeeding years, the invaders consolidated power over the whole Andean region, repressing successive Inca resistance and culminating in the establishment of the Viceroyalty of Perú in 1542. The militant phase of Inca liberation movements ended with the fall of resistance in Vilcabamba during 1573. Though indigenous sovereignty was lost, Inca cultural traditions remain strong among surviving indigenous descendants such as the Quechuas and Aymara people.
Visit Inca ceremonial religious and administrative sites,military stations and astronomical observatories. Remote short Inca Trails, hiking adventures and historical tours explorations, nature and different ecosystems, flora and fauna.
DAY 1 – Cusco
We pick you up at the airport and transfer you to your hotel to catch up on your sleep and a cup of coca tea, which helps with acclimatizing to the altitude. The rest of the morning is free. During the afternoon, after a good lunch, we shall start the City Tour to see part of the capital of the Inca Empire. We will visit several religious retreats and sanctuaries dating from Inca times. The Temple of Koricancha “The Temple of Gold” was the center of the Inca religion as the formal temple of the Sun it figures among the different temples that were dedicated to various gods of the Inca religion.
Koricancha was the main temple built in the 1200s and rebuilt in the 1400s by Pachacutec, the 9th Inca leader. Similar to the Greek Parthenon, this is where all deities were. Just as Mecca is sacred to Muslims, Koricancha was sacred to the Incas who all visited at least once in a lifetime. The extraordinary masonry is an impressive example of Inca engineering and architecture: stones were cut precisely, assembled with extremely narrow joints, and needing no mortar. It is thought that there were temples dedicated to the sun, moon, stars, and rainbows, that this is where solar priests and priestesses lived. This ceremonial site held Inca religious idols and idols of people that they had conquered. The stone for this building came from nearby quarries. The stone is varied and includes andesite, basal diorite and red perfidious granite, volcanic and metamorphic rock. The shape, the angles and the polishing were masterful. Here the Inca solar priest conducted rituals and high ceremonies dedicated to gods and sun worship. Religious artifacts have been found here. Much of the temples were cover with gold, silver, and precious stones positioned in ways relevant to solar and astronomical events. Only people with status, nobility or royalty were permitted to visit here. In 1540 Dominicans built a monastery and convent on the using the Inca ruins and imposed Christianity. Although the Inca were forced out, today you can see the marvelous and amazing work of the Incas.
We will visit the fortress of Saqsayhuaman, which was a Militar, ceremonial, religious and astronomical site.
Saqsayhuaman was built with limestone brought from nearby quarries using rollers, ropes, ramps, and manpower. The stone was carved very precisely and required no mortar. This is one of the best examples of Inca masonry. The stones vary in size and they weigh between 20 and 80 tons. Excavations here yielded human remains, mummies, religious paraphernalia, and statuettes of idols that symbolize deities, men, and women. This is where, on June 21st , the Winter Solstice captures the first rays of the sun and from here the rays continue all the way to the imperial city of Cusco, forming the sacred figure of the Solar Puma. Saqsayhuaman was the head of the puma and considered to be a sacred animal. Saqsayhuaman has three angled walls that form a zig zag shape. Garcilazo de la Vega, a mixed race Inca writer from the 1600s, claimed there were three towers at the top of the slope with rectangular, square, and circular shapes (temple of the sun) that reached a height of 15 meters and had various uses. At Saqsayhuaman the Incas defended and fought Spanish forces for control of the Inca capital during the Conquest of Cusco. Under the leadership of Manco Inca, despite fighting with great fury and energy against the invading Spanish forces in 1534, this marked the beginning of the collapse of the Inca Empire. The battles continued to the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo before the Incas retreated to the rain forest in Vilcabamba where they remained for 36 years until the last Inca was captured in 1572.
All these beautiful buildings were occupied by royalty, nobility and important people and their entourages. These were,palaces, religious retreats, plazas, ceremonial places, astronomical observatories and they also served as military stations, store houses, granaries, and terraces for farming, all connected by Inca roads. Construction included existing rock, the small valley itself, and the mountain. Fine masonry and well carved, well-polished stonework, all assembled without mortar. The work was done by laborers from elsewhere who used ramps rollers, and manpower.
We will visit several shrines, or huacas such as “Qenqo”, which were ceremonial and ritualistic places and we will see a section of an original Inca trail that was part of the network of routes called “Capac Ñan” in Cusco, the Capital of the Inca Empire. Here there will also some good opportunities to see the Giant Hummingbird “Patagonia Gigas”, the Rufus-Collared sparrow “Zonotrichia Capensis”, the native tree called Queoña “Polilepis sp” and the Chachacomo “Scallonia recinosa” all from pre-Colombian times and found in the Andes.
Also in this area are the Great Thrush, Flower Piercers, Tanagers, Seedeaters, Stripe-Headed Brush Finch, Kestrels, Siskins, Fly-catchers, Tangaras, and more.
The flora includes many species of Bromeliads “Puya Densiflora”, Passiflora, Begonias, Fuchsias, and numerous Compositae. There are countless numbers of Orchids including varieties of Wiñay Wayna “Epidendrum Secundum”, many of the Solanaceae, Myrtaceae, Scrophularias, and moreNote: We can recommend the best and comfortable hotels for you or we can book the hotel for you.
DAY 2 – Sacred valley
We pick you up from your hotel in Cusco and after an invigorating cup of coca tea, we travel to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We will visit an Alpaca and Llama breeding and fiber producing farm to see aspects of the carding, spinning and weaving process. Later we visit a traditional farm and an Indian market. Then we will go to Pisac the Inca outpost built in the 1200s for a nice tour and hike.
Beginning in 1200, the quest for increased territory and natural resources brought the Inca Empire into the Sacred Valley and the jungles of Cusco and Madre de Dios, and that is where Pisac was built. Pisac served as an Inca out post with and administrative, military and astronomical. This was a strategic location to control and conquer other ethnic groups. From here expansion continued northward to where Ollantaytambo is now. Here on the mountain were some of the best corn and crops in the World. There are impressive stone structures remaining and the site is connected by Inca roads. When you visit, you can hike to the cemetery where skulls of puma and religious icons have been found. Hiking further to the religious area you will see a beautiful stone temple carve of fine masonry. The temples were dedicated to the sun, the moon, and the star deities. They are all aligned to the astronomical and solar events.
We have a typical lunch in the Valley and in the afternoon we will visit the Inca archaeological site of Ollantaytambo, an Inca fortress and remains that were built in the early 1400s.
During the Inca expansion in the 1400s, Ollantaytambo was a fortified city, a fortified fortress, and “Tambo” or administrative center. The stone was quarried across the river and the river itself was a means to carry all the material from across the valley to the site, where materials could then be carried using rollers,rumps and man power. Using mostly huge pink or red perfidious granite rock, weighing 20-80 tons, they carved with extraordinary precision. Here the Incas constructed temples dedicated to the sun and to Mother Earth or Pachamama. This site is aligned to the winter and summer Solstices and to the spring and autumn equinox. This was one of the last refuges for the Incas before they fled to the jungle to regroup, recover, and fight the Spanish forces again. Ollantaytambo was used for administrative purposes, also as a religious retreat and military station. It was a strategic location between three valleys connected to important sites by Inca roads. The Sacred Valley was important because during the expansion of the Inca towards the sacred valley it was the main source of sustenance for the nobility. An important agricultural location, it was used to acclimate crops and fruit trees from the high and the low jungles. Manco Inca also fought to protect territory from the Spanish forces that had several battle ships in the area. Construction never was finished likely because the Inca civil war interfered and then the Spanish forces conquered the Inca in 1536.
All these beautiful temples were built that were occupied by royalty, nobility and important people and their entourages. These were palaces, religious retreats, plazas, ceremonial places, astronomical observatories and they also served as military stations, store houses, granaries, and terraces for farming, all connected by Inca roads. Construction included existing rock, the small valley itself, and the mountain. Fine masonry and well carved, well-polished stonework, all assembled without mortar. The work was done by laborers from elsewhere who used ramps, rollers, and manpower.
After our hike and tour we go to our hotel in the valley only 20 minutes away and have rest of the afternoon free, then dinner is at the hotel. There is a great opportunity to see the wildlife near the hotel. We may see the great thrush “Turdus Furcater” and the Sparkling violet ear “Colibri Coruscans” hummingbird and some flora such as a bromeliaceae called Maquey or “Furcraea Andina” and the Andean bush called Chillca or “Bacharis Latifolia”. Later there is an optional visit to a local pottery workshop and kiln.
DAY 3 – Machu picchu
After breakfast we will ride the train for an hour and a half to the town of Aguas Calientes in the vicinity of Machu Picchu. We go to the hotel to freshen up and then up by bus to the Inca city of Machu Picchu, the Inca palace of Pachacutec, King from1438-1471, according to John Rowe (1990) and probably a Royal Inca city with astronomical and religious retreats and experimental agriculture because of the proximity of two different ecosystems suited to growing coca plants, and an abundance of other natural resources. This site exists as part of the expansion of the Inca Empire during the Imperial Inca times, under the control of Pachacutec as emperor. There will be a fascinating tour of the sanctuary,
Machu Picchu is situated at the beginning, or “eye brow”, of the cloud forest. This allowed access to different altitudes, each with unique ecological conditions. The crops found at Machu Picchu include different varieties of corn, chilies, quinoa, tomatoes, trees, potatoes, suggesting that this was a good place to acclimate and domesticate species from the high and low jungles that later would be successfully introduced into the hanging valleys and elsewhere.
This small valley was suitable for the building of temples and astronomical observatories,plazas, streets, utilitarian and functional buildings,
ceremonial places, granaries,store house and terraces for agriculture, Inca roads.
By analysis of soil, seeds, wood, and bones, Carbon Dating situates Incas in the area during the mid-1400s to mid-1500s. Machu Picchu was built by t
By analysis of soil, seeds, wood, and bones, Carbon Dating situates Incas in the area during the mid-1400s to mid-1500s. Machu Picchu was built by the Inca number 9 who named it “Pachacutek” or “Cusi Yupanqui”. Throughout the site, there is fine masonry and beautiful stonework, all of which is done without mortar. Construction used outside sources for laborers and two large granite quarries nearby. It is believed that the site was occupied by royalty and dignitaries, and that it was visited by the Inca and his entourage or royal court. Even though it was never quite completed, local scholars and historians believe that within a mere 100 years Machu Picchu was built, inhabited, and abandoned.
Several roads connect to bring pilgrims and essential supplies to Machu Picchu, the site of temples and astronomical observatories dedicated to the sun, moon, stars, the universe, the mother earth “Pachamama” and the creator “Wiracocha”.
Later in the afternoon there is time for a good 2-hour hike on part of the original Inca trail to The Sun Gate, about for incredible views of Machu Picchu and opportunities to see the local orchids such as the Bamboo orchid “Sobralia Dicotoma” and the “Masdevalia Vietachina” and the native bromeliad called Puya “Puya Densiflora”, and several species of birds.
DAY 4 – Maras,Moray,Chinchero
Today we take the train back to the sacred valley in the morning in order to drive for an hour to the plateau of chinchero where we will visit different places like the colonial town of Maras where you will see these beautiful portraits from colonial times where the caciques and mestizo families lived. They were part of the nobility groups and some remains of the Incan dynasty. The portraits have beautiful decoration, iconography, messages and symbols that represent the status of some of the mestizo noble families and caciques from the Inca era. After that we will continue to the experimental field of moray where the Incas practice agriculture8germination, production, as well hybrids and genetic modifications as well breed different species in order to increase sizes, production and quality taste etc. Also, aclimatizionand domestications to the different ecological floors. After a good hike and explorations we will continue to the salt pans of maras where we will see how the obtain the salt and process in a small pools dried by the sun. This is one of the besty places for salt in the area as well in Peru know it as the sal de Maras. After all the exploration we will return to Cusco with a beat6iful drive through the plateau of Chinchero, Andean valleys and trough corn and potatoes, quinoas and wee and barley plantations.as well beautiful Andean small villages we might stop in Chinchero to visit the church as well the Inca remains and the llama al alpaca farm where we will aspects of weaving, natural dyes and colorful market and workshop to inter act with the local Quechuan people. We will have lunch on the way arriving to Cusco by middle afternoon. During the tour we will have beautiful views of the Urubamba mountain range with peaks and glacier in between 5000 to 6000 mts and spectacular way to end your day.as well if we are lucky and the conditions aloud we will see buzzard eagles, falcon ,puna aibis,humming birds egress and finches and other species of fauna as well flora flora from native trees like queñas(polilepis sp) chachacomos and qoyas trees dated from pre-Columbian time as well several species of bromeliads and grasses as well life stack
There is abundant birdlife including many hummingbirds such as the giant “Patagonia Gigas”, the Sparkling Violet Ear “Colibri Coluscans”, the Bronzy Hummingbird, Tyrian Metaltail, and others. In the Troglodytae Family of Wrens we see the Inca Wren and “Thryothorus Eisenmonni”. There is also the Aplomado Falcon “Falco Femoralis”, Finches, Tyrannulets, the Great Thrush, Seedeaters, Stripe-Headed Brush Finch, Kestrels, Siskins.
The flora includes many species of Bromeliads “Puya Densiflora”, Passiflora, Begonias, Fuchsias, and numerous Compositae. There are countless numbers of Orchids including varieties of Wiñay Wayna “Epidendrum Secundum”, many members of the Solanaceae, Myrtaceae, Scrophularias, and more.
We Provide and Include: Licensed, Bilingual, history, naturalist Tour Guides- Emergency phone, Archaelogical sites Tours Entrance and Site Fees,Trains round trip,Buses up and down,Hikes Inca trails around machu Picchu /Transfers from Cusco & optional assistance and Confirmation- Additional Tour Arrangements
We can recommend the best and more comfortable hotels or we can take care of the reservations for you.
For adjusting to tour altitude, we suggest one day tours like the Sacred Valley hike,one day River Rafting before the Apurímac River and the City Tour of Cusco hike. As Guides we offer 100% Gauranteed Information, for your sensibilities – about the best specific hotel rooms and services around Peru, like extra windows and other amenities.
What to bring
This is a list designed to advise you what equipment is appropriate to bring according to the weather conditions predominating at the time of your trip:
Jeans and other pants are good as well.as well any clothes that cover the request of being water proof or resistance to water or cold are fine as long they are resistance to the conditions are fine.
- Flashlights (at least one headlamp among them).
- Sun Block; Insect Repellent.
- Towels (Small; cotton and hygienic).
- Rain Gear (Pants and Jacket)
- A couple of pairs of socks, perhaps even an extra pair.
- One pair of trousers for the evening plus two more pairs for trail use (zipp-offs).
- Sandals for River OR DRYSHOES.ASWELL use or CAMP OR HOTEL use (Teva types).
- Low ankle height hiking shoes or regular hiking boots (check the season).
- Reading material.
- Binoculars (always useful regardless of season and activity).
- Bathing Suit.
- Water Bottle (I liter capacity).
- Good Sun glasses, perhaps two sets.
- A bandana for neck protection.
- A couple of sets of underwear (perhaps an extra pair).
- Camera and plenty of film.
- Passport (plus a couple of Xerox copies).