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Still shrouded in the mysteries of Inca civilization, Peru’s Sacred Valley is a treasure trove of ancient ruins, dramatic landscapes, and Andean villages that still cling to age-old traditions. Starting in magical Cusco, trace the legacy of the Inca all the way to their crowning achievement: the citadel of Machu Picchu. Immerse yourself in this enchanting land, meeting artisans and farmers and getting acquainted with daily life in the Andes. Stay in a historic manor house, go stargazing high in the mountains, and enjoy two full days to explore Machu Picchu and its environs.
Discover the secrets of incomparable Machu Picchu with a private guide.
Uncover the many layers of Cusco's vivid history on a private tour of the city. Visit the Iglesia de Santo Domingo and La Catedral—churches that showcase a fusion of pre-Columbian and colonial design. Get introduced to the marvels of Inca architecture at the staggering ruins of Sacsayhuaman, and absorb the vibrancy of Peruvian culture in the Plaza de Armas, the festive central square. In the afternoon, explore this fascinating city further at your leisure. Inkaterra La Casona (B)
Day 3 — Sacred Valley of the Inca
Begin your three-day journey through the Sacred Valley of the Inca. In Awanacancha, learn about the history of llamas and other camelids that call this region home. Test your bargaining skills in the colorful stalls of Pisac's famous market and visit the studio of an artist who uses ancient Peruvian ceramic techniques. Continue to Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, a Unique Lodge of the World perched on the emerald slopes of the Sacred Valley. This evening, join a naturalist in the lodge's on-site Chicha House for a hands-on lesson in brewing, chicha de jora, a popular local drink. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba (B, L)
Days 4 & 5 — Sacred Valley of the Inca
Follow the Sacred Valley's most scenic roads, passing through a patchwork of verdant fields set beneath snowcapped peaks. At The Center of Traditional Textiles of Cusco, learn about Andean textiles at a private weaving demonstration. Traditional weaving and wool-dying practices have been recently revived thanks to the efforts of National Geographic grantee Nilda Callañaupa, a master weaver native to the valley. See the terraced remains of impressive Inca agriculture systems at Chinchero and Moray. Then visit the white salt mines stacked on the slopes of Maras. The next day, explore the town of Ollantaytambo, where colonial buildings were erected upon the original Inca street plan. This afternoon, learn about everyday life in the Andean village of Patakancha. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba (B, L; B, L)
Day 6 — Machu Picchu
Make your way to Machu Picchu, the renowned 15th-century Inca citadel rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and excavated with support from the National Geographic Society. Choose to take the scenic train ride from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Pueblo (also known as Aguas Calientes). Or disembark early for an optional trek on the Inca Trail with a private guide (this option must be reserved in advance so that permits can be secured). Hike through lesser-known Inca ruins to the famous Sun Gate, where you can take in your first views of Machu Picchu. Your home for the next two nights is Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, a National Geographic Unique Lodge nestled within its own private rain forest reserve just below the citadel. At twilight, stroll through the grounds with a lodge guide to hear the sounds of the rain forest. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (B, D)
Day 7 — Machu Picchu
Rise early to catch a dazzling sunrise over Machu Picchu. During a tour of the ruins with a private guide, learn about the Inca's incredible construction feats and day-to-day life in the ancient city. Spend the rest of the day on your own, immersed in the magic of this mysterious and awe-inspiring site. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (B, D)
Day 8 — Machu Picchu/Cusco
Go on a guided nature walk through the lush grounds of the lodge, where hundreds of orchid, bird, and butterfly species make their home. Enjoy a private guided visit to the lodge's spectacled bear rehabilitation program before traveling back to Cusco, where you have another free afternoon to explore. Inkaterra La Casona(B)
Day 9 — Lima/Depart
Fly from Cusco to Lima, the capital of Peru. Tour the cathedral and other colonial buildings of the historic center, a World Heritage site, and examine pre-Columbian treasures at the Larco Herrera Museum. This afternoon, transfer back to the airport to catch your flight home. (B)
National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. Simply select a trip and decide whom you'd like to travel with and when you want to travel. We'll take care of the rest.
Prices are per person, double occupancy and are subject to availability. Single traveler prices are available upon request. For 2018 price inquires please call our reservations specialists.
International airfare to and from Lima, and airfare between Lima and Cusco, are not included in the expedition cost.
A holiday surcharge may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
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Other Important Details
We will be traveling at high elevations while in Peru. Cusco is at an altitude of 11,100 feet. The Sacred Valley is at an altitude of 9,200 feet. Machu Picchu is at an altitude of 7,972 feet. Participants should be physically fit. This expedition is not suitable for anyone who suffers from a respiratory disorder, a circulatory ailment, or a disability that limits mobility. Please contact our reservations specialists to learn about the level of physical activity on this trip. The activity level can be decreased or increased based on your preference.
As a National Geographic guest at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, you'll be invited on a guided visit to the field site of the Spectacled Bear Project. Hear about efforts to rehabilitate bears that have been negatively affected by humans, and learn how they can be reintroduced into their natural habitat.