Arrive Cuzco at any time. There are no planned activities so check into our hotel and enjoy the city. A G Adventures representative will hold a general briefing in the evening, normally between 7pm and 8pm (a note will be posted in the arrival hotel with details). Cuzco is the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city, and the hub of the South American travel network. The city attracts travellers who come not just to visit a unique destination but also to experience an age-old culture very different from their 20th century way of life; one could easily spend a week just in and around the area. Inca-built stone walls line most of the central streets and you don't have to go far to see other major Inca ruins. It is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend. Every year Cuzco attracts thousands of travellers who come to delve into its noble but tragic past. It is the perfect base for optional explorations around the city and area as well as a range of outdoor activities. Relax and explore this fascinating city, and take time to acclimatize to the high altitude. Cuzco’s numerous colonial churches are one of the city’s most common sights. The Cathedral was started in 1559 and took 100 years to build; it is also one of the city’s greatest repositories of colonial art. Immediately in front of the entrance is a vault containing the remains of the famous Inca historian, Garcilaso de la Vega. Also worth visiting are the churches of La Compañía, La Merced and San Francisco. While most ruins are just outside of the city, the main ruin within is that of the Coricancha, once the Inca Empire's richest temple. Today the ruin forms the base of the colonial church of Santo Domingo. During Inca times this temple was literally covered with gold, but within months of the arrival of the first conquistadors this incredible wealth had all been melted down. It is left to the individual imagination to envision the magnificence of the original structure. There are several good museums in Cuzco, including the Archaeological Museum, which also houses a small art museum, the Regional History Museum and the Religious Art Museum. Our best advice for exploring Cuzco is to wear a comfortable pair of shoes, arm yourself with a city map and set off to explore!
Travel with our local guide through the Sacred Valley of the Incas. An important source of food for the Inca, the Sacred Valley is a lush agricultural region that continues to supply the city of Cuzco with much of its produce. Visit the impressive Pisac ruins and the colourful artisan market (market days only). The day trip finishes in the picturesque village of Ollantaytambo, site of another large Inca ruin. The town and fortress of Ollantaytambo are strategically situated overlooking the beautiful Urubamba River Valley. This major ruin site is known as the best surviving example of Inca urban planning and engineering. It is admired for its huge steep terraces guarding the Inca Fortress and for being one of the few places where the Spanish lost a major battle during the conquest. After touring the site we will return to Cuzco for the night.
Depart Cuzco for Cachora, where we start our trek up to the spectacular and almost forgotten Inca Empire city of Choquequirao. Built atop a mountain high in the Andes, the lost city of Choquequirao is comparable only to Machu Picchu in its beauty, grandeur and architectural accomplishment. Our local guide will take care of us while camping and for the duration of the hike. Hike this trail that linked this ancient empire, surrounded by breathtaking views at every step through valleys and up mountain sides. We will have plenty of time at the site to fully explore. Choquequirao, or "cradle of gold" in Quechua, is located almost 1750m above the raging glacier-fed Apurimac River. The ‘other Machu Picchu,’ Choquequirao is built at the top of an almost untouched mountain in the province of La Convención. Ancient stone walls protect its two-leveled palaces and temples, systems of fountains, canals and aqueducts that fed the fantastic terraces farmed by the Inca during the Pachacutec government (XV century). An important religious, political and economic centre as well as a commercial and cultural link between the Coast, the Highlands and the Jungle, Choquequirao is said to have been the place where the last Inca, Tupac Amaru, was raised among Inca Priestesses.
Continue trekking past Choquequirao with the team of guides, herdsman and cooks through the Andes following Inca pathways. Pass through local communities and stunning Andean vistas, with the nights spent camping under the stars. Delicious food is prepared along the way and at our campsites, and as we approach Machu Picchu from the backside we will see the vegetation slowly change from high altitude brush to more tropical green. We arriving to Santa Teresa on Day 10, where we will transfer by train to Aguas Calientes for the night.
Rise early to take advantage of viewing Machu Picchu in the early morning light. This is the best time to view the 'Lost City of the Incas'. Join our local guide for a detailed interpretation of the site and Inca history without the pressure of other tour groups that arrive at midday. Later in the afternoon we return by train to Ollantaytambo or Poroy and will then be transferred by van to Cuzco, arriving in the evening. Machu Picchu is both the best and the least known of the Inca ruins. It is not mentioned in any of the chronicles of the Spanish conquistadors and archaeologists today can do no more than speculate on its function. The local Quechua farmers in the area knew of Machu Picchu for centuries, but it was not until an 11-year-old boy led the American historian Hiram Bingham (who was in search of Vilcabamba) to the site on July 24, 1911, that the rest of the world became aware of its existence. At that time the site was covered in thick vegetation, and Bingham and his team returned in 1912 and 1915 to clear the growth. Over the years, much work has been done on excavating and studying the site. Despite these efforts, many unanswered questions remain.
Depart at any time.