Arrive in Lima & Fly to Cusco (-/L/D)
Welcome to Peru!
Your journey through the mystical country of Peru begins today. With Indigenous cultures dating back millennia, Peru is a fascinating land of diverse wildlife and soaring mountains. Your adventure begins with your flight to Cusco. We chose not to include any time in Lima to allow you to fly right to Cusco, saving both time and money. If you do choose to stay over, we would be happy to arrange accommodations for you - either close to the airport or closer to the centre (about an hour).
Your short flight to Cusco will be departing mid-morning, so be sure to leave yourself time at the airport to make that transfer.
Upon arrival in Cusco, Marco, your bilingual national guide and Shaman, will be waiting for you with at the airport to take you to the your accommodations in the Sacred Valley of the Incas in a village called Yanahuara, where you will be calling home for the next few days, located about an hour and a half away. Yanahuara sits at 2,900 meters above sea level (ASL), a little lower than Cusco, which is located at 3,400 meters ASL. That is still high enough that you may feel the altitude and may even experience some adverse reactions. You will be helped with natural remedies.
On the way to our lovely residence in the countryside, Casa Verde Inn, we will stop several times to enjoy some views of beautiful landscapes.
Lunch will be served upon arrival, and later in the afternoon, we will take a walk through the beautiful valley before doing a cleansing purification ceremony in a mountain creek with lots of different species of birds frequenting the area. We will then return to Casa Verde for a traditional Andean meal and our overnight stay.
Explore the Market and Ruins of Pisac (B/L/D)
After a hearty breakfast, we will depart by bus to Pisac, a town in the Sacred Valley. The valley is home to the most important archeological sites, including Pisac, and is also tremendously rich agricultural land. We will arrive at the Andean market at Pisac to explore and look at some of the wonderful Indigenous handcrafts sold there. Then we will head into the mountains above the village to visit the archeological site of Pisac, where we will stop for a picnic lunch. We will be able to explore important temples that were built on top of the edge of the mountain. We will also visit the large Inca cemetery, where we will stop to do “Allpay”, the ancient tradition of sharing coca leaves and energy. At this point, we will have the option to walk back down to the town through the Inca Trail (highly recommended, but not mandatory, noting it takes approximately two hours). We will then drive back to Casa Verde for a delicious home-cooked Andean dinner and our overnight stay.
Inca Ruins in Beautiful Ollantaytambo (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we will head out on bus through the Sacred Valley to the beautiful town of Ollantaytambo, considered the best preserved Inca settlement. The reason most come to Ollantaytambo is to catch the train to Machu Picchu, however, the Inca ruins found here are likewise incredibly impressive. The town’s primary attraction is the Ollantaytambo Fortress on the outskirts of the settlement in a section known as Temple Hill. The temple area is at the top of steep terracing which helped to provide excellent defenses. Stone used for these buildings was brought from a quarry high up on the opposite side of the Urubamba River – an incredible feat involving the efforts of thousands of workers. We will visit the Temple of the Winds, and after our visit, we will drive to an Andean community named Willoq (or Huilloc), where our hosts will be awaiting us to serve a lovely traditional lunch. This will also present us with an opportunity to learn about their traditions and share some special time, which will include a weaving demonstration. We will then return to Casa Verde for the night.
Introduction to Andean Shamanism (B/L/-)
Today we will haver the incredibly unique opportunity to learn about the Inca culture and how Shamanism is such a significant part of the culture in Peru’s Andes. We will have a visit from Q’ero Elders – a community of people that was not discovered until 1950 – who are thekeepers of the ancient traditions of the Inca people. We will have the opportunity to participate in one of the most sacred ceremonies of all, called a “Despacho”, that will include teachings about the Cosmology of the Andes as well as a Fire Ceremony. After enjoying a traditional Andean lunch, we will return to Ollantaytambo to catch a train to Machu Picchu in the afternoon – an amazing train ride that takes us alongside the Urubamba River and through gorgeous landscapes for over an hour and a half, cutting through the Andes to reveal ruins along the whole route. Once we arrive in Aguas Calientes (the closest settlement to Machu Picchu) for the night, we will have some free time to explore the lovely little town. Dinner is on your own this evening, and there are lots of options within a short walk of our hotel.
Magnificent Machu Picchu (B/-/D)
From Aguas Calientes, we will take a bus to Machu Picchu for our guided tour of this magnificent site. Often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu is one of the most impressive ancient sites in the world, an icon of the Inca civilization and Peru’s most popular tourist destination. Machu Picchu was built around 1450 AD, at the height of the Inca Empire, and is a testament to the power and ingenuity of the Incas. Built without the use of mortar, metal tools, or the wheel, Machu Picchu stands as an archaeological wonder of the ancient world. Be prepared to be awestruck. Marco will be able to explain not only all of the history of the site, providing the Shamanic perspective of the significance of the most important areas, including lookouts, gateways, temples, and their connections with the other realms. At 10am you have the option (let us know when you book if you want to do this) to do the daring hike up to Wayna Picchu – the Temple of the Moon – another incredibly impressive site. From a distance, it looks like a technical climbing endeavour, but in fact it’s just a steep hike with some sections that will require the use of both hands and feet to scramble upwards, and some sections that include railings and cables for support. The total ascent is just over 1,000 feet (360m), and from summit the scale and ingenuity of Machu Picchu and its different structures and terraces are fully revealed. The sheer magnitude and complexity of the site provides for a humbling view. There are also terraces and temple remnants that crown the mountain’s summit there. Don’t forget to pack your passports for today, as you can have them stamped here. Then you will return by bus to Aguas Calientes prior to your return train trip to Ollantaytambo, and return trip to Casa Verde to enjoy some more delicious Peruvian cuisine before calling it a night.
Discover Cusco’s Treasures (B/L/-)
This morning, there will be some time to spend in nature birding, hiking, reading a book – however you choose, before we head into Cusco to tour one of the most beautiful cities in the western hemisphere. We will start in the most important temple in the Inca Empire, Koricancha – the Temple of the Sun (from the Quechua words Quri Kancha meaning “Golden Temple”), originally named Inti Kancha (“Temple of the Sun”). This temple was dedicated primarily to Inti, the Sun God, with walls and floors that were once covered in sheets of solid gold. Next you will be visiting the temple of the waters, called Tambomachay, which consists of a series of aqueducts, canals and waterfalls that run through the terraced rocks. Your second last stop will be at Kenko, one of the largest huacas (holy places) in the Cusco Region (seen on the right). Many huacas were based on naturally occurring rock formations. Final stop will be at the Plaza de Armas – the lovely central public plaza surrounded by historic cathedrals, restaurants, and upscale shops. This sets us in the middle of many options to enjoy dinner on your own, and a close walk to the hotel.
Sacsayhuaman, Kenko and Tambomachay (B/L/-)
Today we will be exploring the area surrounding Cusco, starting with a visit to the archeological site of Sacsaywaman, where another Shaman named Pedro will be joining us to teach you one of the most important Shamanic ceremonies, a Despacho. Pedro actually grew up within the site – one of very few families to call it home – so his understanding of the significance of some of the most sacred parts are beyond anything you can read in history books. After touring the site, Pedro will invite us into his home for a traditional Andean lunch. Then in the afternoon, we are off to visit two more amazing sites, Kenko and Tambomachay, also on the outskirts of the city, and likewise full of mystery, history and wonder. Dinner is on your own again this evening, with many options to choose from around our hotel in central Cusco.
Explore Cusco's History (B/-/-)
Today is yours to take it where you want. As part of this package, you have a tourist pass which allows you to visit dozens of historic sites and tourist attractions in the Cusco area. As different people may be interested in different things (shopping for the best hiking boots in the world, handmade in Cusco also being an option, as is just relaxing). We will outline all of your options and set you off in the right direction to the make the most of your day in this magical city.
Travel to Sacred Lake Titicaca with Visit at Raqchi (B/L/D)
After breakfast we will depart for a long journey that will take us traversing the highlands of Peru for about eight hours to reach Puno, on the shores of sacred Lake Titicaca. We will stop along the way for a little birding, as different species can be found in the higher climes. We will also stop at the archeological site Raqchi, located about half way along the trip. The temple of Raqchi is known as the temple of southern cross, and includes the Temple of Wiracocha, the most prominent of the many buildings found there. Wiracocha was a Deity believed to be the giver of all life, according the Incas, or the Creator God, believed to have created both the Sun and Moon. The temple was thought to be built to both appease and honour him. The enormous structure stands over 92 meters long and 25.5 meters wide, with the foundation made from carved stones and the rest made out from adobe and mud. The temple of Wiracocha is said to be specifically built so that people had to walk in a zigzag motion through it. This motion is related to the relationship between Wiracocha and Inca cosmology. We will participate in a cleansing ceremony at this sacred site with Marco here before getting back in the car to continue on to Puno for the night. We will also make a stop at the highest point on the whole journey (4380 meters) on the way. We will arrive in Puno in the evening, the capital of Lake Titicaca and folklore of Peru, where we will be spending the night at our hotel.
Amantani Island on Lake Titicaca & Floating Islands of Uros (B/L/D)
The city of Puno is located in the southeastern corner of Peru, on the shores of the magnificent Lake Titicaca, just 126 km from the border with Bolivia. The sacred deep blue lake is the main attraction that draws people to this part of Peru. It is both the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable body of water in the world. Lake Titicaca is said to be the cradle of Peru’s ancient civilizations, and has been populated by numerous Andean cultures, including the Purakas, the Tiwanakus, and the Incas. The presence of these civilizations, especially the Incas, can be seen on Lake Titicaca by the ruins they left behind, including a mysterious underwater temple thought to be between 1,000 and 1,500 years old. You will be visiting the Uros community today, also known as the Urus – a pre-Inca people living on Lake Titicaca on floating reed islands, known for their kind, gentle nature, still living a beautiful ancient way of life. They use dried totora reeds to make their boats, houses and furniture, as well as the islands on which they live. Currently, there are about 57 floating islands, and we will learn all about the history, religion, and customs of this unique culture. Next you will return in time 500 years during your visit to Amananti Island. After a three-hour trip into the centre of Lake Titicaca, you will be met by Quechua islanders upon arrival and taken in by a family into their rustic house for a meal and to stay overnight. Amantani is known as the "Island of the Kantuta", after the national flower of Peru and Bolivia, which grows plentifully on the island. Later in the afternoon you will climb to the top of the island to take in the spectacular sunset there. This part of the journey can be challenging but is very worth it. In the evening, we will do another Despacho Ceremony with Elder Shaman, Yatiri, in honour of this very special body of water. Overnight with local hosts on the island.
Visit Chullpas of Sillustani (B/L/-)
After breakfast, we will walk to the boat for a short ride (hour and a half) on Lake Titicaca to the Port of Rinconada, where we will do a cleansing ceremony in the lake. After returning to the mainland today, we will visit the Chullpas of Sillustani, offering beautiful architecture where you can see ancient funerary majestic tombs (chullpas) from the Royal Incas and Pre-Incas, constructed out of stone and clay. Chullpas are usually 2 to 4 meters high, but some may reach up to 12 meters. Chullpas were built to bury tribe leaders and the noble, sometimes along with their extended families and even close friends. Sometimes a small opening was made in the towers facing the east friends. Sometimes a small opening was made in the towers facing the east where it was believed the Sun was reborn by Mother Earth each day. You will have a picnic lunch at the site before returning to Puno. Then you will have the rest of the day free to explore Puno, to swim in the lake, relax, or take in another activity. We will spend one last night in Puno before flying out tomorrow morning.
Flight from Juliaca to Lima; Return Flight to Canada (B/-/-)
We will travel to the airport in nearby Juliaca to fly to Lima, to catch your connecting flight back home, after what we hope was a wonderful trip!