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The Inca Empire Tour:

Peru, the land of the Andes and home to the Inca Civilization, in the heart of South America: this is where it all began for a great civilization, art, culture and history. Join us on this exciting adventure as we have close encounters with Perus magic and mysticism. Follow the footsteps of Incas through their monuments, temples and ruins. History and culture come alive as you spend time with their descendants. This Off The Map Adventure is the way to explore Peru.

Day-01
Depart Canada
Day-02 Arrive Lima
Arrive at Lima airport where our staff will meet you outside the arrival hall and will assist you with your transfer to your hotel. Get a good rest tonight for an exciting adventure the next morning. *Your arrival in Lima depends on your flight schedule. If time permits, you can sign up for an optional city tour of Lima. Overnight at hotel.
Day-03 Lima - Paracas - Ica - Nazca
Today we start our amazing journey towards Nazca. Our interesting drive along the Pan-American Highway will take us to the coastal town of Paracas. One highlight of this trip is our visit to the Island of Bellestas. This small island off the coast of Paracas is also known as The Little Galapagos. The island is a sanctuary to a variety of marine fauna. Most prominent sightings will include the guano bird, the Peruvian booby and the tendril. The island is also home to a prominent colony of Humboldt Penguins and a variety of sea lions. The visit is a thrill especially when the sea lions sound their wolf pack cries and curiously approach our boat. While looking towards the mainland we may notice El Candelabro, a large geoglyph that might have served as a landmark for the ancient mariners. Any understanding of such geoglyphs is merely a speculation as the origins of such landmarks in Peru are still a mystery. After our visit we head in a southeastern direction just outside of the town of Ica to La Huaca China, a natural oasis featuring a beautiful lake in the middle of spectacular sand dunes. According to legend, a mermaid lives in the blue green waters of the lagoon and she claims the life of one man each year. We take a short stop here and enthusiasts can try some sand boarding or a buggy ride. (Rides are optional). Continue driving to Nazca. Along the way we can also stop at the Maria Reiche Museum (entrance not included). Maria Reiche was one of the most prominent German archeologists and mathematicians who spent years researching and preserving the lines. This small museum dedicated to her is a great place to visit for a better understanding of the Nazca Lines. Time permitting we can also stop along the way to see the Metal Tower that gives a partial view of the lines. Continue to Nazca and transfer to your hotel for overnight.
Day-04 Nazca – Arequipa
History has witnessed this esoteric land, with profound religious belief, flourishing cultures and remarkable civilizations. Amongst these civilizations one of the most prominent was that of the Nazca and the Paracas who established themselves and left a legacy and a world of mystery. In this highly harsh climate they created the mysterious Nazca lines that have survived the test of time, leaving all sorts of unanswered questions. We are still trying to discover what the real purpose of these mysterious formations was. Today, amongst sand dunes and barren valleys, you can still find pockets of cultivated land. Here, the farmers grow cotton, butter beans and asparagus and also maintain citrus orchards and vineyards. In this very dry climate, bringing water to cultivate the land would have been a challenge in the time of the Nazca as well. One theory suggested that the various random lines indicate that the Nazcas carved out an indication of where the underground water existed. The work was supposedly done by mystic dowsers to leave markers for the generations to come. Early morning you will have the option to take a thrilling flight over the area to see the famous Nazca lines. (Flying is optional so book your flight in advance to guarantee a seat). After our flight we will return to the hotel and take our breakfast. Surely the talk over breakfast about the lines is interesting and you are welcome to come up with your own theory of why these lines are there. It can be based on real facts or plain fiction. Later today we will visit the Cantayo aqueducts. This vast network of underground aqueducts was developed by the ancient people of Nazca. The supply of water through the aqueducts was a highly advanced method of transporting water from the source to the needed irrigated patches of land. Over 30 underground channels still exist to this day. Our tour will give us the opportunity to see this ingenious structure up close. After lunch we will start our long journey towards the city of Arequipa. We arrive late in the evening and transfer to hotel for overnight.
Day-05 Arequipa - Colca Canyon
Arequipa is also called La Ciudad Blanca or White City, named after its colonial era buildings made with beautiful pearl white sillar, a volcanic rock that comes from its nearby mountains. Arequipa is overlooked by three soaring volcanoes - Mount Chachani (6095 m), Mount Misti (5822 m), and the snow covered Mount Pichu Pichu (5664 m). This morning we will head out towards the Colca River valley and Colca Canyon, one of the world’s largest canyons. Our adventure today takes us through a vast region where you can see colorful pre-Incan agricultural terraces which are still used today for growing quinoa, corn, barley, and wheat. We will cross the Patapampa Pass (4910 meters), the highest point during our drive, for excellent views of the surrounding area. This is the region of the Pampas Cañahuas National reserve which is the home for rare wild animals like the Vicuña. The Vicuña, a relative of the Alpaca and Llama, lives between 3800 - 4800m on the plateaus and slopes of the Andes Mountains. It is against the law to domesticate these wild species and they are protected by Peruvian laws. The fine wool that comes from the Vicuña is the most expensive in its variety. Here you may be able to see herds of Vicuñas roaming around in the high altitude valleys. Later we arrive at the town of Chivay the capital of the Caylloma province in the Arequipa region. Time permitting we will get a chance to visit the thermo medicinal hot springs of La Calera. Overnight at hotel.
Day-06 Colca Canyon – Puno
Early morning we set out to visit the largest canyon in the world. Here the Colca River creates a canyon that is about 70 kilometers long and is also the deepest of the world, 3000 meters (9,842 feet). It is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Today we try our luck to spot one of the most amazing creatures – the largest flying bird – the Condor. With its wing span of up to 3.2 meters, the bird gracefully flies over this valley and stuns the viewer with its amazing speed and control. On the way back to Chivay, you will see the hanging tombs of Choquetico and Litomaquetas. Along the way we pass through the towns of Pinchollo, Maca y and Yanque. These towns are known for their typical churches and squares. In the afternoon we will head out towards Puno. Our drive takes us through tremendous landscapes. Along the way we can stop to see a series of beautiful small lagoons called lagunillas. Here it is possible to see the Andean Flamingos and a variety of other Andean birds. There are many trout farms where fishermen fish on their artisan boats. Puno at an altitude of 3860 meters is nestled on the banks of one of the most beautiful lakes in Peru, Lake Titicaca. It was founded with the name of "Villa Rica de San Carlos de Puno" in 1668, by the Viceroy Count of Lemos. Arrive and transfer to your hotel near Lake Titicaca. Overnight at your hotel.
Day-07 Puno - Uros Island - Amantani
After breakfast we head out to the pier to board our boat that will take us on an exciting adventure on the blue waters of Lake Titicaca. This is the world’s highest navigable lake and surrounded by a group of beautiful islands. Titicaca is also believed to be one of the possible birthplaces of the Inca Civilization and religion. There are 41 islands, amongst them are Amantani, Taquile, Suasi and the floating Islands of Uros. Our trip starts with the floating islands. Our host family here will show us their own personal island. From them we will learn the process of making an island. The family will show us how each thing on their personal island is made out of Catalli, a rush that grows naturally in the lake. This includes their houses, rooms, beds, and boats. After a short visit we will head on to our destination, the Amantani Island. The inhabitants of the Island are Quechua speaking people descended from the ancient Andean people. There are about 800 families living on this island and they are involved in growing wheat, quinoa, potatoes and a variety of vegetables. We have the privilege to be hosted by a local family. This family will become our family as they open their cozy adobe homes for us. They generously serve freshly prepared meals for us and take excellent care of their guests. To be able to stay with an ancient people on one of the highest lakes in the world, is definitely a lifetime experience. We may also take the time to visit the ruins of Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Pachatata (Father Earth). If you are a soccer fan, you may like to challenge the local team who is famous for playing the sport at an average altitude of 4000 meters. They will surely roast our team because most of the time we will be just catching our breath. Get some rest now while dinner is served by our host family. Overnight at the local family s house.
Day-08 Amantani - Taquile - Puno

After breakfast with our Amantani family we will head out to the pier to catch our boat to the nearby Taquile Island, another famous Island of Lake Titicaca. With its 2000 inhabitants, the island is famous for its textile art. It was honoured by UNESCO as the Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The masterpieces are hand-woven textiles exclusively knitted by men. The island also serves as a model for community based society where everyone participates for the betterment of all. The society runs on the Inca moral code of do not steal, do not lie and do not be lazy. We spend some time exploring the island and chatting with its local people to learn about their famous art and culture. You have the option to take your lunch here. In the afternoon we head back to Puno. You have free time this evening to explore Puno on your own, or relax and take it easy. Overnight at the hotel.

Day-09 Puno - Cuzco

After breakfast we head out for Cuzco. This interesting drive will take us through a variety of landscapes, from vast plains to narrow valleys. Along the way we can see the Andean llamas, alpacas and vicuñas in the open. Our first stop is Pucara, famous for its pottery especially the Toritos De Pucara, little bulls of Pucara. Here visit the Pucara stone Museum that houses a great collection of Anthropomorphic Monoliths, zoomorphic sculptures and a variety of artifacts from the Pre-Inca cultures. After this visit we will continue our drive towards the Andean mountains. At the La Raya Pass at a height of 4335 meters above sea level, we cross from Quechua to Aymara cultures. After a short stop at the pass we continue our journey to our next stop at the Sicuani village for lunch. Our next stop is Raqchi, the site where the temple of Wiracocha is located. This monumental temple with its walls up to 20 meters in height is evidence to a marvel construction dedicated to the legend of Wiracoha. According to this legend, the son of the Inca Yahuar Huaca had an encounter with the God Wiracocha at this very place. Wiracocha said to the Inca s son that his father s life was in danger in Cuzco, threatened by the Chancas. He immediately united an army to fight in Cuzco to save his father. He won this epic battle and to be thankful to Wiracocha this temple was raised to honour him. The main building of the temple was once occupied by the Inca and adjoining quarters were used by the priests and nobility. You get to visit them both. Our last stop is approximately 40 kilometers short of Cuzco at a place called Andahuaylillas. Here the chapel constructed by the Spaniards in the 1580s was known as the Sistine Chapel of the Americas. The interior of the Church of San Pedro of Andahuaylillas is an explosion of Baroque art with a great variety of decorations. Arrive at Cuzco and transfer to your hotel. Your evening is free to walk around and explore on your own. Overnight at hotel.

Day-10 Cuzco
Today we have the opportunity to explore Cuzco, once the capital of the Inca Empire. The city was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1983. Since then it has seen a tremendous number of tourists increasing every year. Cuzco sits at an altitude of 3400 meters, which means that it is actually a thousand meters higher in elevation than Machu Picchu (2430 m). Naturally Cuzco will give us a great start to acclimatize for our onward journey. Our tour today starts with a visit to the famous Basilica Cathedral, built in 1560 by the Spaniards. It is a Baroque style jewel of the colonial architecture, with its ten chapels, largest altar and a collection of more than 400 paintings. Later we will visit Koricancha the main Inca temple dedicated to the supreme sun god. The name Koricancha in Quecua language means a gold enclosure, probably named after its inside wall that was exquisitely decorated in gold. Our next stop is Saqsayhuaman Fortress, a massive stone construction, an impressive Inca Megalithic ruin. The walls are formed by enormous stone blocks that reach up to 9 meters in height. The stone is believed to weigh 125 tons. The place is believed to have cosmic energy and could have been used as an astronomical observatory by an Inca oracle. Later we visit Qenqo, a sanctuary dedicated to worship and used as a major ceremonial center. There is a labyrinth entrance toward underground galleries, passages, channels, and stairs. They reveal a series of drawings and engravings of various figures including those of pumas. We head on to visit Puca Pucara, a small red fortress and finally Tambomachay the Inca s Bath. It may have been a sanctuary dedicated to the cult of water. Return to your hotel in Cuzco. This afternoon is free for you, so try some good shopping, hang out at your favorite place or take a stroll through the friendly neighborhoods of the city.
Day-11 Excursion Sacred Valley
Today we take a full day tour of the Sacred Valley. The valley, also known as the valley of the Incas, is a collection of valleys, fed by numerous rivers which emerge from adjoining gorges. The valley contains numerous archaeological remains and villages. The area was appreciated by the Incas due to its special geographical and climatic qualities. It was one of the empire s main points for the extraction of natural wealth, and the best place for maize production in Peru. Through the valley flows the revered Río Urubamba (called the Willcamayu by the Incas). It is a pivotal religious element of the Inca s cosmology. The Incas believed not only that the flow of the Urubamba was inexorably tied to the constellations and the mountain peaks, but also that the river was the earthbound counterpart of the Milky Way. With the river as its source, the fertile valley was a major center of agricultural production for the Incas, who grew native Andean crops such as white corn, coca, potatoes, and a variety of other fruits and vegetables in expansive fields along spectacularly terraced mountain slopes. Our first stop is at the town of Pisaq which is famous for its Indian market. This is a great place for bargain shopping for the traditional artifacts and handicrafts of this region. Apart from the market, the town is best known for its Inca ruins. Here the Incas constructed agricultural terraces along the steep hillsides. Some of these terraces are still in use today. It is believed that the Incas lugged the rich topsoil by hand from the lower lands. The terraces provided a great opportunity to produce surplus food which would have not been possible at such altitudes. Apart from the terraces there are religious and military structures believed to be used to secure the entrance to the sacred valley and to appease the gods with ritual worship. Our next stop is Ollyantaytambo, a town and the famous Inca archeological site, located at an altitude of 2800 meters. The legend dictates that the Ollántay (the titan of the Andes) of plebeian origin, fell in love with the princess Cusi Coyllor (cheerful star) the Inca king Pachacúte’s daughter. In a bloody battle to win the princess over, Ollantay was defeated but then generously forgiven by the Inca King. The foundation of this site is attributed to the love of Ollantay. The fortress, located between the two mountains, provided a strategic natural defense against the enemies. You can visit the fortress and the rich Inca archaeological site with its temple dedicated to Inti (god sun). The summit of the archaeological complex bears six monoliths of enormous size, assembled with incredible precision, engraved with mysterious iconography. Return to Cuzco for overnight at your hotel.
Day-12 Excursion to Machu Picchu
For those who cannot hike the four day Inca Trial, we offer to bring you with us on a spectacular train journey to the famous site of Machu Picchu. This amazing train ride will take us through the Sacred Valley, snaking along the Urubamba River into the lush valleys that lead to the famous site. This is an incredible experience. Our destination is the town of Aguas Calientes, (hot waters in Spanish), nestled at the foot of the hills near the famous Inca site of Machu Picchu. This small town serves as an important stop for tourists coming from and going to Machu Picchu. Our train ends its journey here and we will have to take a short bus ride for another 6 kilometers to the entrance site of Machu Picchu– the lost city of the Incas and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. You will have to walk another half an hour or so to get to the top of the site for the best panoramic views of this amazing site. Sitting at an elevation of 2430 meters, most archeologists believe that the site was an estate for the Inca king Pachacuti who ordered the construction during the 15th century AD. The site was built in classical Inca style with polished dry-stone walls. Your guided tour will take a couple of hours as you walk through the different parts of the site. You will have some free time to explore the site on your own. After the visit we can return to our meeting point near the entrance of the site from where we can catch the bus which takes us back to Aguas Calientes. You will have time to explore the little tourist town before you catch your train back to Cuzco. Overnight at hotel in Cuzco.
Day-13 Cuzco – Departure
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight. You have the option to return home with your international flight or add an amazing jungle experience in the heart of the Amazonian Rain Forest.

 

Lima, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, 

Puno, Lake Titicaca, Nazca Lines, 

Arequipa, Colca Canyon

 

Moderate: Hike required to climb up Machu Picchu requires moderate level of physical fitness.

 

Moderate
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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