Overview

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Camping and Culture for a family of fourPeru

Start:

Cusco, Peru

End:

Cusco, Peru

Duration:

3 11 days

Price:

US$ 3,075

Includes:

wMachu Picchu oCulture & Food pFamily zOutdoors BBike

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The trip in detail

Your guide will meet you off your flight to Cusco and take you to settle in at your accommodation. Then you’ll head out for a traditional Peruvian lunch at a local favourite restaurant. In the afternoon your guide will lead you on a relaxed walking tour around Cusco’s stunning historic centre –it’s important to take it easy today, as you need to acclimatize to Cusco’s 3,000m+ altitude.

The Valle Sur just outside Cusco is one of our favourite places to take our guests, because it offers a one-day snapshot of the incredible variety of this whole region. We’ll meet brujos (witches) who can read your future in coca leaves, and see how bakers create the area’s famous chuta bread. We’ll explore two charming, little-visited ruins: the Inca agricultural laboratory Tipón, with its still-working terraces and panoramic views, and Pikillacta ‘the flea village’, which was home to 10,000 members of a pre-Inca tribe known for abundant procreation! We’ll check out the church of Andahuaylillas, so elaborate it’s known as the Sistine Chapel of the Americas, and the deliberately-deformed skulls of departed Inca nobles displayed in the museum next door. On the way home there’s time to sample local specialty foods like toqto (pigskin), cuy (guinea pig), or for the less adventurous palate, the best cakes and ice-creams in the region!

This morning we’ll take a short (40 minute) drive to Pisac, the gateway to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Along the way we’ll stop at the Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary where we’ll have a chance to see rescued condors, lynxes, flamingos and more! The town of Pisac is literally in the shadow of an imposing mountain-top Inca fortress, which we’ll explore before hiking down the mountain into Pisac itself – a charming cobblestoned little town that’s home to the largest handicraft market in the region – this is the only shopping stop we’ve programmed in this trip, and offers an unparalleled opportunity to do all your Christmas and souvenir shopping in one go! Late this afternoon we’ll drive 30 minutes or so up a winding road to Amaru, the tiny farming settlement that’s our home for the next two nights.

Today we’ll experience a completely different way of life: subsistence farming in the high Andes, a lifestyle that has changed relatively little over hundreds of years. In the morning we’ll help the farmers in the fields, assisting them with whatever tasks they’re doing on the day – in June this might include helping to plow a field to ready the ground for the planting of corn and wheat crops. After a hearty home-cooked lunch – this is a great opportunity to try cuy (guinea pig) – a Peruvian specialty that they cook to perfection in Amaru – it’s the turn of the women of Amaru to show us what they get up to all day. They’ll show us the whole process that goes into making the traditional textiles they wear – from picking plants to make dyes, to weaving on a loom!

This morning we’ll ride bikes out of Amaru, down a winding dirt road through villages and farmland and back into the Sacred Valley. From here we’ll drive up to Amparaes Pass and then saddle up again for an easy, gravel road descent into the remote Lares Valley, starting in high-altitude rock and cold, and ending up in a warm, green river gorge at the surreal and beautiful water park that is Lares hotsprings. Naturally occurring hotsprings are surrounded by lovingly landscaped terraces and lawns dotted with tents. This is one of our favourite places in the world – there is no better end to a day’s riding than soaking in the springs and staring up at the stars.

Today we’ll explore the area around Lares. We’ll take a short hike (and optional bike ride) to the little-visited Choquecancha ruin, enjoy stunning views of this remote, steep-sided river valley, and of course, have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the hotsprings.

This morning an incredibly scenic drive takes us back up to the Amparaes Pass and to the top of one of the world’s best off-road descents. Section follows section of llama track, gravel riverside, and eventually scenic river gorge. We'll end with an array of undulating riverside single track (or take the open, speedy gravel backroad alongside) into the outskirts of Calca. In the afternoon we’ll visit bizarre and spectacular Salineras, a still-functioning Inca salt factory, then head through the beautiful, verdant Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo, one of the most beautiful villages in Peru, and our destination for the night.

This morning we drive up to 4,350 metre (14,000 feet) Abra Malaga (Malaga Pass). Here we cross from the eastern to the western side of the Andes – we’re now on the upper slopes of the mighty Amazon Basin, and will lose nearly 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) of altitude over an incredibly scenic 71 kilometre on-road descent into tropical cloud forest. It's not hard to see why this ride is one of South America's classics, and often favourably compared to Bolivia's infamous ‘Death Road’. It's pure fun – a long, gentle descent through some of the most spectacular scenery you'll ever see. By the time we get to Santa Teresa, at 1,900 metres, we’re in high jungle – a whole different world from the icy Andean pass where we started.

Today we’ll rest up a little after all the action of the last few days, spending the morning relaxing at our lodge and in the Baños Termales de Cocalmayo, natural mountain hot springs beside a raging river. In the afternoon we’ll take a short train ride to Machu Picchu pueblo, or Aguas Calientes.

An early start rewards us with sunrise at Machu Picchu – a peak moment for anyone. A spectacular stone city surrounded by incredibly steep, incredibly green mountains, Machu Picchu needs no introduction and is deservedly one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. A guided tour is a necessary start to orient you in this massive site, then you’ll have plenty of time to explore at your own pace and visit some of the surrounding peaks on your own before we catch the train back to Ollantaytambo for the night.

This morning we’ll explore Chinchero, a quiet little town best known for its outdoor weaving studios, spectacularly scenic Inca ruin, and intricately-frescoed colonial church. Then we’re off to experience the highest stand-up paddleboarding in the world, on an Andean lake! After a full explanation of how to practice the sport, and some yoga stretches to warm up our muscles, we’re off to paddle up to five kilometres across a serene and beautiful stretch of water. Late in the afternoon we’ll head back to Cusco for our final dinner together.

How much does this trip cost?

US $

3,075

pp.


which was for a family of four people


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