At 8:00 AM, an Ascend Travel representative will pick you up at your hotel for the transfer to the Sacred Valley. We will travel past the ruins of Saqsayhuaman and Tambomachay on our way to the impressionable Sacred Valley of the Incas. Our first stop is the town of Pisac, where we will first climb the valley road to the amazing ruins high above the colonial town. The Pisaq ruins are famous for their ample agricultural terraces located along steep cliffs surrounding the town. At the top of the agricultural terraces, we will visit the famous Incan sun temple in the section of the ruins known as "Intihuatana." This temple includes the famous "Hitching Post," supposedly used to tie up the sun on its journey around the Earth. This temple is also believed to have served astronomical purposes for Incan Priests. We will also see ancient Incan crosses, which represent three levels of existence (the "Upper" world, the "Everyday" world, and the "Under" world).
After visiting the ruins, we will descend to the town of Pisaq where we will visit the famous Pisaq market. Although very quiet most of the week, the town of Pisaq springs to life every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – and the market is famous for handmade ceramics, silver jewelry, embroideries and tapestries - most of the goods are sold directly from the artists that create them.
Next, we will board our van to our next stop, which is the town of Urubamba. Here we will enjoy an awesome buffet of local cuisine at a colonial hacienda or tourist restaurant before heading to our next destination.
After a drive of about 45 minutes along the banks of the beautiful Urubamba River, with beautiful views of high-mountain peaks and glaciers reaching over 5500 Meters (or 18,000 feet), we will reach the great Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo. This town, apart from its amazing scenery and natural beauty, is significant due to the fact that many of the intact Inca structures are still used by the local people. We will observe impressive carvings in the mountain, enormous stone blocks perfectly carved by the Incans, inhabitants in their traditional dress, and we will ascend amazing agricultural terraces to get a spectacular view of the surrounding valley and mountains.
Our final stop is the village of Chincheros, high above the Sacred Valley, where we will get a breathtaking view of the glaciated peaks of Mt. Chicon and Mt. Veronica, visit the famous colonial church and archeological site, before continuing on another 45 minutes to Cusco where we will arrive around 6:00 or 6:30 PM to drop you off at your hotel.
We will pick you up from your hotel between 6:30 and 7:00 AM and travel to the town of Poroy (1/2 hour from Cusco) to board the train to Machu Picchu. This amazing journey by train takes you through the famous Sacred Valley of the Incas where you’re jaw will drop with the views of giant snow-capped mountains, green fields, charming Incan towns, and the raging Urubamba River. During the journey, you will observe the climate change from Andean highlands to the lush “Ceja de Selva” (Eyebrow jungle) where the Machu Picchu ruins are located.
After an approximately 4 hour-long voyage by train, we will arrive in the town of Aguas Calientes (better known as Machu Picchu Pueblo). An Ascend Travel tour guide will meet you at the train station and transport you to the hotel where we will be spending the night. We will grab lunch at a nearby restaurant, and then the rest of the evening we will have free time to get to know the town of Aguas Calientes. Some possible activities include visiting the nearby Botanical Gardens or the Machu Picchu Museum, soaking in the namesake hot springs, shopping at the local market, or walking to the luscious Mandor waterfall. For those wanting a more daring and physical experience, you can climb the steep Putucusi Mountain (a grueling 3-hour hike with steep inclines and ladders that are as long as 20 meters each! Not for those who are afraid of heights). We will have a group dinner with our guide at night and discuss our visit to the ruins the following day.
This is the day you've been waiting for. We will wake up before first light to be among the first to arrive at the famous ruins. Machu Picchu, the "Lost City of the Incas," is located at approximately 2500 meters (or 8,000 feet, which is significantly lower than the city of Cusco). At 5:45 AM, we will take the bus up to the ruins and arrive around 6:20 AM. Machu Picchu is situated between two peaks, Mt. Machu Picchu ("Old Peak" in Quechua) and Wayna Picchu ("Young Peak" in Quechua). We will enjoy a 2-hour guided tour of the ruins in which we will learn about Incan architecture and uses of different structures, as well as visit the Main Square, the Temple of the Three Windows, the Sacred Sundial and the ancient burial grounds. After the guided tour, you will have free time to continue to visit the world-famous ruins. Some possible activities besides visiting the main ruins include: