Inti Rayi Festival and the Sacred Valley

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Inti Rayi Festival and the Sacred Valley

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Length of trip:

13 days

Approximate price of this trip per person:

from $ 4295

Best travel dates to go:

Jun 22, 2009 to Jul 04, 2009;

Detailed Description of this trip:

The Winter Solstice in the southern hemisphere and the local harvests are the driving force behind the greatest, most majestic pre-hispanic ceremony to render homage to the sun. Today, the Inti Raymi Festival evokes the splendid Inca ritual of yore, being carefully scripted by Cusco professors, archaeologists, and historians. The central event is acted out on the esplanade below the imposing fortress of Sacsayhuaman, outside the city of Cusco. There, step by step, thousands of actors enact a long ceremony giving thanks to the sun god, Inti. On this Peruvian adventure, you will experience the Inti Raymi Festival as well as tours of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Pisac Market, Ollantaytambo, and mysterious Machu Picchu. Your nights will be spent in some of Peru’s most luxurious and renowned accommodations, including the Hotel Monasterio in Cusco, which was originally a monastery built in 1595, and the Sol y Luna Lodge, a rustically elegant resort in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Trip Itinerary:

  • Day 1 - Lima


    Arrive in the Peruvian capital of Lima, a mainly modern city situated on the coastal desert. You will be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel, Miraflores Park Hotel.

  • Day 2 - Cusco

    Commercial Flight

    Your day begins with an early morning flight to Cusco, high in the Andes near 11,000 ft.

    You will be met and transferred to your local hotel.


    We recommend spending the morning at leisure acclimatizing to the altitude.

    Historical and Educational Tours

    Enjoy an easy afternoon walking tour of the ancient city. From the Plaza de Armas, you can visit many of the city’s historical sites, see Incan stone walls serving as the foundations of Spanish architecture, and the cathedral built atop the ruins of an Incan temple.


    Overnight at the Hotel Monasterio for three nights. The Hotel Monasterio remains a national historical landmark, protected by the National Institute of Culture, and has retained its characteristics and charm. It was originally built in 1595 as a monastery on the site of the palace of Inca Amaru Qhala. It is a splendid model of the colonial Renaissance style, consisting of three sections in different levels. The heart of the hotel is the central courtyard with its soft fountain and 300-year old cedar tree surrounded by gardens and the famous stone cloisters. The stones around the huge wooden entrance doors looking on to the Plazoleta Nazarenas still bear the Spanish Arms Escutcheon and the image of Bishop Monsignor Juan Serricolea y Olea. (B)

  • Day 3 - Peru

    Inti Raymi Festival.

    On this day, the ceremonial events begin with an invocation by the Sapa Inca in the Qorikancha Square in front of the Santo Domingo Church, built over the ancient Temple of the Sun. Here, the Sapa Inca calls on the blessings from the sun. Following the oration, Sapa Inca is carried on a golden throne, a replica of the original, in a procession to the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuaman, in the hills above Cusco. With the Sapa Inca come the high priests, garbed in ceremonial robes, then officials of the court, nobles and others, all elaborately costumed according to their rank, with silver and gold ornaments. They walk along flower-covered streets, to music and prayers and dancing. Women sweep the streets to clear them of evil spirits. At Sacsayhuaman, Sapa Inca climbs to the sacred altar where all can see him. Once all the celebrants are in place in the grand square of the fortress, there are speeches by Sapa Inca, the priests and representatives of the Suyos: the Snake for the world below, the Puma for life on earth, and the Condor for the upper world of the gods. A white llama is sacrificed and the high priest holds aloft the bloody heart in honor of Pachamama. This is done to ensure the fertility of the earth which in combination with light and warmth from the sun provides a bountiful crop. The priests read the blood stains to see the future for the Inca. As the sun begins to set, stacks of straw are set on fire and the celebrants dance around them to honor Tawantinsuty or the Empire of the Four Wind Directions. The ceremony of Inti Raymi ends with a procession back to Cusco. Sapa Inca and Mama Occla are carried on their thrones, the high priests and representatives of the Supas pronounce blessings on the people. Once again, a new year has begun! (B)

  • Day 4 - Cusco

    Sacred Valley/Casa de Milagros.

    Today, visit the four extraordinary nearby ruins, Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay. Cusco was the seat of the Incan Empire and was built in the shape of a puma. The city itself is the puma’s body and the enormous Sacsayhuaman ruins represent the head and teeth.


    Although only about 20% of the entire site remains today, the largest and most impressive of Sacsayhuaman’s original rocks are still in place. Qenko, meaning zig-zag, consists of a large limestone rock with zig-zag walls that are that is covered in carvings. The mysterious caves, channels and alters below are thought to have been used for ritual sacrifices. Puca Pucara, or red fort, is a small site that appears red when viewed in the right light. Tambo Machay, another small site, is known locally as “El Bano del Inca,” or the Incan bath, for its beautiful ceremonial stone fountains and bathing pools. Later, you will visit the Casa de Milagros orphanage.


    Stay overnight in Cusco. (B)

  • Day 5 - Peru


    Choose to hike or ride today to your lovely base in the Urubamba Valley, also referred to as the Sacred Valley. Hikers depart very early this morning to begin walking either near Chinchero. Chinchero’s altitude is 12,140 feet, so be sure to take it easy hiking in this area. A slow ascent brings you to a pass with a beautiful view of the peaks of Pitusiray and Sawasiray and the Urubamba Valley below. Descend to Huchuy Qosqo, where one of the few standing three-story Inca buildings dominates the complex.

    Private Car Service

    Continue downhill until you arrive at the roadhead near the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where you will meet your vehicle and transfer to the Sol y Luna Lodge, where you will spend five nights.


    Sol y Luna (Sun and Moon) is a beautiful, small hotel in Huicho, two kilometers from the village of Urubamba, on the way to Ollantaytambo. To the right, you can see the Cordillera del Vilcanota and to the left, the Cordillera del Vilcabamba. Peruvians are fond of saying that Sol y Luna is truly at the end of the rainbow. You will stay overnight in your own bungalow, or muyu, a circle in the sun with light yellow walls, a red-tiled roof, and flower-rimmed verandas. (B,L)

  • Day 6 - Peru

    Pisac Market & Ruins.

    Pisac is famous for its traditional Sunday market where locals barter for food, clothing, animals and other supplies. It is open everyday, and you can always find many souvenirs of local textiles and crafts no matter what day of the week you visit. The fortress ruins, perched 600 meters above Pisac, are surrounded by spectacular Inca terraces on the southern and eastern flanks of the mountain.


    Hike up the steep Inca steps cut into the side of the mountain to the ruins – the altitude is still fairly high at 10,600 feet, but the climb is well worth it. It is also possible to reach the ruins by vehicle if you are not prepared to hike.


    Explore the buildings, look-outs, terraces, tunnels and irrigation channels before returning to Pisac by the same Inca steps.


    Return to Sol y Luna. (B)

  • Day 7 - Peru

    Chinchero/Maras & Moray.

    Visit Chinchero, a picturesque Andean village with important Inca ruins, including a massive Inca wall in the main square. This town is also home to the Jakima Project at the Center for Traditional Textiles. The Center was formed to preserve the valuable 2000-year-old textile traditions that are in danger of being lost during our generation. The Jakima Project was created to engage as many children as possible from communities around Cusco to learn the basic skills of weaving and the designs native to their respective communities.


    Today, also visit Maras and Moray. Since Incan times, the local people have been using the terraced salt pans of Maras. This site is not commonly visited by tourists, and it is quite spectacular. Wind your way through the salt pans and take an easy walk down to the floor of the Urubamba River Valley. Moray is an Inca construction shaped like an amphitheater, used to acclimatize and domesticate plants.

    Food and Dining

    Enjoy a festive picnic lunch in a beautiful site selected by your guide.


    Later, return to Sol y Luna for your overnight stay. (B,L)

  • Day 8 - Peru

    Urubamba River Rafting/Ollantaytambo.
    Private Car Service

    Today take a short drive south of Cusco until you reach the Urubamba River.


    After a briefing and assembly of equipment, you’ll begin rafting the grade II-III rapids.


    Stop at Cachicata for lunch, then return to Ollantaytambo for a tour of the ruins. There are 200 steps straight up the stone stairway to the top of the huge Incan fortress, which offers a fantastic view of the valley. Ollantaytambo is remembered as one of the few places that the Spanish lost a major battle during their conquest. The unfinished temple at the top of the ruins was still being built when the Spanish eventually conquered the area.


    Later, return to Sol y Luna. (B,L)

  • Day 9 - Peru


    After breakfast, visit the Cattco Museum, where work is being to done to rescue traditional techniques for making textiles, ceramics, and other crafts. This will put the rest of the day into context as you drive to the traditional textile center at Huilloc, where you will see the different traditional processes and techniques in textile weaving. Here you will also have the chance to shop for original textiles from the producers themselves.


    Hike down the valley to the ruins of Pumamarca and return to Sol y Luna. (B)

  • Day 10 - Machu Picchu

    Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

    Take the train towards Machu Picchu and disembark at the kilometer 104 marker to cross the hanging bridge to the Chachabamba site.


    After a brief visit, begin a three-hour ascent to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna, an important ritual site.


    The Inca Trail cuts across the ridge above Machu Picchu to finally reach the Gate of the Sun (Intipunku) for your first awe-inspiring glimpse of Machu Picchu. Total hiking time is about six hours, and the elevation at Machu Picchu is 7,900 feet. (Please note: bookings for this 1-day Inca Trail hike must be made at least 90 days in advance.)


    Overnight at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel in Aguas Calientes for two nights. (B,L)

  • Day 11 - Machu Picchu


    Enjoy an early-morning tour of Machu Picchu before the tourist train arrives, which will allow you to photograph the site without many other visitors. Be sure to read about Machu Picchu in advance to fully appreciate your guide's expertise. Stumbled upon by accident in 1911, it remains a mysterious site, as there are no Spanish records, Incan legends, or oral histories which describe its exact purpose. Elegant ornamental stonework hints at the possibility of Machu Picchu's importance as a ceremonial center.

    Mountain Climbing

    You will have the option to climb the steep path to Huayna Picchu for a spectacular view of the ruins. (B)

  • Day 12 - Cusco

    Machu Picchu/Cusco.

    Rise early this morning and return to Machu Picchu by bus to enjoy the site again on your own before many of the other visitors arrive.


    Take the four-hour train ride back to Cusco through the spectacular scenery of the Urubamba Valley.


    You will be met at the station and transferred to the Hotel Monasterio. (B,L)

  • Day 13 - Lima

    Commercial Flight

    Today you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight to Lima.


    You will enjoy use of a day room at the Miraflores Park Hotel.

    Later, you will be transferred to the airport to catch your onward international flight. (B)

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