Our amazing tour guides will lead you throughout the ancient city, wonder by wonder – special for your own private group! You will learn about ceremonies, how people lived, and how they connected with the Pacha Mama – or “Mother Earth”. Our local guide will give you inside information passed down so that you will get the real story of what happened here.
Machu Picchu is tangible evidence of the urban Inca Empire at the peak of its power and achievement—a citadel of cut stone fit together without mortar so tightly that its cracks still can’t be penetrated by a knife blade. It stands 2,430 m above sea-level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, in an extraordinarily beautiful setting. It was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height; its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, encompasses the upper Amazon basin with its rich diversity of fauna. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley which is 80 kilometers (50 mi) northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows.
The complex of palaces and plazas, temples and homes may have been built as a ceremonial site, a military stronghold, or a retreat for ruling elites—its dramatic location is certainly well suited for any of those purposes. The ruins lie on a high ridge, surrounded on three sides by the windy, turbulent Urubamba River some 2,000 feet (610 meters) below.
The Inca’s achievements and skills are all the more impressive in light of the knowledge they lacked. When Machu Picchu was built some 500 years ago the Inca had no iron, no steel, and no wheels. Their tremendous effort apparently benefited relatively few people—some experts maintain that fewer than a thousand individuals lived here
Machu Picchu was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. Its three primary structures are the Inti Watana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows, of which your tour will visit all three – and plenty more!
You will have a full guided tour by your English speaking guide. After that you will have plenty of time on your own to explore and enjoy Machu Picchu, and discover the wonders of the ancient city yourself!
On our trip, we will also be taking part in community service. Rising early, we will be introduced to a local family! We will join a traditional breakfast with the community before our journey for the day begins. We’ll also participate in an Incan ceremony to offer thanks to Pachamama (Mother Earth) for all that she provides and ask for her grace. Then you will plant your tree with a local family. We’ll spend the rest of the day doing community service with the family, helping them go about their daily tasks. This could include anything from shepherding llamas or alpacas to caring for guinea pigs, shearing wool, weaving or farming potatoes and quinoa. You will learn some basic Quechua, the native indigenous language, as you become friends with the family members. At night, you will have the opportunity to either stay in their homes with them – or camp under the stars – your choice!
Later on, we will have a chance to visit a very special ruin site in Ollantaytambo, and see the many temples of pink granite stone and the famous Princess’ Bath. After this, take some time to explore the spaces of Ollantaytambo on your own – the last living Incan city!
You will also have the opportunity to go rafting on the wild Willkamayu River – a unique once in a lifetime experience on this ‘sacred river’ in Quechua! Enjoy the sites and sounds – and thrills! – of your group riding the waves. We will also have the opportunity to take part in a fully personalized city tour of Cuzco – the capital of the region. We will visit the famous local market of San Pedro. There is a huge diversity of products available. We will see the 12 square stones at Inca Roca Palace in Cusco. We will also visit the Cathedral and the Temple of the Sun. We will even have the change to enter Sacsayhuaman Temple, Tambomachay and Qenqo – famous sites around Cusco. Within Saqsayhuaman, our guide may even have a special surprise for waiting for us….