Arrive at the Gateway of the Sun
Today begins with a visit to the Chinchero church and ruins. Chinchero is a village famous for its colorful Sunday market and its incredible weavings, and you will also visit a local cooperative and learn how the locals weave their intricate designs. Then drive across the fertile plain of Chinchero, rich with grain, potatoes and beans. See the labor-intensive local farming techniques along the way.
From Chinchero head further into the Sacred Valley to visit the sites of Maras and Moray. Since Incan times, local people have collected salt from the terraces of Maras. This site is not on the main tourist trail, but the natural formation is spectacular. Wind your way through the salt pans and take an easy walk down to the floor of the Urubamba River Valley. Also see evidence of Incan crop experimentation at the circular agricultural terrace at Moray.
You then have an optional hike (or take the bus) following mule trails that take you to the ancient town of Maras, with its out-standing Spanish door arches and a vast church. Maras is famous for its spies due to its strategic location above the Sacred Valley. Then drop down into the Sacred Valley of the Incas. En-route are some of the most astounding salt-pans covering the whole of the hill-side. These salt-pans were mentioned in conquering Spanish’s chronicles.
Afterwards take a short journey along the river Urubamba, where in the afternoon you'll visit the Inca fortress town of Ollantaytambo: this was the site of the last big battle between the Incas and Spanish before the remaining Incas rebels fled into the jungles of Vilcabamba. In this lovely, well-preserved village and ruins you can still feel the true magic of the Incas. The hill-top Inca sun temple displays some of the finest stone work in the area. The site was unfinished and some magnificent stones still lie un-erected, providing important clues to the building methods.
In the late afternoon, you take the 1 ½-hour Vistadome train ride from Ollanta to Machu Picchu, the “lost citadel” of the Incas. (Baggage limit on PeruRail is 11 lbs.)
- Breakfast, Lunch
- Hotel Inkaterra El Mapi