For those who want to remember their trip, choose a new one, or just dream about going, our virtual voyages are visual snapshots of what you’ll see during a trip to South America with SA Expeditions. Here's your virtual voyage of our 6 Day Classic Machu Picchu tour.
The beginning of your Peru journey starts in the air. Most international flights arrive to Lima in the evening while domestics depart in the morning.
However, you decide an evening at the airport doesn't appeal to you, so you spend a comfortable night at the airport hotel. Waking refreshed for your morning flight to Cuzco, you grab a window seat so you can admire the view as you fly over snow-capped Andean mountains.
Cuzco is one of Peru’s most charming cities. Each steep staircase and narrow corridor has its own story to tell, and you know you could spend days exploring Cuzco’s hillside neighborhoods, inhaling the history that lingers in the air. Despite their tempting charms, you spend your first day in Cuzco meandering around the main plaza rather than attempting to summit every staircase you come across. You’ve been advised that this Incan capital is 11,500 feet above sea level so you’re careful to avoid increasing your risk of altitude sickness.
Today you’re ready to dive into history. With your private guide, you explore Cuzco and its surroundings to learn about Inca and colonial history.
Overlooking the city is the massive complex of Sacsayhuaman. A site with both military and religious importance, this is where one of the bloodiest battles between the Incas and the Spanish conquerors took place.
You hear the inevitable joke about the Sacsayhuaman: Locals call it “Sexy Woman” so that tongue tied tourists remember the complicated Quechan name. Sacsayhuaman is impressive not only for its size, but for the size of the rocks it utilizes. Some stones, fitted perfectly into motarless walls, weigh more than 300 tons.
Look for gold
Across Peru conquistadores attempted to destroy Incan structures, but within Cuzco many buildings were repurposed or built over to fit European needs. Koricancha, for example, was one of the most important temples in the entire Inca Empire, complete with gold-covered walls. It eventually fell into Dominican ownership and today is an odd combination of ancient ruins—with some of the most precise stone work in all of Peru—topped by a rather sloppy Dominican church. You try to decide if you find Koricancha or Cuzco’s cathedral more impressive. It’s a draw.
Take home textiles
Like its architecture, Cuzco’s population also blends cultures. Indigenous populations come to the city to sell handmade textiles and handicrafts to foreign visitors. This market access enables some communities to maintain traditional skills, especially weaving. You purchase a few souvenirs.
Scenic Sacred Valley
Now that you know the city, it’s time to explore the valley. The Sacred Valley is a rural agricultural region where locals farm with push plows and plant the same crops their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. The quiet simplicity of life among stunning landscapes strewn with ancient sites is a natural extension of the absorbing Andean surroundings. You visit an Inca experimental site where they tested different growing conditions and run out of breath as you try to climb down the terraces. You finish the day at Ollantaytambo. Hillside ruins and giant terraces dominate this rural village, where the Inca once managed a rare defeat of the Spanish in battle.
The past several days have been leading up to this moment. Machu Picchu. A site so magnificent it now ranks among the New 7 Wonders of the World and is one of South America’s most visited destinations.
Built in the 1450s and abandoned after the conquest, Machu Picchu was a city for the select. A place of refuge for Inca royalty looking to escape the bustle of Cuzco capital life. Your personal guide shares the secrets of this mountaintop city and shows you the most impressive and important of the complex’s 200 buildings. Spend the afternoon solo discovering the romantic mysticism of Machu Picchu.
Follow the tracks
Just as you arrived, you board a train to depart Machu Picchu, a site only access by foot or rail. Relaxing in your seat, you watch the valley landscape and river rush by outside your window. In the distance, snow contrasts against the piercing blue sky, marking mountains much higher than the one you just conquered.
From ancient to colonial to modern day. Your flight returns to Lima and because your international departure leaves in the evening you enjoy an afternoon visit around Peru’s capital. You know that Lima is considered South America’s culinary capital, so you make sure to try some ceviche in a Miraflores restaurant overlooking the ocean. You admire the colonial center and visit the oldest single family home in the Americas, Casa de Aliaga, before saying goodbye to Peru as your board you flight back home.
Have we convinced you yet? Speak to a Destination Expert about curating a tailor made Machu Picchu itinerary just for you, or check out our most popular Machu Picchu & Peru tours here.
Thanks to Exfordy for the title image of this blog.