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Custom Family Machu Picchu Adventure

A Journey to the Legendary Lost City of the Incas, High in the Jungle-Draped Andes!
Day 1: Lima, Peru
Our family Peru trip begins upon arrival in Lima, where we'll transfer to our hotel.

Day 2: Cusco
Fly this morning to Cusco, heart of the once-grand Inca empire. From the indigenous Quechua word “qosq’o,” Cusco means the “navel of the earth.” Set in a high Andean valley, Cusco was founded in the 12th century and thrived until Spanish conquistadors destroyed the Inca civilization in their 16th-century colonial quest. Our accommodations at the ornate Hotel Libertador, a restored colonial palace, evoke the material splendor of that era. Parts of the building date to the mid-1500s, when Francisco Pizarro, the first Spanish governor of Peru, was its occupant. We tour Cusco and visit the ruins at Sacsayhuamán, where we see the most impressive example of Inca walls in the Sacred Valley, marveling at how such large, honed granite stones fit together so tightly that a pocketknife blade will not fit between them.

Day 3: Sacred Valley of the Incas
Today we imagine what it was like to live as an Inca as we walk among centuries-old ruins in the Sacred Valley. Marvel at the walls the Incas built, the massive granite stones so perfectly joined together that a pocketknife blade cannot fit between them. The original vast empire was connected by a network of 10,000 miles of stone roads woven through the imposing terrain of the Andes. Suspension bridges spanned rivers and aqueducts carried water from mountain streams to irrigate terraced fields of crops, vestiges of which we see on our drive today. We travel along the Urubamba River past farms, villages and Incan architectural ruins. Stopping at Pisac, we visit the famous market where the local Quechua Indians, dressed in vivid attire, sell their handicrafts. Brightly embroidered wall hangings and sheep and alpaca wool garments are favorite purchases, as well as handcrafted fabric dolls.

Day 4: Visit to Tikapata School / Andenes de Yucay
This morning we have a special opportunity to meet some Peruvian school children! During a visit to Tikapata School, we’ll interact with kids in the classroom, hear about their studies, and perhaps share some songs. We also learn about the Ania Project, where students learn to be advocates for their communities through their own stewardship of natural resources. After lunch, we explore the archaeological complex of Yucay. This impressive set of Inca ruins is not open to the general public, but we have exclusive access. Yucay’s agricultural terraces are the largest in the Sacred Valley and the only ones still maintained and used to grow crops. We explore the site with our Expedition Leader, who tells us all about the royal Palace of Sayri Túpac, the Maize Temple, Cosmic Sun Gate, cave paintings and 4,000-year-old pre-Inca tombs. [Please note: At times when school is not in session, we will visit the ancient Inca salt mines of Moras, still worked by locals today, and Moray, an Inca site more than 500 years old where giant natural sinkholes were converted into terraced farming areas.]

Day 5: Machu Picchu
Any study of the Incas in school always includes wondrous photographs of Machu Picchu, the “Lost City” discovered by Yale historian Hiram Bingham, with the help of his Quechua guide, in 1911. Today, we explore it ourselves. After a 1-1/2-hour train ride to Aguas Calientes, we disembark and continue a short distance by bus to Machu Picchu. It sits atop a mountain like a mystical stone city in the sky, surrounded by vertical green ridges.  Our expert local guide tells us all about life here in the 15th century, when 1200 people lived within this maze of granite walls, houses, temples and cisterns.  Llamas wander among terraced steps that once grew maize and potatoes. Archaeologists believe Machu Picchu was an important site for religious ceremonies, based on its sacred geography and astronomical orientation. We stay tonight in private casitas built of stone, tile and cedar, amid the thick greenery of the cloud forest along the Urubamba River, where 300 species of native orchids bloom. A network of trails surrounds our hotel, perfect for exploring.
Day 6: Machu Picchu and Cusco
This morning is free to return to Machu Picchu, hike the trails around the hotel, or soak in the hot springs. Exploring the ruins on our own, there’s opportunity to ponder anew how this incredible city was built in such a remote and forbidding location. This afternoon we return to Cusco by train and bus.

Day 7: Cusco to Lima / Home
Our family Peru trip comes to an end as we fly back to Lima, where an optional city or museum tour may be possible, if flight schedules permit, before transferring to the airport for a late-evening flight home.

Physical Rating: Easy to Moderate

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