Living th inca way
See, feel and explore the way Peruvian ancestors lived. Take a tour of the city of Lima and its attractions, until you reach the City of Cusco, its most important archaeological centers and the citadel of Machupicchu.
With Living the Inca Way, our guests will experience a complete immersion into Incan history and culture, stepping into their day-to-day lives and activities for an authentically Andean experience. Of course, no Peruvian adventure is complete without a visit to the iconic Machu Picchu!
DAY 1 WELCOME TO PERU
Today, touch ground in the capital city of Lima. Tonight, you’ll stay in the cool, classy Miraflores district on the beachfront, where you’ll have a chance to rest up for your day of adventure tomorrow.
DAY 2 LIMA CITY TOUR AND LARCO MUSEUM
Kick off your exploration of this dynamic capital city with a visit to the Larco Museum, the largest and most exquisite private collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. From there, head to downtown Lima to witness how this vibrant city is preserving some of the oldest colonial mansions in South America, and appreciate one of the largest catacombs where history seems to come to life.
DAY 3 LIMA – SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS
This morning, you’ll catch a one-hour flight across the Andes to Cusco. Upon landing, we’ll set out on a scenic route to Qarachaki, a locally owned alpaca farm and weaving center, before heading to the mountain town of Pisac, in the heart of the Sacred Valley. The famous street market in the center of this cozy, colonial town is a great place to wander and practice your bargaining skills. Afterwards, we’ll head to the hotel in time for some evening relaxation.
DAY 4 STONE MASON HOUSE, CHINCHERO AND MORAY
Today, we’ll continue to uncover the secrets of the Incas, starting with a visit to the home of renowned stone mason, a local artist whose pieces you’ll find displayed throughout Cusco. After learning about the importance of stones in ancestral architecture, we’ll head to the small town of Chinchero, where local women will share their expertise in traditional textile designs and weaving methods that have been used for thousands of years. Afterwards, we’ll head to the enigmatic, circular terraces of Moray, which the Incas most likely used as a test area for adapting crops to different temperatures. Lunch will be served in a beautiful home on the archeological site before we head back to the hotel for the evening.
DAY 5 MACHU PICCHU
Today is the day we’ve been waiting for – We’re going to Machu Picchu! In Ollantaytambo, we’ll board the Vistadome train for a scenic, two-hour journey to Aguas Calientes, complete with views of glaciers atop the Andes. After a short bus ride up the mountain to Machu Picchu, we’ll have our first opportunity to stroll down the ancient paths and learn more about this magical place. We want you to get the most from your experience, so we’ll head to the site in the afternoon when most visitors are heading back to town. In the evening, we’ll head down the mountain to the cozy town of Aguas Calientes where we’ll enjoy dinner and get a good night’s rest for the next day.
DAY 6 SECOND DAY OF EXPLORATION AT MACHU PICCHU
Today, we’ll return to Machu Picchu for further exploration of the site, including the quarries. By this point you’ll be quite the experts on Inca stone masonry! Afterwards, feel free to explore on your own. Hike up to the “Sun Gate” and surrounding areas, or simply relax and soak up the famed energy of Machu Picchu. In the evening, you’ll have some much-needed relaxation time, as well as dinner, back at the hotel.
DAY 7 RETURN TO OLLANTAYTAMBO AND CUSCO
We’ll say goodbye to Machu Picchu, but the adventure is only just getting started! After we get to the train station back in Ollantaytambo, we’ll discover one of the Incas’ truest architectural wonders. The site was never finished, so we get to see the work in progress with a “behind-the-scenes’ perspective of the building process of this striking temple. The site not only contains massive boulders as part of its construction, but the precision of the joints holding the stones together is remarkable. On the road back to Cusco, we’ll stop for lunch at a nice spot overlooking the Andes before we reach Cusco just in time to enjoy Saccsaywaman, the largest Inca construction, before finally arriving at our hotel in the historic center of Cusco for the evening.
DAY 8 WALKING TOUR OF CUSCO CITY
Cusco was the capital and most important city of the expansive and powerful Inca empire, with an infinitely rich history and culture to discover. This morning, we’ll visit the home of local artist well-known throughout Peru for his family’s legacy of construction of the intricate, wooden altars we see inside Cusco’s churches – a beautiful tradition that still carries on today. We’ll walk along the cobblestone streets of this striking city to visit the “Sun Temple”, better known today as the Qoricancha. Afterwards, we’ll make our way to the Plaza de Armas in the heart of the city’s historic center to visit the Cathedral of Cusco, the most impressive in all of South America. The collection of Cusquenian religious art will give you a new perspective on the complex religious beliefs of Peruvians. You’ll have some time to relax or lose yourself in the bustling city streets on your own this afternoon. This evening, you’ll meet our expert on Inca architecture who will answer any questions you might have about what you’ve seen during your adventure. Later, we’ll head to our farewell dinner to round out the night in style.
DAY 9 BACK TO LIMA
Today, we’ll take you to the Cusco airport and say our goodbyes before your return flight to Lima to catch your connecting flights back home.
- End tour
INCLUSIONS & EXCLUSIONS
- All transfers and transportation, including regional flights between Cusco and Lima and Vistadome train between Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu
- All lodging during the adventure
- Admission for all archeological sites visited
- Meals as described in the itinerary
- Qosqo Expeditions Expert Guide
- Gratuities for transportation, hotel and restaurant services
- Some meals as detailed in the itinerary
- Airport taxes (if necessary)
- Gratuities for your Guide
Additional Information and Recommendations:
- We recommend this adventure from March to October.
- All our adventures can easily be customized as you wish.
- Most of our adventures include a farewell meal which allows us to give back to the community through a local, charitable organization.
- Machu Picchu is a fantastic spot to do some bird watching, so don´t forget your binoculars!
- Peru uses Soles as currency, but dollars are widely accepted all over the region and both currencies are available in most ATMs. We encourage you to have local cash on hand.
- Read more of our travel tips here: www.qosqoexpeditions.com/recommendations
Saqsaywaman, which can be spelled many different ways (possibly from Quechua language, waman falcon or variable hawk), is a citadel on the northern outskirts of the city of Cusco, Peru, the historic capital of the Inca Empire. Sections were first built by the Killke culture about 1100; they had occupied the area since 900. The complex was expanded and added to by the Inca from the 13th century; they built dry stone walls constructed of huge stones. The workers carefully cut the boulders to fit them together tightly without mortar. The site is at an altitude of 3,701 m (12,142 ft).
In 1983, Cusco and Sacsayhuamán together were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for recognition and protection.
Description of Sacsayhuaman
Located on a steep hill that overlooks the city, the fortified complex has a wide view of the valley to the southeast. Archeological studies of surface collections of pottery at Sacsayhuamán indicate that the earliest occupation of the hilltop dates to about 900 CE. According to Inca oral history, Tupac Inca “remembered that his father Pachacuti had called city of Cuzco the lion city. He said that the tail was where the two rivers unite which flow through it, that the body was the great square and the houses round it, and that the head was wanting.” The Inca decided the “best head would be to make a fortress on a high plateau to the north of the city.” But archeologists have found that Sacsayhuamán was originally built by the preceding Killke culture. The Inca expanded on what they found, beginning about the 13th century.
After the Battle of Cajamarca during the Spanish Conquest of the Inca, Francisco Pizarro sent Martin Bueno and two other Spaniards to transport the gold and silver from the Temple of Coricancha to Cajamarca, the base of the Spanish. They found the Temple of the Sun “covered with plates of gold”, which the Spanish ordered removed in payment for Atahualpa’s ransom. Seven hundred plates were removed, and added to two hundred cargas of gold transported back to Cajamarca. The royal mummies, draped in robes, and seated in gold embossed chairs, were left alone. But, while desecrating the temple, Pizarro’s three men also defiled the Virgins of the Sun, sequestered women considered sacred, who served at the temple.:192–193
After Francisco Pizarro finally entered Cuzco, his brother Pedro Pizarro described what they found,
“on top of a hill they [the Inca] had a very strong fort surrounded with masonry walls of stones and having two very high round towers. And in the lower part of this wall there were stones so large and thick that it seemed impossible that human hands could have set them in place…they were so close together, and so well fitted, that the point of a pin could not have been inserted in one of the joints. The whole fortress was built up in terraces and flat spaces.” The numerous rooms were “filled with arms, lances, arrows, darts, clubs, bucklers and large oblong shields…there were many morions…there were also…certain stretchers in which the Lords travelled, as in litters.”
Pedro Pizarro described in detail storage rooms that were within the complex and filled with military equipment.
Because of its location high above Cusco and its immense terrace walls, this area of Sacsayhuamán is frequently referred to as a fortress. The importance of its military functions was highlighted in 1536 when Manco Inca lay siege to Cusco. Much of the fighting occurred in and around Sacsayhuamán, as it was critical to maintaining control over the city. Descriptions of the siege, as well as excavations at the site, had recorded towers on the summit of the site, as well as a series of other buildings. For example, Pedro Sancho, who visited the complex before the siege, mentions the labyrinth-like quality of the complex and its many storage rooms filled with a wide variety of items. He also notes that there were buildings with large windows that looked over the city. These structures, like so much of the site, have long since been destroyed.
The large plaza area, capable of holding thousands of people, is well designed for ceremonial activities. Several of the large structures at the site may also have been used during rituals. A similar relationship to that between Cuzco and Sacsayhuamán was replicated by the Inca in their distant colony where Santiago, Chile has developed. The Inca fortress there, known as Chena, predated the Spanish colonial city; it was a ceremonial ritual site of Huaca de Chena.
The best-known zone of Sacsayhuamán includes its great plaza and its adjacent three massive terrace walls. The stones used in the construction of these terraces are among the largest used in any building in pre-Hispanic America. They display a precision of fitting that is unmatched in the Americas. The stones are so closely spaced that a single piece of paper will not fit between many of the stones. This precision, combined with the rounded corners of the blocks, the variety of their interlocking shapes, and the way the walls lean inward, is thought to have helped the ruins survive devastating earthquakes in Cuzco. The longest of the three walls is about 400 meters. They are about 6 meters tall. The estimated volume of stone is over 6,000 cubic meters. Estimates for the weight of the largest andesite block vary from 128 tonnes to almost 200 tonnes.
Q’enqo, Qenko, Kenko, or Quenco (all from Quechua for “zig-zag”) is an archaeological site in the Sacred Valley of Peru located in the Cusco Region, Cusco Province, Cusco District, about 6 km north east of Cusco. The site was declared a Cultural Heritage (Patrimonio Cultural) of the Cusco Region by the National Institute of Culture.
It is one of the largest huacas (holy places) in the Cusco Region. Many huacas were based on naturally occurring rock formations. It was believed to be a place where sacrifices and mummification took place.
Qenqo (3,580 meters above sea level) is one of the most important archaeological attractions in Cusco. It is located just 4 kilometers from the Imperial Imperial City ’and a few meters from Sacsayhuamán, Tambomachay, Puca Pucara and other important Inca sites. This archaeological center must have enjoyed a lot of importance due to the amazing remains that still stand despite the destruction caused by the Spaniards in the place. It is believed that the Inca gods were worshiped there like the sun, the moon, the mountains and the earth. Even today there are many mysteries surrounding this place. Learn 8 interesting facts about this amazing place.
Qenqo (also known as Kenko) is a Quechua word (Q’inqu) that means ‘labyrinth’. This refers to the underground galleries in various directions and the zigzag-shaped stone channels. This name was put by the Spaniards after the conquest. The original Inca name is unknown. Although much of its buildings (aqueducts, terraces, trails, colcas and liturgical baths) were destroyed by the conquerors, it is still possible to appreciate the skill with which the Incas carved the stones.
Qenqo is located in the current Socorro hill. This place covers an area of up to 3,500 square meters of rocky land. This land was ideal for the construction of underground galleries which are one of the main attractions of the site. These lead to several spaces of the archaeological complex. Like Puca Pucara and Sacsayhuaman, the existence of these underground tunnels or ‘chincanas’ enjoyed great importance. It is even believed that in the fortress of Sacsayhuamán there is a tunnel that connects with the Coricancha (Temple of the Sun).
Road boy, road big
The Archaeological Site of Qenqo is divided into two places according to the paths that lead to it: the small road and the large road. The first crosses a hillside of Socorro hill. The second is the longest, which is at the foot of the hill and leads from Sacsayhuamán to Pisac. Qenqo Grande covers most of the current tourist buildings such as the underground galleries Qenqo Chico, on the other hand, is almost completely destroyed except for some carved stone walls and the urban layout of the site.
In the same style as the Roman amphitheaters, the Incas built a 55 meter long semicircular platform surrounded by unfinished niches in Qenqo. In the middle is a huge stone block (6 meters) irregularly erected in a rectangular block. In this place is the carved passage that leads to the underground galleries. Although popularly known as the amphitheater, its objective is still uncertain. It is presumed that this place should have served as a ceremonial center. The destruction caused during the conquest does not allow us to appreciate the true majesty of the site.
Blood or chicha
Like many ancient cultures, the Incas offered the blood of different animals to worship their gods. They even made human sacrifices. Among the most used elements for these rites are the blood of llamas, alpacas, or chicha, fermented grain-based beverage. In Qenqo there is a rocky elevation that leads to a carved stone staircase to the top. There the Incas worked a hole that descends in zigzag until it is divided into 2 points, one to the underground galleries and the other that continues in slope. It is presumed that chicha or llama blood was offered there.
One of the main attractions of the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu is the Intihuatana (‘place where the sun is tied’) or astronomical observatory to calculate the solar position. A similar construction exists in several important archaeological sites such as Ollantaytambo and Qenqo. The latter is based on a rock where two small cylindrical formations stand out. This lithic structure should have served as an astronomical observatory where the seasonal changes were calculated as well as an observatory to the sun, the moon and the stars.
The Temple of the Apes
500 meters from the large Qenqo there are some irregularly carved rock constructions called Cusillachayoc, a Quechua word translated as Temple of the Apes. This rock has zoomorphic figures in relief of which the forms of snakes and monkeys stand out; which gave the name to the enclosure. Due to the destruction of the place, many of the main structures are damaged. On the site you can see the remains of a water pipe and the rock whose figure was probably that of a cougar.
The Incas made human sacrifices called ‘capacocha’. In Qenqo it is believed that there was a mortuary room called ‘Sacrifice Room’. This platform carved in a large rock resembles a large seat and is located in the underground galleries. In this structure floors, walls, ceilings, niches and other ways in which, it is presumed, human and animal sacrifices as well as embalming were made. The mortuary room is one of the spaces of the enclosure in better condition.
qoricancha: temple of the sun
Coricancha, Koricancha, Qoricancha or Qorikancha (“The Golden Temple,” from Quechua quri gold; kancha enclosure) was the most important temple in the Inca Empire. It is located in Cusco, Peru.
Originally named Intikancha or Intiwasi, it was dedicated to Inti, and is located at the old Inca capital of Cusco. Mostly destroyed after the 16th century war with the Spanish conquistadors, much of its stonework forms the foundation of the Santo Domingo Convent.
To construct Coricancha, the Inca utilized ashlar masonry, which is composed of similarly sized cuboid stones. The use of ashlar masonry made the temple much more difficult to construct, as the Inca did not use any stone with a slight imperfection or break. By choosing this masonry type, the Inca intentionally demonstrated the importance of the building through the extent of the labor necessary to build the structure. Through the arduous labor needed to construct buildings with ashlar masonry, this form of construction came to signify the Inca’s imperial power to mobilize local labor forces.
The replication throughout Andean South America of Inca architectural techniques such as those employed at Coricancha further illustrates the Inca’s control over a vast geographic region.
Pachakutiq Inca Yupanqui rebuilt Cusco and the House of the Sun, enriching it with more oracles and edifices, and adding plates of fine gold. He provided vases of gold and silver for the Mama-cunas, nuns, to use in the veneration services. Finally, he took the bodies of the seven deceased Incas and enriched them with masks, head-dresses, medals, bracelets, sceptres of gold, placing them on a golden bench.
The walls were once covered in sheets of gold, and its adjacent courtyard was filled with golden statues. Spanish reports tell of its opulence that was “fabulous beyond belief”. When the Spanish required the Inca to raise a ransom in gold for the life of the leader Atahualpa, most of the gold was collected from Coricancha.
The Spanish colonists built the Convent of Santo Domingo on the site, demolishing the temple and using its foundations for the cathedral. Construction took most of a century. This is one of numerous sites where the Spanish incorporated Inca stonework into the structure of a colonial building. Major earthquakes severely damaged the church, but the Inca stone walls, built out of huge, tightly interlocking blocks of stone, still stand due to their sophisticated stone masonry. Nearby is an underground archaeological museum that contains mummies, textiles, and sacred idols from the site.
Similarities exist in the semicircular temples found in the Temple of the Sun in Cusco, the Torreon in Machu Picchu, and the Temple of the Sun in Písac. In particular, all three exhibit a “parabolic enclosure wall” of the finest stonework, as Bingham describes it. Besides the structural similarities, there are similarities in usage, including the observation of solstices and Inca constellations. Within the Milky Way, which the Inca called mayu or Celestial River, the Inca distinguished dark area or clouds, which they called yana phuyu. These were considered silhouettes or shadows of animals drinking from the river water. Amongst the animals visible to the Inca, a llama extended from Scorpius to Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri, in which those two stars formed the llama’s eyes, or llamacnawin. A baby llama, llama-cria, was inverted underneath. To the left of the llamas is a red-eyed fox, atoq, which lies between Sagittarius and the tail of Scorpius. The tail of Scorpius is a storehouse, or Qullqa. A partridge, yutu, was just below the Southern Cross, and a toad, hamp’atu, to the lower right. A serpent, machaguay, extends off to the right.
During the Inti Raymi, the Sapa Inca and curacas would proceed from the Haucaypata, where they greeted the rising June solstice rising sun, to the inner court of the Coricancha. On a bench in the “sun room”, the Sapa Inca sat with the mummies of his ancestors. This and other rooms were oriented northeast–southwest, shingled in gold plate, and embedded with emeralds and turquoise. Focusing the sun’s rays with a concave mirror, the Sapa Inca would light a fire for the burnt sacrifice of llamas. Children were also sacrificed in certain circumstances, arriving in Cusco following a ceque and huaca route.
The Coricancha is located at the confluence of two rivers. Here, according to Inca myth, is where Manco Cápac decided to build the Coricancha, the foundation of Cusco, and the eventual Inca Empire. According to Ed Krupp, “The Inca built the Coricancha at the confluence because that place represented terrestrially the organizing pivot of heaven.”
Peru Travel information
When to travel to Peru? Considering that Peru is categorized as one of the 17 megadiverse countries on earth, you have a variety of climates and seasons to consider. That being said, you can visit Peru year-round depending on where you would like to visit. However, if you are looking to explore the Amazonian rainforest or traverse through the Andes Mountains, many travelers choose to avoid the rainy season which runs from November to March with its peak between January and February. Visiting from April through October lands you in the generally dry winter season, which is an excellent time to visit Machu Picchu, experience a world-class trek, traverse the exotic Amazon Rain forest not to mention the other amazing destinations Peru has to offer. Speak with a Qosqo Expeditions Designer today to discover the best time for you to experience a luxury tour of Peru.
(UTC/GMT -5 hours)
Lima, Peru`s Capital City
Peru`s Population: Approx. 31 million
Official Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Official Currency: Peruvian Sol
12 designated UNESCO sites