Inca Architecture, Andean Culture
Living Cultures in Sacred Space
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Living Cultures, Sacred Spaces
Eight Days and Seven Nights - Visit Inca and pre-Inca archeological sites, enjoy the vibrant culture of Cuzco--the ancient capital of the Incas, learn Andean perspectives on our relationship with Pachamama (Mother Earth) and each other, and finally experience two days in the magical space of Machu Picchu.
City Tour of Cusco:
Koricancha, Sacsayhuaman, Q’enqo, Puca Pucara, Tambomachay, Main Cathedral, Museo Inka, and Plaza de Armas.
Appropriately we begin our encounter with central Andean culture with a visit to the Koricancha—a building that emphasizes the mixing of civilizations. The structure is one of the finest examples of stonework found anywhere in the Andes—built by Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui—its name translates as Temple of Gold referring to the dozens and dozens of large gold sheets once covering its walls during the pre-Spanish periods. The building today is a Dominican Catholic cathedral and monastery built atop the former temple—a perfect example of cultural syncretism and colonization. The Cathedral, Inka Museum and the Plaza de Armas are located in the center of Cuzco. Tours in these areas are self-guided.
I recommend you consider immersion in these and other historical spaces on our free day—there are other magical colonial buildings—many of which were built over Inca palaces—off the main square. A list of must-see and recommended sites in Cuzco City will be included in your journey packet. The Folkloric Ballet is another great activity for one evening in Cuzco; it begins at 6:30PM and is included on the tourist ticket.
The haunting fortress above the city made of monolithic stone blocks surgically fit together was the site of several battles and sieges between the Incas and Spanish in the early 16thcentury. It is also the site of the Inti Raymi—sun ceremony celebrated during the June solstice—a massive gathering of community.
Three different sites:
Q’enqo, Puca Pucara, Tambomachay— Puca Pucara-
The red fortress--functioned as a look-out and militrat outpost. Tambomachay offers a water shrine; its springs are said to promise renewed youth. The more puzzling Q’enqo was most likely a ceremonial center carved into what appears to be one large stone. Its altars, low and high relief carvings of a puma, condor and llama and subterranean caves were buried by Spaniards in colonial times.
The village of Pisac is known for its wonderfully diverse market, colorful colonial streets, chicha (corn beer) and spectacular scenery. Its treasure, however, is found perched more than 1000 feet above the village. Though it is not always on the typical tourist path, it has become one of my favorite archeological sites because the hike is strenuous, the view breath-taking, the architecture organic, and the energy peaceful and grounding. We’ll take a three-hour stroll through its temples, aqueducts, look-outs, cemeteries, precipitous paths, ancient ceremonial centers and tons of terraces.
Day tour of Chinchero and Moray
Chinchero Village shows colonial churches alongside restored Inca ruins—this syncretic space shows, in architecture, the blending of cultures. We will also enjoy a more rustic market at Chinchero’s cathedral courtyard. At Moray we will see concentric terraces that form several bowls creating what experts believe to be a laboratory for growing different species of plants at different elevations.
Day tour of Andahaylillas, La iglesia San Pedro, Rumicolca, Pikillacta and Tipon.
La iglesia San Pedro holds murals and paintings from the 17th century, though the church and its art work are in some disrepair, the church remains a sanctuary for villagers who receive mass in their native language—Quechua. Rumicolca and Pikillacta are Wari ruin site—they are the only pre-Inca ruin sites near Cuzco.
At Rumicolca, a large gateway between valleys, the Inca masonry was built atop earlier Wari constructions.
Tipon is another under-rated site—its terraces extend almost endlessly up a steep slope—yet it is the masterful movement of water through this area that reveals Inca ingenuity and invites quiet meditation.
Aguas Calientes/Machu Pichu—
2 days, 1 night—We will board a train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes early in the morning arriving around 11am—our official tour of Machu Pichu will begin around noon after lunch—there will be time after the tour for short hikes (see below). The park stays open until 9:30PM—though you may be able to purchase a night entry if you wish to stay longer—available on a limited basis.
There are a number of good eating establishments in Agua Calientes, along with public thermal baths and a touristy artisans market. It’s a town with a good vibe—worth wandering a bit. We will stay at the Hostal Presidente along the river. The next morning we will enter the park for the second time and spend from 7AM to 3:30PM—this is the best day for hikes—I recommend the hike to Huayna Picchu and the Moon Temple though it is not a hike for beginners (3 hours round trip for the complete loop—very steep in places, sometimes no guard-railing along major cliff faces). You will want to sign in for this hike upon entering the park in the morning—only a limited number are allowed on Huayna Picchu daily. There are three other hikes possible from the site: 1) to the Sun Gate (2 hours round trip--technically easy though steep), 2) to the Inca Drawbridge (less than an hour round trip--easy), and Machu Picchu Peak (1.5 to 2 hours RT—relatively easy though steep). We will return to Cuzco by train leaving Aguas Calientes around 5PM arriving around 9PM.
Please contact me at the following address or use the contact form on this site:
Please contact us for current Pricing.
A $500.00 deposit will secure you a spot on the trip.
I try to plan for the most desirable weather of the year--equivalent to early October for the Northern Hemisphere--hence reservations are best made early.
Trips are limited to 15 people.
There is a possible Jungle portion to this trip. If you would like to join us for the Jungle portion of the trip please contact me for additional prices and information. Also if you wish to use any part of this trip as a springboard into more extensive travels in the region (Lake Titicaca, Nazca, Arequipa, camping, rafting, mountain climbing, etc.) I can arrange even the most specific plans.
Included in Journey price:
Ground transportation from Airport to hotels, tour bus to and from the different sites on itinerary, from hotel to train in Cusco, Train transportation from Cusco to Machu Pichu and back. All ground transportation after leaving Lima.
Air transportation —Lima to Cusco, Cusco to Lima.
Hotels— six nights at Hotel Royal Inca II in Cusco, and one night at Hostal Presidente in Aguas Calientes.
Meals—Complete buffet breakfasts at the Royal Inca in Cusco and the Presidente in Aguas Calientes.
Entrance to all archeological and cultural sites on the itinerary—unless noted.
Tour guide: English-speaking Peruvian guides will accompany us at each site—they are specialists in the historic and cultural value of the sites.
Transportation—We will also have our own bus allowing us to keep valuables safe on tour days, go to the good restaurants (I know many good ones) and adjust our itinerary if the need arises.
Tour Leader--Gregory Shepherd: I am a published expert on Andean culture. I have taught a multi-disciplinary array of university courses on Latin America for over 15 years—literature, language, history, art, society, etc. I have a doctorate in Hispanic Literature from Georgetown University. I have led trips to Ecuador, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. My field of research is the Colonial Andes—I work with texts written about indigenous cultures and their encounter with Spanish imperialism. Apart from the academic, I have an enduring love for indigenous culture and the amazing people who keep it alive. Trips to Peru are pilgrimages for me—the chance to be in sacred space—some use the word “mystical” to describe the experience—I prefer to call it grounding because I feel it is easier to remember and activate my desired relationship with the planet and others while there—I travel to Peru often to restore the grounding vision that orients me daily.
Things NOT included:
Lima accommodations—hotel, transportation, food. (If you wish to spend time--beyond a lay-over--in Lima I can make suggestions for sights and arrange for transportation and hotel)
Lunch and Dinner in Cusco and Machu Picchu (meals in Peru are reasonably priced).
Airport departure taxes (Delta Airlines included this tax in our last international departure (Nov 2008)—i.e. we didn’t have to pay on our departure from Lima— From Cuzco’s airport the departure taxes were less than 15$.
International flight to Lima.
Tips/gratuities for Tour Guides and Drivers