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Special trip : religious celebrations and inca bridge

  • The trip
  • Itinerary
  • Price
  • Organization

The trip

In Summary

This exceptional trip is designed to give you the opportunity to assist to two of the major religious celebrations of Andean Peru, as well as to the rehabilitation of the last Inca bridge in the region of Cusco.

You will discover the ancestral traditions of the Inca descendants and, by camping close to the communities, you will witness of their lifestyle that has remained close to nature. A unique trip, with only one departure per year, creating a true immersion in the Andean universe!

The strong points of the trip  « Special trip : religious celebrations and inca bridge »

  • Two of the biggest religious celebrations of Peru
  • An exceptional event around the last Inca bridge
  • Visits of the most beautiful and natural archeological sites of Southern Peru

Map


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Itinerary

DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN LIMA (150m)

Upon your arrival in the airport of Lima, you will be welcomed and transferred to your hotel. You will have the evening free in the dynamic neighborhoods of the Peruvian capital.

 

DAY 2: LIMA – CUSCO (3350 M): CITY TOUR

You will be transferred to the airport to take your flight to Cusco. When you arrive, you will check in to your hotel and rest to help acclimate. In the afternoon, you will begin the visit of the Inca capital, starting with the Cathedral, impressive building that holds many paintings of the Cusquenian school as well as true goldsmithery treasures. You will continue your discovery with the Santo Domingo monastery, ancient temple of the Sun, also known as Koricancha. End of the day is free.

 

DAY 3: CUSCO (3350 M) - PISAQ (3400 M) – MARAS (3300 M) - OLLANTAYTAMBO (2750 M) – AGUA CALIENTES (2050 M)

You will leave for the sacred valley and start your discovery of famous sites with the visit of the Pisaq archeological complex, composed of terraces, fountains, observatories and even a necropolis, the largest of the region (about 10000 persons are buried here). It is from here that the Incas controlled and dominated the Sacred Valley. On your way back down, you will stop at the traditional artisanal market of Pisaq before continuing your itinerary towards Maras and its salines dating from the pre-Inca period, still used like old times by the inhabitants of the village. The water coming from a salted source is canalized to a series of ponds where it evaporates gradually. A fine layer of salt is deposited and can be collected. Then, you will continue your journey towards Ollantaytambo, driving by the sacred Urubamba River. After a stroll through the small paved streets of this unusual village from the XV century that has remained nearly unchanged since its creation, you will take the train for Aguas Calientes. Arrival and check in to hotel. Free evening at the foot of the Machu Picchu.

*In order to guarantee a secure and punctual service, the Perurail national train company asks passengers going to Machu Picchu to only take a small backpack of 5kg and 175cm (height + width + length) maximum. Your suitcases and personal belongings will stay in the private Tierra de los Andes minibus or in the baggage lockers of the hotel in Cusco during the day scheduled for the visit of this site. Be careful, the company has become strict concerning the restrictions. Suitcases and large travel bags will not be accepted on the train.

 

DAY 4: AGUAS CALIENTES (2050 M) – MACHU PICCHU (2450 M) – CUSCO (3350 M)

Very early in the morning, you will take the bus to go up to the most famous Inca site of the country: Machu Picchu, “old summit” in Quechua. You will there discover the architectural complex, still enveloped in the morning mist, built on top of a ridge and surrounded by precipices: a stunning view that evolves with the progression of the sun. You will roam through the streets of the citadel, its areas, squares, royal houses, agricultural zones, paths and observatories. After a 3h guided tour, you will dispose of free time to discover by yourselves, if you wish, the Huayna Picchu (entry at 10AM*), the Sun Gate (“Intu Punku”) situated at 2700m, or even the Inca bridge. For the less sporty, you can wander peacefully in the city. Return to Aguas Calientes in the afternoon to take the train back to Ollantaytambo. Transfer back to Cusco.

*We have chosen the 10 o’clock trip in order to give you time to visit Machu Picchu with your guide and enjoy a clearer view of the citadel. However, the number of entries to Huayna Picchu being limited, we cannot guarantee the access to this part of the site.

 

DAY 5: CUSCO (3350 m) - MAHUAYANI (4070m) – QOYLLURITTY (4200m)

You will go by bus to the little village of Mahuayani, located at 292km of Cusco. The road goes through the extraordinary scenery of the Vilcanota mountain range and the impressive Ausangate (6378m). You will arrive at Mahuayani where our pilgrimage begins. The path starts with a climb where thousands of pilgrims stop at each cross on the way. They pray, light a candle or rest a moment. As you approach the sanctuary, you will encounter more and more traders. You will finally arrive at your camp, located at the foot of the Sinakara Mountain (4600m). Then, you will go experience the atmosphere of the sanctuary where different groups of dancers and pilgrims arrive and settle down.

4 hours of walk.

 

DAY 6: QOYLLURITTY

Very early in the morning, you will go to the chapel of the sanctuary to join the daily Mass, approximately one hour long. You will then go back to the camp to have breakfast before going to the market known as “Feria de Alacitas” (miniature artisanal market) where all the visitors participate. There, you can buy or sell properties, vehicles, images of the Lord, crosses, candles, money (!), and you can even get married, divorced, open a business: false papers and contracts are signed in front of you by authorities which are also bogus. After the imaginary purchase of their goods, the pilgrims carry them until “Taytacha Ccoylor Ritti”, praying that what they have just done becomes reality.

The dances continue until sunrise. During the night, these communities go to the first snows, at an altitude of 4800m, to gather a piece of snow and bring it back to their village so that the coming year will be thriving with water.

 

DAY 7: QOYLLURITY - MAHUAYANI (4070 M) - CUSCO (3350 M)

Very early in the morning, you can go up to the Sinakara glacier where groups of dancers look for the star of snows trapped in the glacier’s depths. Then, you will go down with the communities to the church to salute the Taytacha Ccoylor Ritti. Around 10AM, you will go to the Mass and participate in the Taytacha Ccoylor Ritti benediction and the farewell of the nations. Each nation will return to its community. After this, you will go to the village of Mahuayani, where our bus will drive you back to Cusco.

 

DAY 8: CUSCO - CORPUS CHRISTI PROCESSION – 4 INCA RUINS

In the morning, you will attend the arrival of the Corpus Christi procession. You will see representations of the Virgins (Virgen de la Natividad de la Almudena, de la Almudena, Virgen de Belen, Virgen de los Remedios, Virgen de la Inmaculada concepción, Virgen Purificada) and the Saints (Santa Barbara, Santa Ana, San Jeronimo, San Sebastian, San Antonio Abad, Santiago, San Cristobal, San José, San Blas, San Pedro) leave their churches and other neighboring chapels to meet on the ancient Aukaypata (actually the Plaza de Armas). These representations arrive carried and accompanied by members of their villages and sanctimonious followers. Some saints are carried on magnificently decorated supports weighing hundreds, even thousands, of kilos. The penitents take turns, some walking barefoot. They are preceded or followed by orchestras and/or dancers, flag carriers… They finally arrive in the cathedral of Cusco to rest until the next day.

During these two days, the meal of the day is Chiruichu (cold spicy food composed of “cuys” (guinea pigs), rocotos rellenos (stuffed peppers) and, of course, grilled corn, cheese, chicken and a fine herb tortilla.

In the afternoon, transfer to Tambomachay, temple of water, incredible Inca site that will give you the opportunity to see all the past glory of this pre-Colombian civilization. Visit of the site followed by a walk to Pucapucara, fort guarding the entrance to the capital and offering splendid views on the valley and Andean summits. You will then continue your hike to Q’enqo, important sanctuary that counts many altars used to sacrifice llamas and alpacas in the olden days. Finally, you will visit the Saqsayhuamán site. This Inca citadel is famous for its cyclopean blocks symbolizing the head of a puma of which Cusco is the body. You will finish your excursion in the city of Cusco.

 

DAY 9: CUSCO (3350M) – CORPUS CHRISTI PROCESSION

In the morning, you will go to the Plaza de Armas. The images and representations of the saints and virgins are placed in front of the cathedral to attend the important open air Mass.

After this, you will witness the large procession doing a complete circle around the square.

 

DAY 10: CUSCO (3350 m) – LLACHON (3850 m)

Early morning departure to take a touristic bus towards the Titicaca Lake. On the way, you will discover the fertile Cusco valley with the different colors and lights of the contrasting landscapes. You will stop at the village of Andahuaylilas to visit the colonial church, known as the “Sistine chapel of South America”, famous for its lavishly painted ceiling. You will then continue the trip and stop at Raqchi where you will visit the spectacular Inca sanctuary built by Pahacutec in honor of the Inca God Wiracocha. It holds a large rampart whose base, carved in stone, is a witness of the finesse of Inca architecture, whilst another part of the fortification has been built from abode blocks. In addition, the architecture has two circular lateral columns. Around the temple, you can find various buildings that formerly had the function of habitations and depots. Following this, you will cross the de la Raya col (4338m), considered to be the entrance to the Altiplano and continue to Juliaca (3900m). From there, you will take a private vehicle to go to Llachon, located on the Capachica peninsula.

 

DAY 11: LLACHON (3825 M) –UROS TITINO – TAQUILE (3900 M) - PUNO (3820 M)

In the morning, departure by boat to Taquile. On the way, you will make a stop at the “Uros Titino” Aymara islands, built in reeds and moored to pickets to avoid the drift.  They live of fishing, crafts and hunting. After this, you will continue to Taquile, an island exploited thanks to the system of terrace cultivations. The lifestyle of the inhabitants has conserved the community organization inherited from the Inca period. Although the property is private, the labor is collective; the 300 habitants of the island work one day for them, and one day for the community. Taquile lives in relative self-sufficiency with the Inca principles: “do not steal, do not lie, do not weaken”, habits unchanged for centuries. From the heights of the village, your efforts will be rewarded by a superb view on the lake, the Puno bay and Bolivia (the Royal mountain chain) in the Altiplano mists. At the end of the day, you will take the boat and return to Puno. Check in to hotel. Evening free.

 

DAY 12: PUNO (3820 M) – JULIACA – AREQUIPA (2400 M)

In the morning, departure in a private bus to cross the mountain range and its spectacular scenery, nearly uninhabited. On the way, you will visit the Sillustani tombs. Then, you will continue to Juliaca, commercial capital where the largest market of alpaca wool of the Altiplano can be found. After passing the Lagunillas col (4528m) in the heart of the Altiplano, your trip continues to the lakes populated with a multitude of birds: flamingos, geese, ibises, etc… Following this, you will start your descent to Arequipa, passing through several shepherds’ villages and crossing the national reserve of Salinas and Aguada Blanca, populated with wild vicunas, alpacas, llamas and sheep sharing the rare vegetables. Leaving these vast landscapes with exceptional light that will thrill the ornithology and photography lovers behind, you will end your day in Arequipa (2400m).

 

DAY 13: AREQUIPA (2400m): CITY TOUR

Discovery of the white city and its colonial center: the Plaza de Armas, the church and the Santa Catalina convent, real city in the city with its alleys lined with colored houses. You will then go to the Yanahuara and Cayma miradors, which offer panoramic views on the spectacular volcanoes. Return to the hotel.

 

DAY 14: AREQUIPA (2400 M) – CHIVAY (3615 M) – CABANACONDE (3200 M)

You will leave early for the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons of the world. You will drive past the foot of Chachani and cross the national reserve of Salinas and Aguada Blanca, populated with wild vicunas. The road climbs gradually to reach its culminating point: the mirador of the volcanoes at an altitude of 4900m. From there, sights of Ampato (6400m), Sabancaya (5976m) and Huallca Huallca (6025m) are unobstructed. You will then descend towards Chivay, where you will have lunch. Following this, you will continue your journey using a breathtakingly high road dominating the Colca canyon. Your trip will continue until Cruz del Condor. From this superb view point, you will begin a 2h walk. You will arrive before sunset in the little village of Cabanaconde. You will end the day in this picturesque village, inhabited by descendants of the Cabanas.

 

DAY 15: CABANACONDE (3200 m) – CHIVAY (3615 m)

After breakfast, departure for Cruz del Condor, a mirador offering a spectacular view on the Colca canyon as soon as the first rays of sun appear. Here, you can observe the flight of the largest bird of the world: the condor. You will then walk towards “Salto del Cura” (Jump of the Priest). This path offers magnificent views on the canyon. You will take the road back to Chivay at the end of the morning and make a stop at Maca. Arrival in Chivay for lunch. In the afternoon, visit of Chivay and its little local market before going to Canocota where you can do a short optional trek to the hot springs (37°) of “la Calera”. Breakfast and lunch included.

 

DAY 16: CHIVAY (3615M) –INCA Q’ESWACHACA BRIDGE (3600M)

In the morning, departure in minibus to the “volcano mirador” col. You will cross the mountain range and the spectacular landscapes with lakes, snowy peaks and volcanoes where a few isolated villages are scattered. After crossing the Yauri pass (4800m), you will continue to the Inca Q’eswachaca bridge.

 

DAY 17: Q’ESWACHACA INCA BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION

The public Inca road system also involved the construction of bridges using the resources and technology from the Inca period. The Incas made suspension bridges of weaved and braided vegetable fibers over wide rivers such as the Q’eswachaca river. Today you will attend an ancestral ceremony of the replacement of the Inca bridge by Indigenous communities, following the traditions and the Inca technology. On this day, the ropes of the bridge will be thrown out.

Very early in the morning, the farmers begin this activity: a first cable is passed to the other side of the river by two men. Although this rope is not part of the bridge, it is used as a connection between the workers as a way to pass coca, small missing ropes or little containers with drinks, such as “chicha” (corn beer). The work of the day begins by removing little by little the old cables which are moored with stone nails, named “sepus” and wich are buried in the bridge’s foundations. These must be renewed so that the ropes remain well weaved together. There are never any women from the community on this site: they must stay at a distance, the work of the bridge being an activity reserved to men.

 

DAY 18: Q’ESWACHACA INCA BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION

The work starts again. Each group from the community has a specific task. Those from the Q’ewe and Chaupi communities separate the small ropes, those from the Pelcaro and Huichiri take the wood, which must be very dry and is placed at the base of the bridge. Then, strips of ropes called “uchalas” with which the bridge’s cables are attached are hankered; the two weaving specialists are from the Huinchiri community; they start their work simultaneously, each leading a little group where everyone has a defined function. The weaving of the bridge ends with the laying of the “masta”, a kind of coating weaved with shrubs of different sizes, placed on the base of the bridge to protect the ropes. The bridge measures 29m long and goes as high as 14.70m above the river level.

 

 DAY 19: INAUGURATION OF THE INCA BRIDGE – CUSCO (3350m)

In the morning, you will see the inhabitants from the surrounding communities coming to participate in the traditional dances from the region organized by the mayor of Q’ehue. You will enjoy the celebration and, after lunch, you will go back to Cusco.

 

DAY 20: CUSCO (3350 m) – LIMA – INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT

Transfer to the airport of Cusco, where you will take a flight to Lima, the Peruvian capital. Connection with your international flight.

END OF OUR SERVICES

Price

THE PRICE INCLUDES:

- Accommodation in 3*** hotels (according to local standards) in double rooms, under a tent or in homestay accommodation

- Private and group ground transports, as mentioned in the program

- Local English speaking guides

- The meals mentioned as “included”

- Assistance at airports

- Excursions in the Colca canyon, on the Titicaca Lake, in the Sacred Valley, at Machu Picchu, at Qoylluritty, at the Q’eswachaka bridge

- The entrances to the sites scheduled in the program

- The domestic flights Lima – Cusco and Cusco – Lima

- The logistic of the bivouac at Qoylluritty and at the Q’eswachaka bridge

 

THE PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:

- International flights

- Travel insurance

- Lunches and dinners not mentioned in the program (expect 5 to 10 USD per meal)

- Drinks and individual expenses

- Tips (2 USD/day/person for the guide and 1 USD/day/person for the carriers, mule-drivers, chefs)

- Individual pharmacy

- Personal trekking equipment: sleeping bags (possibility to rent one on the spot), trekking poles, etc, …

Organization

PERSONNEL

You will be accompanied by a local private English speaking guide at every leg of the journey. This means you will have a different guide for each region you will visit, depending on their specialization. The level of English of the guides varies from one region to another.

A few exceptions:

- For the Puno – Cusco trip, you will travel in a group touristic bus with an English / Spanish guide

- The trips in public transports (buses, shuttles, trains and internal flights) are not escorted.

 

ACCOMMODATION

In Peru, the hotel standards are different to what you may be accustomed to. Here are a few useful details on every type of accommodation:

- Camp: thanks to the perfect organization of our cook(s) and muleteer(s), you could really rest after a good day of walking. We have a tent for the kitchen, another one for to take the meals, another one for the bathrooms. For two persons, you will have a 3 places tent for more comfort. We also supply you a comfortable mattress and a basin of hot water at the beginning and at the end of the day for your toilet; and of course we prepare you warm and complete meals.

- Homestay accommodation: Basic comfort, communal toilets, no hot water and sometimes no running water, simple but clean rooms, sometimes no electricity  and the doors do not lock (however, there are no security problems).

- 2** and 3*** hotels (local standards): comfortable rooms, simple and clean, private bathroom with hot water; some hotels offer rooms equipped with a safe, heating system, mini bar, …

As far as our possibilities, we choose hotels whose geographical location will allow you to fully enjoy the town and its attractions.

 

MEALS

In order to allow you more freedom during your trip, only a few meals are included in our programs: these are the meals during the treks (cold at noon and hot in the evening) and during certain excursions when the conditions make it necessary (on the Puno-Cusco road, in the Sacred Valley, etc).

For the non-included meals, expect 5 to 10 USD per person. This allows you to choose the time, place and menu according to your desires!

 

TRANSPORTS

Most of the time of your trip, your travels will take place in private vehicles: you will have at your service a private vehicle with a Spanish speaking driver who will adapt to your rhythm (photo stop, shopping, etc. …).

Exceptions:

- For the Puno – Cusco / Chivay – Puno and Arequipa – Puno trips, you will travel in a group touristic bus that will make several stops and visits on the way.