| ||Green Planet Expeditions & Mondo Verde Expeditions |
Presents: Cultural & Nature Photographic Journey to Peru
Dec 4th to Dec 12th, 2009
$4,550. Single Supplement $878
Minimum 8 Participants
Photographic Guide Steven Morello
Day 1 – Dec 4 USA - Lima
We arrive late at night at Lima International Airport, where we’ll be met by our Peruvian representative and transfer to the Hotel Olivar located in the elegant district of San Isidro for our overnight accommodations.
Day 2 – Dec 5 Lima (Full day Cultural/Historical/Eco Tour)
Lima is the gateway to your Peruvian photographic journey. With its magnificent squares, monasteries, churches and colonial buildings, UNESCO declared Colonial Lima a World Heritage in 1991. A great selection of world class museums sets the stage for our visit to the most important pre-Inca and Inca monuments of Peru. Lima is also considered the gastronomical capital of South America. During our visit we highly recommend you experience what many experts consider to be one of the best cuisines in the world.
Morning Historic Lima Tour:
We visit the Centro de Lima (Colonial Downtown). With its magnificent squares, monasteries, churches and colonial buildings. Here we have great chances to photograph and observe Colonial and Republican style buildings. Later in the morning we will visit the Archaeology and Anthropology Museum of Lima.
Afternoon Rural Lima Tour:
After our museum visit we drive to the Pachacamac region of Lima. Located only 45 minutes away from Lima, the area of Pachacamac is rich in pre-Inca history and sustainable farming practices.
For lunch we drive to an eco-farm operated by two retire professors from the Agrarian University in Lima. Here we will learn about sustainable farming practices and the use of guinea pig manure to produce bio-gas used as cooking fuel and electricity. The guinea pig manure is placed in tanks called anaerobic digesters, where it is broken down by bacteria and various chemical processes to produce bio-gas. We will learn about its environmental benefits and how it is used as an energy source for cooking and electricity. After we tour the farm we will enjoy a traditional Peruvian meal prepared with all organic produces.
After our visit to the farm we will drive back to the city of Lima. On our way back we will stop at the pre-Inca complex of Pachacamac considered one of the most sacred sites in Peru during the pre-Inca and Inca times. The adobe structures at the complex of Pachacamac date back to about 200 AD. The most prominent architecture structure are adobe pyramids. This pilgrimage site was still in use by the Incas at the time of the Spanish conquest. During it’s zenith, thousands of pilgrims journeyed to Pachacamac to consult the oracle and to give homage to the powerful god.
Late afternoon return to the hotel for dinner and overnight. B,L,D
Day 3 – Dec 6 Lima – Cuzco – Sacred Valley
After breakfast, we drive back to the Lima airport for a mid-morning flight to Cuzco (1 hr. 10 min.). After arrival in Cuzco we transfer to hotel Libertador for hot tea and the use of their restrooms. We return to our bus for our one-hour drive to the Willka T’ika Guesthouse located in Sacred Valley. We will have lunch at Willka T’ika, and then have some time to relax and acclimatize to the altitude.
Situated near the village of Urubanba in the Sacred Valley, this wonderful guesthouse offers grace and comfort enhanced by the magical aura of the Andes. The guest cottages at Willka T’ika are newly-built in traditional 16th-century Spanish colonial style. Constructed from natural materials and indigenous handwork that has been used by Peruvians for thousands of years, each room has a private bathroom connected to solar water panels. The gardens are breathtaking, lavishly filled with flowers, shrubs, and flowering plants, along with Andean medicinal herbs and indigenous grains and vegetables. Willka T’ika offers gourmet meals prepared with organic, homegrown vegetables, herbs, and Andean grains.
Before dinner, we’ll visit with a Spiritual Quechua leader to learn about Inca religion, traditional healing practices and story telling.
Day 4 – Dec 7 Chinchero – Anta Valley (Soft Walking Photo Program)
After a leisurly morning we will visit the home of artist and master weaver Nilda Callañaupa. Peruvian textiles, recently believed to be a generation away from extinction, are making a surprising comeback. The revival of the country's 2,000-year-old weaving techniques is largely due to Nilda Callañaupa, who is working with six mountain villages to resurrect symbolic patterns and avoid the use of garish chemical dyes and synthetic yarns. We will enjoy a highly educational weaving demonstration; learn about wool spinning, natural dyes, traditional patters and weaving techniques used in this region of the Andes. Our visit will provide the group with great photo opportunities.
From Nilda’s home we drive to Huaypo Lagoon to begin today’s walk. Our route will take us on a variety of terrains including dirt roads, Inca trails, and mule paths. Fabulous mountain views, contact with local communities, and historical sites await us at every turn. This area of Cuzco is considered the most picturesque in the region. To many, this region of Cuzco is called the Andean Tuscany. At the end of our walk, we will stop to enjoy our picnic Lunch.
After lunch we will drive to the ruins of Moray. The circular terraces of Moray were an agricultural “research laboratory” for the Incas, who studied temperature variation from one terrace to another in order to develop different crop varieties. Later the hardier varieties of seeds were distributed throughout the Inca Empire. On the other side of the Urubamba Valley we’ll see dramatic snowcaps peaks of the Vilcabamba and Urubamba cordilleras (mountain ranges).
After visiting the terraces of Moray we board our bus and return to the Sacred Valley. Before returning to Willka T’ika were we will visit the ceramic atelier of one of the country’s premier artists. Along with his contemporary works, he and his artisans produce ceramics with the same techniques used in Incan times. The artist, or an associate, will describe these techniques and we can watch and photograph the artists at work. Afterwards, we will return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. B,PL D
Note: During today’s hike, a support vehicle will be available for people preferring not to do the full day hike or photograph the scenery from the comfort of our bus. During our bus ride participants will have a chance to do photography, stop to meet local people and enjoy the sites.
Day 5 – Dec 8 Ollantaytambo – Patacancha
After breakfast we depart for Ollantaytambo, a fortress and town, which defended Cuzco from incursions from the jungle tribes to the north. It was the perfect defense because it stands at a strategic spot at the northern end of the gentle valley, where the river begins to plunge steeply into the Amazon and the valley gradually narrows to a gorge. One of the most interesting aspects of the town is its street plan, which has survived pretty much as the Incas laid it out hundreds of years ago.
Later in the morning we drive up the Patacancha River Valley till we reach the village of Patacancha. The village is a traditional Quechua community located in the Andean mountain east of the Vilcanota River Valley and the town of Ollantaytambo. The community offers the group the opportunity to witness and photograph a way of life that is fast disappearing in the Andean regions of Peru. In the fast-paced race to become “modern,” Peruvians are losing the values and traditions of the ancient culture. We will share a traditional Thanksgiving lunch with the community.
Day 6 – Dec 9 Sacred Valley – Machu Picchu
After a very early breakfast we will be picked up at our hotel to begin our journey to Machu Picchu - the "Lost City of the Incas". After a short drive to Ollantaytambo, we will board our train for the Putucusi Rail Station where we will climb a final 2,000 feet by minibus to the citadel of Machu Picchu. Rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu was unknown to the Spaniards. Its reason for existence remains under debate. Some argue it was built and populated by the family of one Inca ruler, Pachakutek; others have proposed the principal function of Machu Picchu was to maintain a reliable supply of coca leaves for the priests and royals of Cuzco.
Bingham fostered the school of thought that the city existed primarily for strategic and defensive purposes, but other findings support the hypothesis that Machu Picchu was a university where the children of the leaders of other Andean cultures conquered by the Incas were taken to be taught, and brainwashed. At any rate, as we wander through the maze of empty plazas, chambers and dwellings saddled atop steep mountainsides, we will be unable to resist our own speculations at the impenetrable mystery of these stones. After lunch and thoroughly exploring the significance of a variety of stone structures and ruins, we will descend to the village of Aguas Calientes. Overnight at Machu Picchu Pueblo hotel.
The Pueblo hotel is the winner of the National Geographic Traveler Best Practices Award for Sustainable Tourism Practices. (May/June 2002 issue)
The Pueblo hotel is situated on five hectares of cloud forest considered to be a genetic bank. It is surrounded by spectacular scenery and a wealth of biodiversity. The Pueblo hotel has the world largest native species orchid garden open to the public. In the hotel grounds are 372 species of native orchids, 154 bird species 108 butterfly species, more than 200 species of trees and a great variety of reptiles and mammals, including two spectacled bears. The hotel offers a wide variety of ecotourism activities that promote contact with nature and the local culture, and implements projects for researching and conserving the local flora and fauna, in cooperation with prestigious international institutions.
Day 7 – Dec 10 Machu Picchu – Nature Trail Walk – Cuzco
After a very early breakfast we’ll venture on our cloud forest nature tour to learn about and photograph local flora and fauna. The hotel’s ecological paths are rich in plant and birdlife. Attractions include 162 different bird species—36% of all the bird species recorded at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary can be seen in the Hotel gardens, 16 hummingbird species and other awe-inspiring species including the Peruvian Cock of the Rock, the golden-headed quetzal, the aquatic Mirlo, the highland motmot, and the white-capped dipper. The Pueblo hotel is also home to the largest native orchid collection in the world.
Lunch at the hotel.
Later in the afternoon we’ll walk to the train station for our return to Cuzco. The journey to Cuzco takes about 4 hours by train. We’ll transfer to the Hotel Libertador***** for dinner and overnight. B,L,D
Note: For people interested in a more relaxing day, the hotel has a full service spa. Also participants have the option to return to Machu Picchu to continue and explore the ruins on their own.
Day 8 – Dec 11 Cuzco – City Tour
After breakfast we depart on a city tour. At 11,200 feet above sea level, Cuzco is the heart of Tahuantinsuyo, Peru’s pre- Colombian Empire. Cuzco today is the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America, a fascinating and colorful combination of the past and the present.
Among the sites that we’ll visit in Cuzco on our city tour are:
Santo Domingo. This church is built over what once was the most magnificent temple in the Americas, Coricancha, or the Temple of the Sun. The Inca temple’s courtyards once held life-sized gold and silver representations of all the flora and fauna of the Empire. Pizarro’s men looted the temple to extract the royal ransom for the Inca king Atahualpa, who was held prisoner in Cajamarca by the Spaniards and later killed. An earthquake destroyed the Santo Domingo church in 1950 revealing the Inca walls that had been hidden or plastered over. The walls of the Temple of the Sun are the finest example of Inca stonework in existence.
The Cathedral. Located in the northeast side of the Plaza de Armas, the cathedral dates back to 1550. It contains over four hundred twelfth-century paintings done by the members of the renowned Cuzco School. The Lord of the Earthquakes altar weighs over 52 pounds and is made of solid gold and studded with precious stones. The main altar is covered with sheets of silver. Plaza de Armas. The Plaza is called “Huacaypata” by the Quechuas, a word that translates “cry” or “moan,” signifying the expressions of reverence and submission with which the religious or military ceremonies were carried out in this place. Colonial arcades, along with remains of ancient Inca temples, today surround the plaza.
Sacsayhuaman. Located two kilometers from the city of Cuzco, the immense walls of the Sacsayhuaman complex consist of huge stones distributed in a zigzag pattern in three platforms with an average length of 1,181 feet. These platforms are connected by flights of stairs and doorways also in stone; one of the doors is 29 feet tall and 15 feet wide and weighs more than 100 tons. The largest stone block found in Sacsayhuaman stands almost 28 feet high and weighs 361 tons. Inca Pachacuti employed 20,000 men for the construction of the complex, which took approximately 50 years to complete.
Tambomachay.- Apparently, Tambomachay was one of the favorite resting-places of the Incas. Used as a watering place, it was also one of the pillars of the defense system of the Valley of Cuzco. The site consists of a set of stone structures finely carved, aqueducts and water falls originating from near springs and thermal sources.
Following our return to the city of Cuzco for lunch, we have a free afternoon for relaxation and shopping for traditional art and fine alpaca garments. Dinner in the city of Cuzco and overnight at hotel Libertador. B,L,D
Day 9 – Dec 12 Cuzco – Lima - USA
After early breakfast we depart for the airport for our flight to Lima. Upon arrival in Lima we transfer to hotel Olivar were you will have a day room. Before lunch we will visit a local market. Form the market we will drive to a local restaurant for our farewell lunch. We have the option of an afternoon visit to Mari Solari, a shop famous for its fine collection of Peruvian art and collectable textiles. Return to hotel for last minute packing. Transfer to airport for flight out.
INCLUDED IN THE COST: All scheduled excursions with English-speaking guide services. Support bus. All domestic Peruvian air. All hotel and lodge accommodations based on double occupancy. All private scheduled land transportation. All private transfers. Meals as specified in the itinerary, B=Breakfast; L= Lunch; PL = Picnic Lunch; D=Dinner. Entrance fee to all historical sites. Machu Picchu’s entrance fee and bus services to the ruins for one day. First class train tickets to Cuzco/Machu Picchu/Cuzco. Dinning tents, bathroom tents during picnic lunches. Service staff during picnic lunches. All domestic departure taxes. Bottled water throughout the program.
NOT INCLUDED IN THE COST: International airfares, international airport departure taxes or visa fees, excess baggage charges, additional nights during the trip due to flight cancellations, gratuities, alcoholic beverages, snacks, insurance of any kind, laundry, phone calls, radio calls or messages and items of personal nature. Second day entrance fee to Machu Picchu.