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Christmas Family Program
Peru fascinates the adventurer, the anthropologist, and the biologist equally. It is a country with tremendous contrasts, from arid coastline and high mountain peaks to vast jungles in the Amazon. Culturally, Peru offers small indigenous tribal communities, beautiful colonial cities and the mysterious and awe-inspiring ruins of the Incan civilizations. The ruins of Machu Picchu offer opportunities for exploration beyond your wildest imagination and Peru’s biological diversity is mind-boggling. It's a unique and memorable way for your family to spend the holidays, exploring and connecting to this fascinating place together.
This program includes Cusco, and the Sacred Valley. Optional extensions to the Amazon and the Colca Canyon are also available.
DAY 1 - December 19, 2019
Cusco - Ollantaytambo
Welcome to Peru! Travelers will book flights directly to Cusco for the beginning of this program.
Upon arrival in Cusco, you'll be met by your driver and guide, who will take you on the 2-hour drive to the village of Ollantaytambo. Get checked into your hotel and relax, sleep, shower.
The fortress ruins here are breathtaking, with sweeping views of the Sacred Valley. These vertiginous ruins served as a gateway at the entrance to the cloud forest and rainforest that once comprised one quarter of the Inca kingdom of Tawantinsuyo (Land of the Four Corners).
Ollantaytambo was the site of a remarkable battle against the Spanish invaders, where the Inca people displayed great ingenuity against the conquistadors by re-routing the flow of the river to flood the plains below. It is also a great place to learn about how the Inca stonemasons mined and carved the massive stones used to build their strikingly precise buildings.
DAY 2 - December 20, 2019
Enjoy a free day to explore the village of Ollantaytambo; it is a fascinating place. This is the only intact Inca village remaining and the old
Be sure to pack a light overnight bag for tomorrow's trek with a change of clothes and light toiletries. Plan to leave your larger luggage at the front desk for storage, as you will spend one night away and then return. Your guide will tell you what time to meet in the lobby to head to the train station together in the morning.
DAY 3 - December 21, 2019
Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu
This morning, your guide will meet you at the hotel to take you to the train station. Those who choose to opt out of the hike will stay on the train all the way to Aguas Calientes, where they'll be met at the station and escorted to the hotel.
For those hiking the Inca Trail, you and your guide will disembark at the Kilometer 104 marker to begin the trek into Machu Picchu. Together you will trek the final 6 miles of the Inca Trail into the Inca citadel, entering through the Sun Gate. This route is believed to be the ceremonial path that the Inca ruling caste used for ritual purification before entering the sacred site of Machu Picchu. The trail is a magnificent hike from the Choquesuysuy ruins, through an amazing cloud forest to Quetzal Falls, to the watchtower of Winayhuayna ruins.
By the afternoon, you will climb to Intipunku (Gate of the Sun), the ancient entrance to the sanctuary and arrive in the late afternoon to see Machu Picchu for the first time. You will descend down through Machu Pichu and catch a bus down to the little tourist town of Aguas Caliente where you will check into your hotel and relax and shower.
Head out to enjoy dinner and don't miss the hot springs for which the town is named. Your guide will let you know what time to be ready at the lobby the next day to visit Machu Picchu.
DAY 4 - December 22, 2019
Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo
After breakfast at the hotel, meet your guide in the lobby to take the bus up to Machu Picchu. You'll hear the stories of the meaning behind this site from your local guide on an introductory walking tour lasting about 2 hours. Afterward, you will have another 2 hours to explore on your own. Then, catch one of the many buses lined up down the hill to Aguas Calientes. From there you'll take a late afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo.
Upon arrival in Ollantaytambo, consider having dinner right at the station at a lovely restaurant called El Albergue. The food is excellent!
From the station, you can catch a little tuk-tuk up to the main plaza, and then it’s a short 3-minute walk from there to the hotel.
DAY 5 - December 23, 2019
Ollantaytambo - Chinchero
After breakfast in Ollantaytambo, your guide will pick you up and head up the valley and the plateau to see the famous Las Salinas Inca Salt Mines, where salty water comes directly out of the mountains and is funneled into terraced pools to dry. Nearby is Moray, which is believed to be an Inca agricultural laboratory.
Next, you will continue on to Chinchero, an Inca weaving village known as the birthplace of the rainbow. Get checked into your rooms at a small family-owned lodge and enjoy lunch with your guide and the family of Vilma and Paulino. Following lunch, you will see a wonderful traditional weaving demonstration which really shines a light on what it takes to weave as they do in Peru. It is amazing! Then relax, or wander the streets of this little town on your own. Dinner will be with Vilma and Paulino's family.
DAY 6 - December 24, 2019
Chinchero - Cusco
Enjoy breakfast with your hosts. Your guide will take you to visit Chinchero's ruins and the church. You will return to have lunch with the family and then it's off to Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire and a beautiful colonial city.
After getting check in at your hotel, your guide will arrive to take you on a walking tour of this Imperial City of the Incas, visiting the ancient monuments of Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun), the fine Inca walls of the Calle Loreta, the Ajlla Wasi (House of the Virgins of the Sun) and the Plaza de Armas. You will have the rest of the evening free to explore independently.
Be sure to go to Mass tonight to experience the importance of the Catholic religion in Peru. The 24th of December is the main event and one of the most common Christmas traditions on the 24th is the unveiling of Jesus Christ. For this event, a tiny Jesus statue is covered with a blanket and at the stroke of midnight, they remove the blanket, which symbolizes the birth of Jesus. Your guide will give you suggestions on things to see and do and where to eat.
DAY 7 - December 25, 2019
Christmas in Cusco
Cusco is full and really festive during the holidays. The combination of Andean and Christian traditions make Cusco a unique place to spend the holidays.
Every year, Cusco hosts a Christmas market on the 25th called Santuranticuy ("selling of saints") for which people from all over Peru gather on the Plaza de Armas to sell their merchandise. As to be expected on Christmas, their goods are mostly religiously inspired or centered around the nativity. Enjoy this day on your own to explore, shop and celebrate!
DAY 8 - December 26, 2019
Cusco & Sacsayhuaman
After breakfast, walk to the Choco Museum downtown for your 10 am chocolate cooking class. It's a fun way to learn about chocolate and you get to take it home - fun for all!
After the chocolate making class, your guide will pick you up at the hotel to bring you to Cusco's upper ruins complex, including Temple of the Moon and the famous Sacsayhuaman. You will visit some of the site on foot, and travel between the ruins on horseback. A boxed lunch is included. Afterward, you can walk down the many stairs to town. Your guide will show you the way. Be sure to stop into the Choco Museum to pick up the chocolate you made.
Dinner is on your own.
DAY 9 - December 27, 2019
Departure (or continue on to Amazon and/or Colca Canyon)
Take a taxi to the airport for your morning flight home, or join our optional extension to the Amazon and the Colca Canyon! Inquire for details.
$2,235 (pricing may vary w/ availability)
9D / 8N
December 19 - 27, 2019
Cusco - Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu - Chinchero - Cusco
Village experience, family travel program
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