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Following Ancient Inca Paths

Starting at USD $3790 per person in double occupancy, additional fees apply for single occupancy

Treat yourself to a 15-day comprehensive tour of South America — a perfect balance of history, culture, and nature!

The Tawantinsuyö or Inca culture was once the largest civilization of the Americas. A vast territory from the Ankasmayö (Blue River) south of Colombia to the Maulimayö (Mauli River) Chile, it boasts of mountains, deserts, valleys, and coastal regions, primarily in what we know as Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina.

By the year 1532, the Incas had become amazingly proficient in areas such as human sciences, religion, engineering, architecture, astronomy, pottery, goldsmithing, medicine, agronomy, textiles and more. Today, historians and archeologists from all over the world continue studying this culture and decoding its many secrets.

We invite you discover the Incan heritage and discover their legacy by following their ancient paths from Salta, Argentina to Bolivia, and in Peru from the shores of Lake Titicaca to Cusco and the legendary Machu Picchu.

Available to start every Wednesday in Buenos Aires, or customize your itinerary.

Tour Features

  • 1st Class accommodations
  • 3 Nights in Buenos Aires
  • 3 Nights in Salta
  • 2 Nights in La Paz
  • 2 Nights in Puno
  • 2 Nights in Cusco
  • 1 Night in Ollantaytambo
  • 1 Night in Aguas Calientes
  • 14 Buffet Breakfasts
  • 4 Lunches and 1 Dinner
  • Lake Titicaca crossing and 1st Class train to Machu Picchu
  • All national park entrance fees
  • All Sightseeings and transfers with English speaking guides
  • 5 Flights with Aerolineas Argentinas, LAN and Loyd airlines

* Price includes all tour features and is subject to change before tour confirmation due to seasonal variations

Day 1 – Arrival in Buenos Aires

Welcome to Argentina! Your 1stClassArgentina local host will greet you at Ezeiza International Airport, and introduce you to Buenos Aires, dubbed "the Paris of the Southern Hemisphere," as you make your way to your downtown accommodations at Hotel Pestana Buenos Aires.

Later in the afternoon, we invite you to a panoramic Buenos Aires City tour. At first glimpse, we arrive at a typical postcard view of Buenos Aires: The Obelisco on 9 de Julio boulevard. We then proceed to Plaza de Mayo, the city’s founding center, with its sites and buildings bearing the greatest historical relevance. Taking a walk around the square you will observe: the Cabildo of Buenos Aires, the old municipal authority and building; the Metropolitan Cathedral; the Casa Rosada (pink house) Presidential headquarters; and the Palacio de Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (City Hall building). Continuing south, we enter San Telmo and La Boca, the oldest neighborhoods of the city and its centuries-old churches, markets and museums.

Now heading north, we drive through a more recent borough, Puerto Madero, a newly revitalized historic city port which has become known for its gastronomic delights, offering numerous options for buffet and a-la-carte dining: typical Argentinean cuisine as well as Asian, Italian, Brazilian, and American comfort food. Lastly we visit elegant the neighborhood of Recoleta and a walking tour of the Cemetery, where you can see, among others, the tombs of Eva Perón, Adolfo Bioy Casares and Facundo Quiroga.

Day 2 - Exploring Buenos Aires' Pampas and Traditions

Embark upon a full-day Fiesta Gaucha tour with Argentinean-style barbeque lunch and a spectacular Gaucho display, or farm ranch, featuring traditional folk dances and horseback riding, where Gauchos show us their Creole horse skills, such as sortija races, horseback sprints, lassoing and hog-tying. The tour includes a reception, full lunch and tea time with exquisite local specialties including empanadas, Asado criollo and torta fritas. Guests can explore the estancia on foot or on horseback, accompanied by seasoned gauchos. Horsedrawn carriages are also available. Tonight, enjoy a gourmet dinner and a 1st Class tango show at Señor Tango.

Day 3 – Shopping in Buenos Aires

Enjoy a full day at leisure. Time to stock up on souvenirs and exotic goods for everyone back home! Or, try the optional sightseeing on the Riverside train to Tigre Delta.

Day 4 – Buenos Aires / Salta

Salta is the gateway of the northwest. This region invites you to enjoy the gentle rhythm of its people who, in continuing their ancient practices, loudly celebrate Carnival while quietly making their offerings to Mother Earth. The region blends sunny days and mountain scenery, as well as sturdy forests and high mountaintops. Accommodations at the Hotel Solar de la Plaza.

The hotel is located opposite General Guemes Square, also called Legislature Square, three blocks from the commercial and banking center and the traditional 9 de Julio Square, where we also find the Cathedral and the Cabildo. Discover its people's welcoming approach and enjoy local delicacies such as empanadas, humita and tamales. Afternoon at leisure.

Day 5 – Cafayate, Wine and Calchaqui Flavors

Cayafate village is nestled at the bottom of the Calchaquies Mountains, in a semi-arid oasis, and has the second largest wine production in Argentina. Depart from Salta in the morning, and travel approximately 140 miles through the Lerma Valley, known as the “Enchanted Valley,” and the Ravine of Cafayate offering beautiful views of Salta. The tour includes a visit to local wine cellars in Cafayate. Return to the hotel in the evening.

Day 6 – Humahuaca Ravine

With an early departure, we reach this natural road, leading to the altiplano (high plateau). Vividly colored landscapes frame villages with adobe houses, historic chapels and pre-Hispanic ruins — a place where time seems to stand still.

One of the most beautiful villages is Purmamarca, an indigenous village lying against the Cerro de los Siete Colores (Seven-Color Hill), with strata that illustrate various geological ages. Further on, there are mountains with brightly-colored stripes, known as La Paleta del Pintor (the Artist's Pallet), in Maimará. One of the most outstanding attractions in this ravine is the Pucará de Tilcara, a fortified town built by the Omaguaca natives in pre-Columbian times. A monolith marks the Tropic of Capricorn, where each June 21st at midday, the sun casts an perfect perpendicular shadow, and the celebration of the aborigines’ New Year begins (Inti Raymi, the Sun Festival).

Humahuaca was founded by the Spanish at the end of the 16th century. Its church and Carnival Museum exhibit some of the region’s customs. Approximately 12 km away, the mysterious ruins of what used to be terraces for growing coctaca can be seen. Nearby is Quebrada de Humahuaca, declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO on July 2nd, 2003.

Day 7 – La Paz, the Highest Capital on Earth

Arrive in the evening at your accommodations at Hotel Rey Palace. La Paz has a rich history: Pedro de la Gasca, to whom the Spanish king had entrusted his rule over the former Inca lands, commanded Captain Alonso de Mendoza to found a new city to commemorate the end of the civil wars in Peru. The city of La Paz was then founded on October 20th, 1548, under the name of La Ciudad de Nuestra Señora de La Paz (the City of Our Lady of Peace). La Paz was first established in what today is Laja, on the Tiahuanaco road. Shortly after its founding, La Paz was moved to its present location, in the valley of the Chuquiago Marka.

Today, La Paz is a vibrant city, expanding in every direction. With a population of more than a million inhabitants, La Paz is a place where tradition is showcased in every detail, and where the Aymara culture still feels vibrant. The climate varies depending on the altitude, which ranges from 3650 meters above sea level to El Alto (where the international airport is located), at 4082 meters. The average temperature is 15° C (59° F) and 22° C (72° F). In the summer, rain falls on most afternoons, while in the winter, days are slightly cooler, but the sky is mostly clear and sunny.

Acclimatization: You will need to take it easy for the first few hours (or for even a couple of days) to adjust to the altitude. Altitude sickness, called soroche locally, is most often characterized by shortness of breath, intense headaches, and nausea. Some travelers experience any or all of these symptoms for only a couple of hours, while others take days to get over them. Avoid alcohol, drink plenty of water, and do as the locals do: drink mate de coca, or coca-leaf tea (don't worry, you will not get high or arrested, but you will adjust a little better to the thin air).

Day 8 – The City and the Moon Valley

Today, afternoon sightseeings take us to the city’s signature locations. Marvel at the Government Palace, also known as the Palacio Quemado (Burnt Palace), due to repeating fire episodes the building endured in the past, and see the Cathedral, built in 1835, an impressive building worth seeing. The Cathedral is located in the Plaza Murillo next to the Presidential Palace and the churches of San Francisco and Santo Domingo.

Next  we pay a visit to Casa de Pedro Domingo Murillo, once the home of Pedro Domingo Murillo, martyr of the independence revolution of 1809 who was hanged in the plaza that now bears his name. The house displays a collection of furniture, textiles, and art from colonial times. Next, on to the traditional “Witches' Market," where you can buy herbs and remedies, as well as other ingredients used in Aymara traditions. For today’s finale, we head to Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), located about 10 km from the city center, an eroded hillside maze of canyons and pinnacles offering spectacular views.

Day 9 – Hydrofoil Crossing the Titicaca Lake

Prepare yourself for another memorable day! Start with the crossing to Peru across the highest lake in the world, offering magnificent views and enchanted waters. Board the catamaran cruise ship, and eat breakfast while sailing to Sun Island, the legendary birthplace of the Inca Empire. Visit the Inca Garden, the Inti Wata Cultural Complex, including the Ekako Underground Museum, Titikaka Reed Shipbuilders exhibition, the Pachamama agricultural Inca terraces, the Intica lounge and finally at the Manco Kapac lookout, see the largest variety of Andean llamas. Also, try a unique sailing experience aboard a huge Titicaca traditional vessel, visiting the Pilkokaina Incas.

Continuing to the Sanctuary of Copacabana, the site of the Virgin of Copacabana, a town located on the shores of the Lake Titicaca, which attracts hundreds of pilgrims each year for the Virgin's festivities. Accommodations at Hotel Casa Andina Private Collection, on the shore of the Lake Titicaca.

Day 10 – Uros and Taquile Floating Islands

After 2 hours by motorboat, we arrive at Uros Islands, where fishermen and hunters inhabit the floating islands of the Uros. Residents of the Uros use the cattail, a type of brush, which grows in the lake, as a type of stuffing that ensure the islands stay afloat. The dense roots that the plants develop support the island. The roofs are waterproof and the houses are extremely humid because of the surrounding water. At present, they speak Quechua and Aymara.

Then we will visit Taquile Island, including a stop for lunch in a local restaurant. Next, we recommend you visit a shop next to the square that sells exceptional woolen goods, which are not cheap, but of very fine quality. Taquile Island is famous for its craftmaking, particularly its beautiful textiles. The island is narrow at about 1 km wide and 6–7 km long. The visit can be strenuous because of the 533 steps on the stone stairway you must climb to get to the village, and of course the altitude (13,000 feet above sea level). On Taquile, there are numerous pre-Inca and Inca ruins as well as Inca terracing, making it well worth the extra effort!

Day 11 – Cusco, the Archaeological Capital of the Americas

After checkout, your guide will escort you to Juliaca’s airport for a 50-minute flight to Cusco. Accommodations at Hotel Jose Antonio. Recognized as "the Archaeological Capital of the Americas," Cusco exists both in the present and in the past, a living example of the meeting of two different cultural ages. Cusco is surrounded by archaeological remains, both Inca and Colonial, and many of the present buildings were built on the foundations of Inca walls and streets.

This afternoon, take a sightseeing tour in Cusco, the anient capital of the Inca Empire. Visit the Cathedral, built in 1560, Koricancha, the Temple of the Sun (an impressive palace which was practically covered with gold during the Inca era), and the Church of La Merced, displaying jewels and gold work, while adorned by 1518 diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and one enormous pearl.

Among the Inca remains, we have the Fortress of Sacsahuaman, (where the Inti Raymi festival is held annually), Tambomachay (the Inca baths where the Cult of Water is held), the Kenko Amphitheater and Puca Pucara (the Red Fortress).

Day 12 – Pisac market, Ollantaytambo and the Sacred Valley

Pisac has evolved into one of the biggest, and certainly the most famous, artisan market in all of South America. It begins every Sunday at 9 am. The town’s main square is filled with stalls selling the full range of Peruvian artesanía:mates burilados (carved gourds), ceramics, felt hats, alpaca sweaters and mittens, musical instruments, paintings, antiques, a huge variety of trinkets, and, most of all, weavings and jewelry. Even if you are not buying, the café balconies overlooking the market offer a superb people-watching opportunity. Hundreds of camera-toting tourists, from every conceivable country on earth, haggle with Quechuan-speaking merchants, all to the beat of drum-and-juggling sessions put on by a scraggly band of local hippies.

Though very touristy, the Pisac market has a much deeper side that is rooted in its colonial past, which has luckily proven resilient to mass tourism. Campesinos from surrounding villages set up a barter market, or mercado de treque, which is an ancient Peruvian custom, and display what is an interesting example of the informal economies upon which highlanders depend. Quechuan-speaking Indians sit behind huge piles of potatoes, carrots, herbs, and other vegetables in one corner of the square, and sell these products to buy essential goods (salt, sugar, kerosene, matches, and medicines) but also trade to acquire other foods.

After lunch, we continue along the Urubamba River until we get to the Ollantaytambo Ruins, another excellent example of Incan engineering. Two hundred steps lead up terraces to a double-“door” gateway and the Temple of Ten Niches, a long wall with odd protuberances. Some say these bumps draw heat away from the slabs, preventing them from expanding. Others say they somehow served in the transport of the blocks. Or perhaps the Incas valued them as we do today, for the graceful shadows they cast across the stone. At the base of the ruins are the Princess Baths, a half-dozen fountains adorned with chacana symbols. Some of the fountains are engineered to cause a whirlpool that allows sediment to drop before the water continues over a delicately shaped spout. On the steep flanks of Pinculluna, the sacred hill that rises above the Inca town, are the ruins of several granaries which glow in the afternoon sun. Overnight stay in Sacred Valley, and accommodations at Casa del Inca Private Collection.

Day 13 – Machu Picchu

Our local guide escorts us to the train station where we wait for the “Vistadome” from Cusco. Only one hour to reach our goal: the Machu Picchu ruins, representing an extraordinary example of fascinating culture. We arrive in Aguas Calientes before noon. The citadel of Machu Picchu, also known as the Lost City of the Incas, is on a mountaintop reached by small vans from the riverside station below. Our tour includes transfers, Vistadome train tickets (coach), entry fees to the sacred valley and lunch. After lunch, there is time to take photographs and take a brief stroll on your own.

Tonight, we do what most people don’t — stay overnight in Aguas Calientes! Having Machu Picchu practically for ourselves? Priceless! You can climb the neighboring mountains by Inca trails, take photographs and appreciate the beauty of the sunset and the next day’s sunrise.

Day 14 – From Aguas Calientes to Cusco

After an early breakfast, we head back to Machu Picchu before the tourists arrive on the train coming from Cusco. Before the masses appear, you can enjoy the hot springs, right outside the village. Then reboard the Vistadome train and return to Cusco in the afternoon and your accommodations at Hotel Jose Antonio.

Day 15 – Departure

Check out and flight to Lima for your homeward journey.