Journey to Peru and Machu Picchu
Call us if you would like to plan your own small group tour to Peru and Machu Picchu
- Tour limited to twelve fellow photographers.
- Local Peruvian guide, knowing the needs of a photography group.
- Traditional Peruvian markets.
- Relaxed and flexible itinerary through Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
- Two evenings at Machu Picchu, the highlight of your excursion
per person, double occupancy*
This tour is not currently scheduled. Contact us if you want details when tour dates are announced, or if you are interested in running a private trip for your group.
*U.S. dollars based upon minimum of 10 participants. There is a small group surcharge of $400 if 5-9 participants. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested (subject to availability), or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, there is a single room surcharge of $1145.
Peru is a fascinating mix of old and new, farmers work mountain terraces built over two thousand years ago, while today’s churches rise from the stones of ancient Incan temples. With its snow-capped Andean peaks, untouched rain forest, and one of the driest deserts in the world, it is one of the most spectacular countries on earth. The proud heritage of the Quechua people and their rulers, the Incas, can be experienced in one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known. Living in...
Peru is a fascinating mix of old and new, farmers work mountain terraces built over two thousand years ago, while today’s churches rise from the stones of ancient Incan temples. With its snow-capped Andean peaks, untouched rain forest, and one of the driest deserts in the world, it is one of the most spectacular countries on earth. The proud heritage of the Quechua people and their rulers, the Incas, can be experienced in one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known. Living in isolated villages, half the population only speaks Quechua or Aymará. These neighborhoods and Peru’s lovely colonial cities combine with the European heritage contributing to an elegance that remains today. The two cultures have remained proud and independent, adding to the richness of life in modern Peru. As we travel overland through the Sacred Valley you will discover many sites often missed by the casual tourist. We will visit the local markets that afford us a view of today’s Quechua among the myriad colors of bright clothing and local produce. There will be ample time to record our images in this remarkable land. Travel with Frank Lavelle to Cusco, and walk the ancient pathways through the ruins of Machu Picchu.
FITNESS AND HEALTH To get the most out of this trip you should be reasonably fit, as the days are very active. There will be several hours of walking each day, sometimes in mud or at high altitude. It is important for you to be able to get around easily, since you’ll be hiking rough trails. The majority of your time in the highlands will be spent at around 10,000-12,500 feet above sea level. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in this trip, please contact Strabo Tours for more information. Some hotels may not have elevators and majority do not have air conditioners. You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication. If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).
Photo Leader TBD
April 17-18: April 17 Depart Home – Arrive Cusco April 18
The majority of flights from U.S. land in Lima around midnight, with flights departing for Cusco very early the next morning. Therefore it is necessary to either wait in airport or you can reserve a room at the Ramada Costa del Sol Airport Hotel – just outside the airport arrivals hall. Upon arrival in Cusco, you will be transferred to the hotel, where you can rest and prepare for the program. Today is a day of travel and rest, to let your body acclimate to the altitude, which is 11,000 feet above sea level. The tour begins with an introductory meeting around 6PM April 18 in the hotel lobby, you can then rest further this evening or eat a light bite on your own or with photo leader. Given the altitude change it is recommended to eat very light the first day. Your welcome dinner will be tomorrow evening. April 18 Overnight, Meals in flight only).
April 19: Cusco
Our introductory tour begins with a walk around the main square of Cusco (Plaza de Armas). Cusco was the capital of the Incas, the cultural and religious focus of the empire. Impressive walls were sheathed in gold and built from fine dressed stone. It was designed with an infrastructure of channels providing water, making it cleaner and healthier than any European City of its time. It is said that Inca Pachacutec designed the city to look like a Puma, the Incas’ sacred animal. The river Tullumayo formed the spine, the river Huatanay the belly, and the fortress or temple of Sacsayhuaman made the head. Cusco had been overshadowed by the growth of Lima. With the rebirth of interest in the ancient civilizations of Peru and the discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911, Cusco re-emerged as one of Peru’s principal cities. Lunch is at a typical hacienda or farmhouse. This afternoon we will visit the Inca ruins in Tipon. Despite its position off the beaten tourist trail, this extensive temple complex is one of the best examples of Inca stonemasonry, and some might say it is equal to the more celebrated ruins in the area. The temple includes well-preserved agricultural terraces, baths, irrigation canals and aqueducts that emphasize the Inca’s skillful building technique. Overnight Cusco (b, l, d)
April 20: Cusco
This morning we will start the day at sunrise, catching the shapes and shadows of stone in the early morning light at Sacsayhuaman. It is said that Pachacutec, the Inca ruler who built this fortress, employed 20,000 men for over fifty years. It was topped by three towers, and riddled with tunnels, concentric rings forming the foundation. Opposite is a mound, Inca’s throne, where high-ranking persons supervised sacred ceremonies. After lunch we may visit San Pedro market, witnessing an incredible variety of food, flowers, and medicinal plants for sale to the local villagers. Our guide, being a native, will provide us with a remarkable experience, one that your average tourist will never see. Overnight Cusco (b, l)
April 21: Cusco - The Sacred Valley
We will visit the Coricancha (Temple of the Sun) today, the center of Incan Religion. It was lavishly decorated, even by the standards of ancient Cusco, consisting of a number of chapels dedicated to different deities: the Rainbow, Thunder, and, of course, the Sun himself. The surviving walls represent the finest Inca stonework in existence. Outside the temple was the garden, in which the Incas displayed some of the most astounding of their gold work. It was filled with life-sized gold and silver statues of plants, birds, various animals, butterflies, snakes, and lizards. While within, lie the tombs of Incan leaders, who held court on golden thrones. Today, overlaid with a thin European veneer, it has become the Santo Domingo Church. Later this morning we set out into the Sacred Valley (Urubamba) of the Inca. From the mountains we will enjoy breathtaking views and seize unhindered photographic opportunities. We will visit the Willoq community, least changed since pre-Incan times in terms of social structure, dress, and language. The inhabitants have chosen to keep their ancient way of life, and you will see their heritage in the intricate designs of animals, mountains, flowers, and the stars that are woven into brightly colored textiles. In the afternoon we will drive to Ollantaytambo, a fortress and town, which defended Cusco from intrusions from the jungle tribes to the north. It stands at the end of a gentle valley, which leads down from the Andes to the Amazon. We will wander the narrow cobblestone streets of the village for a glimpse of everyday life in the Andes, and then climb the steep stone steps to one of the most elegant and magnificent remains of the Incan dynasty, Ollantaytambo. Huge terraces lead up to the site, which is crowned by seven massive monoliths of pink granite traced with mysterious carvings. We will spend the night at a once beautiful hacienda, set on lovely grounds; it has been renovated into a comfortable hotel with a pool and gardens. Overnight The Sacred Valley/Cusco (b, picnic l, d)
April 22: Sacred Valley
Today is quite unique, as we will have a first hand look, and immerse ourselves in the local trading of goods at one of the regional markets, in Urubamba. People travel from miles away by vehicle, mule, or simply on foot to bring their wares, crops, and animals for sale or trade. Given time we will drive to the ruins at Pisac, they are perhaps the best example of the Incas stonemasonry. The hilltop Inca citadel lies high above the village on a triangular plateau with a plunging gorge on either side. Pisac is famous for its agricultural terracing, which sweeps around the south and east flanks of the mountain in huge and graceful curves. The citadel was built to guard the Urubamba valley and a jungle pass to the northeast. Those feeling adventurous can enjoy an hour hike amidst the ruins; others can return to the bus and meet the rest of the group at the end of the trail. (b, l)
April 23: Machu Picchu
For many, the words Machu Picchu conjure up an image of a lost Inca city, swathed in the green creepers of an encroaching jungle, hidden behind the years, waiting for someone to come across this ancient peak. 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, Pachacutec; while others have proposed the principal function was to maintain a reliable supply of coca leaves for the priests and royals of Cusco. Bingham fostered the school of thought that the city existed primarily for strategic and defensive purposes, but other findings support the hypothesis that it was a university where children of other Andean cultures, conquered by the Incas, were educated. This is truly one of the most mysterious and compelling places on earth. All that remains are silent stones, their tantalizing clues such as a beautifully sculptured rock that might have been used to trace the path of the sun, carved to follow the outlines of the peaks rising behind them, and paving stones with hollow depressions that might have mirrored the stars. Once you have seen it, you will be unable to resist speculations at the impenetrable mystery of these silent stones. *Leaving Pisac behind, we travel to Ollentaytambo, where we board our train, and follow the valley along the rushing river strewn with polished stones. Once we reach the ancient peak, we will have a guided tour of the ruins to hear of its wonders and learn some of the theories for ourselves. Machu Picchu Pueblo (b, d) *There are weight/size restrictions for the train. You will need to pack an additional collapsible duffel or back pack when you leave home, using for clothing and necessary items to take on the train for your two evenings in Machu Picchu. You will retrieve luggage left behind when you return to the Sacred Valley.
April 24: Machu Picchu
Today we will have a full day to explore Machu Picchu (Ancient Peak) at our own pace. Our guide will assist us in arriving at the gates at first light. Walking the ancient pathways through the ruins, we can photograph Huayna Picchu* (Young Peak ) with the rough cut boulders of the Quarry in the foreground, or photograph the ancient stone, Intiwatana, The Hitching Post of the Sun, at the center of the high Temple. Overnight Machu Picchu (b, l, d) *The park now charges an additional fee of $60 if you wish to hike to the top of Huayna Picchu or the Sun Gate trail. The number of people allowed to hike each day is limited, therefore we will need to know in advance if you wish to do so – contact Strabo Tours if you would like additional information.
April 25: Machu Picchu – Ollentaytambo
Those wishing to have an optional return visit to Machu Picchu may do so on there own this morning. Others can relax and enjoy the resorts Orchid garden paths, or shopping with some of the many vendors prior to our return train route to Ollantaytambo. There will be time this afternoon to relax or photograph the surrounding gardens of our hotel. Overnight at Machu Picchu (b, l)
April 26: Chinchero - Cusco
This morning we will drive well off the beaten path in a beautiful valley of stunning landscapes to Chinchero. Today is market day in this small town, where we will experience the local trading of goods, and capture our last glimpses of smiling Peruvian faces. We arrive in Cusco late this afternoon and enjoy our farewell dinner. Overnight Chinchero/Cusco (b, l, d)
April 27: Depart Cusco – Lima – Arrive Home April 28
This afternoon, take a return flight to Lima (suggested time to be announced), where we have included rooms at the Airport Hotel. Individuals will return to the airport at appropriate time for late evening flights home, in which case you would land in the U.S. on April 28, or you have the option to overnight, and return to the airport in the morning for your flight. (b)