Affordable Day Trips from Cusco, Peru
A visit to Cuzco, a city in the Peruvian Andes, tumbles you back into the cosmic realm of ancient Andean culture - knocked down and fused with the colonial splendors of Spanish conquest, only to be repackaged as a thriving tourist mecca. It was once capital of the Inca Empire, and is now known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. Plaza de Armas is the central square in the old city, with arcades, carved wooden balconies and Incan wall ruins. The baroque Santo Domingo Convent was built on top of the Incan Temple of the Sun, and has archaeological remains of Inca stonework. Incas deemed this spot the belly button of the world. Yet Cuzco is only the gateway. Beyond lies the Sacred Valley, Andean countryside dotted with villages, high altitude hamlets and ruins linked by trail and railway tracks to the continent's biggest draw - Machu Picchu. A stunning landscape careens from Andean peaks to orchid-rich cloud forests and Amazon lowlands. Explore it on foot or by fat tire, rafting wild rivers or simply taking the local buses to the remote and dust-worn corners of this far-reaching, culturally rich department. With so much to see, do, and taste, Cusco is a great place to experience and use as a base for exploring nearby areas, and there are several options for exciting day trips to help you make the most of your time here.
Get up close and personal with the culture of the ancient Inca civilization as you explore the main archaeological sites of the Sacred Valley near the empire's former capital of Cusco. History lovers are sure to delight in this chance to explore this beautiful mountain valley, harboring a wealth of important Inca sites. Start your day with a morning pickup from your hotel in Cusco, continuing first to the historic city of Pisac. The city was once known as a key trading post, offering a central location for Inca traders to barter for goods. The tradition persists to this day at Pisac's well-known market, offering you the opportunity to browse for a wealth of handcrafted textiles and souvenirs made by the local community. If you happen to be visiting Pisac on a Sunday, you'll also get to witness the town's famous mass, conducted in both Quechua and Spanish. Observe the town's collection of dignitaries in attendance, and watching as they play the pututo, a traditional musical instrument. Take a break after finishing your time in Pisac with a tasty lunch of Peruvian specialties, continuing to the Fortress of Ollantaytambo to discover its impressive Temple of the Sun. During the Incan civil war this imposing structure's 12-foot stones served as a key defensive barrier. After finishing your exploration of Ollantaytambo, continue back to Cusco, where you'll be dropped off at your hotel.
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On this horseback riding tour from Cusco, see the sights and soak in the mysterious atmosphere of this magical region. After pickup from your hotel, take a scenic 20-minute drive to the horse ranch. Upon arrival, you'll be assigned a horse and given a helmet and then your journey will begin. Trot through the breathtaking countryside in the outskirts of Cusco, and soak up the atmosphere of this ancient land. While you ride, imagine just how the Inca people lived centuries ago. Travel through typical Andean-style villages and see locals going about their everyday routines. Make your way to the Temple of the Moon, an ancient Incan ceremonial site, for unbeatable views of the city of Cusco. After exploring the archeological site near the temple, leave your horse there and head back to your Cusco hotel.
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After pickup from your hotel by air-conditioned coach, your tour of Cusco's southern valley starts with a drive approximately 15 miles east to the archeological site of Tipon, one of the most important sites in the area and an ancient location where the Incas worshipped water, one of their sacred natural elements. Even today, water still flows through Tipon's impressive series of canals and terraces, which you'll explore with your expert guide. Next, head to the small village of Huaro for a short stop to visit its 16th-century church, known for its remarkable murals by artist Tadeo Escalante. Then re-board your coach for the final stop of your tour - the Museum of Sacred Stones. With your guide, discover over 200 of the museum's ancient geological artifacts. You'll see functional and utilitarian stones used on pipes, wheels and more as well as stones used for ceremonial purposes. You'll be back in Cusco and dropped off at your hotel in time to enjoy a full evening.
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You will be picked up from your hotel at around 8am and will head to Moray. The drive is about 1 hour and 20 minutes and it is absolutely beautiful. You will drive through the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, through lush yellow fields of wheat, and past some villages. Finally, you will arrive to the fascinating display of terraces in Moray. Moray boasts three amphitheater-like terraces made by the Incas. These terraces, which are carved deep into the earth in a bowl shape, were thought to be used to determine the optimal conditions for growing crops. When you are done exploring Moray, you will head to the salt mines of Maras which is about 2 miles away. This village is known as a former salt-producing center that is thought to date back all the way to pre-Inca times. The last place to visit will be Chinchero. Here you can admire the well-preserved Inca walls of the main square as well as the many altars. You will also visit the beautiful colonial church, unique for its interior artwork and imagery. Moving on, participate in a wonderful introduction and learning experience of the art of Andean textiles. Throughout the afternoon become acquainted with the wisdom of Andean weavings as maintained since long before Inka times. The area is amazing and spectacularly beautiful. Once you are done with the visit, you will head back to the city in time to enjoy some lunch on your own.
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