Pure Peru for Independent Travelers

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A country of vast contrast, incredible vistas, fine cuisine and ancient cultures, Peru continues its rise as the top destination in South America.

In the heart of southeastern Peru, visitors will find Cuzco, a colonial city built on top of the ancient capital of the Inca and the gateway to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. The massive stones that the Inca masons used to build their impressive buildings and temples were incorporated by the Spanish as they built the present city of Cusco. To wander its many streets is to understand this contemporary city whose history dates back over a thousand years. With so many quaint shops and charming side streets, we often find travelers spending at least two nights in Cuzco to take in the beauty and history of this city.

Experience an unforgettable view as you cross over the mountain from Cuzco and drop down into the Sacred Valley of the Incas on your way to Machu Picchu. The road follows the meandering Urubamba River and passes through rich agricultural lands and picturesque villages. In the valley there are many points of interest: the Pisac Market on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday (it operates on a smaller scale on other days); the massive Incan fortress of Ollantaytambo and the charming village below it.

In the last five years, we’ve been urging travel agents to have their clients visit the Sacred Valley before Machu Picchu and Cuzco. It’s at a lower elevation than Cusco and is the fertile heartland of this region of Peru. The Sacred Valley is the best place to experience the culture of this region. There is adventure such as rafting and horseback riding available, as well as scenic views and small villages. We recommend at least an overnight, and even an extra day to further explore the area.

Then travelers can continue their journey by train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu—the main attraction for most visiting Peru. We recommend an overnight in Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu town, where visitors can get off the train and have their bags taken to their hotel, while they board a bus for their first trip up the mountain to visit the citadel. By spending the night, your clients can get up early the next morning to visit Machu Picchu at sunrise around 6 a.m. After their second visit, they can board the train for their return to Cuzco.

Other options while visiting Peru include the Amazonas region out of Puerto Maldonado—easily accessed by air from Cuzco, this option is becoming more popular. By far the second most popular extension from Cuzco is taking the train to Puno to visit magical Lake Titicaca. Here travelers will find the Uros who build islands, their homes and their boats out of the reeds that grow along the shore of Lake Titicaca. These kind and welcoming people love to share their history and culture with visitors and most will be surprised that many still live as they have for hundreds of years.

Whichever route your clients take through Peru, you’ll find that Avanti and our local partners will ensure they have the vacation of a lifetime. For more information, visit avantidestinations.com.