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On the Trail of Inca Gold
Are you ready to see the best of Peru and Colombia? Over the next fortnight, you'll do just that! After touching down in the Cuzco, enjoy a private transfer to your hotel in the Sacred Valley and take some time to recalibrate after a long flight. The next day is packed full of adventure, so get a good night’s rest.
The day kicks off with a trip to Pisac, which is famed for its epic hilltop ruins. On your visit, you'll see the Temple of the Sun, along with various baths, altars, water fountains and an ‘inti want’, which was once used as an astronomic clock. Check out the clever terraces too, which the Incas built to allow them to cultivate food that wouldn't usually grow at altitudes of 11,000 feet.
From here, it's on to Pisac Market, where local artisans from across the region gather to buy, sell and exchange their products. Watch as local life unfolds and stock up on textiles and authentic souvenirs.
The day wraps up at the legendary Inca fortress and citadel of Ollantaytambo. Built to protect the valley, it later served as a temporary capital for Manco Inca - leader of the Inca resistance - in 1537 during the Spanish conquest. Ollantaytambo is known as a 'live Inca town', as its inhabitants still live according to their customs and traditions. Once you've explored its straight streets, enjoy a buffet lunch at a local restaurant.
You can't come to Peru and not see one of the world's most impressive archaeological sites. We're of course talking about Machu Picchu! You'll take a train to Aguas Calientes, the town just below the famous Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu which was built by and later abandoned by the Inca Empire, not to be rediscovered until 1911.
Enjoy the stunning scenery from your train journey and watch as the Andean highlands turn into a jungle. Then it's a short bus ride to your final destination – the Urban section of Machu Picchu. Here you’ll enjoy a guided tour where you'll have the chance to see the Main Plaza, the Circular Tower, the Sacred Sun Dial, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of the Three Windows and various burial grounds. Once you're done exploring and soaking up the incredible tropical mountain forest landscape, it's time to head back to your hotel for dinner.
The next day you'll take the train to Cuzco, but before you head off there is the option to go on a second-morning entry to Machu Picchu, where you can catch the sunrise. In the afternoon once you have arrived in Cuzco, you will be driven to your hotel and have the evening to enjoy at your leisure.
Wake up bright and early for a trip to the impressive salt pans of Maras, where salt is collected from the nearby springs. Thousands of years old, these waters were used even before the time of the Incas. Today there are around 5,000 pools, and every month they are extracted when the thick crystals have reached around 10 cm. Be sure to check out the kaleidoscope of colors created from the sun’s rays as they hit the crystals. Next up it's on to the Moray terrace, where experts continue to disagree about its origins. Experts believe it could have been a gigantic agricultural laboratory, an astronomical observatory or a place of worship - or maybe all three.
The following day is yours to spend as you’d like. You may wish to explore the city’s excellent collection of cafes, bars, and restaurants or stock up on any last-minute shopping. Alternatively, there is an optional trek to the Three Rainbow Mountains, during which you'll get a chance to see 360° views of all three, plus the Ausangate glacier, a short distance away.
The Coffee Region
Activity & Adventure
After flying to Armenia and spending a night at your hotel, it's on to Valle de Cocora, in the central mountains of Quindío. In the valley, you can go hiking or set off on horseback and adventure through the cloud forest to enjoy the biodiversity in the area with its impressive flora and fauna. On your way back you'll cross the River Quindío and spot one of the tallest wax palms in the world. Later in the afternoon, it's time to visit the traditional town of Salento which you'll explore with your guide, before heading on to the village of Filandia where you’ll see colonial homes, the Plaza de Bolivar and coffee shops.
Take the following day for yourself exploring the local area, or head out on an optional coffee tour to Hacienda San Alberto. Producing coffee since the 1970s, it's a great place to swot up on all things caffeine. On this tour, you'll learn about the coffee production process from start to finish, visit the nursery and the plantation and, of course, enjoy a coffee tasting session with the experts.
After flying to Cartagena, check in to your hotel and take the rest of the day to yourself. The next day you'll enjoy a half-day city tour, which will start with a panoramic view of the city from the Monasterio and Iglesia de La Popa. Famous for resembling the stern of a galleon, this church was built in 1606 and boasts glorious 360-degree views over the city and out to sea, so have your camera at the ready.
Next, it's on to the San Felipe Fortress, which was built to protect the city against pirate attacks. As you journey around, you'll learn how it was constructed and also find out about its network of tunnels running below. In the Old City, you'll visit the Convent and Church of San Pedro Claver and finish up in the handicraft area of Bovedas, which is a collection of archways there which were once used to house armaments but is now filled with local handicrafts and art. The rest of your time in the city is yours to spend as you please. You might like to go on the optional trip out to Rosario Islands; just 100km off the coast of Cartagena, it's a Caribbean paradise of turquoise waters, powder-white beaches and blue skies.