Inti Raymi and Ccollyor Ritti
This trip departs on the 18th of June and is available to you for the price of $2800US per person.
Inti Raymi and Ccollyor Ritti
Day 1. Arrive, Explore Cusco
We’ll meet at high noon and head off for a traditional Peruvian lunch and a full trip briefing at a local favourite restaurant. We’ll leave the afternoon fairly flexible – to get to know Cusco with or without your guide, wander around, and shop for tomorrow’s mega-mission to Ccoyllorritty. We make sure there’s time today to acclimatise (or sleep off lunch!), but we’re also here to show you the sights, or help with whatever you need to do.
Day 2. To Ccoyllor Ritti
After a relaxed morning we’ll drive to Mayarwani, in a remote corner of the eastern Andes, where our pilgrimage-hike begins. It’s an easy to moderate hike of about three hours (horses are available for luggage and people), at first steeply and then gently ascending through a high valley to the site of the temporary tent city where tens of thousands of pilgrims gather over these few days every year. After settling into our comfortable camp, you’ll have time to wander around and take in the overwhelming festivities all around us.
Ccoyllorritty is a unique cultural event, almost entirely indigenous, which combines adoration of the Apus – mountain gods – with worship of a mysterious local image of Jesus Christ. It’s a stunning, multi-day, all singing, all dancing manifestation of the syncresis between the indigenous Andean and Catholic religions. Brass band music and entranced, elaborately costumed dancing go on literally day and night, and foreign faces are rare. No alcohol is allowed at Ccoyllorritty and the sobriety just adds to the surreal, peaceful yet frenzied vibe of the thing.
We’ll have plenty of time to take it all in as a group, as well as individually if you prefer, and a comfortable base camp to relax in.
Day 3. Ccoyllor Ritti Festival
Today is the central day of the fiesta of Ccoyllorritty. There are three different masses in the chapel – a huge construction that rears out of the eerie nothingness of this otherwise uninhabited alpine valley, and boasts a notable Vegas-style neon-lit altar. We’ll also have the chance to see the comparsas (dance troupes representing different towns and community groups) do their thing all afternoon. The dances are impressive – singing, leaping, twirling and even mutual whipping are some common threads. But the costumes are even more breathtaking - elaborate, colourful, and at times macabre: stuffed llama foetus, anyone?
We’ll find time today to purchase some alacitas – a totally untranslatable word signifying a small object representing a desire. Toy houses, cars and trucks are common, but stranger objects like money, university degrees, and certificates of good health are also available. The idea is to buy one and get it blessed in the chapel – this helps you obtain your desire, and if you come three years in a row, success is said to be guaranteed. 2011 is Katy’s third year at Ccoyllorritty and she is excited (and not entirely sceptical) about getting her heart’s desire!
Fireworks will go off all night tonight – tremendous Andean fireworks, mounted on enormous temporary scaffoldings; it has to be seen to be believed.
Day 4. Tayancani
This morning’s 10am Mass is the most important of the fiesta. After it, many head back down the hill and home, but we’ll join the devout who now make the so-called 24-hour pilgrimage to Tayancani. It's a long walk - about 33km! - but not a desperately difficult one (welcome to 'Andean flat!), and doesn’t really take 24 hours. There are plenty of stops along the way, and we’ll sleep at Yanacocha, after walking a total of about 9 hours over up to 16 hours. The scenery is amazing, with views of distant mountains and gorgeous nearby lakes, but the experience of hiking with other pilgrims is the most amazing thing of all - you won't even notice how far you're walking!
Day 5. Andean Religious Festival
We’ll attend the unforgettable Greeting of the Sun ceremony at 7am, then descend to Tayancani with the rest of the pilgrims. At 10am is the final Mass of the yearly Ccoyllorritty fiestas, and afterwards we’ll hike out to Ocongate - a hiking experience unlike any other, where you’re one of an apparently endless parade of pilgrims who fill the track like ants as far as the eye can see as they wend their way down the valley.
In the afternoon we’ll drive back to Cusco, where there’s time to relax and clean up before we head out to savour the contrast over a world-class gourmet dinner and a bottle or two of wine at Cusco’s longest-standing international-standard fusion restaurant, La Cicciolina.
Day 6. Free day in Cusco
The oldest continuously inhabited city in the Americas and its undisputed archaeological capital, Cusco (sometimes known as Cuzco, or in the local Quechua language as Q’osq’o) is a town whose attractions run into the thousands. It boasts enough museums, churches, and ruins to make your head spin. Or if you feeling like a little retail therapy, Cusco offers everything from folksy artesanias of every possible kind, through indigenous markets selling potatoes by the sack and frogs by the bucket, to exquisite handcrafted jewellery and avant-garde fashion. It’s also perfect for just wandering – through ancient, llama-width cobbled alleyways that open up into charming plazoletas (little plazas), and there are stunning cityscapes and inviting cafés at every turn.
If you’re in the mood for an organised activity, there are plenty of tours and outdoor activities on offer - whatever you’re in the mood for today, we’ll get you sorted!
Day 7. Inti Raymi
Inti Raymi (literally Sun Party in the local Quechua language, which the Incas spoke – the Sun, Inti, was their supreme god) was the most important ceremony in the Inca calendar and continues to be the biggest date in Cusco’s busy party calendar.
Tourists flood in from all over Peru and the world to see the pageantry, which is true to the original tradition and has carried on almost uninterrupted since Inca times. Ceremonially dressed representatives from each of the four suyos (quarters) of the empire parade through Cusco’s streets, on their way to the spectacular ruin of Sacsayhuaman that overlooks Cusco. A large central parade ground (where the Inca king is rumoured to have conducted football matches using the heads of his enemies as balls… but that’s another story!) is the scene of speeches and offerings for much of the afternoon. It’s an elaborate spectacle, and more than any other puts Cusco’s famous love of a parade on show.
Day 8. Gastronomic Southern Valley Tour
The Valle Sur (South Valley) just outside Cusco is little known to foreign tourists, but it’s popular with Peruvians.
We’ll follow local traditional of heading out here for a relaxed weekend lunch, and along the way we’ll enjoy a variety of specialty local food, visit lakes, wetlands, mad churches, ruins, and have our future read in coca leaves by a respected local brujo (witch!)
Our first stop is Oropesa, Peru’s bread capital (and the beginning of the day’s theme of one food specialty per town.) There are at least 40 bread ovens in the town, and 90% of the population are panaderos!
We’ll check out Tipon and Pikillacta, two major pre-Inca ruins that are little visited and feel unbelievably remote, even though they’re only a stone’s throw from the Panamericana Highway!
Lunch will be a highlight today. We’ll have to choose out of cuy (guinea pig) in Tipon, chicharrones (deep fried pork chunks of glory) in Saylla, or pato (duck) in Lucre…. or maybe we’ll try and sample them all!
The church of Andahuaylillas is one of the most gobsmacking things Katy and Steve discovered during research for Lonely Planet Peru 2010. It’s known as the Sistine Chapel of the Americas, and has to be seen to be believed, as do the deliberately-deformed skulls of departed Inca nobles displayed in the museum next door.
Our last stop is the tiny village of Huasao, locally known for its talented brujos (witches). Peruvians flock here for spells to aid them in acquiring love and prosperity, and healing ceremonies based on guinea pigs. We can pick up some potions and have our futures read in coca leaves, before heading back to Cusco.
Day 9. Here we hit the inka trail.
After a short drive we arrive to the town of Ollantaytambo where we stop for breakfast. A quick opportunity to photograph Ollanta if you have not visited before.
Continuing on to KM82 and the beginning of the inca trail and its 42kms of glory. Today is easy trekking past small towns selling chicha to your local porters.
Your 6 hours walking on the inca trail includes visits to ruins and eating time. An easy day.
Day 10. Dead Womans Pass
Today the high pass, Dead woman at 4200ms, 12600 feet, the walk is long but slow as we climb 1000ms over 5 kms approx. A fabulous day to see hummingbirds and listen to them singing in the trees. After the pass a serious downhill to our campsite for the night.
Day 11. The longest Day
Waking up early we begin our trek to chaki cocha (dry lake). We go upwards again approx. 350ms (1050feet) to 3950 (11850 feet) and the Runkurakay Pass which means The round construction. It is possible to see Andean Geese and Deer. After the pass we have beautiful views of the Vilcabamba Mountain Range. We have lunch and continue on through cloud forest and a spectacular inca tunnel which is part of the original inca trail. Camping in Winay Wayna, and for those that still have energy the opportunity to visit the archaeological site of the same name.
Day 12. Machu Picchu
We’ll spend the day exploring the words-fail-me glory that is Machu Picchu – one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. We’ll have a guided tour (a good one, with no numbers on sticks, we promise), plus plenty of time to explore on our own or climb for breathtaking views up one or more stunning nearby peaks: Huayna Picchu, Putucusi or Machu Picchu mountain itself. Later we’ll return by scenic train to Ollantaytambo.
Day 13. Sacred Valley tour back to Cusco
Tiny, charming Ollantaytambo is said to be the most perfectly preserved of all Inca towns and is a must on any trip to Peru, with atmospheric cobbled alleyways and elaborately carved stone irrigation systems. It’s all presided over by a spectacular, llama-shaped ruin. We’ll have time for a guided tour of the ruin and some exploration of the town this morning before heading off.
The sunny, photogenic floodplain between Ollantaytambo and Pisac, in the valley of the Rio Vilcanota, was sacred to the Incas – hence its name. You’ll soon see why they rated the Valley so highly – its eternally springlike climate and gorgeous scenery made it a popular weekend getaway for Cusco’s aristocracy. This area once supported a large population whose industry and innovation helped feed an empire, and its history of intensive cultivation is evident everywhere in agricultural terracing and complex, still-working irrigation systems.
We’ll meander past tiny villages, corn and potato crops, and massive hilltop forts commanding views of valleys and passes for miles around on our way to Pisac.
Here we’ll hike through the area’s largest military ruin - a massive and intricate series of bristling fortifications and protective terracing – and down into Pisac. The town is full of charm, with cobbled streets, carved stone buildings, and hidden courtyards where irresistible, piping hot empanadas (pastries) emerge from wood-fired ovens.
Of course we'll have some time to explore or shop at Pisac’s famous craft market - the region’s largest artesania (handcraft) market, and the perfect opportunity to buy last minute gifts and souvenirs!
From here it’s a short drive to Awanakancha, an indigenous owned and run weaving demonstration and Andean camelid education centre, where we have the chance to get up close and personal with friendly alpacas, llamas and vicuñas.
Then an even shorter drive brings us to Cusco. If you feel like it and there's time. we’ll jump out just above town and hike down to town through peaceful farmland and eucalypt forest , to the mysterious yet charming Templo de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) and Cueva de Monos (Cave of Monkeys), before a series of stone staircases brings us out in the heart of cafe-paradise San Blas, just a stone's throw from our hotel!
Day 14. Deaprture day
Today we’ll help you with any last minute shopping or organising, and get you to the airport in time for your flight if you’re departing today. If you’re staying on in Cusco, we’re delighted to help out with suggestions and assistance for the rest of your time here. Thank you and adiós! (B)
GOT MORE TIME IN PERU? We can help arrange all manner of activities to keep you entertained – from volunteering at a local school to a crash-course in Spanish or a visit to the lower jungle – the options are almost as endless as they are rewarding. For instance, if you’ve chosen the “Inca Jungle Trail” option on your Raymi, after the trip you could add on hiking the classic Inca Trail (be sure to chat with us before the trip if you’re considering this, as you need to book as early as possible). Something else tickle your fancy? Let us know, and we’ll look into it for you!
Starting at: US$ 2800.00
- All meals except as specified on free day
- Drinking water at meals
- All accommodation and activities specified in itinerary
- Entrance to Salineras, Moray, Sacsayhuaman, Pisac and Ollantaytambo ruins
- Cusco airport transfer at end of trip
- Drinks apart from at meals
- Sleeping bag, sleeping mat, tent and mule hire at Ccoyllorritty (renting is available)
- Stadium seating at Inti Raymi
- Activities not specified in itinerary
- Transport to start of trip.