Featuring the KESHWA CHACA Festival

Keshwa Chaca, the last Inka straw suspension bridge

For June 2007, Rutahsa Adventures is offering a trip across the heart of the Inka Empire, beginning in beautiful Arequipa, with a visit to awesome Colca Canyon, and continuing on to Lake Titikaka, legendary birthplace of the first Inka, then to Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. A very special feature of this excursion will be the witnessing of the annual rebuilding of the last remaining Inka straw suspension bridge and the colorful native fiesta that follows its renewal. A trek of the famed Inka Trail will be offered as an optional extension to the main trip.


DAY 1, Thu. May 31: Arrive in Lima in the morning and continue on by air to the colonial city of Arequipa in southern Peru. Arequipa lies at an elevation around 2400 m (7875 feet) and this is an excellent way to ease into the higher elevations of the Andes gradually, avoiding the altitude problems commonly experienced when flying directly into Cusco.

Arequipa is renowned for both its beautiful setting in a valley overlooked by the perfect snow-capped cone of Volcán El Misti, and for its pleasant climate, always sunny but pleasantly cool. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site for its Spanish colonial architecture, well exemplified by the cloister of the Compañía de Jesús.

At AQP airport we will be met by our local guide (bilingual, of course) and taken to our lodgings for tonight and tomorrow, La Casa de Mi Abuela (My Grandmother's House). After checking in and perhaps checking out the grounds of our unusual but very comfortable little hotel, it's time to rest up from the long flight down to South America. We recommend supper at the hotel.

DAY 2, Fri. June 1: Founded in 1540, Arequipa is known as La Ciudad Blanca ("the White City") as many of its colonial buildings are constructed of a light-colored volcanic tuff. This morning we'll enjoy a guided tour-- mostly walking-- of some of the more important sites such as the impressive Plaza de Armas, with its majestic palms, the cathedral, and other notable colonial sites. Our tour will include the sprawling Santa Catarina Convent, practically a city within the city. This convent formerly housed as many as 450 nuns in total seclusion, being closed to outsiders for over 400 years. Only in 1970 was it opened for visitation; the remaining few nuns continue to live a sequestered life in a section of the complex that remains private.

After the city tour you'll have some free time. You may want to eat a late lunch (eating on the second floor veranda of a restaurant overlooking the central plaza is quite enjoyable). After lunch you can return to our hotel to hang out and relax, or perhaps go shopping in some of Arequipa's many stores selling fine woollen goods (you can even buy genuine vicuña...if your pocketbook is deep enough!) and delicious La Iberica chocolates can be bought at the factory's downtown outlet store.

Second night in La Casa de Mi Abuela. Included meal: B

DAY 3, Sat. June 2: After breakfast (included, as is the custom in most Peruvian hotels), we board our charter bus and head out and up. Leaving Arequipa behind we slowly ascend into the Andes, with close-up views of Misti Volcano as we climb up to the puna or high alpine desert terrain. On the puna we have a good chance to see vicuñas in small herds ruled by a dominant male, or sometimes singly (probably young males without a harem). This wonderfully graceful animal is the smallest of the Andean camelids, and was once endangered, being over-hunted for its fine fleece. Fortunately, it is now protected and is making a good comeback.

You can also expect to see both of the domesticated camelids: llamas and alpacas. In fact, along some stretches of the road they are so numerous as to almost become a road hazard!

Spectacular views abound along today's journey: the landscape is broad and majestic, with Andean lakes and waterfowl and snow-capped peaks in the background. While stopping for photos of scenic vistas we may also enjoy on a more intimate scale the unusual vegetation adapted to the alpine climate. Perhaps we'll spot a vizcacha sunning on a rock, looking much like a short-eared rabbit that has sprouted a squirrel's tail.

We will cross a high pass, then descend into the upper Colca Valley, with its extensive pre-Inka terracing, to the town of Chivay and then on to nearby Yanque. In this small town we find a very pleasant surprise: the Eco Inn Colca (formerly the Mirador de Collahuas), our delightful lodging for the next two nights, consisting of artistically constructed cabañas perched on a cliff commanding a marvelous view. The food is great here, too!

Included meal: B, BL (box lunch), D

DAY 4, Sun. June 3: We will spend all day today in the Colca Canyon area, doing a little hiking, watching for condors, and gawking at the Brobdingnagian scale of our surroundings. We'll leave the lodge early to get to the viewpoint known as Cruz del Condor, well-known as a spot to see the great vultures up close as they leave their rocky sanctuary and slowly begin to ascend on warming morning thermals. You don't have to be a member of the Audubon Society to be completely thrilled when one of these magnificent birds sails by so closely you can hear the hiss of the wind through its feathers and see the color of its eyes (one way by which the sexes can be distinguished!). June is a good month to see condors, so let's keep our fingers crossed for condor-watching luck equal to that of our 2003 trip when we saw a dozen to as many as 20 at a time.

Second night at Eco Inn Colca. Included meal: B, BL, D

DAY 5, Mon. June 4: Today we ascend higher into the Andes, via a scenic road that climbs to the altiplano near Juliaca, where we turn south towards the town of Puno on the north shore of Lake Titikaka. Expect to see Andean camelids-- llamas, alpacas and perhaps more vicuñas. We will pass by several Andean lakes where sightings of flamingoes, Andean geese, giant coots, and other water birds are common. We'll carry box lunches with us to eat as we roll along.

Between Juliaca and Puno we will take a short side trip to the important archeological site of Sillustani. Here, a small plateau of lava rock rises amid an austere other-worldly scene, and here in this special place pre-Inka and Inka peoples erected stone funerary towers known as chullpas.

In Puno we'll overnight at the Hotel Qelqatani, right in the heart of this little Andean city, within easy walking distance of lots of restaurants and pizzerias, shops with alpaca sweaters and other artesanía, internet cafes, etc. Puno has a nice, pedestrian-friendly central area.

Included meals: B, BL

DAY 6, Tue. June 5: After breakfast we will embark for Suasi Island in the midst of beautiful Lake Titikaka, and you can pack light, since we'll be returning to the Qelqatani after two nights at the island eco-lodge.

First stop en route to Suasi will be to visit the historic ship SS Yavari (ship on the left in the photo). The Yavari was built in England in 1862 in approximately 2500 pieces, each light enough to be carried by a mule. The pieces were crated and shipped around the Horn, then brought up and over the Andes to be assembled and launched on Lake Titikaka in 1867. The results of this herculean engineering feat sailed Titikaka for about a century before being decommissioned. Originally steam powered (designed to burn llama dung!), she was converted to diesel in 1913. She is now in the process of being restored and will be put back into service for cruises. In the meantime, we can have an educational and fascinating visit aboard her.

After our lesson in ship history we will boat out to the floating islands inhabited by the Uros people. This small group of indigenous people live on artificial islands made of floating mats of totora reeds. The community even has its own schools on the islands. As a part of our glimpse of this amazing living space and lifestyle, we will see --and perhaps take a ride on-- the traditional reed boats. Be sure to carry some fresh fruits with you to give the Uros children-- a real treat for them.

Our third stop for the day will be on Taquile Island, a major island with several indigenous communities. We will have lunch here (included). Be prepared for climbing a long flight of steps-- light hiking boots recommended.

Continuing our cruise on Lake Titikaka, widely known as the highest regularly navigated lake in the world --at 3810 m (12,500 feet) elevation-- we will reach Suasi, a privately owned island of 43 hectares where Casa Andina has built its eco-lodge. Our visit here will be something new for Rutahsa Adventures, so we cannot speak from personal acquaintance, but we are very impressed by what we have heard and read about the quality of the Suasi experience. Take a look at their website, then use your "back button" to return to this trip itinerary: Suasi Island lodge. We will spend two nights here. Included meals: B, L, D

DAY 7, Wed. June 6: Today you have all day for enjoying the tranquility and the beauty of Suasi Island, and sampling any of the many activities that appeal to you: hiking about the island on your own, enjoying the scenery and the plant, bird and animal life (all three of the camelids are here, plus vizcachas); a 2-hr, 5-km guided hike with an environmental interpretation; a 3-hr, 6-km guided canoeing outing on the lake; a 3-hr visit to "Martha's Cultural Cabin" where the island's owner, Martha Giraldo, has assembled displays and environmental/ecological information on the Titikaka area; a guided 2-hr night walk. Most, but not all, of these activities are at no extra cost. Anyone with a love of cold water can go swimming in Titikaka. And you may enjoy just hanging out and relaxing, soaking up the peace of this little bit of Andean paradise.

Second night Suasi Island Lodge. Included meals: B, L, D

DAY 8, Thu. June 7: After breakfast we reluctantly bid goodbye to Suasi, and boat a short distance to the mainland where our driver will be awaiting us with our private bus. Once aboard we return to Puno (about three hours drive), enjoying new vistas and stops at Moho and Huancane along the way.

Back in Puno we will take up our familiar digs at the Hotel Qelqatani for a final night. Included meal: B

DAY 9, Fri. June 8: Today will be a road day and we must make an early start. We will ask the Qelqatani staff if they can provide an early continental breakfast to allow us to be on the road by 6 AM! Why so early? Well, we have a six- or seven-hour drive to get to our destination, and we want to be there by noon, 1 PM latest. We are headed for the keshwa chaca, the last Inka suspension bridge, a very special feature of this trip. The bridge must be renewed each year, and the rebuilding is a three-day process. Thursday June 7th will have been spent manufacturing the ropes and heavy cables of qq'oya grass. Today is the day the six main cables are laboriously hauled across the Río Apurimac and stretched into place. We want to arrive at the bridge site by midday in order to see some of this fascinating process. To get a better idea of what this is all about, and why we want to get there on time to see the raising of the cables, visit our keshwa chaca webpage.

The highway takes us along the northern shore of Lake Titikaka for a farewell view of the lake, then to Juliaca, and on across the altiplano, and finally up through a high Andean valley, to cross a divide at La Raya pass and start down the Cusco side. We can expect to see herds of llamas and alpacas en route, but we'll limit our stops today to just the absolutely necessary bathroom stops, so don't drink too much coffee at breakfast!

About halfway to Cusco we reach the small town of Combapata, where we will turn off the main highway and head up into a little-visited region of the altiplano. About two hours driving on a mixture of paved and well-maintained gravel roads which at times are truly dramatic, will bring us to the gorge of the upper Río Apurimac (the "Mighty Speaker" in Quechua). Here, at a place seldom seen by outsiders, hangs the last authentic Inka suspension bridge.

Known in Quechua as a keshwa chaca, the bridge is made of straw and must be renewed every year because it rots. The rebuilding is a three-day community project, performed the second weekend of each June. Made known to the outside world by explorer/author Loren McIntyre (see McIntyre's fascinating article in the Dec. 1973 issue of National Geographic) this bridge is believed to have been continuously used and rebuilt since Inka times. And our visit is timed to allow us to watch the part of the bridge rebuilding, and to join in the fiesta on Sunday celebrating its renewal.

Yesterday, the first day of rebuilding the bridge --or, to put it more accurately, building a completely new bridge to replace the weathered bridge built a year ago-- is dedicated to fabricating the four huge rope cables that will support the bridge, and the two smaller cables that make the hand rails. All are made of qq'oya, a tough Andean bunch grass. As noted above, the reason for our early morning departure from Puno is that we want to arrive in time to see the great rope cables pulled into place by lines of straining Quechua men on each side of the dramatic river canyon. Each of the heavy cables must be laboriously hauled up and even more laboriously adjusted so that all four hang evenly in the same shallow catenary curve--if they do not hang evenly the flooring cannot be placed tomorrow. The slack of the cables is adjusted by winding them around a double set of large stone sleepers embedded in the stone bridgehead on each side of the canyon. This should be a very interesting process to observe.

Lunch will be served at our campsite. Our lodging tonight will be in a campsite with two-person dome tents, sleeping bags and pads all supplied. Our meals will be cooked for us and served to us in a dining tent, and based on past experience, they will be more than adequate! Included meals: early continental breakfast (if we can talk the Qelqatani staff into it!), L, D.

DAY 10, Sat. June 9: Today is the day the new bridge is finished and we will witness the four main cables being fixed into place with cross-sticks lashed to the cables with fresh rawhide, while simultaneously a multitude of small rope stringers are laced from the hand rail cables to the outside floor cables, forming the sidewalls to the bridge, so that it can be crossed without danger of falling off into the icy river 60 feet below. This work is accomplished by two master bridge builders and their assistants working their way out from the bridgeheads to meet in the middle.

The last stage of the work is to lay the flooring, formed of mats of brush tied together, and giving a solid flooring to the bridge easy to walk across.

The bridge-building activities are carried on under the watchful eyes of a local shaman who performs the rituals necessary for the construction to proceed as planned. Upon completion of the great work, sometime late this afternoon, the bridge will be blessed, and then opened for crossing. Sometimes the first crossing is reserved for special guests, but we will have our chance and no matter how many times Rutahsa Adventures visits this wonderful site (2007 will be our 9th visit!), it is always thrilling to stride swaying high above the swift Apurimac, supported by our faith in a half-millenium (or more) of native engineering and bits of twisted grass!

Although the bridge has been described in National Geographic (1973 and 1987), the subject of a NOVA program (1995), filmed for a Peruvian cultural documentary (1999), featured in a BBC special in 2005, and filmed by a Japanese film crew in 2006, it remains to date little visited by outsiders. It is part of a rural Peruvian world nearly forgotten. Rutahsa Adventures' travelers have the privilege of witnessing first hand the ancient traditions and engineering techniques of the Inkas maintained today by their descendants as a way of honoring their ancestors and Pachamama ("Earth Mother").

We hope that our visits (and the fame that the bridge is beginning to gain) will serve to help the people of the bridge-building communities maintain this beautiful tradition. In order to show our appreciation to the people of the four communities that construct the bridge, we will make a donation of school supplies, children's clothing, toothbrushes and toothpaste to the local village authorities, to be distributed to the children of the communities.

We overnight in camp again tonight. Included meals: B, L, D

DAY 11, Sun. June 10: It's festival time today! This morning tents will go up, vendors will arrive in trucks and buses, speaker systems and the rainbow banner of the Inkas will be erected, dance teams from towns throughout the region will arrive, and locals in their finest fiesta clothing will come by bus, truck, horse and mule, and afoot, to celebrate the annual renewal of the keshwa chaca. And Rutahsa Adventures travelers will witness a colorful and thoroughly Peruvian spectacle. You'll get a memorable dose of colorful costumes, energetic swirling dancers, raucous Andean music, and pungent smells of local cookery. It's a truly great scene!

After a final lunch in camp, we head back to the main highway, and continue north to Cusco, making some photostops en route to record the dramatic scenery we rushed through to get to the bridge site on Friday.

In Cusco our home will be the Hotel Picoaga, which occupies a 16th-century Spaniard's mansion. To preview our digs in Cusco, visit the Picoaga's website, then use your "back" button to return to this trip description: Hotel Picoaga. Included meals: B, L

DAY 12, Mon. June 11: Our morning starts with an extensive buffet breakfast at the Picoaga. Afterwards, we get down to learning our way around Cusco with a guided walking tour of the capital and sacred center or the Inka Empire, the very "Navel of the Earth". We'll visit the Plaza de Armas (just three short blocks from our hotel), the cathedral (built over the ruins of one of the Inka palaces), and also the Inka holy of holies, the Q'orikancha or Sun Temple. We'll see the world-famous "Twelve Cornered Stone", located in a wall of the Inka Roca's palace, which the conquistadores rebuilt as the archbishop's palace. In fact, everywhere we walk in the heart of Cusco the tragic conflict between the Inkas and the conquering Spaniards is evident in the contrast between Inka architectural remains and the colonial structures that sit atop them.

After lunch, a short bus ride up into the hills above Cusco will take us to the four nearby ruins of Tambomachay (the Bath of the Inka), Puka Pukara (the Red Fortress), Q'enko (an extremely weird huaca or sacred place), and finally the mighty Sacsahuaman fortress overlooking Cusco. This amazing work is built of truly cyclopean stones fitted together with inexplicable precision. Unquestionably, it is one of the wonders of the world! Second night in the Hotel Picoaga. Included meal: B

DAY 13, Tue. June 12: After another great Picoaga breakfast we board our bus and head for the Sacred Valley, stopping first to visit the colonial church at Chinchero, built on top of Inka ruins and famous for its frescoes. Amidst the Inka terraces is a huge limestone boulder with an amazing staircase hewn by the Inkas directly out of the stone.

Next, a drive across a beautiful patchwork agricultural panorama, with snow-capped Andean peaks as a backdrop. This will bring us to the enigmatic Inka site of Moray, where giant natural sinkholes have been converted by the Inkas into terraced agricultural sites. Some archeologists believe these sinkhole-farms served as an agricultural experimental station, where Inka cultivators took advantage of microclimates provided by different elevations within the sinkholes. Today the site is favored by seekers of the mystic who come here to meditate.

After a box lunch, perhaps at Moray, we will drive to the town of Maras to begin a hike of several miles (almost entirely downhill) down to the Sacred Valley, passing through the salineras (salt evaporation ponds) of Maras. At this site water from a salt spring has been used to manufacture salt since pre-Conquest days. Salt water is diverted through a complex system of tiny channels into family-worked ponds to evaporate and deposit salt. From afar the hundreds of ponds and dikes encrusted in white salt give the illusion of a gleaming miniature city.

Those who do not wish to hike can stay aboard the bus which will continue on to the Sacred Valley and to our hotel in Ollantaytambo, then return to pick up the hikers at a pick-up point in the Sacred Valley.

Our lodging tonight will be at the lovely Hotel Pakaritampu in the town of Ollantaytambo. Included meals: B, BL

DAY 14, Wed. June 13: In the morning we will drive through the Sacred Valley to the town of Pisac. Looming above the colonial town is the amazing archeological site also called Pisac, which many visitors find as dramatic and thrilling as Machu Picchu itself. The approach by road winds up the mountainside, affording views of Pisac's stupendous agricultural terraces, known as andenes, built by the Inkas and still in use today. From the parking lot we will stroll through a section of ruins, across the top of the terraces, to reach a fortified dwelling area, with a view of a cliffside Inka cemetery. From here we will hike along a breath-taking trail, up steps and through a tunnel, then past watchtowers and down steps to reach the Pisac temple complex. By the time you reach the Sun Temple you will be fully convinced of one thing: the Inka people didn't sleep-walk!

After visiting Pisac we will stop for a really fine buffet lunch in the Sacred Valley, before returning to Ollantaytambo.

Back in "Ollanta" we will explore the Inka fortress-temple of Ollantaytambo. This site was still under construction when the Conquistadors arrived, and today's ruins preserve evidence of the construction techniques.

In addition to the impressive ruins, the living town of Ollanta is very special: it retains its original Inka civic planning layout of canchas, a grid of narrow cobbled streets separating walled blocks with interior courts. We will visit a home in one of the canchas to get a glimpse of Quechua homelife, replete with the household cuy, or guinea pigs, underfoot. Ollantaytambo is also a good place to see traditional Andean costume still being worn, and hand-loomed ponchos and other textiles may be purchased here.

Our lodgings tonight are at the Hotel Pakaritampu again, so we will have ample opportunity to explore Ollanta, enjoying the town, its history, and the surprising variety of restaurants that have popped up in the last several years. Included meals: B, L

DAY 15, Thu. June 14: This morning you need to pack light: just take what you need for the next two days at Machu Picchu and send the rest of your luggage back to Cusco with our bus; the less encumbered you are on the train, the happier you will be! We board the narrow-gauge train that will trundle us down the Urubamba River gorge to Machu Picchu, the legendary "Lost City of the Inkas", one of the world's premier archeological sites, the "must-see-of-must-sees" in South America, and one of those exceedingly rare places where the works of nature and man combine to create a place of transcendental mystic beauty. Our train arrives in the town of Aguas Calientes by mid-morning, and after checking into the Machu Picchu Inn, it's up the zig-zag road to the sacred citadel for a guided tour of the site.

After our introduction to Machu Picchu we will have lunch at the hotel at the ruins, then free time to continue exploring the site until the last bus heads back down the mountain to Aguas Calientes. What you will discover is that most of the crowds disappear as the day-trippers return to Cusco on the afternoon train, but you can remain to enjoy Machu Picchu as it should be enjoyed-- tranquil, mysterious, and ever beautiful. Just don't miss that last's a long walk back down! Included meals: B, L

DAY 16, Fri. June 15: Morning: free time to go back up to Machu Picchu to get to know some of the intricacies of Machu Picchu proper-- its residential areas, its fountains, temples, amazing agricultural terraces, and a thousand intriguing nooks and crannies. Or, you can take some of the numerous hikes that lead to wonderful places: climb up Huayna Picchu for a breath-taking (literally) view of Machu Picchu far below; the really ambitious can take a seldom-traveled trail from the peak of Huayna Picchu down the backside to the Temple of the Moon, then return to Machu Picchu by a different trail around the flanks of Huayna Picchu; a much less strenuous trail leads to the Inka drawbridge; you can hike along part of the famed Inka Trail to the Inti-Punku ("Sun Gate"). Or, you can hike directly out of Aguas Calientes up to Putukusi peak for a vista of Machu Picchu from directly across the Urubamba gorge, a view few tourists ever see. Other options include visiting the hot springs that give Aguas Calientes its name, or souvenir shopping in the funky little town. Bird watchers may want to take a guided bird-watching tour on the beautiful grounds of the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel; this is an excellent place for bird-watching and you have a pretty good chance to see cock-of-the-rock and other exotic species. The Machu Picchu Pueblo also has an orchid walk. (Note: reservations for these guided tours should be made the night before.) So many options--

Whatever your choice for the morning's activities, you need to be back at our hotel and ready to go by 2:30 PM, in time to catch the 3:30 PM train to Cusco. So plan your activities accordingly. We will walk from our hotel to the train station for the return to Cusco and our familiar lodgings at the Hotel Picoaga (where your luggage sent back from Ollanta will be awaiting you).

Second day Machu Picchu entry and bus tickets up and down are NOT included, as this is an optional activity that some travelers may prefer to skip in favor of bird watching or other activities in the Aguas Calientes area. We think a return trip to Machu Picchu is highly worthwhile, as you certainly cannot see it all in one visit. Please consult with your Tour Conductor BEFORE returning to Machu Picchu ruins so that he knows your intentions, and so you are completely informed about returning to the hotel and train station on time.

Included meal: B

DAY 17, Sat. June 16: The luxury of an entire day of free time in Cusco! Plenty of time to explore this city on your own, according to your own interests. Your first day get-acquainted tour just scratched the surface, and there is so much more to see: churches, museums, the market, art galleries, shops with alpaca sweaters and scarves, traditional native textiles, jewelry, ceramics, books, and much more. There are quaint alleyways to explore, a huge variety of restaurants to sample (some with balconies overlooking the Plaza de Armas make good hangouts for photographers), and people-watching from park benches to enjoy.

Final night at the Hotel Picoaga. Included meal: B

DAY 18, Sun. June 17: You might be able to squeeze in some last minute visits and shopping in Cusco, but around mid-morning we leave, flying from Cusco to Lima, "City of Kings" and capital of Peru (flight ticket is included in the cost of the excursion). We'll check into the Hotel Antara, just a few blocks from the Pacific, in Lima's toney Miraflores district. For a preview of the Antara, click here: Hotel Antara.

We suggest you eat lunch at the Antara rather than scatter, for after lunch the fun continues: we will have a Lima city tour, "City of Kings", visiting the Plaza de Armas to see the government palace and national cathedral (where the remains of the Conquistador Pizarro are enshrined), the San Francisco Convent, and other important sites.

Included meal: B

DAY 19, Mon. June 18: Unfortunately, all good things eventually must end, and so it is for our Inka Empire Adventure...this is our final day in Peru. Transportation has been arranged for you to take you to Lima International Airport for your homeward flight out of Peru. Depending on the hour of your flight you may have time to enjoy strolling about the Miraflores area near the Hotel Antara, which is just a block or two from the Miraflores city park. Or you may wish to take a short cab ride to Larco Mar, a modern multilevel shopping and restaurant center built into a cliff overlooking the Pacific (good bookstores here, and also another opportunity to buy La Iberica chocolates!). Travelers may also book flights out of Lima for Sunday night or this morning. No matter when your flight departs, you will carry with you a million memories of an extraordinary visit to an extraordinary part of the world. Our guess is this won't be your last trip to Peru...there's so much more to see, experience and learn!

Included meal: B

INKA TRAIL TREKKING EXTENSION: Hale and hearty adventurers with good hiking legs may want to enjoy one of the world's classic trekking experiences: the Inka Trail. A four-day Inka Trail trek can be arranged as an extension beginning on Sunday June 17, instead of flying on to Lima. Interested parties should enquire about the requirements and cost. This trek option includes bilingual professional guide, meals, cook, porters, all necessary camping equipment.

For a detailed description of the Inka Trail, visit Rutahsa's Hiking the Inka Trail website.

Extensions can also be arranged, either pre- or post-trip for those who would like to visit the Amazon Basin or overfly the mysterious Nasca Lines. Just ask us!

Travelers wanting a really complete Peru experience should consider signing on to our Northern Peru trip in May, in addition to our Keshwa Chaca trip. The three days between the two trips is the perfect amount of time for a trip by car south along the coast from Lima to see the Oracle of Pachacamac, the Paracas Peninsula and the Ballestes Islands (Peru's "mini-Galapagos"), and the Nasca Lines.

Write us if you want details and costs for these extensions!

COST OF THE TRIP: The cost of the 19-day trip will vary according to the number of participants. A minimum of ten participants will be necessary to make the trip go. Here is the cost breakdown:

The above costs are in double room accommodations. Travelers requesting single room accommodations will need to add a Singles Supplement of $447.

INCLUDED in the trip fee: in-country transportation (two flights, plus private ground transportation); all lodging; meals specified in the itinerary; services of a bilingual Tour Conductor; services of local guides; all park and visitor's site entries (except as specified on day 16).

NOT INCLUDED in the trip fee: Air transport to and from Peru; meals not specified in the itinerary; personal expenses such as: souvenirs, medical expenses, communications, tips, etc.; Peru exit tax ($28 at the time of publication of this website).

HOW TO GET ABOARD: To request an application blank, please contact Rutahsa Adventures at

                        RECOMMENDED READINGS:

        Beltran, Miriam, 1970, Cuzco, Window on Peru, Second Ed. Revised:
             New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 221 p.
        Frost, Peter, 1989, Exploring Cusco:  Lima, Nuevas Imagenes S. A.,
             195 p.
        Frost, Peter, and Bartle, Jim, 1995, Machu Picchu Historical
             Sanctuary: Lima, Nuevas Imagenes S. A., 64 p.
        Hemming, John, 1981, Machu Picchu:  New York, Newsweek Book
             Division, 172 p.
        Hemming, John, and Ranney, Edward, 1990, Monuments of the Incas,
             Albuquerque, Univ. of New Mexico Press, 228 p.
        Prescott, William H., 1882, History of the Conquest of Peru:
             Philadelphia, J. B. Lippencott & Co., v. 1, 510 p., v. 2, 
	     530 p.  [Prescott's amazing work went through various
             editions and printings, and should be available in major
        Squier, E. George, 1877, PERU: Incidents of Travel and Exploration 
	     in the Land of the Incas:  New York, Henry Holt and Co., 599 p.
             [A classic 19th-century travel work by an archeologist and
             diplomat;  originals scarce, but a modern reprint has been

Photos on this website by Janie and Ric Finch, @copyrighted.