Closing date: 13 Oct 2019
Ever since buccaneering American explorer Hiram Bingham first laid eyes on Machu Picchu a little over 100 years ago, visitors to Peru have been eager to steal their own sacred glimpse of this hidden mountain citadel. Bingham’s fascination with discovering the ‘lost’ cities of the Inca empire has certainly rubbed off on every traveller since, with Machu Picchu an omnipresent sight on bucket-lists, no matter how seasoned the explorer.
Now, tour operator G Adventures is offering one lucky winner the chance to see this pre-Columbian icon in the flesh, with two places on its Machu Picchu Adventure tour. You’ll not only see the citadel in all its glory but embark on a deeper exploration of the spectacular Sacred Valley, as well as stroll the ancient capital of Cusco. This superb trip for two also includes £1,200 to cover return flights.
Wherever you are in Peru, you’re never far from the lingering legacy of the Incas. The capital city, Lima, serves as the perfect introduction to the country, its modern gastronomic uprising tastily complementing the sprinkling of pre-Columbian temples found tucked beside sleek condos.
Overnight here before flying to Cusco, South America’s oldest continually inhabited city. Once the Inca capital, many see Cusco as a springboard to Machu Picchu, but it has plenty of historic treasures of its own. Chief among them is Qorikancha, a crumbling temple ruin in the heart of the city that was so holy to the Incas it used to be encased in solid gold. It lies near the city’s grand dame of colonial architecture, Cusco Cathedral, which in turn presides over the vibrant Plaza de Armas square. If you’re still salivating from Lima’s food, it’s a similarly great place to sample some tasty authentic cuisine.
While Cusco’s gems are many, it doesn’t take long for the mystique of the Sacred Valley to pull you in. Its mist-shrouded hills contour the landscape like bubblewrap, overseen by the occasional condor soaring high above this slice of the Andes. The several pitstops you make en route will deepen your appreciation for this hallowed land, as you witness traditional textile-making in remote villages and dine in a farm-to-table community restaurant.
Aside from the sought-after Inca Trail trek, the train between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes has become iconic in its own way, snaking through the spellbinding scenery of the Sacred Valley. Its 1920s-inspired carriages transport you back to when Peru’s hidden marvels were still freshly imprinted in Hiram Bingham’s brain. After whizzing through the hills to Aguas Calientes, peruse its lively open-air market or soak in its thermal baths.
Aguas Calientes is a frontier town nestled at the bottom of the group of hills that cradle Machu Picchu. Its placement means that if you get up early, you’ll beat the mid-morning rush, so you’ll have the marvel largely to yourself. Witness the ancient jewel bathed in soft golden light – a sight you’ll likely remember for the rest of your life. Your local guide will add colour to its key features like the Temple of the Condor, while also affording you valuable time to soak up its splendour by yourself.
Once you’ve stopped gazing at Machu Picchu, return to Cusco for a final day in the old capital, or make a beeline out of town to the multi-hued and striped sight of Rainbow Mountain.
This incredible prize is thanks to the experts at G Adventures, a tour operator with nearly 30 years’ experience as a specialist in small-group tours.
G Adventures knows that wherever you travel, the key to really getting under the skin of a place is to be guided by those who know it best: the locals. They employ the pick of the bunch, so afterwards you’ll feel like you’ve come a step closer to understanding their fascinating culture. That’s especially valuable when you walk among the Inca heartlands of Peru, a place whose magic will have you gripped from the moment you arrive.
G Adventures is offering one lucky winner two places on its eight-day Machu Picchu Adventure tour, as well as £1,200 to cover the cost of return flights. To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the following question:
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