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Cerro de Oro
Cañete Valley, Peru

Exclusive Trip

Exploring Ancient Civilizations in Peru

Restoration of a 1,500 year old Wari Site

This exclusive trip to Peru is a unique opportunity to take part in the conservation of an ancient mud-brick city called Cerro de Oro that was important to ancient Peruvian cultures.

 

Ancient Odysseys has arranged for travelers to work directly with the archaeologist who is restoring this site outside of Lima..The conservation work itself takes place over the course of two days. The remaining itinerary has been designed to enhance your experience of Peru by immersing you into the country’s magical history and culture. It includes a day hike into Machu Picchu and a flyover of the Nazca lines among a host of immersive, cultural experiences in the country.

About Cerro de Oro

The Cerro de Oro archaeological site is the largest and most influential settlement in the Cañete region of Peru. The site itself is breathtaking, encompassing 150-hectares that is perched atop a rocky hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The site is very well preserved, with wide, tall walls that measure over 10m that are still visible today. Most of Cerro de Oro remains unexplored, yet past excavations have revealed three distinct periods of densely populated occupation over a span of a thousand years. The earliest remains are of a settlement with a vast network of monumental adobe buildings, including houses and funerary structures, dating back to 550-950 AD. The burials contain elaborate funerary bundles with textiles establishing a clear link with highland Wari society (850-950 AD). A later cemetery and residential complex signals Inca occupation of the area from c. 1400 until the Spanish Conquest. In 2013, a complex, elite tomb was discovered, while in 2019, a household that was involved in textile production was found. The textile artefacts are of particular interest, since they will provide archeologists with insight into the entire chain of operation behind textile production in the area. Some of the artifacts that have been unearthed are currently on exhibit in the Pachacamac Museum. 

How you will make an impact

Prior to working with Ancient Odysseys, the work at Cerro de Oro proceeded slowly due to a lack of funding. With your help, preservation work on the 1,500 year old structures at the Cerro de Oro site can continue. Once completed, Cerro de Oro will be open for those interested in the archeology of the site and to be enjoyed by the surrounding community. The community itself is actively involved in the work, in that they are included in decision making and in the direction the project takes. Once preservation is complete, the spaces will be integrated into the site’s touristic circuit which currently includes an interpretive center, viewpoints and information panels to explain the site’s archaeological significance.  

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Itinerary | Trip Date: July 12-23, 2024

July 12 | Day 1 | Arrive Lima

After processing through immigration, collect yur bags and pass through customs. Once in the Arrival Hall look for your private driver who will be holding a sign with your name(s).


The transfer to the hotel will take approximately 30 minutes.

Accommodation: Pullman Miraflores - Superior Room

July 13 | Day 2 | Flight to Cusco + Chinchero, Pisac & Ollytaytambo

This morning meet up with the rest of the group for breakfast. After checkout meet your private driver in the hotel lobby who will escort you to the airport for your flight to Cusco.

Full day Chincero, Ollantaytambo and Pisac

On your way to the Sacred Valley, you will visit Chinchero, a picturesque village in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Enter the home of a textile artisan, where you will see some of his original work and learn about his techniques and creative process. The visit includes a stop to view a panorama of Inca ruins dating back to the end of the 15th century. Then it is on to Ollantaytambo, one of the most representative building complexes of the Inca Empire and site of one of the Spanish Conquistadors' rare strategic defeats. Famous for its terraced fields, Ollantaytambo was a very effective fortress and a religious center. Enjoy lunch before you visit the town of Pisac, where you will explore its archaeological site, located on the top of a hillside and one of the most important in the Sacred Valley. This place will amaze you with its platform system and urban planning, both very advanced for the time in which they were developed.

Accommodation: Las Qolqas Eco Resort - Luxury Tent

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

July 14 | Day 3 | Sacred Valley + Pachamama Ceremony

History and Culture in Maras, Moray and Misminay

Your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby after breakfast to head in the direction of the Maras salt mines, where some of the finest salt in the world is extracted. The town of Maras grew in importance in the 17th century with exploitation and commercialization of the “salineras” or saltpans. On the way, you will cross the extensive Maras Pampas, where people farm the land and raise cattle and sheep. Enjoy a stop at the Raqchi viewpoint for never-ending vistas of the Urubamba mountain range and its snow-capped peaks. Passing through the town of Maras you will learn about the facades of the ancient houses, made from finely worked stone, indicative of the economic heights achieved by the town’s population at that time.

You will then visit the Misminay community. Upon arrival, the villagers will give you a warm welcome with music and typical dances. There, you will be able to learn about the Andean families' lifestyle. Enjoy a delicious lunch at an Iskay Maras home prepared with local products.

You will continue with a visit to Moray, a fascinating archeological site with huge concentric terraces, which the Incas used as a botanical laboratory. Here they studied temperature variation from one terrace to another in order to develop different crop varieties. The hardier varieties of seeds were distributed throughout the Inca Empire.

 

Pachamama Ceremony

In the afternoon you will participate in a very spiritual ceremony of sound and traditional offerings to Mother Earth, Pachamama, conducted by a local shaman. The main objective of Pachamama is to celebrate the connection with Mother Earth, to offer thanks to its great kindness in providing the natural resources that are essential to sustain life. This ritualistic ceremony evokes the spirit of healing using many sacred medicines: Palo Santo, Tayta Sayri, Mama Coca, Agua Florida, Condor’s Feathers, Grandfather Puma, Essences and Incenses. Traditional shamans use many pre-hispanic instruments that have no written musical registers, allowing their own essence shine to heal with joy, love, color and life.


In this ceremonial act guests ask for a Fully Happy Life- "Sumaq Causay"-, renewing energy and initiating a new period of Harmony, Love and Wisdom-"Yacha, Munay and Llankay"

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This moving ceremony is sure to energize and inspire you and is a favorite of most guests. An interpreter will assist the shaman in describing the ceremony and the blessings that are offered.

Accommodation: Las Qolqas Eco Resort - Luxury Tent

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

July 15 | Day 4 |  Hike Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

This short version of the Inca Trail trek is the perfect alternative for those on a tight schedule or looking for a less arduous option. The hike of 12 km (7 miles) follows the footsteps of the Incas, through the Sun Gate on one of the most emblematic sections of the Great Inca Trail.

You will be picked up from your hotel and transferred to the Ollantaytambo train station, where you’ll take the train to Km 104. There you’ll begin your guided trek through the outstanding landscapes of the Sacred Valley on your way to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna, taking in the beauty of this archaeological complex, with its impressive agricultural terraces. You will have time to rest and enjoy a re-energizing lunch before returning to the trail, hiking through highland jungle scenery towards the Inti Punku or Sun Gate, which announces arrival at Machu Picchu. From here you’ll be able to see the famous Inca sanctuary from a truly unique angle: a fitting reward at the end of the hike. You will then walk down to the complex itself and board the bus that will take you to the town of Aguas Calientes (the town at the foot of Machu Picchu), where you will check into your hotel.


Total walking distance: 12 km (7.5 miles)
Minimum altitude: 2,200 m. (7200 feet)
Maximum altitude: 2,700 m. (8900 feet)
Total walking time: 5-7 hours
Level of difficulty: 3.5 on a scale of 5

Accommodation: Inkaterra Machu Picchu - Superior Double

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

July 16 | Day 5 | Explore Machu Picchu + Cusco

Machu Picchu needs no explanation; it’s one of the world’s most famous historical sites, located in one of the most amazing locations in the Andean mountains. Even if you’ve seen a million pictures, they won’t compare to the experience of standing in this remarkable Inca sanctuary. To call it a wondrous experience is no exaggeration.


Machu Picchu is one the Seven Wonders of the World. Today's visit with your private guide will expose you to the history, organization and mysteries of this unique Inca complex. You’ll explore the area with its amazing ruins and terraces – an incredible example of Inca engineering skills – together with its photogenic alpacas, all of this against at the stunning backdrop of Huayna Picchu Mountain.


After soaking up the magical energy, you’ll head back down to Aguas Calientes for lunch in a local restaurant, or a tour around the streets of this picturesque town.

Later this afternoon, you will take the Vistadome train back to Ollantaytambo station. Meet your private driver in the train station upon arrival. The driver will be holding a sign board with your names and transfer you the short distance to your hotel.

 

Accommodation: Hotel Palacio Manco Capac - Deluxe

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

July 17 | Day 6 | Cusco City Tour + Nearby Ruins

Today your private guide will meet you in the hotel lobby to explore Cusco, the Imperial City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your tour will begin at the Koricancha Temple, an ancient Inca palace and cult center of the Sun God, above which the order of the Dominicans built a church that remains standing to this day. The tour also includes a stop at the Plaza de Armas, where you will visit the Cathedral. Continue ascending to the Fortress of Sacsayhuaman, an impressive example of Inca military architecture. Afterwards, you will visit Kenko, an archaeological site where the Sun, Moon and Stars were celebrated.
 

Accommodation: Hotel Palacio Manco Capac - Deluxe

Meals: Breakfast

July 18 | Day 7 | Market Tour + Cooking Class

Immerse your senses in an exquisite hands-on culinary experience while enjoying breathtaking views of downtown Cusco from a rooftop kitchen.

The experience starts with a visit to a traditional open air San Pedro market. Here you will learn about the region's culinary history and unique ingredients.

Enjoy the fruits of you labor with a delicious lunch at the end of class.

 

Accommodation: Hotel Palacio Manco Capac - Deluxe

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

July 19 | Day 8 | Lima City Tour + Casa de Aliaga + Larco Museum

This afternoon meet your guide and driver will take you to visit the colonial part of the city of Lima, "The City of the Kings”. You will head to the Historic Center to visit the Convent of Santo Domingo, declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Following, you will visit the stunning Casa de Aliaga, historic house of conqueror Jerónimo de Aliaga, where his descendants still live. Then you will walk to the Plaza Mayor, where you will have the chance to take some pictures of the gorgeous colonial architecture of important buildings that surround it, such as the Government Palace and the Cathedral. The day's final stop will be at the Larco Museum, which houses the unsurpassed private collection of treasures from Ancient Peru with more than five thousand years of Ancient Peru history exhibited through 45,000 pieces.

Accommodation: Pullman Miraflores - Superior Room

Meals: Breakfast

July 20-21 | Days 9-10 | Archaeological Preservation Work at Cero de Oro

Today your private driver will meet you in the morning for the 3 hour drive to Cerro de Oro.

Francesca Fernandini, the archaeologist heading up the conservation and excavation of Cerro de Oro will meet you onsite when you arrive.

Ancient Odysseys has arranged for you to assist Dr. Fernandini in the archaeological conservation work at Cerro de Oro. Your participation will directly impact and benefit the work being done at this important archaeological site.


About the work at Cerro de Oro

During your two-day conservation experience, you will be working alongside Dr. Fernandini who will teach you the methods of conservation . All tools and instruction for conservation are provided.

​You will be working to preserve a 1,500 year-old cemetery and your work will assist in research objectives to study diet, pathologies and the general way of life at the time that people lived here.

Lunch, drinks and snacks are provided for all participants during the day. At the end of your first day of excavation, Dr. Fernandini will join you for a dinner at a local restaurant featuring Afro-Peruvian dance and music.

 

Accommodation: Villa del Sur Gran Hotel San Vincente de Canete - Standard Room

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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What to Bring:

For the dig, pack comfortable outdoor clothing, hat, sunscreen and thick-soled shoes.

Note: 

The work associated with working on an excavation can involve certain risks. Excavation work may involve difficult conditions, uneven terrain, unanticipated natural hazards, use of equipment, and/or strenuous manual labor. A general level of fitness is necessary for excavations, such as walking short  and long distances, walking up and down steps and inclines, kneeling, lifting buckets, and sitting on the ground. Most if not all activities will occur outdoors, therefore conservation activities may be curtailed in response to weather. 

An interview with Francesca Fernandini | Archaeologist, Cerro de Oro & PUCP

  1. What makes Cerro de Oro significant?
    Cerro de Oro is in the lower Cañete valley. It’s a monumental settlement of over 150 hectares that presents a profuse and intensive occupation that spans over 1000 years. This city was composed of houses, temples, cemeteries and specialized workshops all made out of tall and thick adobe walls, some of them over 10m high.

  2. What has been most surprising about your discoveries at Cerro de Oro?
    In 2013 we excavated a very complex elite tomb. The remains from this tomb were curated and exhibited in the MALI museum. Currently some of these pieces are in exhibition at the Pachacamac Museum.

  3. What are your current research objectives at Cerro de Oro? 
    My research objectives for the next two years include excavating a 1500 year old cemetery located in a ravine at the site in order to study diet, pathologies and the general way of life. In parallel, we are developing a more holistic community oriented research program that includes the community in decision making and in the directions the project takes. 

  4. What was the most important or rewarding find at Cerro de Oro?
    In 2019 we excavated a household that seems to have been oriented towards textile production. This context is allowing us to explore the entire chain of operation behind textile production, from wool and cotton spinning, to weaving with a waist loom. Remains include different tools such as spades, whorls, looms, waist bands, textiles combs, among other remains. 

July 22 | Day 11 | Drive to Pisco + Overflight Nazca Lines + Overnight Lima

Today your private driver will meet you in the lobby for transfer to the Pisco airport.

 

Nazca Lines Overflight

Flying over the Nazca Lines from the airport in Pisco has become become a very popular choice for visitors to Peru, because it allows visitors to save up to 6 hours of travel time compared to traveling to the airport in Nazca. This tour offers the chance to see 12 of the world-famous Nazca Lines from onboard a Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft.


During the flight, the pilots will point out the name of the Nazca Lines in English and Spanish, and provide a chance for passengers on both sides of the craft to have a view of each figure. The duration of the flight is 90 minutes, which includes the time that the airplane flies to and from Nazca, and the time it spends flying over the Nazca Lines.


Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

After lunch your private driver will transfer you back to Lima.

 

Accommodation: Costa Del Sol Wyndham - Standard Room King

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

July 23 | Day 12 | Depart for Home

A representative will meet you at the hotel to escort you back to the airport for your flight home.

Meals: Breakfast

Inclusions + Exclusions

Includes:

  • Accommodation as mentioned in the itinerary based on 2 people sharing double occupancy. See hotel descriptions on the Latitude Expeditions website Note: Cost for single supplement is $1050

  • All transfers and tours based on private basis with professional local English speaking guide

  • Meals as indicated (food only)

  • Bottled water while sightseeing and transfers

  • Entrance fees to all attractions; Machu Picchu hiking fees

  • Train tickets per itinerary

  • Round trip flights Lima-Cusco-Lima; Flights over the Nazca Lines

  • Round Trip bus ticket to Machu Picchu to/from Aquas Calientes

  • Portages at the airport and hotels

  • Tax and services charge

  • Donation to the Scientists at Cerro de Oro
     

Excludes:

  • Any meals, transfers or tours that are not mentioned in the  itinerary

  • Any items of personal nature such as excess baggage, laundry, telephone calls

  • Tips and gratuities to drivers, guides, hotel staff, restaurant’s staff

  • Personal, travel and health insurance

  • Early check in and late check out

  • Optional tours

  • International flight ticket

  • Visa fees and departure tax (if applicable)

  • Alcoholic beverages, unless described in tours or dinners

Archaeology Work
Interview
Blackened Paper

2024 Dates

May, Sept & Oct | Wed-Sun 

Memorial Day-Labor Day | Open daily

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$5-$15/pp

All Ages

Participation is subject to availability and is at the full discretion of the dig location. Prices and dates dates subject to change. All Terms + Conditions Apply.

Samples:

https://trips.latitudexp.com/proposal/ayxs048176
https://trips.latitudexp.com/proposal/ayxs048176
https://trips.latitudexp.com/proposal/qhlm045804
https://www.latitudexp.com/sample-itinerary-botswana

 

All the digs featured on Ancient Odysseys are non-profits and rely upon visitors and donations to continue their important scientific work. Please consider donating if you would like to support this organization's mission. All donations are tax deductible.

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