January 2 - 16, 2012
Students should plan to depart the United States on January 2 for the first official day the program on January 3, 2012.
UNDERGRADUATE CREDITS: Seeking credit for students to earn HIST 398, ANTH 398, HNRS 240, or NCLC 399, GLOA480 and HIST 598.
COST: $3,971 USD
INCLUDES: All in-country housing (hotels), All in-country travel Including domestic flights from Lima to Cuzco and Puno to Lima, train through mountains to Machu Picchu, All breakfasts, some lunches, 3 credits tuition, most entrance fees and tours, ISIC student ID card, pre-departure orientation at GMU.
**International airfare NOT included**
Approximate Arrival: Students should DEPART the United States in afternoon/evening of January 2 to arrive in the morning of January 3 in Lima, Peru.
Approximate Departure: Students DEPART Lima Peru in the morning or afternoon of January 16.
CONTACT: Greg Seiler at (703) 993-2641
Program Closed. Check back for January 2013.
NPR in Photos:
syllabus available upon request
Program led by:
This winter break, join Dr. Alex Benitez on a tour of the Spanish and Inca empires in Peru. Travel with a group of other students to explore the marvelous Machu Picchu, the mystical Lake Titicaca, historic Cusco, and bustling Lima.
January 3 – Arrive in Lima.
Meet up with Dr. Alex Benitez and the rest of the travel group upon arrival. Check-in to the hotel and relax with your fellow travel-mates.
January 4 – Private Lima city and Archaeological Museum tour (B).
You will have a tour of Lima accompanied by an English-speaking guide. You will visit the Plaza San Martin and the Plaza de Armas which includes the Presidential Palace and the beautiful colonial Cathedral among other colonial structures.
The Cathedral was commenced in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro himself. He is said to have laid the first stone used in its construction and carried the first timbers used also. He personally inaugurated the Cathedral in 1640 although it has been extensively extended and improved since this date.
Francisco Pizarro (c. 1475–June 26, 1541) was a Spanish conquistador, conqueror of the Inca Empire and founder of Lima, La Ciudad de los Reyes, capital of Peru. His is a truly extraordinary story as he ultimately led only 106 foot soldiers and 62 horsemen to capture the Inca who was supported by a reported 80,000 troops. This feat directly led to the downfall of the Inca Empire and the start of Spanish rule. His Tomb is to be found in the Cathedral to this day.
Church and Convent of San Francisco - Lima
The Church and Convent of San Francisco were constructed in the seventeenth century and are made up by the church and the convent of San Francisco, as well as of the chapels of the Solitude and the Miracle. The building is noted for its 17th century architecture, a fine example of Spanish Neoclassicism. Catacombs are built under the monastery, and are said to connect to other catacombs beneath the cathedral and other churches in the area. The convent's library is world-renowned. It is also the headquarters of the Museum of Religious Art.
In addition to your tour of the colonial centre you will also visit the modern district of San Isidro where you will visit the Olive Park. In Miraflores you will have a view of the pre-Colombian Huaca Pucllana and visit the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Following your tour of central Lima we will include a visit to the National Museum of the Archaeology, Anthropology, and History of Peru, the largest museum in Peru. This museum houses over 100,000 artifacts spanning the entire history of human occupation in what is now Peru.
January 5 – Fly to Cusco. Private Cusco city tour & outlying sites (B).
This morning you will fly to Cusco (approx 1 hour). Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel.
Today we will collect you from your hotel for an extended tour of Cuzco and the Inca sites nearby. You will be accompanied by a qualified English speaking guide and driver. This half day tour combines the principal sites in Cusco city centre with those Inca sites located nearby.
We start the tour at the Inca ruins of Tambomachay. This was an Inca sanctuary dedicated to the cult of water, and it was reserved for Inca Royalty. The waterfalls in these ruins form part of a terrace to the second wall where the drainage cascades on the first and forms a small pool.
We then proceed on to visit Puca Pucara (Quechua for red fortress). This is an Inca archaeological site located on the peak of a hill and is thought to be a military position and an administrative centre.
Due to its proximity to Tambomachay, it is believed to have had a relationship with its defense, as well as the control of the route to Calca that led to the Antisuyo (Forest County of the Inca).
We proceed on to visit Qenko; a sanctuary dedicated to the adoration of animals, and consists of ruins formed by rocks with stairs in a zigzag, and a main building similar to a circular amphitheatre where 19 window sills are located as a way of seats.
We then proceed on to one of the most important Inca sites in South America, the enormous fortress of Sacsayhuamán. Its Quechua name means "satisfied falcon", as it was the falcon that guarded the capital of the empire.
Cuzco was designed in the shape of a lying puma with Sacsayhuamán as its head.
Its construction took over seven decades and required the work of approximately 20,000 men, both for the foundations and hewn stone works, the transportation of materials, carving and stone setting. Some of its external walls exceed 9 meters in height and 350 tons of weight.
We will next visit Cuzco Cathedral which is one of the finest Colonial Cathedrals in the Americas. Building started in 1560 and was completed in 1664. There are two auxiliary chapels on its both sides: Capilla Del Triunfo and Jesus and Maria y Jose.
Finally we proceed to visit Qoricancha (from the Quechua word Quri Qancha meaning 'Golden Courtyard'), originally named Inti Qancha ('Temple of the Sun').
It was the most important temple in the Inca Empire, dedicated primarily to Inti, the Sun God.
It was one of the most revered and respected temples of the city of Cuzco, Peru.
The Church of Santo Domingo was built on the site, using the ruined foundations of the temple that was flattened by the Spanish in the 17th century, and is a fine example of where Inca stonework has been incorporated into the structure of a colonial building.
This ends the extended Cuzco city tour whereupon we will return to your hotel.
January 6 – Private Tour of Chinchero, Moray and Maras in the Sacred Valley (B).
Today you will take a private tour with your guide to the Sacred Valley visiting the archeological site of Moray, passing the town of Maras and the “salineras” or salt mines.
You will drive through stunning countryside, against a backdrop of the snow-capped Andes to Chinchero, 28km from Cusco. Chinchero is an attractive Indian village with a colorful Sunday market. The central square has a splendid Inca wall on its western side, etched with 10 trapezoidal niches, each large enough to hold a human being. Also on the square, sitting on its upper level, is the town’s colonial church, built of adobe and decorated internally with beautiful floral designs.
Moray, an Inca site, was an experimental agricultural centre. It comprises numerous terraces carved into a large, natural amphitheatre, each one with a different microclimate from those above and below.
We travel on dirt roads and single tracks, passing through small villages with fantastic views of the valley and Andes. Towards the end of the day you will visit to the salt mines or salineras, before heading back to your hotel for the evening.
The salt pans are still worked by the local community to crystallize salt from water. These mines were exploited in pre-Hispanic times and reach back to the pre-Inca period. The spectacular scenario of the salt pans forming from an underground river source is a bizarre contrast with the fabulous Andean landscape.
January 7– Private excursion to Tipon, Piquillacta and Andahuaylillas (B, L).
The impressive site of Tipon to the east of Cusco covers an area of 2200 hectares.
The well preserved site of Piquillacta is located 32 km from Cusco. The site was a fortified town built in the time of the Wari and Tiahuanaco culture.
Andahuaylillas, referred to as the Andean Sistine Chapel because of its magnificent frescoes, the church is but one example of the mestizo baroque architecture typical of the Cusco School which was prominent in the 17th century. You will marvel at the ceiling of carved panels covered with gold leaf.
January 8 – Full day private excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas (B, L).
Today you will go on a tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
A vital Inca road once snaked its way up the canyon that enters the Urubamba Valley at Pisac. The citadel, at the entrance to this gorge, now in ruins, controlled a route which connected the Inca Empire with Paucartambo, on the border of the eastern jungle. Patch-worked by patterned fields and rimmed by vast terracing, the panoramas are magnificent.
The tour visits the market town of Pisac. Pisac is a great place to buy local artifacts. There is a big artisans market here every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday and many of the local craftsmen come in from the surrounding hills to sell their goods.
Finally we proceed on to Ollantaytambo which is an attractive little town located at the western end of the Sacred Valley (about two and a half hours by bus from Cusco). The town has been built on top of original Inca foundations and is the best surviving example of Inca town planning. The town is divided in canchas (blocks) which are almost entirely intact. Each cancha has only one entrance (usually a huge stone doorway) which leads into a central courtyard. The houses surround the courtyard. Good examples of this construction can be found behind the main plaza.
The town is located at the foot of some spectacular Inca ruins which protected the strategic entrance to the lower Urubamba Valley. The temple area is at the top of steep terracing which helped to provide excellent defenses. Stone used for these buildings was brought from a quarry high up on the opposite side of the Urubamba River – an incredible feat involving the efforts of thousands of workers. The complex was still under construction at the time of the conquest and was never completed.
After Manco Inca was defeated by the Spanish at Sacsayhuamán following the unsuccessful siege of Cusco (1536) he retreated to Ollantaytambo. Francisco Pizarro’s younger brother Hernando led a force of 70 cavalry, 30 foot soldiers and a large contingent of natives to capture Manco Inca. The Inca’s forces, joined by neighboring jungle tribes, rained down showers of arrows, spears and rocks upon the unfortunate Spanish troops. In an intelligent move the Inca’s flooded the plains below their stronghold making it difficult for the horses to maneuver. Hernando, uncharacteristically, ordered a hasty retreat. Ollantaytambo became the only place ever to have resisted attacks from the Spanish.
However, their victory was short-lived when the Spanish returned with four times their previous force. Manco Inca retreated to his jungle stronghold in Vilcabamba and Ollantaytambo fell into the hands of the Spanish.
January 9 – Expedition train to Machu Picchu. Privately guided tour of the ruins & overnight (B).
Today we have an early start in order to catch the train to Machu Picchu. You will be transferred from your hotel to the train station in Ollantaytambo in order to catch your train.
The train journey follows the Urubamba Valley with scenic views and photographic opportunities.
This new service has panoramic windows thereby allowing you to enjoy the scenery en route. There is also air conditioning and snacks are available on board.
On arrival in Aguas Calientes there is a spectacular 20-minute bus journey from the railway station in Aguas Calientes up to the ruins.
You will enjoy a tour of Machu Picchu led by a qualified English speaking guide before having some free time to explore the site by yourselves. Your guide will lead you on a full exploration of the ruins - staircases, terraces, temples, palaces, towers, fountains and the famous sundial.
January 10 – Re-visit Machu Picchu, return train to Cusco (B).
A day to re-visit Machu Picchu and enjoy the wonderful sanctuary to the fullest.
There is an early bus back to Machu Picchu at 05.30 to enable you to enjoy the sunrise (not guaranteed!) over the ruins.
Today you can enjoy the site at your leisure and see some of the sites that are not included in the standard one-day only tour, such as the Sun Gate and the Hanging Inca Bridge.
You may also wish to get to the site early in order to climb Huayna Picchu, the ubiquitous peak that overlooks Machu Picchu. The views from here are stunning and afford fantastic and unique photo opportunities. There are however limited tickets available each day which should be bought in advance. If you wish to climb Huayna Picchu let us know in advance so we can include the entrance fee.
The bus and re-entry tickets are included in the price of your tour.
Transfer back to Machu Picchu train station for the afternoon departure of your train. You will be met at the train station and returned to your hotel in Cusco.
January 11 – Free day in Cusco(B).
Cusco – a UNESCO World Heritage site – is an architectural and cultural jewel of a city set in the South-eastern Andes. The city is the former capital of the Inca Empire, and stands at 3350m above sea level. It is a fascinating mix of colonial churches, monasteries and convents, and extensive, pre-Columbian ruins. Almost every central street has remnants of Inca walls and much of this ancient stonework now serves as foundations for more modern dwellings.
There is a great deal to see and do in Cusco and a free day to wander about some of the back streets, visit galleries, shops, churches and markets is often welcome.
There are also a number of sites and museums on your ´Cusco Tourist Ticket´(included) that are not visited during tours which you may like to visit.
These are: Museo de Sitio de Qoricancha, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo, Monumento al Inca Pachacutec, Convento de Santa Catalina, Museo de Arte Popular & Museo Histórico Regional.
January 12 - Inka Express Bus across the Altiplano to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca (B, L).
Today we will take you to the bus station in Cusco for your first-class bus to Puno. The first-class Inka Express Bus from Cusco to Puno is one of the most comfortable and safest bus rides in Peru. Lunch is included and the bus stops at various points of geographical and cultural interest along the way.
Andahuaylillas: Referred to as the Andean Sistine Chapel because of its magnificent frescoes, the church is but one example of the mestizo baroque architecture typical of the Cusco School which was prominent in the 17th century. You will marvel at the ceiling of carved panels covered with gold leaf.
Raqchi: (or the temple of the God Wiracocha) 121 kilometers from Cusco, this Inca temple is monumental: 100 meters in length, 26 meters in width and 14 meters in height. Divided into two naves, each of these still retains the base of eleven giant columns. The base of the walls consists of Imperial Inca stonework with a top section of adobe. Adjacent to the temple, we can see many storehouses, used for various purposes both military and religious.
Pukara: This is the most important and oldest ceremonial site this side of Tiahuanaco. Characterized by a series of raised platforms, the ruins also reveal some litho-sculptures and tombstones, all proof of a pre-Inca civilization, possibly one at the origin of the Andean culture of the Altiplano.
La Raya: The highest pass on the route between Cusco and Puno, La Raya is 4335 meters above sea level. Beautiful landscapes await you, as well as the animals that are symbolic of the Andes: llamas, alpacas and vicunas. This is a region situated between two cultures, Quechua and Aymara, as well as a composite of two terrains: the dry and arid altiplano and the more verdant Quechua valleys and rivers.
January 13 - Full day privately guided tour on Lake Titicaca (B, L).
Today we have a full day visit to the incredible floating reed Uros Islands of Lake Titicaca and Taquile Island, one of the main islands on the lake. The Uros islands have a unique civilization of people living on them – there are no trees, and all of their houses and boats, etc. are made of knitted reeds.
It is alleged the inhabitants fled from the mainland to escape the Inca in the 13th Century and found refuge on these floating islands; in the middle of the largest navigable lake in the world and South America’s largest freshwater lake.
Lake Titicaca is a sacred place among indigenous Andean peoples. In touch with the spirit of Mama Qota, or Sacred Mother, they believe that powerful spirits live in the lake's depths. According to Andean legend, Lake Titicaca was the birthplace of civilization. Viracocha, the creator deity, lightened a dark world by having the sun, moon, and stars rise from the lake to occupy their places in the sky.
Worthy of such mystical associations, Lake Titicaca is a dazzling sight. Its deep azure waters seemingly extend forever across the altiplano, under the monstrously wide sky at an elevation of more than (3,820m/12,532 ft.). The lake covers more than 8,500 sq. km (3,315sq. miles); it is 176km (109 miles) long and 50km (31 miles) wide.
Taquile, whose Quechua name some believe was Intika, was part of the Inca Empire and has a number of Inca ruins. The island was one of the last locations in Peru to capitulate to Spanish domination during the Spanish conquest of Peru. It was captured for Carlo V and eventually passed to Count Rodrigo of Taquila, who inspired the island's current name. The Spanish forbade traditional dress and the islanders adopted the Spanish peasant dress that they are known for still using today, which they combine with extraordinarily finely-made Andean-style garments (ponchos, belts, mantles, coca-leaf purses, and others).
You will have lunch on Taquile, one of the three main islands on the Lake. Around 1500 Quechua-speaking Indians continue to live in this remote community. The island, seven kilometers long, is devoid of roads and vehicles, and its terraced hills are scattered with pre-Inca ruins. The island itself is almost a living museum where the inhabitants wear traditional dress and are famed for their weaving and knitwear. Knitting on the island is primarily a man´s job!
January 14 - Visit Sillustani funerary towers & fly to Lima (B).
Depart by private vehicle for Juliaca airport stopping en route to visit the impressive funerary towers at Sillustani.
Sillustani is a pre-Inca burial ground on the shores of Lake Titicaca near Puno. The tombs, which are built above ground in tower-like structures called chullpas, are the vestiges of the Colla people, Aymara who were conquered by the Inca in the 1400s. The structures housed the remains of complete family groups, although they were probably limited to nobility. Many of the tombs have been dynamited by grave robbers, while others were left unfinished.
Pre-Inca Funerary Towers at Sillustani
Ancestor worship and kinship were integral parts of Aymara culture, and the chullpas were built to emphasize the connection between life and death. The insides of the tombs were shaped like a woman's uterus, and corpses were mummified in a fetal position to recreate their birth. Some of the tombs also have lizards carved into the stone. Because they could re-grow their tails, lizards were considered a symbol of life. The only openings to the buildings face east, where it was believed the Sun was reborn by Mother Earth each day.
The architecture of the site is often considered more complex than typical Inca architecture. In contrast with the Inca, who used stones of varying shapes, the Colla used even rectangular edges. While chullpas are not unique to Sillustani and are found across the Altiplano, the site is considered the best and most preserved example of them.
After your tour continue on to Juliaca airport from where you will fly to Lima (2.5hrs). Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel.
January 15 – Free Day in Lima (B).
Today is at your leisure to explore Lima.
January 16 – Airport Transfer (B).
Today you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the airport for your international flight.
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