The MINKA Trail takes you on a 15 day tour through ancient Inca ruins, beautiful colonial towns and breathtaking landscapes. Stay in the Peruvian highlands to learn about Peruvian traditions, cultures and values. Visit hand craft producers and witness first hand how ancestral techniques are used to make products. Assist producers in making products at local workshops. See and Experience the balance and harmony in which rural Peruvians live with their environment.
Learn about how producers use sustainable production techniques in order to preserve the natural environment Join us and experience this unique Peruvian Fair Trade adventure. In addition to staying in rural communities you will also have the opportunity to visit the Inca Ruins at Machu Picchu, Nazca and all the other magnificent scenery that Peru has to offer!
Arrive in Lima, where our producers from the region WIÑAY HUAYNA are located. Transport will be provided from Jorge Chavez International Airport to WASI HOUSING situated in the Lince District of central Lima. In the afternoon we meet with the Lima based staff of Minka Fair Trade (MINKA), visit the show room and become familiar with the activities carried out by MINKA. After having a look around the centre of the city we return to WASI HOUSING for the night.
After having breakfast at Minka Wasi we fly to Arequipa, a stunning colonial Spanish city situated 2230 meters above sea level. We spend the day exploring Arequipa and visit Santa Catalina Convent, a beautiful miniature monastic city of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as Museo Santuarios Andinos where well-preserved frozen Inca mummies can be observed. We then stay overnight in a local hotel.
In the morning we depart for Colca Canyon. At 3,300m, Colca Canyon is almost twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, and is flanked by some magnificent scenery. Sabancaya, one of the most active volcanoes in South America, can be seen in the background, together with Andean villages and ancient terraced fields that are still used to this day. We spend the night in a local hotel overlooking the canyon.
In the morning we visit Cruz del Condor where the majestic condor can often be seen at close range. The rest of the day is spent however we like – walking some of the several treks in the area, relaxing in hot pools or just resting and adjusting to the altitude in the hotel.
After we have breakfast in the hotel, we say goodbye to Colca Canyon and depart for Arequipa, where we stop for lunch before moving on to Lake Titicaca, at 3812m the highest navigable lake in the world and, according to legend, the birthplace of the Inca people (the first Incas, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, are said to have emerged from the chilly waters of the lake to found the great Inca Empire). We stay in Puno, a small town on the shores of the lake.
At 7.30am we depart for Taquile Island on Lake Titicaca, in a boat exclusively owned and operated by the Taquile community. On the way we visit the Uros, the famous floating islands of Lake Titicaca made of cane (totora) and ballasted with a soil base and stones. Even today, the local communities continue to build their huts and boats with totora. On arrival at Taquile Island we will be treated to a warm welcome from the MINKA committees in Kollino and Huayllano (two sections of the Taquile community) who will provide a delicious buffet lunch. We then go for a walk through the island guided by one of the members of the community and visit archaeological sites where gifts were offered to the Pachamama (which in Quechua means Mother Earth) before having dinner and staying overnight with one of the Taquile families.
After having breakfast we meet the community. They will explain their daily agricultural activities during the different periods of the year, what they produce, what they fish, what the most important natural resources of the island are, their rituals and their work within MINKA. They will also demonstrate their remarkable ability to knit very fine garments (including sweaters, hats, scarves, bands, purses) with a variety of natural colours and designs. After lunch at the home of our guide we leave the tranquillity of the communities for the other side of the island, where we will visit some pre-Inca archaeological ruins and the village, the main tourist centre of the island. We then return to Puno to stay at a local hotel.
In the morning we depart for Juliaca with a stop at the Chullpas of Sillustani (funeral towers), an ancient cemetery of the Inca and pre-Inca ages, situated in stunning surroundings featuring lakes, lagoons, hills, blue skies and wide open spaces. We then go on to COLLASUYO Community in Juliaca (3800m), where the various MINKA committees from the local community will give us a warm and cheerful welcome involving songs, dances and presentations.
After lunch in the Local Comunal (community house), the producers will display the various types of handmade products (sweaters, gloves, scarves, hats, shawls etc.) which are made by the community. We also visit the warehouse of alpaca fibre and cotton and receive an explanation of the production activities and their work within MINKA, the interrelationship and organisation between the committees and the important role of women in the communities. We then walk to Chacas Lagoon and, on the way, visit some of the family houses of the local community. In the evening we will have dinner and stay overnight at the Unocolla Local Comunal.
In the morning we go to Cusco, which was the ancient capital of the vast Inca Empire. On the way, we cross natural reserves and see wonderful landscapes, volcanoes, wide open plains, a deep blue sky, lagoons, as well as alpacas and llamas. We also visit the modest town of Lampa, which boasts the world’s only mould replica of Michelangelo’s La Pieta, take in some magnificent snow-capped mountains and have the option of seeing some pre-Inca ruins. We arrive at Cusco in the afternoon and stay overnight at a local hotel.
Today we have free day. You will be able to spend the day exploring Cusco, visiting museums or having a look at some of the Inca ruins in the surrounding area. We stay overnight in Cusco in a local hotel.
From Cusco we go to Pisac and see the local handicraft market and some Inca ruins. We then visit the MINKA committees in Cuyo Grande and Cuyo Chico communities, both of which are tucked high up the Sacred Valley of the Incas and at the foot of the grand Inca ruins at Pisac, preceded in majesty only by the nearby citadel of Machu Picchu. The locals will welcome us into their community, provide us with a gourmet lunch and give us a demonstration of the full ceramic production process. In the evening we will meet with the producers’ families, have dinner and stay overnight in the community.
After having breakfast in the local community we visit the Pisac ruins where the ancient waterways built by the Incas remain intact and run past villages neighbouring those in which we stay. We then travel up the Sacred Valley of the Incas to Ollantaytambo Fortress, which controlled the way to Machu Picchu because of its imposing height and strategic position. We walk around the stone walkways of Ollantaytambo village, a good example of the urban architecture of the Incas, before taking the train to Aguas Calientes to spend the night at the foot of Machu Picchu.
In the morning we visit Machu Picchu, where you will be taken on a two hour guided tour of one of the most famous and memorable archaeological sites in the world. After the tour you will have time to explore the ruins yourself or to do some of the treks around the site, ranging from a 10-15 minute walk to the precipitous Inca Bridge, a 1 1/2 hour walk up to the Gate of the Sun or a challenging near vertical ascent of the overlooking peak of Wayna Picchu. After a packed lunch amongst the ruins we return in the afternoon by foot or by bus to Aguas Calientes and depart for Cusco by train to stay in a local hotel.
From Cusco we fly back to Lima and meet with some Lima-based producers that work with MINKA. We then return to WASI HOUSING where we stay overnight.
On our last day we visit some other local producers before returning to Minka Wasi for lunch, giving you a final opportunity to enjoy native Peruvian food. Following a Good Bye Party at Minka Wasi with a Folklore Group you will be taken to Jorge Chavez International Airport.