Cusco & Machu Picchu + Inca Trail
from $1490per person
Visit Cusco, the Sacred Valley and do the 1-day Inca Trail to arrive in Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate.
When it comes to hiking in the Andes, the “Inca Trail” is perhaps one of the most famous routes to explore, linking Peru´s archaeological capital, Cusco, with the most unbelievable setting for a citadel. However, we make it easy by first exploring the many sites in and around the Incan capital before experiencing the last and most fascinating stretch leading to Machu Picchu. This comprehensive program is indeed packed with many “icings on the cake”!
DAY 1. LIMA / CUSCO
Upon landing in Cusco you are greeted by our driver and transferred to your hotel. Remainder of day at leisure.
DAY 2. EXPLORING CUSCO & SURROUNDINGS
This morning we start out on an easy-paced 3-hour walking excursion through the ancient streets of Cusco. Our first stop is at Qoricancha or “Temple of the Sun” where we encounter a statue in honor of Pachacutec, the Incan King that designed and ordered the construction of Machu Picchu (closed Sundays and some holidays). Mummies were housed inside this temple, where Incan priests presided the worshipping of the Sun and the Moon. Imagine the stone walls literally covered in laminated sheets of gold, as well as countless gold ornaments that were eventually melted down and shipped to Spain. Just off Plaza de Armas lies the Cathedral, an exquisite blend of Catholic and Incan iconography and design. And at the turn of every corner you will marvel at the Incan stone foundations supporting Spanish colonial structures.
In the afternoon we enjoy a 5 to 6 hour hike (or 4 hours by car) to explore the outskirts of town beginning at Tampumachay (guest house), accented by aqueducts, canals and cascading water over tightly-fitted stones. It is here that the Incan king performed religious ceremonies as he bathed in its crystal-clear waters. From here we begin a leisurely 7-kilometer (4-mile) hike to Qenco where mummification and other rituals took place. Next is imposing Sacsayhuaman, perched high on a hill dominating the city, whose construction was initiated by the Killke culture 1100 AD and finished during the later Incan period. You will find it hard to believe how such gigantic stones were carved and moved into place, some the size of a bus and weighing many tons. Some records reveal the participation of 20,000 to 50,000 stone masons during a time period of 50 years to complete this world wonder.
DAY 3. CUSCO / SACRED VALLEY / OLLANTAYTAMBO
Morning pick-up from your hotel to drive some 40 minutes to the village of Chincheros, boasting a remarkable colonial church and ancient ruins. Here local Quechua women dye yarn and weave in their traditional back-strap looms, creating superb tapestries with no reverse side! (Note: One of the best indigenous markets takes place on Sundays at this village). Continue for another 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the unusual concentric steps or terraces at Moray, thought to be greenhouses for sophisticated botanical speciation as well as ceremonial events under the direction of the Inca. Next is an 11-kilometer (6-mile) drive to Maras – a terraced salt mine used for centuries to this day. These “salt ponds” can be seen glistening from far away and are still an important part of the local economy, as well as tradition. Lunch will be served as a communal meal at an indigenous home, where vegetables and meat, along with rare herbs and spices, are cooked in an underground oven. Next is Ollantaytambo, the oldest inhabited town in Peru, with its humongous stone architecture that dominates the Sacred Valley – the last Inca stronghold when Emperor Manco defeated the Spanish in a famous battle in 1536. Dinner at a local restaurant followed by a walk to hotel for check-in.
DAY 4. ONE-DAY INCA TRAIL / AGUAS CALIENTES
After an early breakfast, walk to the station with your daypack and board an early train for a 1-hour train ride to kilometer 104. The train stops for you to jump off, then cross the bridge over the Urubamba River. After passing the checkpoint, you begin your 12-kilometer (7-mile) hike, with hearty box lunch in hand, on one of the most spectacular footpaths, with towering mountains above and rushing streams below on this 5-6 hour journey, just like the Incas do so hundreds of years ago! As you hike up a canyon on short stone steps as opposed to lengthy zigzagging switchbacks, the path will lead you to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna. Indeed, this road system not only guaranteed the shortest route, along with the natives’ trusty llamas, but also was a hindrance to the Spanish armies that could not negotiate such steep steps and switchbacks. This will become obvious as you pass by waterfalls and lush landscape of the cloud forest to make your way to Inti-Punku (Sun Gate) for your first glimpse of the famous citadel of Machu Picchu down below. After an hour’s descent through this ancient settlement, you would have left the complex and ready to board the shuttle buses that depart every 10-15 minutes for an exciting 25-minute ride to Aguas Calientes. After check-in at your hotel, enjoy dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Note: Luggage will be stored at the hotel. You must bring backpack to carry everything you need for hike & overnight. passport is required to enter the hiking trail.
DAY 5. MACHU PICCHU / CUSCO
After an early breakfast, walk to the boarding area for your shuttle bus back up to Machu Picchu where you’ll enter once more with your personable guide for a private tour of the ruins. (Note: Earliest bus departs around 5:20 am). From the guard house that overlooks the agricultural terraces we enter the main gate of the city for a close look at multiple temples and other magnificent structures nestled at the base of towering mountains. There will be some free time to explore this complex on your own. You then take the shuttle bus downhill to Aguas Calientes for a quick lunch and proceed to the train station for the return trip to Ollantaytambo and then a 2-hour drive by vehicle to your hotel in Cusco, arriving at about 7 pm.
DAY 6. CUSCO / LIMA
Your driver will arrive to your hotel 2 hours prior to your scheduled plane departure to Lima.
2019 Rates (per person)