Summary : This special trip to Peru, includes ‘must-sees,’ and important highlights of Peru, including an incredibly rich combination of cultural heritage, history, stunning nature, geography and scenery, living cultures, spirituality, traditions and beliefs. Explore the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, with the chance to visit the most important remains of the Spanish and Inca legacy and also, to get in touch with local communities and learn about their ancient traditions and beliefs, as well as their lifestyle today. Trekkers agree there is so much more to hiking than walking—direct contact with natural surroundings, spectacular views, and overall majestic scenery. And the final destination is the most breathtaking citadel perched high above the clouds. The Inca Trail is Peru’s best-known trek and possibly one of the most stunning in the world. This classic 43-km route leads to the sacred Inca city of Machu Picchu along an unforgettable trail. Archaeological sites, spectacular mountain scenery and lush cloud forests rich in Andean flora and fauna lead to Machu Picchu, the renowned UNESCO World Heritage site and the most iconic example of the Inca legacy.
Activities : Culture, Hiking
$3,495 to $3,995
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Cusco.
On arrival in Cusco, you are met by a representative and immediately driven to the “Sacred Valley of the Incas”, a succession of picturesque Andean towns, agricultural terraces, and many archaeological sites, as well as the world’s most famous white corn cultivated for export. The mild climate, the varied and dramatic scenery of snow-capped mountains, flowering meadows, lush green hills and spectacular flora and fauna, make the Valley a prime adventure destination in South America. At a lower elevation than Cusco, the Valley is a warmer and less physically taxing environment for visiting the many attractions of the region, including Machu Picchu.
On the way, visit the nearby town of Pisac and drive up the road to the Pisaq Inca archaeological complex. The site is perched high on the mountaintop overlooking the picturesque Andean village of modern Pisaq. This Inca archaeological complex includes some of the finest Inca stonework, besides that seen in Machu Picchu, as well as extensive royal buildings, look-outs, terraces that rise 600m / 2,000 feet above the river below, tunnels and irrigation channels. Continue to the Pisaq market, originally a place where people from remote communities used to barter their products, Pisaq has evolved to one of South America’s most famous souvenir markets. Make sure to sample some ‘empanadas’ baked in traditional clay ovens.
Enjoy lunch today at the hacienda where a family of great collectors of colonial and folk art will be your hosts for lunch. The hacienda is located on the summit of a hill sheltered amidst Andean peaks. The hacienda contains a varied collection of popular and colonial art ceramics, paintings, weapons, photography, ceremonial vessels and the ceramic bulls of Pucara. The environs include a forest of eucalyptus trees and other native species, and here the famous giant white corn is cultivated for export.
Experience the feelings of stepping back into the 15th century and finish the day exploring Ollantaytambo, a still-thriving Inca village, set below an ancient Inca fortress and temple with stunning views over the valley. End the day at your hotel. B, L
Sonesta Posada del Inca Yucay
Sol y Luna
This morning drive to Chinchero, where you may enjoy its church and then visit the home of artist and master weaver Nilda Callañaupa. Peruvian textiles, recently believed to be a generation away from extinction, are making a surprising comeback. The revival of the country's 2,000-year-old weaving techniques is largely due to Nilda Callañaupa, who is working with six mountain villages to resurrect symbolic patterns and avoid the use of chemical dyes and synthetic yarns. Enjoy a highly educational weaving demonstration; learn about wool spinning, natural dyes, traditional patterns and weaving techniques used in this region of the Andes.
Crossing the Chinchero pampa (flat land), head to the town of Maras and the archaeological site of Moray. Begin your tour with a visit to an “agricultural laboratory” of Moray, consisting of circular concentric geological depressions, reinforced by agricultural terracing following the shape of these geological lines. There are considerable temperature differences between these levels, facilitating the adaptation of plant species in different ecological levels, especially the adaptation of the important Sacred Leaf of Mama Kuka (erythroxylum coca).
Depart this interesting archaeological site for Maras Pampas, where people farm the land and rear cattle and sheep. The Urubamba mountain range and its snow-capped peaks provide a spectacular background for your hike. In the town of Maras, observe the interesting facades of the ancient houses, made from finely worked stone, indicative of the economic heights achieved by the town’s population at that time. Continue your walk through spectacular Quechua scenery, to arrive at the salineras of Maras (Maras Saltpans), whose bright white can be seen from a great distance. The salt mines have been in use for centuries, continuing today (recently elegant bath products and table salt made from Maras Salt have come on the market).
Enjoy a picnic lunch and experience a very special ceremony of sound and traditional offerings to Mother Earth. This ceremony evokes the spirit of healing; taking part in this ritual are many sacred medicines such as Palo Santo, Tayta Sayri, Mama Coca, Agua Florida, Condor’s Feathers, Grandfather Puma, Essences and Incenses. See the use of many pre-Hispanic instruments that have no written musical register, and enjoy their essence, thought to heal with joy, love, color and life as the power of sound becomes a collective prayer that creates healing frequencies. Share in this experience to reevaluate and connect with the culture of Peru's original people.
Return to your hotel. B,L
Sonesta Posada del Inca Yucay
Sol y Luna
In the early morning, private transport will pick you up from your hotel. Drive to Piskacuchu (2,700m / 8,856ft), a community located on the 82nd kilometer of the Cusco–Machu Picchu railroad, which is the starting point of the Inca Trail. Begin your hike by crossing the bridge over the Urubamba River and walking along its left shore as it flows northwest along the Sacred Valley. Following the trail along a flat terrain, arrive in Miskay (2,800m / 9,184ft), to then ascend and finally see, from the tallest part of an overlook, the impressive Inca city of Llactapata (2,650m / 8,692ft). Continue trekking along the valley created by the Kusichaca River, gradually climbing for about five hours until you reach the community of Wayllabamba (3,000m / 9,840ft), where you'll set camp. All along the way, enjoy a diversity of wild flora and fauna that can be found all along the valley, and spectacular views of the Vilcanota ridge on the opposite side of the Urubamba River, where the impressive Veronica peak reigns at 5,832 meters above sea level. B, L, D
Total distance: 12 km (7.47 miles)
Estimated walking time: 5-6 hours
Maximum altitude point: 3,000 m (9,840 ft)
Campsite altitude: 3,000 m (9,840 ft)
Wake up around 6 am and after breakfast, begin the most difficult part of the trek, which consists of an abrupt and steep ascent that stretches for 9 km. Along this climb, the landscape changes from sierra to puna (a dry and high area with little vegetation). On the way to the first mountain pass, the Abra Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman´s Pass – 4,200m / 13776ft), you may see domesticated llamas and alpacas grazing on ichu, one of the few plants that grow at this high altitude. Cross an area of the so called cloud forest, which is the habitat for many different kinds of birds, including hummingbirds and sparrows, and the Andean bear, also known as the Spectacled Bear (Tremarctus Ornatus). Your daypack should be well stocked with candies, chocolates and coca leaves that will keep your sugar level high, and help with altitude sickness. Immediately after the pass, descend into the Pacaymayo valley (3,600m / 11,808ft), where you camp after approximately 7h of hiking. B, L, D
Total distance: 11 km (6.84 miles)
Estimated walking time: 6-7 hours
Maximum altitude point: 4,200 m (13,776 ft)
Campsite altitude: 3,500 m (11,480 ft)
This day is the longest but also the most impressive and the most interesting, due the number of archaeological sites and the lush cloud forest area that you cross, rich in Andean flora and fauna. From Pacaymayo, climb to the second pass, the Abra Runkurakay (3,970m / 13,022ft). Halfway up, stop to visit the archaeological complex with the same name. This site, located at 3,800m / 12,464ft, consists of a small oval structure that is believed to have served the purpose of a watchtower. After going over the pass, descend towards Yanacocha (Black Lagoon) and enter the cloud forest to finally arrive at Sayacmarca (3,624m / 11,887ft). This is a beautiful complex made up of a semicircular construction, enclosures at different levels, narrow streets, liturgical fountains, patios and irrigation canals. Continuing up an easy climb, arrive at the third pass, the Abra Phuyupatamarca (3,700m / 12,136ft). Along this climb, appreciate the magnitude of the Incas' ancient craft, by walking along paths semi-detached from the mountain, and seeing rocks that fill up ravines in perfect order, saving the trail from the multileveled Andean geography. Pass through an Inca tunnel to later arrive at the aforementioned pass and down to the complex of the same name. This is one of the most complete and best-preserved archaeological complexes along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and is located on the highest point of a mountain. Curiously, Phuyupatamarca means "town over the clouds". From above, one can observe a sophisticated sacred complex made up of water fountains with solid foundations, and impressive views of the Urubamba River Valley. Continue your trek down the long descending stone steps that lead to Wiñaywayna (2,650m / 8,692ft), an impressive Inca complex made up of an agricultural center with numerous terraces, a religious sector and an urban sector, close to which your camp is located. This campsite hosts a trekker lodge, a bar and bathrooms with hot shower facilities. After visiting the impressive archaeological site, enjoy your farewell dinner at camp. B, L, D
Total distance: 16 km (9.94 miles)
Estimated walking time: 8 hours
Maximum altitude point: 3,900 m (12,792 ft)
Campsite altitude: 2,650 m (8,692 ft)
On this day, wake in the the early morning to leave Wiñaywayna and climb to the Intipunku, or The Sun Gate. Hike along a trail of flat stones on the edges of cliffs in highland jungle. From this fabulous spot, you may see the sunrise over the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu. From Intipunku, descend into Machu Picchu, and 40 minutes later, enter the citadel from the highest point through the "House of the Guardians". Descend to the control point where you register and leave your backpacks. Immediately begin a complete guided tour of the Inca citadel that will take approximately two hours. In the afternoon, take a bus downhill to Aguas Calientes. B,L
Total distance: 4 km (2.49 miles)
Estimated walking time: 2 hours
Maximum altitude point: 2,700 m (8,829 ft)
Machu Picchu altitude: 2,400 m (7,872 ft)
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge
Wake up early to admire Machu Picchu in the early morning. Enjoy a free day to optionally continue to explore the pathways of the Sacred City before the crowds arrive. You may choose to continue visiting the main ruins, the fabulous Inca Bridge or climb up the Huayna Picchu, offering impressive views over Machu Picchu (please note that spaces must be booked in advance, as there is a maximum daily allowance visitors, and set entry times of 7 am and 10 am). In the afternoon, return to Aguas Calientes by bus to take the Vistadome train back to Poroy station, before being transported to your hotel in Cusco. B
El Mercado Tunqui
This morning visit Cusco’s main attractions. Start with the Santo Domingo Monastery and the legendary Korikancha (Temple of Gold)–the most important Inca temple devoted to worshiping the Sun, whose walls used to be plated with sheets of gold. Follow your experience with visits to the Cathedral at the Plaza de Armas, and the Plaza de Regocijo, as well as the old town and its remarkable Inca walls. Continue to the San Blas quarter with a walk by this quaint district and one of the finest views of the city. This quarter is home to the workshops and stores of the most renowned craftsmen in Cusco, including Mendivil, Merida, Rojas and Palomino. Visit the beautiful colonial church, which houses an impressive wood-carved pulpit. B
El Mercado Tunqui
Transfer to the airport for your return flight to Lima. On arrival in Lima, you are met and transferred to one of the most renowned restaurants in Lima. Transfer back to the airport for flights home or on to other adventures. B
Guests stay at Sonesta El Olivar on Day 1, at the Sonesta Posada del Inca Yucay on Days 2-3, at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel on Day 7, and at El Mercado Tunqui on Days 8-9.
Guests stay at Miraflores Park OEH on Day 1, at the Sol y Luna on Days 2-3, at the Sanctuary Lodge on Day 7, and at Hotel Monasterio on Days 8-9.
NOTE: These trips fill quickly, hotel space and permits are very limited. All attempts will be made to secure the hotels listed in itinerary; if original hotels are not available or overbooked, the next best available option will be reserved. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Meals as indicated in itinerary, B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner; lodge accommodations based on double occupancy; entrance fees to all sites visited; private transportation from Cusco airport to the hotel at Sacred Valley; Pisac Market, ruins and Ollantaytambo excursion; full day Chincheros weaving demonstration, Maras and Moray with special ceremony; 4 Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and tent accommodations on shared basis; extra porter for personal belongings on Inca Trail (maximum 9 kilos per person); entrance to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu; filtered boiled water on Inca Trail; half day walking visit of Cusco; transfers; scheduled excursions with English-speaking guide services.
International or domestic airfares; visa and / or passport fees; excess baggage charges; additional nights during the trip due to flight cancellations; international departure tax; alcoholic beverages, bottled water and snacks; insurance of any kind; laundry; phone calls; radio calls or messages and items of personal nature; any meals not indicated in itinerary; items of a personal nature; gratuities.
Lima - Cusco - Lima - Quito: $600-$700 per person
Lima - Cusco - Lima: $300-$350 per person
Guayaquil - Lima (one way): $400-$500 per person
Quito - Lima (one way): $500-$800 per person