Day 1 Arrive Lima
Arrive to Lima on the flight of your choice today. After picking up your luggage and clearing customs, check into your comfortable hotel. Settle into your suite and rest up for your Peru tour. Tonight's hotel is selected for its location as most international flights arrive to Lima late at night. If you have a flight arriving earlier in the day, upgrade to a luxury hotel in downtown Lima.
You have an exciting week ahead, filled with ancient ruins, local markets and the incomparable Inca Trail hike!
Day 2 Fly to Cusco
Andean history comes alive in Cusco. Quechua-speaking descendants of the Incas fill the streets and markets, colonial churches sit atop bases of smooth stonework laid centuries before the Conquistadors, and campesinos (Peru's rural farmers) in colorful dress move busily back and forth across the plazas. In the afternoon, you'll tour Cusco's largest open market and the adjacent witches' market. After tasting a few unique local foods, you will visit the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco
, a local organization committed to preserving the region's weaving traditions. (If visiting the Sacred Valley on Sunday, you will visit their center in Chinchero instead). Watch weavers demonstrate their craft and learn about the history and processes of Peru's most well-known art form. Overnight in a luxury hotel.
Day 3 Explore Cusco - Acclimatization Day
Today is free to relax and explore with your guide or on your own. You can visit the churches and surrounding ruins, such as the enormous Sacsayhuamán ruins that overlook Cusco (these ruins showcase building blocks the size of pickup trucks). You can also wander through the bustling Plaza de Armas in the heart of Cusco, shop for love potions in the local markets, or people watch from the cafes and restaurants that line these lovely streets. For those bursting with energy, horseback riding, mountain biking, or even whitewater rafting (Class III-IV) can be arranged. The evening is yours to take in some of Cusco's varied and exciting nightlife where live folk music and excellent food abound!
Day 4 Sacred Valley of the Incas
This morning, journey into one of the most beautiful areas of Peru. The Sacred Valley often becomes one of the highlights of your trip and you will soon see why! The day is flexible based on your interests, market days, and the weather. You'll test your bargaining skills with the locals while visiting one of the great textile markets in the area. Take a short walk through the countryside to the seldom-visited town of Maras, where pre-Columbian salt mines still operate today, and visit the Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. Eventually, you make your way to the living Inca city of Ollantaytambo and overnight.
Day 5 Kilometer 82 to Huayllabamba
After breakfast this morning, depart from your hotel by private vehicle and drive to Kilometer 82, the beginning point of the Inca Trail hike. Here meet with your friendly chefs, porters and assistants. Hike the first 3 miles along the south bank of the Urubamba River to your lunch site. As part of the luxury Inca Trail service, you partake in gourmet meals prepared by Andean chefs specialized in providing the highest quality food preparation and presentation possible in backcountry settings. Meals are plated on fine glassware, featuring steel cutlery and complementary alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer, champagne and pisco. Meals are served in a deluxe kitchen tent on a table with linens.
After your first meal on the trail, explore the ruins of Llactapata and hike onwards, climbing gently to your camp site at Huayllabamba. Today's hike is 7.8 miles of relatively easy walking, taking a total of 6 hours, depending on fitness level. Your campsite is ready upon your arrival, equipped with spacious tents, comfortable cots, sleeping bags, towels, and a separate toilet tent. Toast to your first day on the trail with champagne and enjoy a relaxing evening.
Day 6 Huayllabamba to Pacaymayo
Today's breakfast is substantial as this is the most difficult part of the Inca Trail trek. After breakfast, begin your hike to Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman's) Pass. After ascending nearly 4,000 feet through forests and plains, you will stand atop the pass at 13,776 feet - the tallest point on the Inca Trail. Lunch is served shortly after the pass. After Dead Woman's Pass, the rest of the trek is relatively easy. After lunch, you'll continue on for another 1½ hours of easy walking to the camp site at Pacaymayo. Today's trek is 5.1 miles in length, with an estimated time of 7 hours.
One lovely addition to the quality of your trip is the use of a portable hot water shower available at your convenience. A shower tent will be set up so that you can bathe during your luxury Inca Trail tour, an amenity that few are allowed!
Day 7 Pacaymayo to Phuyupatamarca
Enjoy a gentle hike today up two mountain passes. Hike about an hour to the circular ruins of Runkuracay, where you will have the chance to explore with your guide. Continue up the second pass and down the other side to the ruins of Sayacmarca. These ruins offer spectacular views in nearly every direction. From here, you descend gently up the third and final pass through lush cloudforest to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca ("Cloud-Level Town"). Find your camp set up here with dinner and porters awaiting you. Today's hike covers 4.5 miles over an estimated 6 hours.
Inquire in advance to arrange for a masseuse accompany your group for the four days of your luxury Inca Trail hike. Additional costs apply.
Day 8 Phuyupatamarca to Machu Picchu
Today's hike is mostly downhill, along steep, stone steps which lead you to the famous ruins of Machu Picchu. Have an early breakfast today and hike the remaining 6.9 miles of the trail, taking around 6 hours. Avoid the crowds of hikers that camp at Winay Wayna and arrive at Machu Picchu at later in the day when most of the crowds have dissipated. Pass through the Sun Gate in the early afternoon, the part of the day with the highest probability of a clear view of the ruins from far above. Hike the remaining stretch down and start to explore with your guide.
Afterwards the Machu Picchu tour, take a short bus trip down to Aguas Calientes. Relax in your superior deluxe room at the comfortable hotel, and enjoy a quiet oasis from the hustle and bustle of the village. Book a spa service after your long hike. You deserve it!
Day 9 Free Day at Machu Picchu. Return to Cusco
Today is your chance to watch the sunrise at Machu Picchu and to listen to the spirits of the city's past inhabitants before the hikers from the Inca Trail arrive. You can choose to book a permit to climb the sacred peak of Huayna Picchu, hike to the Sun Gate which overlooks the ruins or take a walk through the lush cloudforest to the Temple of the Moon. In the afternoon, you'll return by train to Cusco with your guide. (Let us know if you would like help arranging entrance fees or hiking permits for today – these are not included and sell out in advance!)
Day 10 Fly Lima and Return Home
Or with more time, extend your trip with a visit to the Amazon or to Lake Titicaca.