Day 1 Arrive Lima
Overnight in Lima.
Day 2 Fly to Cusco
An early morning flight brings you to the Inca capital of Cusco where Quechua speaking descendants of the Incas move back and forth in the busy plazas and markets. Colonial churches sit atop bases of smooth stonework laid centuries before the arrival of the Conquistadors. The church walls have fallen many times throughout the years, but the Inca walls remain. The morning is yours to explore Cusco's narrow streets and bustling markets. In the afternoon, you'll tour Cusco's traditional markets and can talk to the women selling natural medicines and charms for curing heartache and other afflictions. 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.
Day 3 Explore Cusco
Today is free to relax and explore with your guide or on your own. Travelers can go on a city tour of the churches and surrounding ruins, such as the enormous Sacsayhuamán ruins that overlook Cusco (these ruins showcase building blocks the size of SUVs). 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.
Day 4 Sacred Valley of the Incas
The Sacred Valley is an area full of major Inca ruins and ancient villages. You'll test your bargaining skills with the locals while visiting one of the great textile markets in the area. You may hike to the inspiring ruins of Pisac, or take a short walk through the countryside to the seldom-visited town of Maras and its pre-Columbian salt mines (still in use today with salt being collected in traditional fashion) as well as the Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. Eventually, you will make your way to the living Inca city of Ollantaytambo where you can relax for the night. Tonight, relax and sip wine in front of a fire beneath the ruins of Ollantaytambo as you prepare for your Peru trek on the Cachiccata Trail.
Day 5 Cachiccata Trek to Perolyniyoc
From Ollantaytambo, you will drive for about 40 minutes to Racca located in the sacred Valley of the Incas. Here you will start your amazing trek! You will hike for about 30 minutes until arriving at Ñaupa Iglesia, which was an important Inca Shrine. After exploring the shrine with your guide, hike uphill to the Andean community of Soccma. This community is nested in the heart of the Andes. At Soccma, you will meet the horses and porters who will accompany you during the whole trek and partake in a picnic lunch overlooking the beautiful mountainous scenery. After lunch, continue hiking uphill to Perolniyoc, where you can enjoy vistas of the Soccma Valley, Maras Plateau and the snow-capped mountain Chicon. We will also visit the Perolniyoc Waterfall - with its drop of 328 feet.
Camp altitude: 9,512 ft
Hiking length: 4.3 miles uphill (5 to 6-hour hike)
Day 6 Cachiccata Trek Piruchayoc to Chancachuco
After breakfast, we will begin our hike following an ancient Incan water channel. The trail ascends through the Ccorimarca Valley, where terraces locally known as "Andenes" dot the hillsides. The terraces were built by the Incas, but locals still grow their crops here. Hike up to the first pass from which there is an amazing view of the snow-capped peaks of the Urubamba range. You can see Veronica, Ausangate, Pachatusan and Salcantay peaks from this vantage point. Look out over the fields of Chinchero, Moray and Maras far below you.
After breaking for a rest and a snack, we will continue through the small valley of Chancachuco, where we will have lunch next to the Andean lake of Maracocha, as it drains its waters into the stream of Chancachuco, through a long Inca water channel of 18 km. We can admire Andean bird species such as the Andean goose, the Cara Cara, and the Andean flicker. After a short rest and our picnic lunch, we continue downhill to our next campsite, which boasts spectacular views of the snowy peak Huayanay. Here, we will have the opportunity to visit with a local family who makes their living farming potatoes and raising sheep.
Camp Altitude: 13,776 ft
Distance from camp 1 to the pass: 3.1 miles (4 hour hike)
Distance from the pass to camp 2: 2.5 miles (2 hour hike)
Day 7 Cachiccata Trek Chancachuco-Quarry and Community Camp
Early this morning, we will begin our trek to the second mountain pass on our journey, Apu Buena Negra. At the top of the pass, we will have a spectacular birds-eye view of the Sacred Valley and the snowy Urubamba mountain range. From the pass, we will hike downhill following the trail until we join the Inca water channel coming from Maracocha Lake. Eventually, we we reach the temple Intiwatana, located on the edge of the mountain. Here, traditional offerings are still made to Mother Earth. We can also view the Pakaritampu Pyramid from this location. We will continue hiking downhill to the archaeological site of Choquetacarpo, where we will have lunch. After exploring the site, we will walk downhill to visit one of the biggest Inca quarries in Cusco, which supplied stones for the town and fortress of Ollantaytambo.
Tonight, we will sleep in a beautiful campsite owned by a group of local people from the Cachiccata community. From here we will enjoy a wonderful view of this community as well as of Ollantaytambo and Veronica snow-capped mountain.
Camp Altitude: 9,022 feet
Second pass altitude: 14,107 feet
Distance of the hike: 4 miles (7 hours)
Day 8 Ollantaytambo Ruins | Train to Machu Picchu
In the morning, visit the under-rated ruins of Ollantaytambo before the larger groups of tourists arrive. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo served as a royal estate and later a refuge after the Spanish conquered Cusco. The ruins feature expansive terraces, giant building blocks and well-preserved architecture. Even the town itself is still laid out as it was during the Inca empire, allowing its visitors to glimpse the history which still exists within its boundaries.
Board the train late this morning and follow the Urubamba River as it tumbles its way towards the Amazon and the sacred city of Machu Picchu, Peru. After checking into your hotel and enjoying lunch in Aguas Calientes, enter Machu Picchu and begin exploring this amazing site - the former retreat of Inca kings. Walk along ancient canals that still bring water from the high mountains to the baths used by Inca priests. As visitors, you are welcomed to respectfully dip your hands in the cool water. After walking amongst the massive complex of ruins, receiving a guided tour of Machu Picchu, you'll return to the village of Aguas Calientes (located at the base of Machu Picchu). Enjoy one of many excellent local restaurants or end your day soaking in the hot springs after exploring one of the most magical archaeological sites in the world.
Day 9 Free Day at Machu Picchu | Return to Cusco
Today you can return to the ruins at Machu Picchu for further exploration. Depending on your preference in permits, return early with the hope to watch the sunrise at Machu Picchu or arrive in time to hike to the top of Huaynapicchu for incredible views of the entire area. Other options within the citadel include the ability to walk the relatively easy routes to the Sun Gate or the Temple of the Moon. Alternatively, just walk among the vast expanse of ruins and listen to the spirits of the city's past inhabitants. (This basic re-entry permit is included in the cost of this tour. Further permits may require additional costs.)
Once you've had your time in the ruins, return to Aguas Calientes to catch an afternoon train toward Cusco. Settle into your hotel or head out on a famous Cusco culinary adventure.
Day 10 Fly Lima and Return Home