Cusco, Sacred Valley, and 4-day trek to Machu Picchu
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|Trip Length||12 days/11 nights|
|Price||From $6,995 to $7,395|
|If you have questions about this journey or would like to receive a detailed trip brochure, call 800-445-2995 or click here.|
Day 1 (Cusco and Sacred Valley ) Our exploration begins at the ancient agricultural terraces of Moray and salt mines of Maras. Situated above the Urubamba River, the mines appear as pools built into the sides of the hills and are still in use today. Along the way, we walk to Pichingoto, a small collection of adobe homes built into the cliffs. Later we linger at a chicheria (bistro), visit a ceramics shop, and meet the elegant Paso Fino horse.
Day 2 (Sacred Valley float, Ollantaytambo, and Cachiccata) On our river float this morning we’re surrounded by spectacular views of the mountains and amazing Inca terraces. The float features easy rapids with a fun Class III rapid at the finish. We lunch at a wonderful community-owned restaurant at the river take-out, then take a nice walk to the community proper to experience a local Peruvian village.
Day 3 (Pisac, Awanacancha, and Sacsayhuaman) We spend time at the Pisac complex today, with its baths, tunnels, and temples. Our visit includes a foray to the famous Pisac market. Among today’s sights will be Sacsayhuaman, a garrison-like structure on a hill above the city, Q’enko, with its intricately carved altar, and the stone aqueducts and canals of Tambomachay. We will also visit the weaving cooperative of Awanacancha, where you have a chance to meet some weavers and learn about the Incan heritage reflected in their work.
Day 4 (Cusco) Today enjoy a fascinating walking excursion in the 13th century capital of the Inca Empire. The sun-worshipping Incas built their capital as close to the sun as possible, at 11,000 feet. We’ll walk the streets, touching stone walls still part of buildings in use today. This afternoon, rest, shop, or just sit in the plaza and soak in the local color. After dinner we get a briefing about the exciting trek ahead.
Day 5 (Soray Pampa Valley) A scenic 4-hour drive this morning takes us up a spectacular Andean mountain range which cradles Machu Picchu. From here, we have the option to either continue the drive or stretch our legs and trek to the lodge through the enchanting valley of Soray Pampa. Our lodge takes its name from Salcantay Peak, the most sacred peak in Inca mythology and, at 20,500 feet, is the highest peak/mountain in the region. Rest your feet and savor the views! Our lodge takes its name from the 20,500-foot Salcantay Peak, the most sacred peak in Inca mythology. Rest your feet and savor the views!
Day 6 (Soray Pampa Valley) Spend the day acclimating with a hike to a sparkling blue glacial lake to take in the incredible panorama. This evening our guide briefs us on the trek ahead—moderate to strenuous hiking at 6,600–14,700 feet on steep, rocky trails and stone-paved Inca paths, with warm, intimate lodging waiting at the end of each day.
Day 7 (Soray Pampa to Huayrac Machay) This is the big day: the start of the 4-day trek! We start off up the Rio Blanco Valley, circling Humantay Peak across from Salcantay. The highest point on the trek occurs today when we cross a 14,700-ft. pass. Stop to marvel at the views of the snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction, then continue the descent toward the lodge. We’ll enjoy a hot lunch in the mountains with over-the-top views all around. Hiking time: 6-8 hours.
Day 8 (Huayrac Machay to Colpapampa) After a leisurely breakfast, we hike downhill to the Collpapampa Valley, through astonishing and ever-changing vistas. Here we’ll find bamboo trees, more wildflowers, and walk through the landscape that is home to the elusive spectacled bear. Perched on a hill at the confluence of three rivers, our lodge (the name of which translates to “where the wind blows”) awaits with wonderful views. Hiking time: 5-7 hours.
Day 9 (Colpapampa to Lucmabamba) We head down the Santa Teresa river valley through rural areas with live coffee plant canopies and orchards. At the river we’ll stop for lunch, then take the final short climb to our lodge, set in a tropical wooded enclave. At Lucmabamba, there will be time to explore the village and meet members of the local community. Lucmabamba’s greatest glory is its view—of Machu Picchu’s legendary Watchman’s Tower. Hiking time: 5-7 hours.
Day 10 (Lucmabamba to Machu Picchu) On the last day of our trek, we head uphill for 3 to 4 hours towards Pallayata Pass (8,500 ft). Once over the pass we enjoy a 2- to 3-hour descent through lush bamboo forests and diverse mountain terrain to the Urubamba River. Our trek ends at the railway line, where a private railcar transfers us to the village of Aguas Calientes. In the evening, there will be time to explore the town or just relax in the hotel’s lovely gardens.
Day 11 (Machu Picchu) Today is devoted to the exploration and understanding of Machu Picchu—the “Lost City of the Incas.” The group can split up to pursue different avenues of discovery, perhaps including one of more strenuous hikes up to the Sun Gate, Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu Mountain. Tonight we celebrate this rich journey with a farewell dinner at the lodge.
Day 12 (Lima for Flights Home) We’ll catch the first train out to Ollantaytambo. From the train, we’ll have great views of the Urubamba River and Incan archeological sites. Upon arrival, our driver will shuttle us to Cusco, where we’ll catch a flight to Lima for evening international connections for home.