Embark on a cultural exploration of the Urubamba Valley, the celebrated “Sacred Valley of the Incas,” and the spectacular archaeological site of Machu Picchu, combined with a hike in the less visited and uncrowded Lares region north of Cusco, noted for its rural atmosphere, traditional weavers attired in colorful dress, and roving herds of alpacas and llamas—an authentic slice of Peruvian life. Comfortable mountain lodges serve as deluxe “base camps” for daily hikes that bring you to remote passes with views of a panorama of waterfalls, snow peaks, and turquoise glacial lakes, with the occasional condor soaring above, and to tiny Andean highland communities unchanged for centuries, where you can meet local weavers and farmers and get a glimpse of the distant past.
Upon arrival at the Cusco Airport, proceed to the arrivals hall, there our local representative will be waiting (holding a sign with your name on it) to privately transfer you to your hotel. Check-in and enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure. (This service is on a private basis.)
Cusco is a beautiful city with well preserved colonial architecture, evidence of a rich and complex history. The city itself represents the center of indigenous Quechua culture in the Andes, and by merely walking the streets one sees the layers of history. Spanish colonial buildings erected directly atop Inca walls line the square, while the modern tourist nightlife flourishes in their midst.
The city is surrounded by a number of ruins, the most impressive being Sacsayhuaman, the site of the 1536 battle in which dozens of Pizarro's men charged uphill to battle the forces of the Inca. Nowadays, Cusco is known for its indigenous population--often seen on the streets in traditional clothing--and its substantial tourist-fueled night life.
Enjoy this free day at your leisure in Cusco . You may want to enjoy a coffee on one of the balconies overlooking the Plaza de Armas, or wander through the streets of San Blas in the historical district before getting ready for a hike of a lifetime!
Tonight at 6:00 PM you will meet your guides and other travelers for an important trek informational meeting in your hotel lobby (duration: 45 minutes).
This morning, you will be met at your hotel in Cusco to begin your journey to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the start of your adventure! The town square is often the center of activity throughout this region, but so too is the town market, and none is more alive than the famous market at Pisaq. A morning visit to check out its unique array of products will inspire you with a small taste of the rich culture yet to be explored on your journey. Travelers seeking inspiration in nature can opt for an invigorating morning hike surrounded by amazing views of the Andes Mountains that guard this magnificent valley. Later, enjoy exclusive access to the isolated community of Viacha, where you will learn about its artisan potato farming practices and enjoy a traditional “Pachamanca” meal, cooked under hot stones. After lunch you will visit the archaeological complex at Pisaq, an afternoon excursion that offers a unique opportunity to explore the complex free of crowds, with the sun setting behind the peaks.
Activity Menu (morning to noon):
- Cultural activity: Visit Awanakancha (an Andean camelid exhibition and traditional textile center), the town of Pisaq and local market, and experience an encounter with members of the local community of Viacha.
- Hike: From the local community of Amaru to the local community of Viacha / Duration 2.5-3 hrs. / Moderate / Mountain pass at an elevation of 14,200´ - 4,328m.
Group Activity: Group lunch at the local community of Viacha. In the afternoon, the whole group visits the Pisaq archeological site together, before heading to the lodge. (This service is on a group basis.)
Now that you have gotten a glimpse of the rich Andean tapestry, today you will have the opportunity to go even deeper with an exploration into the heart of the Lares Valley. A scenic drive into the mountains, along the celebrated “Inca Weaver’s Trail”, allows you to visit the unique and uncrowded archaeological site of Ancasmarca along the hub-town of Lares. After lunch, you can choose between visiting the traditional and ancient weavers’ village of Choquecancha, or opt for hiking amidst turquoise blue lakes and towering peaks to the remote village of Huacahuasi, where you willl meet to spend the night. This lodge, which is run in joint venture with the local community and aims to protect the cultural heritage and the environment, provides an interesting insight into the evolving role of the original Andean people in both the culture and commerce of modern-day Cusco.
Group Activity (morning to noon): In the morning, briefly explore the town of Lamay and visit the archaeological site of Ancasmarca. Group lunch at the town of Lares.
Activity Menu (afternoon, after the group visit):
- Cultural activity: Visit the town of Choquecancha, meet with local weavers and visit the old church.
- Hike: From Quelquena to Huacahuasi / Duration 2-2.5 hrs. / Easy to moderate / Mountain pass at an elevation of 12,595´- 3,839m.
- Hike: From Cuncani to Huacahuasi / Duration 3.5-4 hrs. / Moderate / Mountain pass at an elevation of 13,838´- 4,219m. (This service is on a group basis.)
Spend some time in the morning learning more about the heritage and day-to-day activities of the Huacahuasi community. Then, you can choose to embark on a spectacular hike through varied terrain and over a high pass, to the adjacent valley leading to the ancient town of Ollantaytambo, the oldest living city in Latin America. If you prefer to see more of the Sacred Valley, you can drive back for a visit to an ethnographic museum featuring the history of Peru’s rich civilizations of the past or choose to explore the valley on mountain bike. Afterwards, enjoy lunch in the Urubamba River countryside on your way to Ollantaytambo, where you can spend time meandering through its charming maze-like streets.
Activity Menu (all day):
- Cultural activity: Drive back to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, visit a local farmer’s market and a Pre-Inca and Inca cultural museum. Enjoy lunch at a countryside restaurant and in the afternoon explore the town of Ollantaytambo.
- Optional bike excursion: Drive back and explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas on mountain bike (2 hrs.). Enjoy lunch at a countryside restaurant and in the afternoon explore the town of Ollantaytambo.
- Hike: From Huacahuasi to Patacancha / Duration 7 hrs. / Moderate to challenging / Mountain pass at an elevation of 14,646’ - 4,464m. Route lunch at Ipsaycocha lake. Afternoon arrival in Ollantaytambo.
Please Note: Guests that opt for the cultural activity and guests that opt for the optional bike excursion will meet for lunch in Urubamba at a countryside restaurant and visit the town of Ollantaytambo together in the afternoon. Guests that opt for the hike will meet up with the rest of the group late in the afternoon at the hotel in Ollantaytambo. (This service is on a group basis.)
From its beginnings as the royal estate of Inca-Emperor Pachacutec, to a stronghold against the Spanish conquistadors for Manco Inca Yupanqui, the temple at Ollantaytambo was regarded by the Incas as one of their most important ceremonial centers. On this day, an optional and short early morning hike to Inca storage structures high above Ollantaytambo will give you a magnificent view of the town as well as of the main archaeological site across the valley. Afterwards, as your guide leads you through a morning tour of the temple and explains its strategic architectural planning, you will also get a sense of its mystical history…a perfect introduction to the wonder of Machu Picchu. Around noon you will embark on a scenic train ride along the famous Urubamba River to Aguas Calientes, the town below Machu Picchu, whose charm lies in a history that began as a small railway stop and evolved into a bustling town still bisected by the train tracks.
Activity Menu (early morning, before the group activity):
- Hike: Lower Pinkuylluna Mountain above Ollantaytambo / Duration 1-1.5 hrs. / Moderate.
- Hike: Higher Pinkuylluna Mountain above Ollantaytambo / Duration 2-2.5 hrs. / Moderate to challenging.
Group Activity: In the morning, after the optional early morning activities, explore the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo, before boarding the train to the town of Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes). (This service is on a group basis.)
At dawn, you will begin your journey to Machu Picchu with a short uphill bus ride. As you enter the “Sanctuary”, as locals refer to it, the morning sun rises over the iconic Sun Gate and washes the structures and terraces with golden rays of light. Prepare to be awed by the imposing and skillful architecture of the Watchtower, the Temple of the Sun, and the royal Inca residences, among many others. Take a moment to quietly sit and listen to the wind…or to meditate and absorb the mystical energy that envelops you. Your imagination will soar, as you contemplate the history of Machu Picchu and its mysterious origins. Some may even choose to embark on the unforgettable hike to the summit of Huayna Picchu, the iconic towering mountain often seen in photographs, for dramatic views that stretch from the Urubamba River valley to the edge of the Amazon Jungle. This grueling trek is up steep, exposed steps and is not for the fainthearted! However, once you are rewarded with even the first glimpse of the astounding "condor's eye" view above the ruins, every step of hard work will be worth it.
Group Activity: Early in the morning visit the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
Activity Menu (late morning, after the group activity):
- Cultural activity: free time to explore the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu (el. 7,872´ - 2,400m.).
- Hike: Guided hike of Huayna Picchu Mountain / Duration 2-2.5 hrs. / Moderate to challenging / Mountain pass at an elevation of 8,924´ - 2,720m.
After an overwhelming adventure, you will meet with your guide and ride the return shuttle down to Machu Picchu Pueblo for a late lunch, before catching the train to Ollantaytambo. The ride from Machu Picchu Pueblo to Ollantaytambo takes about 1.5 hours. Upon arrival, a private vehicle will drive you the additional 1.5 hours back to Cusco, where you will be dropped off at your hotel within the city. (This service is on a group basis.)
Today, you will be picked up at your hotel in Cusco and transferred to the airport. (This service is on a private basis.)
El Mercado is located in the heart of Cusco and offers exceptional customer service, to ensure you are able to get the very most out of your stay. "Mercado" is the Spanish word for "market", and El Mercado occupies the premises of a former market, located only a couple of blocks from Cusco’s main Plaza de Armas. A market is an expression of a town’s culture and traditions, a space where these may be appreciated, fostered and protected. Visiting a market is an effective way of obtaining a deep and lasting impression of a city. Just as the countryside’s best products are brought to a market, El Mercado brings the magic of the Apus—the spirits of the mountains—to the city. At El Mercado, you can expect to receive exceptional service and warm Peruvian hospitality.
Enjoy the evening at the recently refurbished Lamay Lodge (el. 9,705ft- 2,958m.), nestled within the picturesque landscapes of the Sacred Valley. As a part of the Lares Lodge to Lodge trek, you will enjoy a similar style of accommodation, which feature charming guest rooms, relaxing communal areas and a beautiful garden. This will be the perfect place to kick back and relax, following a long day's hike.
Located on a hillside overlooking a local village deep in the Sacred Valley, the Huacahuasi Lodge (elevation: 12,585ft - 3,835m.) is a beautiful place to call home for the evening on your Lodge to Lodge trek to Machu Picchu. This lodge is quite unique, as the local village in the valley below has played a large roll in the property's construction, in addition to its operation. The lodge offers an exclusive glimpse into the life of these remote valleys, as well as a comfortable retreat, following a long day of trekking.
K’uychi Rumi (elevation: 9,284ft – 2,830 m.) offers an exclusive lodging alternative for your stay in Peru. It consists of seven luxurious and individually designed rustic Andean lodges, surrounded by beautiful gardens and native fruit orchards. The property is nestled at the foot of some of the most picturesque mountain peaks in all of Peru and is within short distance from the Urubamba River. It is located outside the quaint town of Urubamba in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, one hour from the world famous city of Cusco and half an hour away from the train station to Machu Picchu. Other nearby historical sites and cities include Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, Maras, Paucartambo, and Manu National Park.
Inkaterra’s Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (elevation: 6,232ft- 1,900m.), perfectly compliments a visit to Machu Picchu, providing you with a deeper understanding of why the Incas chose this hidden location in the Andean cloud forest to build their marvelous citadel. Nestled among 12-acres on the outskirts of Machu Picchu Pueblo, it is also a peaceful haven away from the tourist crowds that are inevitably a fixture of any visit to Machu Picchu. The lodge is laid out like a traditional Andean Village. You will follow stone pathways to your room, crossing gurgling water channels within a cloud forest dripping with exotic orchids and buzzing with colorful hummingbirds. The property was designed in traditional Andean style, using local materials of stone, adobe, stucco and eucalyptus. The expansive grounds offer a perfect refuge for bird watching and trained naturalist guides can also lead you on a variety of thematic nature walks in the morning and afternoon.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.