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!
This evening at 6:00 PM, you will make your way to your hotel's reception area for a 45 minute Pre-Trek briefing. You will meet your guide as well as the other travelers that will be joining you on this incredible journey. At the meeting, you will be given a full trek briefing of what lies ahead.
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! Start your day with either an invigorating hike from the village of Amaru to the community of Viacha, or a visit to the Awanakancha textile center followed by an exploration of the lively town and colorful artisan marketplace of Pisaq. Midday, both cultural explorers and hikers will reunite in the village of Viacha to learn about traditional Andean farming before a hike or drive to the Pisaq archaeological site for a guided tour. Upon completion of the tour, you'll be driven to your charming lodge in the village of Lamay.
Activity Options (morning):
- Cultural Activity (morning): Excursion to Awanakancha for an introduction to traditional Andean textile weaving techniques and an up-close visit with some friendly llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas, all camelids indigenous to both this region and other high-altitude regions throughout Peru. Next, visit the town of Pisaq for a brief tour and time explore the unique goods for sale in its colorful artisan marketplace.
- Hike (morning): Hike from the village of Amaru to the community of Viacha. Trek Duration: approximately 3 hours / Difficulty Level: Moderate / Mountain pass at an elevation of 14,200' (4,328m)
All-Group Activity (afternoon): Traditional Pachamanca lunch and demonstration of Andean farming practices with the locals, followed by an optional hike (or drive) and guided exploration of the Pisaq archaeological site. After the tour of Pisaq ruins, you will be driven (as a group) to Lamay Lodge for check-in. (This service is on a group basis.)
The day begins with a visit to the small town of Lamay followed by a scenic drive into the heart of the Lares Valley. Your first stop will be Ancasmarca for a guided tour of this seldom-visited archaeological site. Afterward, choose a visit with the expert textile weavers in the remote village of Choquecancha or a hike amidst turquoise blue lakes and towering peaks to the remote village of Huacahuasi, where both groups meet again to spend the night. Huacahuasi Lodge is operated by both MLP staff and members of the local community through a joint venture aimed at protecting the area’s cultural heritage and natural environment–a partnership that demonstrates the evolving role of traditional Andean communities in both the culture and commerce of modern-day Cusco.
All-Group Activity (morning): Explore the town of Lamay and visit the archaeological site of Ancasmarca.
Activity Options (afternoon):
- Cultural activity (afternoon): Visit the remote village of Choquecancha where you will have the opportunity to meet the locals and learn from the community’s expert textile weavers.
- Hike (afternoon):
Option A: Hike from Quelquena to Huacahuasi / Duration: approximately 2.5 hours / Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate / Mountain pass at an elevation of 13,838' (4,219m)
Option B: Hike from Cuncani to Huacahuasi / Duration: approximately 4 hours / Difficulty Level: Moderate / Mountain pass at an elevation of 13,838' (4,219m) (This service is on a group basis.)
Begin the day with a scenic drive to the community of Huilloc. From there, choose a morning hike from the village of Huilloc to the historic ruins of Pumamarka, or an extended visit to Huilloc and the nearby archaeological site of Marcacocha before regrouping for lunch and a midday exploration of the Pumamarka ruins. After lunch, choose to hike from Pumamarka to Ollantaytambo or drive and spend the afternoon exploring Ollantaytambo town’s maze-like alleys and passageways.
Activity Options (morning):
- Cultural activity (morning): Visit the village of Huilloc and community of Marcacocha to participate in a traditional Andean ceremony to honor Pachamama (Mother Earth) and her blessings for the health of the community livestock. Continue on to Pumamarka for an all-group tour of the archaeological site and picnic lunch. After lunch, explore the farming terraces on your way to Ollantaytambo.
-Hike (morning): Hike from Huilloc to Pumamarka / Duration: approximately 3 hours / Difficulty Level: Moderate
Activity Options (afternoon):
-Cultural activity (afternoon): After lunch, take a scenic drive to Ollantaytambo and spend the afternoon exploring this charming Sacred Valley town.
-Hike (afternoon): Hike from Pumamarka to Ollantaytambo / Duration: approximately 3 hours / Difficulty Level: Moderate / Please Note: Afternoon hikers will meet the rest of the group at the hotel upon arrival in the Sacred Valley.
*Optional All-Group Activity (late afternoon): Visit a locally-sourced Sacred Valley craft brewery (not included - activity subject to an additional cost). (This service is on a group basis.)
Begin your day with an optional early morning hike to the Inca storage houses high above the town for an impressive view of the Ollantaytambo fortress and ceremonial site. Afterwards, the entire group will meet at the entrance of the site for a guided tour before embarking on a scenic train ride to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. Alternately, opt for an all-day hike from train marker KM 104 to the Machu Picchu Sun Gate on the classic Inca Trail (subject to additional cost).
- Hike (early morning)
Option A: Hike up Lower Pinkuylluna Mountain above Ollantaytambo / Duration: approximately 1.5 hours / Difficulty Level: Moderate
Option B: Hike up Higher Pinkuylluna Mountain above Ollantaytambo / Duration: approximately 2.5 hours / Difficulty Level: Moderate to challenging
-All-Group Activity (morning): A guided exploration of the Ollantaytambo archeological site, before boarding the train to the town of Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes).
*Optional Activity (full day - subject to additional cost): Short Inca Trail Trek: Take the early morning train from Ollantaytambo to KM 104. Guided hike from KM 104 to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu / Trek Duration: Approximately 6 - 7 hours / Difficulty Level: Moderate to challenging / Please Note: The Optional Short Inca Trail Trek replaces the standard program day itinerary (i.e. you will not participate in the early morning hike options or guided visit to Ollantaytambo); This activity requires an additional permit (permits are subject to availaibility). If you wish to participate in this program you must notify your travel specialist in advance. (This service is on a group basis.)
Your journey to Machu Picchu begins with a rollicking morning uphill bus ride. As you enter the citadel, prepare to be awed by the imposing, skillful architecture of the Watchtower, the Temple of the Sun, and the royal Inca residences, among others. After a two-hour guided tour, you will have free time to explore on your own, including a hike up Huayna Picchu*, the iconic mountain that looms over the citadel, or Machu Picchu Mountain** for dramatic views that stretch from the Urubamba River Valley to the edge of the Amazon Jungle. At some point, be sure to take a moment and sit quietly–listen to the wind, meditate, and absorb the mystical energy that envelops you. After the visit, you will have lunch in Aguas Calientes before the return train ride to Ollantaytambo (approximately 1.5 hours) and sunset drive to your hotel in Cusco (approximately 1.5 hours). As night falls and you arrive amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, you will be touched by a feeling of peace and rejuvenation that will linger long after your journey home.
All-Group Activity (morning): Guided exploration of the Machu Picchu citadel (7,872’ / 2,400m)
Activity Options (late morning):
- Cultural Activity (late morning): Free time to further explore the ruins independently.
- Hike (late morning): Hike up Huayna Picchu Mountain (Entrance Time: 10:30 AM) / Duration: approximately 2.5 hours / Difficulty Level: Moderate to challenging / Highest Elevation: 8,924' (2,720m) / Please Note: Permits for Huayna Picchu are subject to availability; please consult with your travel specialist when you confirm your reservation. In the event that Huayna Picchu permits are not available for your desired date, Machu Picchu Mountain (the second peak within the sanctuary) permits will be secured instead. (This service is on a group basis.)
Today, you will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight. (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.
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