Enjoy two nights acclimating in the charming colonial town of Cusco before embarking on a unique and amazing adventure to Machu Picchu by way of the Salkantay Lodge to Lodge Trek.
This 7-day lodge to lodge trekking experience will take you on a historic section of Inca trail through 15 different eco-systems, while you traverse a mountain pass over 15,000 feet, explore villages where locals still maintain age-old traditions and re-discover the mystical beauty of Machu Picchu, the crown jewel of the Inca Empire. Each day’s trek ends with a hot shower in a cozy lodge, complemented by a massage or a dip in an outdoor jacuzzi, followed by a gourmet meal with select wines and all provided with highly personalized service by local staff. The Salkantay experience goes beyond deluxe lodges and a great trek. It is a unique opportunity to experience ancient history in the Land of the Incas, as well as the most interesting and exotic variety of flora and fauna, all in the company of new friends and like-minded souls.
Welcome to Peru! Upon arrival at the airport in Cusco, you will be greeted by a local representative, holding a sign with your name on it. For a smooth and comfortable start to your adventure, you will be driven directly to your hotel, where a lovely evening at your leisure awaits. (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 a full free day in Cusco to properly acclimate. Immerse yourself in Peruvian culture enjoying the many plazas and historical buildings to explore. 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.
After an early breakfast, your trekking guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel in Cusco. The first stop will be a visit to the Quillarumiyoc archaeological site. Next, you will stop in the mountain village of Mollepata. There you will visit El Pedregal, a beautiful farmhouse where you can learn about local agriculture and livestock
Then, the transfer will take you through a winding mountain road to a site called Challacancha. Here you will begin your hike to Soraypampa along a picturesque path called the “Camino Real” (Royal Path), which is also a good opportunity to acclimate to the higher altitude. As you round the final turn of the Camino Real, the Salkantay Lodge will come into view.
Salkantay Lodge takes its name from the majestic peak at the head of the valley—Mt. Salkantay, the second most sacred peak in Inca mythology and, at 6,270 m (20,600 ft), the highest in the region.
Upon arrival, you will receive a warm welcome by the friendly staff as you are shown to your rooms and have time to wash-up, before tea and cookies. The guide will hold a briefing by the fireplace, followed by aperitifs and dinner. Overnight at Salkantay Lodge (3,869 m/12,690 ft).
Trek time: Approximately 3 hours (including box lunch en route)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Optional: Guests who do not wish to trek, may be transported to the lodge by vehicle (This service is on a group basis.)
Today presents another opportunity to gauge your altitude-acclimatization with a half day hike to Lake Humantay. After breakfast, you begin an ascent up the slopes that border the plateau behind the Salkantay Lodge. An hour and a half later, you will be stunned to see the turquoise water of the lake.
Here you will have a chance to relax, enjoy a snack, meditate in the tranquility of this magical spot and be part of a traditional offering to “Pachamama” (Mother Earth). After your descent back to the lodge, the staff will be waiting with a hot lunch. The second half of your day is spent at leisure. You may opt to soak in our outdoor jacuzzi, indulge in a relaxing massage or even take a long nap.
Trek time: Approximately 4 hours
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Please Note: While the morning hike to Lake Humantay is optional, we strongly recommend your participation in preparation for tomorrow's strenuous hike. (This service is on a group basis.)
You will begin your trek up the Rio Blanco valley early this morning, circling Humantay Peak. As you gradually make your way up the mountain trails, you will encounter expansive plateaus dotted with boulders of varying sizes, the remnants of a valley that was once bisected by a fast-flowing river. The final and most challenging part of your ascent is conquering the mountain switchbacks that take you to the Salkantay Pass, the highest point on the trek (4,636 m/15,213 ft).
What follows is a dramatic descent through fields of giant boulders, often shrouded in fog. After a very welcome hot picnic lunch, you will continue down through bucolic rolling hills and marsh-like plateaus as you take your final steps to the Wayra Lodge at Wayraccmachay (3,906 m/12,812 ft.).
Trek time: Approximately 7 hours
Difficulty: Challenging, crossing a 4,640m (15,213 ft) mountain pass (This service is on a group basis.)
After a leisurely breakfast at Wayra Lodge, you continue the descent along the banks of the Salkantay River through the increasingly verdant scenery. Today you will see more of the local people as the trail takes you past their simple homes and makeshift fences.
At lunchtime, you will arrive at Colpa Lodge (2,870 m/9,414 ft), located on a high promontory at the confluence of three rivers. You are greeted by the staff with a Pachamanca lunch, a traditional Peruvian meal cooked in the earth by hot stones that create a natural underground oven. After lunch, spend the afternoon lounging in the sun or relaxing in the outdoor jacuzzi while you take in the panoramic views of the lush green mountains that surround you.
Trek time: Approximately 4 hours
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate (This service is on a group basis.)
Today you will hike in the Santa Teresa River valley where you will hop over small streams fed by waterfalls descending from the glaciers and cross through fruit orchards. After breaking for a hot picnic lunch by the river, you will walk for one hour before we meet an MLP vehicle for a short drive to the beginning of the “Llactapata Inca Trail” that leads us to Lucma Lodge (2,135 m/7,003 ft).
On the way, you will visit an organic coffee plantation, one of many in that area that produces some of the best organic coffee in the world. In Lucmabamba, the hot air and increased humidity signal that you are even closer to the edge of the Amazon Jungle.
Trek time: Approximately 6 hours (including lunch)
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
Optional Activity (Please note that ziplining is not included in the trip cost and is subject to additional fees. If you would like to participate in this optional activity, please inform your travel consultant in advance):
- Zip Lining in Santa Teresa: This is a full day activity which replaces the trek. Operated by Cola de Mono. (This service is on a group basis.)
During a 2-3 hour climb up a path mostly comprised of original Inca steps, you will get a sense of what hiking through the rainforest would be like. Your first milestone today will be the top of the peak, the last one before you reach the Aobamaba River valley that connects you to Machu Picchu. When you arrive at the ruins of Llactapata at the Llactapata Pass (2,736 m/8,974 ft), you will be delighted to see a southeast view of the “back” of the Machu Picchu ruins.
Enjoy your lunch a bit farther down the trail in a meadow with panoramic views. The final descent takes you through lush bamboo forests, until you end the day’s hike at the Hidroelectrica train station. A one-hour scenic train ride delivers you to your final stop, the town of Aguas Calientes (1,900 m. - 6,332 ft.) at the base of Machu Picchu.
Enjoy your overnight stay at the fantastic Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel. Rated by Travel + Leisure as ‘one of the ten best hotels in South America’, Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel is an intimate 85-cottage luxury hotel surrounded by 12 secluded acres of exquisite beauty. With its sublime Spa services and a first-class restaurant that overlooks the stunning Vilcanota River, the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel provides a tranquil retreat.
Trek time: Approximately 5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging (This service is on a group basis.)
This morning, you begin your journey to Machu Picchu with a short and rollicking uphill bus ride. Upon arrival, you'll enjoy an introductory guided tour of the majestic ruins. 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. Your imagination will soar as you contemplate the history of Machu Picchu and its mysterious origins.
Some may even choose a hike to Huayna Picchu (subject to availability at time of booking), the iconic towering mountain often seen in photographs. 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 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 and transferred to the airport for your departing flight. We hope you enjoyed your time in Peru and we wish you a pleasant flight home.
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.
Named after the peak at the head of its valley, the Salkantay Lodge is the perfect resting place for hikers along the Peruvian "Camino Real." Featuring an outdoor jacuzzi and spectacular dining, this lodge will usually serve as a starting point for much longer treks. However, it remains a magnificent lodge to spend a few days in and explore the surrounding mountain passes and river valleys.
"Wayra" means wind, and this lodge is named as the Place Where Wind Lives or Rests. For most hikers trekking the Andes Mountains, that is what this place will truly feel like after a long day's hike. Clean, comfortable rooms will greet you along with warm and friendly staff, who will prepare delicious dinner and breakfast for you daily.
At Colpa Lodge, the staff is continuously cooking magnificent Peruvian-style meals for any trekkers who might come and go. The outdoor jacuzzi offers stunning views of the surround snowcapped peaks. Nearby the hotel, orchid trails and river walks are available for any hikers that are not fully exhausted from their day's hike!
Set in a beautifully kept avocado orchard, this lodge offers a rare luxury in an alpine environment near Llactapata Pass, on the recently restored Llactapata Inca Trail. This lodge offers warm, comfortable beds for weary travelers, and delicious meals to accompany them.
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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