Peru is a land of incredible natural beauty, rich cultural traditions and mysterious ancient ruins. The lost Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is just one of many ancient ruins making this a premier destination for the explorer-at-heart. Even amid the natural splendor of the country, it is difficult not to notice the cultural, historical and political roots of Peru, observable in the diverse architecture and cityscapes. If you are only going to trek to Machu Picchu once in your life, do it in style with this high quality 5-day small group Inca Trail trek. You'll have a few private customized days pre-trek, in Cusco, to acclimatize.
Welcome to Cusco! Once you touch down, collect your luggage and meet your guide (he/she will be holding a sign with your name on it). You will then be driven twenty minutes through the colorful South American streets to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
After some time to get settled and comfortable into your hotel, will be introduced to this beautiful city with an orientation tour of the highlights and hidden treasures. This short walking tour is a great way to get your bearings and will also help you to adjust to the altitude. You'll have an expert guide on hand to show you some of the highlights of this beautiful city. Tell him or her what you like and he will be able to advise you on the best route for your tour. You can choose to start with the Plaza de Armas and a visit to its impressive cathedral. Once home to life-size, solid gold statues, the Qoricancha temple is another popular option.
If time permits, you can visit one of the bustling markets, filled with fresh tropical fruits from the Amazon, or even explore the bohemian district of San Blas and head up to the church of San Cristóbal for a spectacular view of the terracotta rooftops of Cusco. Later in the day, your guide will arrange a full briefing for your journey ahead, so get excited! (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.
Today, you will stretch your legs with a delightful hike in the hills above Cusco. First, you will visit the impressive site of Sacsayhuaman. Huge stone ramparts surround a beautiful grass amphitheater here, a sight not to be missed! Once the scene of fierce battles, it now hosts the annual re-enactment of traditional Inca ceremonies such as Inti Raymi and Warachikuy. On Sundays, you typically see families from Cusco head up here to play, fly kites and dig traditional huatias, a method of cooking potatoes in the ground.
Next up on your excursion, is the Inca water temple of Tambo Machay lying at 3700m (12,000 feet). Then we continue to the Red Fort of Puca Pucara followed by a picnic lunch nearby.
From here, an optional hike following an ancient Inca trail takes us downhill to Cusco (or transfer by vehicle), stopping at the Temple of the Moon and other historical sites along the way. (This service is on a private basis.)
Leaving Cusco behind, you will start your journey to Machu Picchu with your local guide. We head towards the Chinchero plain before taking a dirt road to the incredible ruins of Moray. These rarely visited circular ruins are believed to have been agricultural experiment stations in Inca times. After visiting the ruins, we follow an old mule trail with spectacular views of the snow-capped Cordillera de Vilcanota. We will also be able to observe examples of the best Andean agriculture on our way. We return to the interesting city of Maras for lunch.
In the afternoon we descend to the incredible Salineras, a series of salt flats that have been worked since the time of the Incas. We explore this incredible site and then descend to the Urubamba River where our vehicle awaits us to bring us to your Sacred Valley hotel tonight.
(This service is on a private basis.)
Distance: 11 km (7 miles)
Time: 6 hours including time to explore
Ascent: 50m (164ft)
Descent: 732m (2400ft)
Maximum Altitude: 3532m (11,588ft)
Tucked in between the impressive Andes of Peru, you will find the Sacred Valley. This developing area, once strictly colonial towns and secluded villages, is now recognized as a destination in it's own right. Explore the bustling local markets, discover the history behind archaeological attractions and get to know the lovely local people. The Sacred Valley offers an escape from cosmopolitan city life, with an idyllic nature retreat and cultural experience.
Our small group five day Inca Trail trek is carefully tailored to avoid the crowds. By leaving later than everyone else and allowing an extra day, you will spend your time on the trail out of sync with other tourists.
Begin this morning with a visit to the old Inca town of Ollantaytambo. After briefly exploring it, we will continue to the beginning of the trail in the town of Piscacucho (km 82). Here you will meet the porters and cooks who will support your trip to Machu Picchu. We enjoy a light lunch while the porter prepares his load.
The afternoon hike is an undulating trail over the fascinating Urubamba River. Finally, we will arrive at the spectacular Inca site of Llactapata (2,788m / 9,146ft) and then go up to our camp where we will spend the night. (2902 m / 9521 ft). During this trek your luggage is carried by the porters, your tents are set up and your food is prepared. All you have to do is carry your day pack and enjoy your beautiful surroundings.
After a hearty breakfast this morning, you will climb gently up the Cusichaca valley to the small hamlet of Huayllabamba. This is the last inhabited place on the trail. A little steeper now, you will head up the beautiful Inca path, past hummingbirds and stunted cloud forest to your camp at Llulluchapampa (3,680m/12,073ft). This beautiful grassy area has outstanding views and keep your eyes open for the Andean deers that come to feed here.
Today is the most challenging day but also the most exhilarating! You will climb to Dead Woman’s Pass (4,212m/13,819ft) the highest point of the trail before dropping into the Pacasmayo valley. Climbing once more you will pass the Inca control post of Runkuracay to the second pass of the day (3,998m/13,117ft). On a clear day there are spectacular views towards Pumahuanca mountain in the Vilcabamba range.
Continue forward along the well preserved Inca trail to Sayacmarca. Located at the junction of two old Inca roads, historians still argue over its exact purpose. A few more gentle ups and downs and you arrive to your stunning campsite for the night, Phuyupatamarca, or ‘the place above the clouds’ (3,650m/11,975ft).
Today you finally reach the ruins Machu Picchu! As you step out of your tent the views are magnificent. Perhaps you will see the sun rising over the snow capped mountains of Salkantay (6,200m/20,341ft) and Veronica (5,800m/19,029ft). Or perhaps you will have a cloud inversion, with the clouds filling the valleys beneath your feet. After saying a fond farewell to your porters it is time to put on your boots and head to Machu Picchu.
You will descend through the cloud forest on beautiful Inca stairways, to Winay Wayna, another interesting ruin full of swallows and orchids. Finally, you will contour the hillside to arrive at Inti Punku, the gateway of the Sun. As you step through the old stone gateway, Machu Picchu appears before you. After plenty of opportunities for photos, you will carry on past this wonder of the world to catch the bus down to the colorful town of Machu Picchu Pueblo. In town, check into your well-deserved hotel for a warm shower and soft bed. Fall asleep dreaming of today's once in a lifetime experience!
Believed to be built as a "royal estate" for the Inca emperor Pachacuti, Machu Picchu is an astounding and perennially mysterious climax to one of the world's most famous journeys: the Inca Trail. Perched high above a sinuous bend in the Urubamba River, Machu Picchu has lured explorers, poets and pilgrims to its mist-wreathed ridgetop ever since its discovery by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in July, 1911.
Scholars still argue about the meaning of Machu Picchu: why it was built and what purpose it served, who lived there and when they departed. Most agree that its main intent was spiritual and ceremonial. But clearly its creator, Pachacuti, intended the journey to his sacred city to be a powerful experience in its own right, a pilgrimage whose effort is stunningly rewarded time and again as one follows its winding way among peaks, forests, deep gorges and fairytale ruins. Perhaps if one is to experience the spirit that inspired the builders of Machu Picchu, one truly must walk the length of Pachacuti's white granite highway -- today's Inca Trail.
Today you explore the pinnacle of Inca engineering - Machu Picchu. For years it was lost to the jungle before being rediscovered in 1911 by the Yale professor Hiram Bingham. The ruins was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and famed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Machu Picchu exceeds all expectations.
This amazing site is in an even more amazing location. Perched on top of an inaccessible hill, it is protected by massive cliffs and the raging Urubamba River. Things are a bit easier now than they were in the time of the Incas, so our day begins with a twenty-minute bus ride to the site.
The guided tour lasts around two hours, leaving you a few hours free to wander between the ancient Inca walls and just sit back and enjoy the place on your own.
Finally, it is time to take the bus back to Machu Picchu Pueblo and board your return train along the Urubamba River. The scenery is beautiful and the train moves smoothly allowing you to sit back, look out the window and reflect on all you have seen.
Upon arrival at Ollantaytambo (or Cusco) Station, you will be met by a driver and transferred to your overnight accommodations in Cusco.
Sadly, you have reached your final day in Peru. You will be transferred to the Cusco airport in good time to board your departure flight home (via Lima)...Buen Viaje! (This service is on a private basis.)
One of our top picks in Cusco, this restored republican house from the 17th century is located in the artisan neighborhood of San Blas. The hotel has 20 rooms, two cozy patios, a massage room, breakfast area, and terrace. Highly rated for cleanliness, featuring free WiFi access and a daily breakfast, Quinta San Blas by Ananay Hotels provides accommodation with impeccable service in Cusco. The property is 100m from Hatun Rumiyoc and 200m from San Blas Church. Rooms are fitted with a flat-screen TV, a safety-deposit box and a wardrobe. All of them have private bathrooms with free toiletries. The 24-hour front desk provides helpful information for getting around the area.
Hotel Pakaritampu is located in the town of Ollantaytambo, in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, 1 hour and 30 minutes by car from Cusco. The local train station of Ollantaytambo offers easy access to Machu Picchu, on a scenic journey that is just 1 hour and 15 minutes away from the hotel. The property boasts 37 guestrooms that feature spectacular views of the area, lovely balconies, and a private bath with hot water and a shower. Nestled in the mystical wonders of the Andes, you will be surrounded by picturesque gardens and a variety of typical flora of the region.
There is no where more epic to spend the night, than tucked in between the dramatic Peruvian Andes, covered by a majestic blanket of stars. Enjoy the convenience, comfort and assistance of local porters and cooks, who will quickly become friends, as you trek through the impressive mountain scenery. The porters will carry all of your luggage, so you only need to worry about your day pack and making the most of this experience. Each evening, the tents will be assembled for you and delicious meals will be freshly prepared. The tents are sturdy and can fit up to two people. Each morning, you can wake up to the sweet smell of breakfast, accompanied by a heavenly panoramic view of the mountains.
Step into the smart, contemporary and cozy confines of El MaPi, amidst the picturesque Machu Picchu Pueblo. Discover an efficient, lively and friendly atmosphere, which will welcome you into a wondrous escape from real life worries. The flowing lobby creates a sense of vitality. Lofty ceilings, panoramic windows and an open air cafe, allow natural light to filter between tall eucalyptus dried branches, creating a lovely and relaxing ambiance. Make the most of your enlightening visit to Peru’s most famous destination, the Machu Picchu archaeological site, with the perfect home away from home at El MaPi.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.
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