The Ultimate Inca Trail Group Trek

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 9-day trek including time to acclimatize and enjoy Cusco.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Cusco Arrival

Cusco Arrival
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Locals Guide to Cusco
  • Accommodation: Casa San Blas Boutique Hotel
  • Meals: L

Locals Guide to Cusco

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. The impressively historic city center was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 with Inca and colonial architecture evident every where you look. Later in the day today, your guide will give you a full briefing for your journey ahead, so get excited! (This service is on a group basis.)

Cusco

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.

Day 2: Cusco

Cusco
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Local Ruins & City Tour
  • Accommodation: Casa San Blas Boutique Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Local Ruins & City Tour

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) followed by a special picnic lunch. A trail through the fields leads you to the intricately carved Inca Temple of the Moon. From here, a beautifully preserved section of the royal Inca Trail leads you down into the old San Blas district, home to the city's artists and finally into the Plaza de Armas. Admire the impressive cathedral there, before making your way to Qoricancha temple, once home to life sized statues in solid gold. (This service is on a group basis.)

Day 3: Cusco - Sacred Valley

Cusco - Sacred Valley
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Moray & Maras Hike
  • Accommodation: Hotel Pakaritampu
  • Meals: B, L

Moray & Maras Hike

Leaving Cusco behind, you will start your journey to Machu Picchu. The hike starts at the fascinating circular ruins of Moray. While some think it was a landing pad for alien spaceships, most agree the Incas built this as an experimental agricultural center. Concentric circular terraces allowed them to simulate different facing slopes and different growing temperatures, to see which crops would grow where. They then used this knowledge to cultivate the varied terrain of their vast empire providing abundant amounts of food to feed the people.

After exploring Moray, you will take a mainly downhill trail through the fields. Depending on the time of year, you may have a chance to stop and chat with local farmers digging their fields of corn or planting potatoes. Perhaps, you may even have a go with the hand tools that have been used for centuries.

Along the way, you will stop for a for a homemade picnic with marvelous views across to the snow capped Viilcanota mountains, before carrying on down to the spectacular salt pans of Maras. Here, you can stop and watch as local families extract the salt by hand, much as they have done for centuries. You can even buy some of the famous Maras Pink Salt as a souvenir. Finally, you will take the old track down to the Sacred Valley, where once llamas, then horses carried out the salt to be sent across the empire.

Your support vehicle is on hand most of the day, should anyone prefer to take a ride, rather than walk at any point. (This service is on a group basis.)

Distance: 5 or 12 km (3 ¼ or 7 ½ miles)
Time: 1 or 2 ½ hour
Descent: 485m (1600ft)
Altitude: 2900m - 3385m

Sacred Valley

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.

Day 4: Sacred Valley - Inca Trail

Sacred Valley - Inca Trail
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Cusco – Km 82 – Llactapata
  • Accommodation: Camping - Inca Trail
  • Meals: B, L, D

Cusco – Km 82 – Llactapata

Your five day Inca Trail 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. Thus you will literally have the trail to yourselves.

Begin this morning with a visit to the old Inca town of Ollantaytambo. After exploring the area and a tasty lunch you will embark on a short drive to the trailhead at Piscacucho (km 82). Here you will meet the porters and cooks that will support your journey to Machu Picchu. With the crowds now long gone, you will begin your hike an undulating trail above the Urubamba River to camp beside the spectacular ruins of Llactapata (2,788m/9,146ft). 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.

Day 5: Inca Trail

Inca Trail
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Llactapata – Llulluchapampa
  • Accommodation: Camping - Inca Trail
  • Meals: B, L, D

Llactapata – Llulluchapampa

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.

Day 6: Inca Trail

Inca Trail
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Llulluchapampa – Phuyupatamarca
  • Accommodation: Camping - Inca Trail
  • Meals: B, L, D

Llulluchapampa – Phuyupatamarca

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 to 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).

Day 7: Inca Trail - Machu Picchu Pueblo

Inca Trail - Machu Picchu Pueblo
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Phuyupatamarca – Machu Picchu
  • Accommodation: El Mapi Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Phuyupatamarca – Machu Picchu

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!

Machu Picchu

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.

Day 8: Machu Picchu Pueblo - Cusco

Machu Picchu Pueblo - Cusco
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Machu Picchu Ruins Guided Tour
  • Transportation (Train): Peru Rail
  • Accommodation: Casa San Blas Boutique Hotel
  • Meals: B, L
Peru Rail
Aguas Calientes - Cusco
Train: Vistadome
Departs: TBA
Arrives: TBA

Machu Picchu Ruins Guided Tour

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.

You will arrive early, allowing you to explore the ruins in the company of your guide, before they get too busy. The guided tour takes around two hours leaving you a few hours free to wander among the old Inca walls and just sit and take in the scale of the place on your own. For those who want to walk a bit more, you could take the hour long trail up to the Sun Gate, or a shorter trail to visit the Inca Bridge which once spanned a sheer cliff face.

Eventually the time comes to catch the bus down to Machu Picchu Pueblo and board your train back along the Urubamba River. The scenery is beautiful and the train jolts softly along, allowing you to sit, stare out the window and reflect on a wonderful week. Upon arrival at the Poroy Station, which is located just outside of Cusco, you will be met by a driver and transferred to your overnight accommodations within the city.

Day 9: Cusco Departure

Cusco Departure
Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfer
  • Meals: B

Sadly, you have reached your final day in Peru. You will be transferred to the airport in good time to board your international departure flight home...Buen Viaje! (This service is on a group basis.)

Accommodation

Casa San Blas Boutique Hotel

Casa San Blas Boutique Hotel

Casa San Blas, the first boutique hotel in Peru, has been created to provide guests with a distinguished service based on individual, personalized service and attention to detail in a comfortable, home-like atmosphere. San Blas' design harmonizes with the colonial architecture of the San Blas neighborhood, based upon the restoration of a historic mansion, while incorporating all the benefits of the modern world. The district of San Blas has been the historic artisan's quarter of Cusco since Inca times, and lies just two and a half blocks from the main square. It is a neighborhood of narrow, picturesque cobbled streets and whitewashed colonial-era houses, with red-tiled roofs and wooden balconies.

Hotel Pakaritampu

Hotel Pakaritampu

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.

Camping - Inca Trail

Camping - Inca Trail

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.

El Mapi Hotel

El Mapi Hotel

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 and Details

Starting from $ 2,918 per person

*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.

Price Includes

  • Full support before, during & after your trip
  • Meals as mentioned
  • Accommodation as mentioned
  • Tours/activities as mentioned
  • Transport as mentioned

Price Excludes

  • International & domestic flights
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Entrance visas when applicable
  • Other services not mentioned
  • Tips and gratuities to guides, drivers
  • Taxes and fees

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