This epic trek follows Peru’s most celebrated trail systems—The Sacred Valley, Lares and well-worn Inca trails—to take in some of the country’s most famous Inca temples, fortresses, ruins en route to the legendary Machu Picchu. Along the way, you’ll enjoy authentic encounters with the vibrant Quechua people and witness their traditional way of life. With four to eight hours of moderate-to-strenuous hiking per day through beautiful landscapes to mountain vistas, you’ll soon understand why Peru is a trekker’s paradise.
- Trek Peru’s most scenic trails—The Sacred Valley and Lares along well worn Inca trails—while exploring ancient ruins on your journey to Machu Picchu
- Discover Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Enjoy authentic encounters with local weavers, farmers and craftspeople, and learn about their traditional way of life
- Stay in deluxe hotels and comfortable lodges—Travel wiht the most experienced and knowledgeable guides
Duration: 10 days Start Location: Cusco End Location: CuscoDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Cusco
Arrive in Cusco, Peru. You will be greeted by an MTS representative and transferred to your luxury hotel—the ideal spot to relax and get used to the high altitude before your trek. Cusco was the ancient capital of the Inca Empire; today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, celebrated for its ruins and vibrant beauty. The day is free to explore or unwind back at the hotel. You’ll meet the rest of your group tonight for an orientation and welcome dinner.
Day 2 : Sacsayhuaman Hike
After breakfast, we’ll enjoy a guided tour of the old city and Inca ruins, including the Main Square, Cathedral, Korikancha Inca Temple and the La Merced or Santo Domingo Church. This afternoon, we’ll don our hiking boots for an optional warm-up hike from Sacsayhuaman back to the hotel. Sacsayhuaman is a walled fortress complex just outside of Cusco. It is said to have taken up to 30,000 people some 60 years to finally complete the structures in 1508, although its resemblance to similar structures in ancient Egypt and Babylon keeps its origins shrouded in mystery. One thing is certain: at the time of the Spanish conquest, no one knew when its construction actually began. Our hike finishes at our hotel in Cusco with time to relax and freshen up. Tonight dinner is on your own.
Day 3 : Sacred Valley: Explore Chinchero, Maras & Moray
Our journey into Peru’s Sacred Valley begins after breakfast, when we’ll depart for the village of Chinchero, where we’ll stop for a brief visit to its archeological site and 16th century colonial church. We’ll begin our hike at Moray (11,646’), an unusual site set on a high plateau with several enormous, terraced, circular depressions that the Incas may have used as agricultural laboratories. We’ll hike along a gentle trail with views of snowcapped peaks and terraced hillsides on our way to the small, charming town of Maras (11,023’). After a brief visit of the town, with its eclectic mix of building styles dating from pre-Columbian and colonial times, we’ll hike to the nearby terraced salt evaporation ponds, called Las Salineras. Since pre-Incan times, salt has been gathered in Maras by evaporating salty water from a local subterranean stream. The effect of the sunlight reflecting from the complex maze of ponds is stunning! After our visit, we’ll follow the trail downhill to the Urubamba River (9,186’), where a van will be waiting to take us to our lodge in Lamay. Dinner and overnight at Lamay Lodge. (Total hiking today: five hours).
Day 4 : Explore the Pisac Valley and Ruins
Following breakfast, we'll drive to the nearby town of Coya (9,514’) with its charming colonial church. We’ll drive for another hour and a half to reach Ayarcancha, where we’ll start to hike at an elevation of 12,467 feet! The trail winds uphill for two hours to Challwaccasa Pass (13,943’), which grants us great views of the peaks of the Vilcanota and Vilcabamba mountain ranges, as well as the snowcapped peaks of Ausangate and Salcantay. We’ll descend into to the community of Viacha (12,795’) for a well-deserved gourmet lunch. After lunch, we’ll follow a restored Inca trail to the stunning archaeological site of Pisac (10,826’), which dominates the valley below. The lower slopes of the surrounding mountains feature impressive agricultural terraces and irrigation systems dating from Inca times. After exploring the ruins we’ll continue downhill for an hour to the picturesque village of Pisac (9,750’), well known for its colorful handicraft market held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Our vehicle will be waiting to take us back to our lodge in Lamay. (Total hiking time including lunch: 6 hours)
Day 5 : Cuncani to Huacawasi
Our journey continues to Lares today. A short drive brings us to Ancasmarca (13,267’), where we’ll explore an old Inca complex of ancient granaries, dwellings and farm land. Its location at the intersection of the higher end of the Sacred Valley and the cloud forest communities of Lares made it a strategic spot. We’ll head over the Lares Pass (14,501’) to arrive at Cuncani (12,742’), the starting point of our hike. For the first two hours, we’ll walk uphill, passing farmhouses and fields. The local inhabitants, descendants of the Incas, have maintained their traditional way of life; they grow an amazing variety of potatoes almost year-round, use llamas for transportation, and use alpacas for food and clothing. The trail continues up to Cruzccasa Pass (13,740’), where we’ll enjoy magnificent views, before we descent to our lunch spot for a picnic. After lunch, we’ll hike for another hour to Huacawasi Lodge, our home for the night. (Total hiking time including lunch: 5 hours)
Day 6 : Quiswarani to Huacawasi, High Moutain Lakes & Villages
A great day of hiking awaits us on one of the most beautiful trails in the Cusco region! From our lodge we'll drive to the quaint village of Quiswarani (12,562’), we’ll begin hiking up a small valley dotted with lakes and herds of grazing alpacas. The trail then narrows into a series of switchbacks up to Abra Huchuyccasa Pass (14,481’), which we should reach after about three hours. From the pass, we’ll have the most amazing views of distant mountain ranges and stunning turquoise lakes, whose brilliant hues are the result of bronze metal elements in their icy waters. Descending slightly, we’ll continue to Phoñaccasa Pass (14,393’). From here we’ll descend to Qeywaqocha Lake for a leisurely lunch, then end our hike at the village of Qelqena (11,965’). Along the way, we’ll be able to spot native bird species, including Andean geese, ducks, and plovers. Our vehicle will meet us at the end of the trail for the drive back to Huacawasi. (Total hiking time including lunch: 8 hours)
Day 7 : Huacawasi to Patacancha, the Weavers' Trail
Huacawasi is a famous weavers’ village, where the men still wear traditional colorful ponchos and women’s attire includes wide handmade skirts and decorated hats. As we begin our hike right from the lodge, we are immersed in scenes of community life, including women working on looms and children heading to school. The wide and easy trail will lead us uphill for 2.5 hours to the top of Ipsaycocha Pass (14,573’), where we enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains. As we hike, we’ll meet locals traveling from village to village with their goods and herds. We’ll descend gently for about 40 minutes to Lake Ipsaycocha (14,081’), where we may see condors circling lazily in the sky while enjoying our lunch. We’ll continue downhill for another couple of hours to the village of Patacancha (12,624’), known for its high-quality handmade weavings. Our vehicle will meet us here to take us to the Inca town of Ollantaytambo (9,160’) in the Sacred Valley. (Total hiking time including lunch: 6.5 hours)
Day 8 : Hike to Pumamarca, above Ollantaytambo
A short drive brings us to the settlement of Pallata (10,236’), from where we’ll begin hiking uphill to Pumamarca (10,498’), a small and rarely visited Inca archaeological site overlooking the Patacancha Valley. After exploring the site, we’ll hike downhill for about three hours through extensive Inca agricultural terraces and along an old Inca trail back to Ollantaytambo. After lunch at our hotel, we’ll explore the town´s magnificent ruins, including the fortress, the ceremonial center, and the town itself—once an Inca capital and a stronghold against the Spanish conquistadors. In the late afternoon, we’ll catch our train for the 1.5-hour ride to Aguascalientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu. Tonight we'll have our farewell dinner. (Total hiking time: 4.5 hours)
Day 9 : Visit Machu Picchu and Return to Cusco.
After a very early breakfast at the hotel, we walk to the bus station for the 30-minute ride up to Machu Picchu Sanctuary. Your leader will give an introductory two-hour guided tour of the evocative ruins, after which we have the option of climbing the sheer Inca staircase of Huayna Picchu, a steep and vertically quite challenging hike that affords encompassing views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountain ranges (about a two-hour hike). Afterwards, we meet up with our guide again and return by bus to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch. The afternoon train ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo takes about 1.5 hours, and then a private vehicle drives us back to Cusco (an additional 1.5 hours). Upon arrival in Cusco (approximately 7 or 8 p.m.), transfer to our hotel.
Day 10 : Depart Cusco
This morning is free to explore Cusco. Bid “adios” to your traveling companions before your afternoon flight to Lima and connecting flight home.
DATES: Best time to go: March - December Departures: Apr 12 - 21, 2015 May 3 - 12, 2015 Jun 19 - 28, 2015 Jun 21 - 30, 2015 Jul 19 - 28, 2015 Aug 9 - 18, 2015 Aug 23, 2015 - Sep 1, 2015 Sep 13 - 22, 2015 Oct 11 - 20, 2015
$3,695 (7-16 members)
Palacio del Inka-CuscoCusco
Facing the Sun Temple "Koricancha," this romantic, personalized hotel is a traveler's favorite, reaching 11th place on Condé Nast Traveler's list of top South American hotels. Rooms furnished in a classic, traditional style ensure the hotel maintains its serene character despite its central location.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.