The best of Peru’s Incan treasures—without trekking or camping
This popular adventure is active, yet easy, and takes in all the incredible sites that have drawn travelers to Peru for centuries. We’ll stroll the back streets of Cusco, dominated by the fine stonework of plazas and palaces created by craftsmen of ancient empires, explore the Inca ruins just outside the town, and hike to charming out-of-the-way villages. You’ll top off the whole adventure with a visit to iconic, breathtaking Machu Picchu, where you’ll marvel not only at the ruins themselves but at the thought of the long-vanished civilization that created this beautiful place.
Easy touring, easy to moderate day hikes at medium elevation (max. 12,398')
- See the best of Peru with the Andean adventure experts since 1971!
- Explore Cuzco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its spectacular Inca ruins
- Hike during the day and relax at night in the finest hotel accommodations
Duration: 7 days Start Location: Cusco End Location: LimaDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Lima – connect with flight to Cusco
Arrive to Lima in the morning and take a connection flight to Cusco. Upon arrival in Cusco, your trip leader will meet you in the baggage claim area at the airport. Transfer to Monasterio Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel located on the scenic Plaza Las Nazarenas, just a block from Cusco's main square.
We'll enjoy a guided tour of the city in the afternoon with an introduction to the illustrious history of the Inca civilization. Charming red-roofed Cusco was the ancient capital of the vast Inca Empire. The Spanish conquistadores destroyed significant portions of the Inca civilization and also left their mark on Cusco. Ornate cathedrals, adobe walls, carved balconies, hidden courtyards, and cobblestone streets all add to the rich visuals of this ancient Inca city. Choose from a variety of fine restaurants for dinner, then stroll the central square, where colorful Quechuan handicrafts are for sale.
Day 2 : Cusco – Pisac – Urubamba Valley
In the morning, visit nearby Inca ruins including Kenko, the ceremonial bath of Tambo Machay, and majestic Sacsayhuamán fortress, most impressive with perfectly fitted, mortarless stone blocks and zigzag walls. Tambo Machay is the highest ruins, at an elevation of 12,267'. We’ll have lunch in the town of Pisac, where we visit its colorful market, then hike to the Inca ruins at Pisac, the largest fortress-city complex of the Incas and one of the largest in ancient South America. Pisac is at the same elevation as Cusco and is located high on a ridge overlooking the valley. Its ruins extend from a fortress to a temple complex, where we see some of the finest Inca stonework in existence. Terraces extend up from the river (perhaps 2,000 feet) and we’ll descend via a network of stairs, walkways, tunnels, and temples to the valley floor at 9,500'. Continue by vehicle to our accommodation at Casa Andina Private Collection, a charming hotel where we'll spend the remainder of the day. (2-3 hours hiking)
Day 3 : The Sacred Valley: Chinchero, Maras, and Moray
Today we'll take a scenic drive from the valley to a highland plateau to visit the market town of Chinchero (12,398'). En route we’ll pass through farmland areas with a patchwork of fields and adobe houses with red-tiled roofs, and we'll enjoy views of snowcapped mountains in the distance. Chinchero is famous for a massive Incan wall located in its town square with ten of the largest trapezoidal niches known among Inca monuments. Continue across the plateau to the impressive earthworks at Moray, a large experimental agricultural station where the Incas dug concentric circular terraces. The ancient terraces are pre-Inca in origin, but the Incas took them over and enlarged and refined them. After a picnic lunch in Maras (11,086'), we’ll hike a very scenic route downhill to the salt pans of Salinas, fed by a salt spring that feeds into terraced evaporative pools as a way of harvesting salt. This was a strategic trading area in Inca times. Continue hiking down to the Sacred Valley and arrive at the Urubamba River where we’ll be picked up and taken to our hotel. (2-3 hours hiking)
Day 4 : Ollantaytambo
A narrow dirt road takes us high into the Andes through the villages of Huilloc. Here you'll observe the native Quechua way of life where crops are sown and textiles woven with simple hand tools that have been in use for centuries. Our hike begins near Huilloc, where we descend to the small archaeological complex at Pumamarca. The purpose of this site remains a mystery, but it is thought to be a control point for water distribution and for the population. Continuing along the original Inca path, we observe agricultural terraces and views of the valley below. After walking approximately three hours, we reach the town of Ollantaytambo, where we'll visit the Ollantaytambo ruins, one of the few Inca sites that have survived incredibly, considering the Incas designed them several hundred years ago. Here we see Inca canchas, enclosures of multi-family living quarters; ingenious stonework; cobbled streets; and an extensive communal water system that survives to this day. From here we will take the afternoon train to the town of Aguas Calientes.
Day 5 : Machu Picchu
We’ll wake early to catch the bus to the ruins, so we can experience the morning light over Machu Picchu and explore the ruins in depth before the train arrives with day visitor crowds. We’ll have a thorough walking tour of Machu Picchu, visit the various main structures and learn about their importance in the lives of the Incas. After lunch at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Hotel, the afternoon is free to explore more on your own. Those who wish to can hike the steep peak of Huayna Picchu (9,000') for dramatic vistas of the ruins, the Urubamba Valley, and Cordillera Vilcabamba; or you can walk to see the “Inca Bridge,” an ancient drawbridge leading to the jungle. You could also return to the hotel via bus and stroll in its lovely gardens, which contain more than 372 species of orchid, native palms, ferns, begonias, fruit trees and medicinal plants. Festive farewell dinner with the group.
Day 6 : Return to Cusco
The morning is free to relax at the hotel or take short hikes in the immediate vicinity. After lunch at the Machu Picchu Hotel, we’ll catch the train to Ollanta and transfer by van to Cusco. Transfer to the hotel. The rest of the evening is free.
Day 7 : Lima and fly home
Transfer to the airport and fly to Lima. Upon arrival, you’ll be transferred to the Casa Andina Private Collection, where dayrooms will be held for your convenience (most U.S. bound flights depart in the evening). Our afternoon tour of Lima includes a visit to the Gold Museum with numerous gold artifacts ranging from earplugs to dazzling jewelry. Evening transfer to the airport and departure on homeward-bound flights.
DATES: Best time to go: April - October, December Departures: Dec 12 - 18, 2014 SOLD OUT
2014 PRICES (per person)
$3,995 (6 to 12 members)
Built as a monastery in 1592, Hotel Monasterio retains the charm and ambience that has existed for centuries whilst boasting a reputation as one of the world's finest hotels. The ideal base from which to discover the delights of Cusco and the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, Hotel Monasterio offers fine service in beautifully impeccable surroundings.
Casa Andina Private Collection—Urubamba
The Sacred Valley’s most complete hotel: a mountain chalet-styled retreat with panoramic Andes views from every room and every angle. On more than 8 beautifully-landscaped acres, it contains an extraordinary, full-service “Sacred Spa”, a domed Planetarium & Observatory for stargazing in the massive Southern Hemisphere sky, and gourmet restaurant and bar.
The 85 inviting, spacious rooms overlook the property’s extensive gardens and feature either private balconies or sunny sitting areas. Equidistant between Urubamba and Ollantaytambo, in the Sacred Valley, the hotel is perfectly positioned for easy access to the valley’s abundant attractions and incomparable Inca ruins, including world-renowned Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
A luxury boutique hotel just steps from the train, but a secluded natural paradise. Located in the small town of Aguas Calientes on the banks of the Urubamba River, the Pueblo Hotel was rated by Travel + Leisure readers as a top 500 hotel of the world in 2006. Rustic elegance distinguishes the private bungalows, each with its own fireplace, and the lush gardens are home to orchids, exotic birds and other flora and fauna.
Casa Andina Private Collection—Miraflores
The Casa Andina Private Collection—Miraflores hotel is the top of its class in every aspect. Once the Miraflores César's, Lima’s fondly remembered, original five-star hotel, this modern icon was dramatically transformed in 2008 into the capital’s newest luxury hotel. Its quintessential Limeño flavor reverberates in the exquisite art collection of contemporary local artists and prized colonial-era antiques, in both public spaces and accommodations.
The 17-story hotel, with views over Miraflores and the Pacific coast, offers 148 sophisticated, contemporary luxury rooms and suites, with soundproofing and LCD flatscreen TVs in every room. First-class amenities include a heated, covered pool and breezy terrace, gymnasium with the latest exercise equipment, prestigious Joop salon & massage room, business center, and 5 multimedia-equipped corporate event & meeting rooms.
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.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Manolo Lazo is one of Peru’s most experienced adventure travel guides, with more than 15 years of experience leading treks and whitewater rafting trips. A resident of Cusco, Manolo is well versed in the rich history of the Andes as well as the classic trekking routes that follow the ancient Inca trade paths. His knowledge of the country, its people, and traditions add immensely to your appreciation of the trip. Manolo is fluent in English as well as Spanish, and conversant in Quechua—the historic language of the Incas, and he has a gift for instilling confidence in every trekker.
Manuel started out as a field assistant with Mountain Travel Sobek more than 20 years ago, and is now considered one of the finest trek and tour leaders in Peru. Manuel graduated with a degree in agriculture and raises white corn on a farm in a valley near Cusco.