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Andean Explorer: Explore the Heartland of the Incas

Trip Length 8 days

From $4,595

  • See the best of Peru on this unique and comprehensive itinerary with the Andean adventure experts since 1969
  • Explore the timeless city of Cusco—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and its spectacular Inca ruins
  • Enjoy scenic day hikes to ancient fortresses and out-of-the-way villages, and relax at night in the finest hotel accommodations
  • Experience a half-day hike on the classic Inca trail to Machu Picchu, and spend two nights and one full day exploring this iconic site

This is one of our most popular trips and a great way to discover the best of Peru, from the Urubamba Valley to Machu Picchu. You’ll stroll through the ancient back streets of Cusco and enjoy awe-inspiring hikes through fertile valleys and highland plateaus to Incan ruins and out-of-the-way villages. Our adventure hits a high point as we ride the picturesque train up the narrowing gorge of the Urubamba River, and spend a half day hiking up the classic Inca Trail to the legendary lost citadel and ethereal cloud forest of Machu Picchu. Drawing on over 40 years of experience in the region, we can be relied on for a knowledgeable, insightful journey that truly immerses you in the native culture, complemented by excellent regional food and the finest accommodations. Expert MTS leadership by a great crew of local guides makes this an adventure you won’t soon forget.

Book now for 2017 to secure permits for the half-day Inca Trail trek!

Day 1: Arrive in Lima and fly to Cusco

Arrive in Lima in the morning to catch a one-hour flight to Cusco, where you’ll be met by your trip leader and transferred to the five-star Hotel Monasterio, located one block from the main square.

In the afternoon, enjoy a guided tour of the city, with an introduction to the illustrious history of the Inca civilization. Charming red-roofed Cusco is the ancient capital of the vast Inca Empire. The Spanish conquistadores destroyed significant portions of the Inca civilization while leaving their mark on Cusco. Ornate cathedrals, adobe walls, carved balconies, hidden courtyards, and cobblestone streets add to the historic richness of the ancient Inca city. Choose from many fine restaurants for dinner, then stroll around the central square where colorful Quechuan handicrafts are offered for sale.

  • Accommodation:Hotel Monasterio

Day 2: Visit ancient Inca ruins at Pisac

In the morning, we'll visit nearby Inca ruins, including Kenko, with its zigzag channels, the ceremonial bath of Tambo Machay, and majestic Sacsayhuamán fortress, most impressive of them all with its perfectly fitted, mortarless stone blocks and zigzag walls.

We’ll have lunch in the town of Pisac and 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 of ancient America. Pisac is at the same elevation as Cusco and is located high up on a ridge overlooking the valley. Its ruins extend from a fortress to a temple complex where we can see some of the finest Inca stonework in existence. Terraces extend up from the river perhaps 2,000 feet, and we’ll descend through a network of stairs, walkways, tunnels, and temples and on down to the valley floor at 9,500'.

We'll continue by vehicle to our overnight accommodation at Casa Andina Private Collection, a charming hotel where we can spend the remainder of the day.

(Hiking time: 2 to 3 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Aranwa Hotel at Sacred Valley

Day 3: Explore the Sacred Valley: Chinchero, Maras, and Moray

Today, we'll take a scenic drive from the valley up onto a highland plateau to visit the market town of Chinchero (12,398'). En route, we’ll pass through farmland areas with a patchwork of pretty fields and adobe houses with red-tiled roofs, and enjoy views of snowcapped mountains in the distance. Chinchero is famous for a massive Inca wall located in its town square, with ten of the largest trapezoidal niches known among Inca monuments.

We'll continue across the plateau to the impressive earthworks at Moray, a large, experimental agricultural site with terraces built in concentric circles. 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 to the salt pans of Salinas, fed by a salt spring that is fed into terraced evaporative pools as a way of harvesting salt. This was a strategic trading area in Inca times.

(Hiking time: 2 to 3 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Aranwa Hotel at Sacred Valley

Day 4: Hike narrow trails from Pumamarca to Ollantaytambo

A narrow dirt road will take us high into the Andes, through villages above the Sacred Valley. Here you'll be able to 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 the small archaeological complex at Pumamarca. The origin and purpose of this site remains a mystery, but was thought to be a control point for water distribution for the population. Continuing along the original Inca path, we'll pass the agricultural terraces of Choquicancha and views of the valley below.

After walking approximately 3 hours, we'll reach the town of Ollantaytambo, where we'll visit the Ollantaytambo ruins—one of the few Inca sites that have survived just as the Incas designed them several hundred years ago. Here, we'll see Inca canchas (enclosures of multi-family living quarters that share just one exit to the street), ingenious stonework, cobbled streets, and an extensive communal water system that survives to this day.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Aranwa Hotel at Sacred Valley

Day 5: Experience the legendary Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

We’ll catch the train in Ollantaytambo and follow the ever-narrowing gorge of the Urubamba River. Here we’ll leave the train for an optional half-day hike to Machu Picchu and enjoy a picnic lunch en route. As we approach the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, the valley turns into a canyon and the vegetation changes to that of a cloud forest. After a brief visit to the ruins at Chachabamba, we’ll hike steadily uphill to the jungle-bound ruins of Winaywayna (“forever young”), discovered in 1941.

From here, the Inca Trail cuts across the ridge above Machu Picchu to reach the original entrance to Machu Picchu: Intipunku (8,954'), or Gate of the Sun. We’ll pause here for a moment to absorb the awesome, fairytale setting, then follow the trail downhill into the lost citadel located high above the Urubamba River. At the end of the day, we'll descend to our hotel, located in a quiet and beautiful spot on the Urubamba a short walk from the hustle and bustle of the nearby town.

Those who don’t feel like hiking can continue on the train to Aguas Calientes, just below Machu Picchu, from where we can take a short bus ride to the ruins. We’ll have a short orientation tour of the ruins, and then you’re free to explore the sanctuary on your own for the remainder of the afternoon. We’ll rejoin the hikers at the Sanctuary, and descend to our hotel together.

(Hiking time: 4 to 6 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Day 6: Explore Machu Picchu

We’ll awaken early to catch the bus up 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 visitors. We’ll have a thorough walking tour of Machu Picchu, visiting the various main structures and learning about their importance in the lives of the Incas, including a hike to Machu Picchu Mountain.

After lunch at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Hotel, the afternoon is free to explore some more on your own. You can also return to the hotel via bus and stroll in its lovely gardens, which contain more than 372 species of orchids, native palms, ferns, begonias, fruit trees and medicinal plants. We'll cap off the evening with a festive farewell dinner.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Day 7: Enjoy the scenic train ride back to Cusco

The morning is free to relax at the hotel, return to Machu Picchu, or take short hikes in the immediate vicinity. After lunch at Sumac Hotel, we’ll catch the train to Cusco (about a four-hour ride). Upon arrival, we'll transfer to the Hotel Monasterio and enjoy time exploring at our own leisure.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Hotel Monasterio

Day 8: Fly to Lima

Transfer to the airport and fly to Lima. Upon arrival, we'll have a tour of Lima, including lunch and a visit to the Larco Museum with its dazzling gold artifacts. In the early evening, we'll transfer to the airport and depart on our homeward-bound flights.

  • Breakfast

Oct 08 - 15, 2016 Guaranteed Departure

Apr 15 - 22, 2017 Guaranteed Departure

May 20 - 27, 2017

Jun 10 - 17, 2017

Jul 29, 2017 - Aug 05, 2017

Sep 02 - 09, 2017

Oct 07 - 14, 2017

pricing

2016 PRICES
$4,595 (4-16 members)
$4,895 (2-3 members)
$400 internal airfare
$1,800 single supplement
$200 surcharge applies for Inti Raymi Festival and December departures.

2017 PRICES
$4,695 (4-16 members)
$4,995 (2-3 members)
$400 internal airfare
$1,800 single supplement
$200 surcharge applies for Inti Raymi Festival and December departures.

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Aranwa Hotel at Sacred Valley — Sacred Valley

Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel & Wellness is built on a 17th-century colonial hacienda near the Vilcanota River, just an hour outside of Cusco and 30 minutes from Ollantaytambo train station; on the route to Machu Picchu. The hotel offers rooms that range from simple yet modern standard rooms to grand suites decorated in an elegant colonial style. However, it's the scenery that takes center stage here, with sweeping views of the snow-capped mountains framing this exquisite picture. The hotel features several food and drink options, as well as a first-class spa that combines modern techniques with ancient Andean methods.

Hotel Monasterio — Cusco

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.

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel — Aguas Calientes

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. Check out this fantastic video introducing Inkaterra:

"Not only great vistas but the guide, accommodations, food and the Peruvian people make this a most memorable trip. At 58 years of age the hiking was terrific and not to difficult to recover from for the next day's trek." Thomas Schooley

  • See the best of Peru on this unique and comprehensive itinerary with the Andean adventure experts since 1969
  • Explore the timeless city of Cusco—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and its spectacular Inca ruins
  • Enjoy scenic day hikes to ancient fortresses and out-of-the-way villages, and relax at night in the finest hotel accommodations
  • Experience a half-day hike on the classic Inca trail to Machu Picchu, and spend two nights and one full day exploring this iconic site

This is one of our most popular trips and a great way to discover the best of Peru, from the Urubamba Valley to Machu Picchu. You’ll stroll through the ancient back streets of Cusco and enjoy awe-inspiring hikes through fertile valleys and highland plateaus to Incan ruins and out-of-the-way villages. Our adventure hits a high point as we ride the picturesque train up the narrowing gorge of the Urubamba River, and spend a half day hiking up the classic Inca Trail to the legendary lost citadel and ethereal cloud forest of Machu Picchu. Drawing on over 40 years of experience in the region, we can be relied on for a knowledgeable, insightful journey that truly immerses you in the native culture, complemented by excellent regional food and the finest accommodations. Expert MTS leadership by a great crew of local guides makes this an adventure you won’t soon forget.

Book now for 2017 to secure permits for the half-day Inca Trail trek!

review

"Not only great vistas but the guide, accommodations, food and the Peruvian people make this a most memorable trip. At 58 years of age the hiking was terrific and not to difficult to recover from for the next day's trek." Thomas Schooley

DAILY itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lima and fly to Cusco

Arrive in Lima in the morning to catch a one-hour flight to Cusco, where you’ll be met by your trip leader and transferred to the five-star Hotel Monasterio, located one block from the main square.

In the afternoon, enjoy a guided tour of the city, with an introduction to the illustrious history of the Inca civilization. Charming red-roofed Cusco is the ancient capital of the vast Inca Empire. The Spanish conquistadores destroyed significant portions of the Inca civilization while leaving their mark on Cusco. Ornate cathedrals, adobe walls, carved balconies, hidden courtyards, and cobblestone streets add to the historic richness of the ancient Inca city. Choose from many fine restaurants for dinner, then stroll around the central square where colorful Quechuan handicrafts are offered for sale.

  • Accommodation:Hotel Monasterio

Day 2: Visit ancient Inca ruins at Pisac

In the morning, we'll visit nearby Inca ruins, including Kenko, with its zigzag channels, the ceremonial bath of Tambo Machay, and majestic Sacsayhuamán fortress, most impressive of them all with its perfectly fitted, mortarless stone blocks and zigzag walls.

We’ll have lunch in the town of Pisac and 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 of ancient America. Pisac is at the same elevation as Cusco and is located high up on a ridge overlooking the valley. Its ruins extend from a fortress to a temple complex where we can see some of the finest Inca stonework in existence. Terraces extend up from the river perhaps 2,000 feet, and we’ll descend through a network of stairs, walkways, tunnels, and temples and on down to the valley floor at 9,500'.

We'll continue by vehicle to our overnight accommodation at Casa Andina Private Collection, a charming hotel where we can spend the remainder of the day.

(Hiking time: 2 to 3 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Aranwa Hotel at Sacred Valley

Day 3: Explore the Sacred Valley: Chinchero, Maras, and Moray

Today, we'll take a scenic drive from the valley up onto a highland plateau to visit the market town of Chinchero (12,398'). En route, we’ll pass through farmland areas with a patchwork of pretty fields and adobe houses with red-tiled roofs, and enjoy views of snowcapped mountains in the distance. Chinchero is famous for a massive Inca wall located in its town square, with ten of the largest trapezoidal niches known among Inca monuments.

We'll continue across the plateau to the impressive earthworks at Moray, a large, experimental agricultural site with terraces built in concentric circles. 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 to the salt pans of Salinas, fed by a salt spring that is fed into terraced evaporative pools as a way of harvesting salt. This was a strategic trading area in Inca times.

(Hiking time: 2 to 3 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Aranwa Hotel at Sacred Valley

Day 4: Hike narrow trails from Pumamarca to Ollantaytambo

A narrow dirt road will take us high into the Andes, through villages above the Sacred Valley. Here you'll be able to 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 the small archaeological complex at Pumamarca. The origin and purpose of this site remains a mystery, but was thought to be a control point for water distribution for the population. Continuing along the original Inca path, we'll pass the agricultural terraces of Choquicancha and views of the valley below.

After walking approximately 3 hours, we'll reach the town of Ollantaytambo, where we'll visit the Ollantaytambo ruins—one of the few Inca sites that have survived just as the Incas designed them several hundred years ago. Here, we'll see Inca canchas (enclosures of multi-family living quarters that share just one exit to the street), ingenious stonework, cobbled streets, and an extensive communal water system that survives to this day.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Aranwa Hotel at Sacred Valley

Day 5: Experience the legendary Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

We’ll catch the train in Ollantaytambo and follow the ever-narrowing gorge of the Urubamba River. Here we’ll leave the train for an optional half-day hike to Machu Picchu and enjoy a picnic lunch en route. As we approach the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, the valley turns into a canyon and the vegetation changes to that of a cloud forest. After a brief visit to the ruins at Chachabamba, we’ll hike steadily uphill to the jungle-bound ruins of Winaywayna (“forever young”), discovered in 1941.

From here, the Inca Trail cuts across the ridge above Machu Picchu to reach the original entrance to Machu Picchu: Intipunku (8,954'), or Gate of the Sun. We’ll pause here for a moment to absorb the awesome, fairytale setting, then follow the trail downhill into the lost citadel located high above the Urubamba River. At the end of the day, we'll descend to our hotel, located in a quiet and beautiful spot on the Urubamba a short walk from the hustle and bustle of the nearby town.

Those who don’t feel like hiking can continue on the train to Aguas Calientes, just below Machu Picchu, from where we can take a short bus ride to the ruins. We’ll have a short orientation tour of the ruins, and then you’re free to explore the sanctuary on your own for the remainder of the afternoon. We’ll rejoin the hikers at the Sanctuary, and descend to our hotel together.

(Hiking time: 4 to 6 hours)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Day 6: Explore Machu Picchu

We’ll awaken early to catch the bus up 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 visitors. We’ll have a thorough walking tour of Machu Picchu, visiting the various main structures and learning about their importance in the lives of the Incas, including a hike to Machu Picchu Mountain.

After lunch at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Hotel, the afternoon is free to explore some more on your own. You can also return to the hotel via bus and stroll in its lovely gardens, which contain more than 372 species of orchids, native palms, ferns, begonias, fruit trees and medicinal plants. We'll cap off the evening with a festive farewell dinner.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Day 7: Enjoy the scenic train ride back to Cusco

The morning is free to relax at the hotel, return to Machu Picchu, or take short hikes in the immediate vicinity. After lunch at Sumac Hotel, we’ll catch the train to Cusco (about a four-hour ride). Upon arrival, we'll transfer to the Hotel Monasterio and enjoy time exploring at our own leisure.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Hotel Monasterio

Day 8: Fly to Lima

Transfer to the airport and fly to Lima. Upon arrival, we'll have a tour of Lima, including lunch and a visit to the Larco Museum with its dazzling gold artifacts. In the early evening, we'll transfer to the airport and depart on our homeward-bound flights.

  • Breakfast
lodgings

Aranwa Hotel at Sacred Valley — Sacred Valley

Aranwa Sacred Valley Hotel & Wellness is built on a 17th-century colonial hacienda near the Vilcanota River, just an hour outside of Cusco and 30 minutes from Ollantaytambo train station; on the route to Machu Picchu. The hotel offers rooms that range from simple yet modern standard rooms to grand suites decorated in an elegant colonial style. However, it's the scenery that takes center stage here, with sweeping views of the snow-capped mountains framing this exquisite picture. The hotel features several food and drink options, as well as a first-class spa that combines modern techniques with ancient Andean methods.

Hotel Monasterio — Cusco

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.

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel — Aguas Calientes

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. Check out this fantastic video introducing Inkaterra:

Dates and Pricing

Oct 08 - 15, 2016 Guaranteed Departure

Apr 15 - 22, 2017 Guaranteed Departure

May 20 - 27, 2017

Jun 10 - 17, 2017

Jul 29, 2017 - Aug 05, 2017

Sep 02 - 09, 2017

Oct 07 - 14, 2017

pricing

2016 PRICES
$4,595 (4-16 members)
$4,895 (2-3 members)
$400 internal airfare
$1,800 single supplement
$200 surcharge applies for Inti Raymi Festival and December departures.

2017 PRICES
$4,695 (4-16 members)
$4,995 (2-3 members)
$400 internal airfare
$1,800 single supplement
$200 surcharge applies for Inti Raymi Festival and December departures.

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Call us at 1-888-831-7526
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