- Take a stroll through the historic center of Cusco, ancient capital of the Inca Empire
- Spy the majestic Andean Condor from a viewpoint near Chonta
- Behold the beauty of the sacred Salkantay and Humantay mountains
- Undertake the challenging climb to Abra Pass for spectacular views of Salkantay
|Day 1||Arrival in Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 2||Transfer to Pincopata Ecocamp: Condor-Spotting, Archaeological Sites||Mollepata|
|Day 3||By Transfer and Hike to Soraypampa Ecocamp||Soraypampa|
|Day 4||Hiking Around Soraypampa & Return to Pincopata Ecocamp||Mollepata|
|Day 5||Transfer Back to Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 6||Departure from Sacred Valley|
Day 1: Arrival in Cusco
Today you take your flight from Lima Airport to Cusco, former capital of the Inca Empire. Upon arrival, transfer to your Cusco hotel. First-time arivees should note that on this journey you will be traveling from sea level to 11,000 feet (3,000 meters) above sea level: so to minimize the effects of altitude sickness, take it easy and remember to drink lots of water.
There are no scheduled activities for today, so this is a great opportunity to adjust to the elevation with a gentle walk through the city's beautiful Plaza de Armas. Later, take the chance to experience Cusco's celebrated culinary heritage at a local restaurant. See here to discover the best places to eat in Cusco.
Day 2: Transfer to Pincopata Ecocamp: Condor-Spotting, Archaeological Sites
Your first full day gives you time to physically prepare for the following two days of outdoor fun in delightful and little-known parts of the Sacred Valley. Two options are available for today´s trip.
Option A: Condor-Spotting in the Apurimac Canyon
Your day will begin after an early breakfast by being picked up at your hotel at approximately 8:30am. You journey north out of the city to the small village of Chonta where you embark upon a 1-1.5-hour hike towards the Condor view point. Along the hike you can spot flora and fauna endemic to this region, as well as the dramatically snaking Apurimac canyon and river in the background. With your early start, and most tourists not arriving here until afternoon, you will be able to observe these giants of the sky in a quiet, serene environment. Close to the viewpoint you will enjoy a packed lunch before returning by the same path to Chonta.
You then transfer to the Pincopata Ecocamp, your accommodation for tonight.
- Diving Distance: 132.5 km / 83 mi
- Driving Time: 3hrs 20 min
- Hiking Distance: 6km
- Hiking Time: 2.5-3 hours
- Altitude at Chonta: 3,400 m
- Altitude at Pincopata: 2,850 m / 9,348 ft
Option B: Archaeological Adventure
This second option also departs from Cusco at 8:30am and will likewise take you along the same Cusco-Mollepata road.
Along the road, you come to your first stop of the day: the rarely visited archaeological site of Killarumiyoq. The place served as a temple of moon worship during the Inca Empire, as well as a place for fertility rites in honor of Pachamama (Mother Earth). Incredibly, the moon stone on which the moon cycle from new moon to waning crescent was carved, remains untouched, and this is a peaceful site at which to gain a deeper understanding of Inca culture.
You will then continue your tour with a 1.5-hour drive to the community of Marcahuaylla, from where we start a short walk to access the ruins of Choquechurco (Place where Gold is found). This sacred place, unknown to most, is your second off-the-beaten-path archaeological stop of the day. Situated among a forest of native Polylepis, gnarled trees that grow at a higher elevation than any other tree on the planet, this abandoned site part-covered by vegetation will make you feel like a true latter-day Indiana Jones. The views from Choquechurco are fantastic too: across to Humantay Mountain, the Limatambo and Apurimac valleys, and the town of Mollepata. You enjoy a packed lunch at Choquechurco before continuing the descent to the domes at Pincopata Ecocamp, your night's accommodation.
- Driving Distance: 61.5 mi / 98.5 km
- Driving Time: 2.5 hrs
- Hiking distance: 3.75 mi / 6 km
- Hiking time: 3.5 hrs
- Altitude at Choquechurco: 10500 ft / 3200 m
- Altitude at Pincopata: 9348 ft / 2850 m
Upon arrival at Pincopata Ecocamp, you will be greeted with lovely refreshments made from seasonal fruits and taken to your respective domes to enjoy a hot shower and a deserved rest!
If rest is not your thing, have a walk around camp or try one of the various extra activities available at the Ecocamp, such as horse riding and biking. You will then end the day with a freshly-prepared, typical Peruvian meal.
Day 3: By Transfer and Hike to Soraypampa Ecocamp
Today, after breakfast, you will be driven 15 minutes to the start of today's hiking trail in Marcoccasa. From here, it is a 6-mile, 10-kilometer walk up to your night's accommodation at Soraypampa Ecocamp, with vistas of the snowy peaks of Salkantay and Humantay unfolding before you. This is the beginning of the typical Salkantay Trek, the most popular of the Inca Trail alternative treks, but your base tonight, close to Salkantay, enables you to appreciate some lesser-known parts of this region under your own steam.
Around lunch time you arrive in your camp for tonight, the geodesic domes of Soraypampa Ecocamp.
In the afternoon, you will have earned a rest before your dinner this evening, perhaps through a relaxing massage or simply with a stroll around camp taking in the breathtaking surrounding views.
- Hiking distance: 6 mi / 10 km
- Hiking time: 4.5–5.5 hrs.
- Altitude at Soraypampa: 12,737 ft / 3883 m
- Hiking Level: easy/moderate
If you still have energy after this morning's hike and desire a more active afternoon, you can additionally hike to the lofty Humantay Lake, located at the base of the southern side of Humantay Mountain at over 14000 feet of altitude. Descend to the spectacularly gleaming waters of this lake to take some incredible photos.
- Hiking distance: 4 mi / 6.4 km round trip
- Hiking time: 3 hrs round trip
- Altitude at Humantay Glacier Lake: 14100 ft / 4298 m
Day 4: Hiking Around Soraypampa & Return to Pincopata Ecocamp
After breakfast today you will embark on a trek from the bottom of the valley, heading uphill and crossing several small pampas. The challenging final climb to the Abra Pass will be rewarded with unforgettable views of the snowy and wildly rugged southern face of Salkantay Mountain. After celebrating your accomplishment of ascending to a breath-sapping 15300 feet elevation at the pass, you will descending to a warmer spot to enjoy your lunch.
After this, you will return to Soraypampa to board your transfer back to Pincopata Ecocamp, where you will be spending your final night in the Sacred Valley countryside. Here, you will enjoy a marvelous farewell dinner before the starry Andean night sky, with perhaps a spot of stargazing around a cozy bonfire before bed.
- Hiking distance: 7.5 mi / 12 km
- Hiking time: 7-8 hrs round trip
- Altitude Abra Salkantay: 15,300 ft / 4664 m
- Hiking level: challenging
Day 5: Transfer Back to Cusco
After breakfast at Pincopata Ecocamp you will take your provided transportation back to Cusco, whereupon you will be transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day in Cusco is your own to spend as you see fit. Activities for your final day could include:
- Shopping at the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, one of the city's best places for buying authentic souvenirs and weavings, or at traditional Mercado San Pedro (between Calles Tupac Amaru & Cascaparo) four blocks west of the top end of Avenida del Sol, where you can treat yourself to some typical Peruvian snacks or street food.
- Exploring the district of San Blas, one of the city’s most attractive neighborhoods. Its beautifully restored buildings house artesanía workshops and stores where you’ll find high-quality crafts, many produced in front of your very eyes. Meanwhile, quaint little restaurants serve traditional Andean cuisine. Not to be missed is the tiny Templo de San Blas, whose highlight is an intricate pulpit carved in Spanish churrigueresque style from a block of cedarwood. It’s considered by many to be the finest example of wood carving in the Americas.
- Experiencing the Andean nightlife scene. You could start with a drink in Museo del Pisco, a museum and bar dedicated to the national spirit or, for a classy take on traditional Peruvian food at reasonable prices, try the famed Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio's Chicha.
- Distance: 109 Km/68 mi
- Driving time: 2.5 hrs.
Day 6: Departure from Sacred Valley
Today, it is time to say adios to Cusco and the Sacred Valley as you are transferred to Cusco airport in order to take your flight first to Lima and then back home.