- Stroll the ancient plazas & palaces of Cusco
- Tour the living Inca city of Ollantaytambo
- Trek along mountain trails to the Sacred Valley
- See the wonders of Machu Picchu at sunrise
|Day 1||Arrive in Lima||Lima|
|Day 2||Fly to Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 3||Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero Tour||Cusco|
|Day 4||Moray Terraces & Maras Salt Mines Tour||Cusco|
|Day 5||Socma Trek Day 1||Rayampata|
|Day 6||Socma Trek Day 2||Choquetecarpo|
|Day 7||Socma Trek Day 3||Aguas Calientes/ Machu Picchu|
|Day 8||Visit Machu Picchu, Return to Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 9||Free Day in Cusco||Cusco|
|Day 10||Fly to Lima & Departure|
Day 1: Arrive in Lima
¡Bienvenidos! Welcome to Lima, Peru's largest city and central metropolitan hub, and home to one-third of the country's population. Upon arrival, you'll be met by your driver and transferred to your hotel in the Miraflores/San Isidro district.
Located at the site of a pre-Columbian indigenous Ychsma settlement, which was conquered by the Inca Empire in the 15th century and later by the Spanish conquistadores, Lima has a fascinating history and a diverse mix of cultures. Amerindian, European, Afro-Peruvian, and Asian—especially Chinese and Japanese—influences make Lima a dynamic and exciting city to explore.
Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it perfect to discover on foot. After settling in, head downtown to mingle with locals, stretch your legs, and grab a bite to eat in one of the many award-winning restaurants.
Day 2: Fly to Cusco
Today starts with a private transfer to the airport, where you'll catch a short domestic flight to Cusco. This ancient city is the former capital of the Inca Empire, which reigned from the 13th to 16th centuries after conquering the Killke settlement in the same location. After arriving and checking into your hotel, head out to discover the city.
At 11,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level, it takes time to adjust to the altitude—so take it easy and remember to drink lots of water. Since Cusco was designed as a city for walking, start your exploration of the narrow stone alleyways on foot. Make sure to take a walk through the plaza—if the weather is beautiful, it's the perfect place to sit on a balcony and have a cup of coca tea while adjusting to the elevation.
Day 3: Pisac, Ollantaytambo & Chinchero Tour
This morning, you will depart from your hotel in Cusco to start your exploration of the Sacred Valley. Your first stop is Pisac, one of the most important archaeological sites in the region. Explore the ancient Inca burial grounds, irrigation systems, and astronomy centers at Pisac Citadel, then descend to the valley floor to visit the town of the same name. Here you can browse its bustling textile market and shop for gifts and souvenirs.
Stop for lunch in Urubamba, where you'll enjoy traditional Peruvian Andean cuisine in a beautiful setting overlooking the Urubamba River.
In the afternoon, you'll continue to the ancient Inca settlement of Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that retains its original Inca grid plan. Walk streets lined with canals, view ancient houses still in use today, and climb the agricultural terraces, from where you can enjoy an Inca’s-eye-view of the valley. At the latter, you will be able to spy some of the quarries from where the stone for Ollantaytambo was sourced.
After a stop at Chinchero, where you can explore more ruins and a small but charming Andean town, it's time to make your way back to Cusco for the evening.
Day 4: Moray Terraces & Maras Salt Mines Tour
Head back into the Sacred Valley this morning, stopping first in Moray. Here you can marvel at the incredible series of stone terraced amphitheaters carved deep into the earth in the shape of a bowl. The exact reason for their construction is unknown; however, historians believe they were built to experiment with crop production in different micro-climates.
When you are done exploring Moray, head about two miles away to the salt mines of Maras. This village is known as a former salt-producing center and is thought to date back to pre-Inca times. There are over 3,000 salt pools here, spectacularly carved into the steep mountainside over a millennium ago.
In the afternoon, you'll return to Cusco and have the rest of the day to relax or discover more of the city.
Day 5: Socma Trek Day 1Today you'll lace up your hiking shoes for the trekking portion of your Peruvian adventure. An early morning pick-up takes you on a 1.5-hour drive into the mountains, passing through Huarocondo to reach Rafqa. After a short safety talk, you'll set out into the rugged scenery on foot. Ascending approximately 3,280 ft (1,000 m), the climb will be challenging but compensated by the beautiful views of the high Andean landscape.
Finally, you'll reach your campsite at Rayanpata (12,139 ft, 37,00 m) in time for a well-deserved lunch in the calm of nature. After lunch there's still plenty to see, starting with a visit to the archaeological complex of Qorimarca, believed to have been used as an entrance control during Inca times. Here you can take more pictures and have free time to explore on your own before returning to camp for a rest.
Day 6: Socma Trek Day 2
Rise early this morning and enjoy a fortifying breakfast to prepare for the most challenging day of your trekking journey. The hike begins with a three-hour ascent to the first pass of Puccaqasa (14,271 ft/4,350 m), offering imposing views of the Nevado Veronica. Another half hour's walk takes you to Puca Puqio, where you'll break for lunch and a quick rest before the next challenge.
Get back on the trail for two more hours of hiking to reach the highest point of the trek at Kuychicassa Pass (14,599 ft/4,450 m), where you'll have an enviable view of the entire route laid out below. From here you'll follow a series of rocky paths to arrive at Intipunku, believed to be an ancient viewpoint over the valley. Continue to your campsite at Choquetacarpo (11,811 ft,3,600 m) where you can finally rest, relax, and enjoy a hearty dinner.
Day 7: Socma Trek Day 3After a well-deserved rest, you'll start the final leg of the hike with a visit to Kachiq'ata, the ancient quarry that supplied the materials to construct Ollantaytambo. You'll also pass historic chullpas or funerary constructions that are still worshipped today. The total hike will last approximately four hours, stopping for lunch before arriving in Ollantaytambo.
Explore more of the living Inca city on foot, continuing to the archaeological complex or discovering the town at your own pace with a craft beer or a glass of chicha. In the afternoon you'll travel by train to Aguas Calientes, where you can get settled into your hotel and put your feet up.
Day 8: Visit Machu Picchu, Return to Cusco
A spectacular stone city surrounded by steep, lush mountains, Machu Picchu needs no introduction. Today you'll discover the grand main citadel, find hidden nooks and crannies, and experience breathtaking views from this mysterious wonder of the 15th-century Inca Empire. Located at 7,970 ft (2,430 m), the ancient citadel is a masterpiece of engineering that served as a sanctuary and retreat for Emperor Pachacutec and his royal court. Machu Picchu, which means "Old Mountain," is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
Built as a seasonal residence for the Inca family, Machu Picchu was rarely home to more than 800 people, and during the royals' absence, a mere 100 servants would remain at the site to maintain the grounds. Machu Picchu was abandoned 100 years after construction and remained largely hidden to the outside world until the early 20th century.
Rise at sunrise and be rewarded with a guided tour before the crowds arrive. After the tour, you will have plenty of time to explore the citadel on your own, then take the bus back to Aguas Calientes and grab lunch in the picturesque town center. Connect to your train to Ollantaytambo and your connecting transfer back to your hotel in Cusco.
Day 9: Free Day in Cusco
Today you're free to explore more of Cusco at your leisure. Suggested activities include:
- Visit the Coricancha, also known as the "Temple of the Sun." The temple was built by the Incan Emperor Pachacutec (1438 - 1572) and after the arrival of the Spaniards became the basis for the construction of the Santo Domingo Convent.
- See the Cathedral, the most imposing monument in the central Plaza de Armas and a repository for Cusco's colonial art. Its construction lasted for almost 100 years, beginning in 1560 and ending in 1654.
- Walk to Sacsayhuamán and next-door Quenqo, both archaeological complexes used mostly for religious and agricultural rituals, located 2.5 miles (4 km) from the city of Cusco. Built by the Killke people, Sacsayhuamán is a marvel of ancient architecture, a monolithic fortress built from giant blocks of stone, the origins and assembly of which remain a mystery.
- Discover the elaborate Puca Pucara ruins—an architectural complex of alleged military use with multiple plazas, baths, aqueducts, walls, and towers. It is believed that the entourage of the Incan emperor used it while he stayed at Tambomachay, the elaborate estate and baths nearby.
- Explore San Blas, an old bohemian quarter famous for its picturesque white walls, blue doors, and creative artisan community.
- Experience the legendary Mercado Central de San Pedro, a large and diverse market famous for its mouth-watering fruit juices, home-style meals, medicinal herb stalls, and rows of various meats, breads, vegetables, and other necessities.
- Eat lunch at a local Peruvian restaurant and sample local flavors and cooking techniques—crackling pork, pickled vegetables, seasonal flavors, bread baked in earthen ovens, roasted vegetables, and sweet donuts make for a delicious and filling meal.
Day 10: Fly to Lima & Departure
It's time to say your goodbyes to Peru this morning, as you transfer to Cusco Airport to catch a flight back to Lima and connect with your international departure. ¡Hasta luego!
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