Experience the wild beauty of the Sacred Valley and the rich Andean communities of the Lares Valley on this 10-day journey to Machu Picchu. Soak up the breathtaking views along the high-altitude Salkantay Inca Trek while discovering the living cultures and ancient history that make this such a special region to explore. Bunk down in cozy mountain lodges and encounter little-visited Inca ruins, then end your journey at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed citadel of Machu Picchu.
You'll arrive the day before into Cusco. We can arrange airport transfer to your hotel.
Begin your journey at the famous market at Pisaq, which ignites the central town square and features a colorful array of locally-crafted goods. Get your first taste of the Andean scenery on an optional hike before traveling on to the isolated community of Viacha to learn about their artisanal potato farming practices. You’ll be treated to a traditional “Pachamanca” meal cooked under hot stones, then have time to explore the archaeological complex at Pisaq as the sun sets behind the mountain peaks.
LARES VALLEY AND HUACAHUASI
Venture deeper into the Andean Mountains as you explore the Lares Valley, beginning with a scenic drive along the celebrated “Inca Weaver’s Trail”. Explore the little-visited archeological site of Ancasmarca, then opt to visit the traditional weavers’ village of Choquecancha or go hiking between turquoise lakes and soaring peaks to the remote village of Huacahuasi. Spend the night at a community-run lodge that is striving to protect the region’s cultural heritage and offers a fascinating insight into the lifestyle of Andean people.
HUACAHUASI TO OLLANTAYTAMBO
Spend the morning learning about the cultural heritage of the Huacahuasi community before embarking on a breathtaking hike over a high mountain pass to the oldest living city in Latin America - Ollantaytambo. You may also opt to hike from the Lares Pass along an old Inca trail that winds along a beautiful canyon to the community of Totora. Alternatively, visit an ethnographic museum that details the ancient history of Peru’s rich civilizations before enjoying lunch at a local restaurant amidst the Urubamba River countryside. Spend the afternoon exploring the charismatic streets of Ollantaytambo or embark on an optional mountain biking excursion through the Sacred Valley.
OLLANTAYTAMBO AND QUILLARUMIYOC
Spend the morning exploring the ancient city of Ollantaytambo while learning about its origins as the royal estate of Inca-Emperor Pachacutec and its role as a stronghold against Spanish conquistadors. Then embark on a scenic drive, stopping at the fascinating archaeological site of Quillarumiyoc where you’ll enjoy a picnic lunch. Continue on through the mountain village of Mollepata and visit the NGO at Yanapana where you can see traditional weavers at work and purchase beautiful textiles. Our day ends at the Salkantay Lodge, with the option to participate in a soft hike there from Challancancha or travel directly by vehicle.
Embark on an acclimatization hike to the stunning waters of Lake Humantay, which is fed by the hanging glaciers of Mount Humantay. Return to the lodge for lunch, then spend the afternoon at your leisure, perhaps indulging in a soak in the outdoor jacuzzi. In the evening, your guide will give you a briefing on the following day, ensuring you have all necessary gear ready.
CROSSING THE SALKANTAY PASS
Start the day early with a hike through the Rio Blanco Valley, circling the Humantay Peak and crossing the 4,638-meter-high Salkantay Pass. Soak up the views of snowcapped peaks as you look towards the Vilcabamba Range while keeping an eye out for Andean condors. Then slowly descend towards Wayra Lodge at Wayracmachay or “the cave where the wind lives”, which is your destination for the night.
CLOUD FOREST TREK
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Wayra Lodge before continuing your descent along the banks of the Salkantay River, with colorful butterflies and orchids igniting the lush forest. You’ll be greeted by a traditional Peruvian Pachamanca feast upon arrival at Colpa Lodge, with hot stones used to cook layers of meat, vegetables and local herbs in an underground oven. Soak up the panoramic views from the outdoor jacuzzi or spend the afternoon exploring the nearby orchid trail.
SANTA TERESA RIVER VALLEY
Begin the day hiking along the Santa Teresa River Valley, passing banana, granadilla and avocado orchards, as well as coffee plantations that are renowned for producing high-grade beans. Enjoy a hot picnic lunch served by the river before a short vehicle transfer to the start of the Llactapata Inca Trail. Make your way to the Lucma Lodge that nestles in an avocado orchard, with the option to discover how coffee is grown, harvested, dried and processed on a farm tour.
The day begins with a slow, uphill trek to the Llactapata Pass (8,974 feet/ 2,736 meters) where you’ll be treated to spectacular views of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. Take time to explore the archeological site of Llactapata before reenergizing with lunch at a scenic viewpoint. Then begin your final descent to the Aobamba River, hiking through lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations before boarding a train for the scenic ride to Aguas Calientes, which lies at the base of Machu Picchu.
Wake early for a buffet breakfast at the hotel, then embark on the 30-minute bus ride from Aguas Calientes to the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. Join your guide for a two-hour tour of the ruins, then take the time to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site at your leisure. Return to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch before boarding the train to Ollantaytambo where you’ll be met by your private vehicle transfer back to Cusco.
Dates & Rates
Rates are per person for the 10-day/9-night lodge trek program, based on shared accommodations.* Trip Rate is subject to change without prior notice due to circumstances beyond our control. * Single supplement – 50% of per person cost additional. If a guest is a single willing to share, we will do our best to pair up the guest with another traveler of the same gender. If no roommate is found then guest would be subject to a 25% supplement of per person cost.
- All services from pick up in Cusco on Day 1 to drop off in Cusco on Day 10.
- Transportation from hotel in Cusco to Lamay on Day 1 and from Ollantaytambo back to hotel on Day 10.
- 9 nights lodging (7 nights in MLP lodges, 1 night in The sacred Valley and 1 night in Aguas Calientes in a 4-Star hotel).
- All meals except breakfast on Day 1 and dinner on Day 10.
- Service of a bilingual guide (Spanish/English) from Day 1 to Day 10. Tours are led in English speaking guides.
- Transportation of personal belongings on the trek by pack horses/mules and/or porters.
- Guided visit to Machu Picchu Sanctuary (including entrance and transportation to site).
- Transportation (Train to Aguas Calientes, and Ollantaytambo).
- At the lodges we provide filtered and sparkling water, tea and coffee, juice and soft drinks free of charge. Alcohol, sports drinks and natural bottled water are not included.
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FAQ & More
Difficult to answer, this is really a question of personal preference. The busy season is June to August and it's also the driest part of the year in Machu Picchu. If you don't mind being a little wet while avoiding a heavy flow of visitors, Machu Picchu in December and January is absolutely perfect for you. It's important to remember that tours to Machu Picchu happen all year round but the Inca Trail is closed in February each year.
Like most in South America, Peruvians love any excuse for a celebration and the country enjoys a huge number of religious ceremonies, festivals and local events. Carnival time (generally late Feb.) is especially lively almost everywhere in the country, with fiestas held every Sunday. Tours to Machu Picchu during these requires a bit more planning in advance for airfare prices calendar of major public holidays & festivals:
February Carnival - Celebrated most of the month prior to Lent throughout the whole country.
March/April Easter (Holy Week) - Fantastic parades all over Peru. ROW Adventures like the one in Cusco!
June 24 Inti Raymi - Cusco's main Inca Festival of the Sun. A great time to tour the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu.
August 13 - 19 Arequipa Week - Parades, firework displays, plenty of folklore, dancing, and craft markets.
September End of the month Festival of Spring - Involves dancing, particularly the local Marinera dance.
October 18 - 28 Lord of Miracles - Festival featuring large and solemn processions.
Most travelers do not need visas; travelers of most nationalities are granted a 90 day tourist visa. All nationalities, however, need a tourist or embarkation card (tarjeta de embarque) to enter Peru, issued at the customs or on the plane before landing in Lima.
Altitude sickness is common in the highlands when visiting Machu Picchu, but can easily be treated by taking it slow and resting, staying hydrated, and there is medication available over the counter for pills altitude sickness. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended for areas east of the Andes Mountains, but not needed for Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, or other places along the coast or in the mountains. It's advisable to consult with Peru's official website before leaving for any questions.
UTC (universal time) minus 5 hours
Electricity in Peru is 220 Volts and 60 Hertz (cycles per second). If you want to use a 110-volt appliance in Peru, you’ll need to buy a power adapter. Most outlets in Peru accept US standard two flat blade male.
The current Peruvian currency, the Nuevo Sol - whose symbol is S/. Simply referred to as a "Sol." In Lima and Cuzco (and most other cities), Euros are as acceptable as US dollars for changing into soles.