Peru’s Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu
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This trip is the perfect introduction to the highlights of Cuzco and the Sacred Valley area, explored predominantly on foot. Explore ruins in the surrounding area, including Tambomachay and Sacsayhuaman. Trek through the Sacred Valley and explore Machu Picchu, one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world.
- Visit Cuzco, Imperial City of the Incas
- Hike through the Meadows of Llulluchapampa, Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman’s) Pass, and Pacamayo River valley
- Pass by ruins of Runquracay and Wiñay Wayna
- Inca site of Phuyupatamarca, and Inti Punku, the Sun Gate
- Guided tour of Machu Picchu with a local expert
Group Size: Min. 4 – Max. 16
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The trip starts in Cuzco (3400m) today. The Inca capital – though small enough to be easily manageable – is among the most attractive cities in South America, with much of the centre comprising colonial-era buildings with Inca foundations, and it is full of interesting museums, churches and pre-Columbian sites. We will have a short walking tour of the city including a visit to the Qoricancha Sun Temple.
It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude. We can also arrange for you to arrive a day or two ahead of time to give you longer to adjust to altitude.
There will be a welcome briefing in the hotel lobby this evening.
An Inca Trail permit is required for this trip. Inca Trail permits are limited with a daily cap on the number available and can sell out fast. We, therefore, recommend booking at least 6 months in advance to avoid disappointment.
This fabled trail is specifically designed to maximise the time spent at Machu Picchu with an early morning tour of the ruins, quieter at that hour before the crowds of day trippers and other trekkers arrive. (Alternative remote Moonstone trek available when Inca Trail permits have sold out). Classified Activity Level 3, Moderate.
Should permits not be available for the classic Inca Trail, the most iconic trekking route, there are other treks in the region which are equally spectacular. One of the best alternatives is the Moonstone Trek which can be arranged in place of the Inca Trail. If selected, the Moonstone Trek will replace days 3 to 6 of the standard itinerary. Please note that the maximum altitude on the Moonstone Trek is 4625m (higher than that of the classic Inca Trail) and the route is slightly more strenuous, therefore we class it as a Moderate / Challenging trek, Activity Level 4.
The hills above Cuzco city are dotted with some of the most interesting Inca ruins. We drive to the highest, Tambomachay, and return on foot to Cuzco via Puca Pucara, Qenco and Sacsayhuaman: an easy acclimatisation walk to get used to the altitude. An open-air picnic lunch is included during the hike near the spectacular ruins. Walking details: 6.5 km, 5-6 hrs. Meals: B, L
Today has been left free for exploring Cuzco, one of South America’s most beautiful cities. The Plaza de Armas is a fantastic spot for people-watching, and Qorikancha – the Sun Temple, located in the Santo Domingo Church and monastery, are worth a visit. The Mercado San Pedro is the place to try some local produce and there are many handicraft markets to shop for souvenirs such as alpaca jumpers and scarves. If you fancy something more active then there are an array of other optional activities available from Cuzco including paddle-boarding on a lake, mountain biking, or a combination of via ferrata and zip-lining in the Sacred Valley. Meals: B
Today we drive from Cuzco to Ollantaytambo (approximately 2 hrs drive) and then on to the Pumamarca ruins (approx. 30 minutes). These ruins are the remains of a hillside fortress and are built on a steep slope overlooking the Sacred Valley. Pumamarca ruins are less visited than others in the area so our time here should be relatively uninterrupted. After we finish exploring the Pamamarca ruins, we’ll walk back through the valley to Ollantaytambo, with views of the terraced countryside along the way. The walk should take about 3 hours. Walking details: 3.7 km, 3 hrs Meals: B
Today we have a day walk along a section of the Inca Trail, starting early with a train from Ollantaytambo. After showing our passports at the check point, we will pass by the archaeological site of Chachabamba and start our trek. The trail has impressive views of the valley and the Urubamba river, with orchids and begonias along the way and the sight of magnificent mountains all around. The trail passes the ruins of Wiñay Wayna where we will stop to explore and have our packed lunch. After visiting the attractive ruins of Wiñay Wayna, we have an undulating walk through cloud forest high above the river to Inti Punku, the Sun Gate. From here we get our first full sight of Machu Picchu itself, with Huayna Picchu rising behind. Walking details: 11 km, 6-7 hrs Meals: B, L
In order to beat the day-trippers arriving from Cuzco and reach the ruins as early as possible, a very early start is required to queue for Machu Picchu; only government-registered buses can make the 30-minute drive up the winding road to the site entrance, and during high season (May-October) queues can be hours long.
Machu Picchu is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world and what makes it all the more dramatic is its mountain backdrop of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records of it, and so Machu Picchu remained a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham.
New regulations for visiting Machu Picchu are now fully enforced; of the three possible visiting slots, we will purchase the morning slot from 06:00 until 12:00 (unless unavailable), you will be limited to a maximum of four hours within the site and must be accompanied by a guide. There will also be three set routes to follow around Machu Picchu; we select the most comprehensive route.
We catch an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo (1hr 30 mins) and continue by private bus to Cuzco (2hrs 30 mins).
The trip ends in Cuzco after breakfast today. Meals: B
Extend your trip by adding on an extension to the Amazon Rainforest or to Lake Titicaca. Ask us for details of these and other possible extensions.
- 6 nights of hotel accommodation in en-suite room
- Breakfasts and 2 lunches
- Tour leader throughout
- Transport and listed activities
- Full porterage throughout the trek
- Airfare to/from Cuzco
- Passport and visa fees
- Travel insurance
Disclaimer: We do our utmost to ensure that information posted on our website is correct at the time of publication, however trip details are subject to change without notice by the suppliers and operators involved. We update the information as soon as possible when changes are advised to us, however, we cannot assume responsibility for such changes made by the suppliers and operators.