Walk along the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Take in the spectacular views following rivers through the dramatic Andes Mountains, trekking past impressive Inca ruins and through diverse cloud forests. The Inca Trail - Fully supported four-day trek camping away from the crowds Machu Picchu - Get your first glimpse of this magnificent site arriving at the Sun Gate on foot Cusco - Wander the cobbled streets of the ancient colonial capital centres around the lively Plaza de Armas
Arrive in Cusco, the old heart of the Inca Empire and the archaeological capital of the Americas. The Spanish-style city of today, with its attractive pink tiled roofs, arcaded plazas and steep winding alleyways, stands upon tremendous Inca foundation stones, its links with the Inca Empire are everywhere to be seen, from the stone walls that line the city streets, to the museums filled with artefacts and relics of a long dead people. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 1.30pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for lunch at a local restaurant. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Cusco at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ), which is around 15 minutes' drive. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. Your main trek briefing will take place on day two. Later today, you might choose to relax and acclimatise to the altitude at the hotel or take a gentle stroll to the Plaza de Armas.
This morning is at leisure to rest and acclimatise, you may want to visit one of Cusco's museums and enjoy the lively atmosphere of Plaza de Armas (main square). In the afternoon we take a walking tour of Cusco taking in the grandeur of the city's more recent colonial past amongst the churches and galleries of the Plaza de Arma and learning about the incredible remains of Qoricancha, the most important temple of the Inca Empire dedicated to the Sun God Inti. We also visit San Pedro market, jammed with rows of stalls selling everything from head sized bread to colourful corn and handmade ponchos. The old capital of the Inca Empire survives only in its ruins, imbued with an atmosphere of mystery and grandeur. The Spanish-style city of today's Cusco, with its attractive pink tiled roofs, arcaded plazas and steep winding alleyways, stands upon tremendous Inca foundation stones. The interlocking stones, assembled so carefully that a knife blade cannot be forced between the multi-sided joints, were highly functional as well as beautiful - they are earthquake-proof!
Today has been left free to acclimatise and explore Cusco's old town further, you could walk up to Sacsayhuaman temple for views over the town, or there are several optional excursions available in the Sacred Valley. You can take a half day walk to visit the Maras salt mine and Moray, a fascinating archaeological site with concentric terraces, said to be used by the Incas as a botanical laboratory. This six kilometre walk is expected to take around three hours. Alternatively for water sport enthusiasts there is the option to go white-water rafting on the Urubamba River or stand up paddle boarding on Piuray Lagoon. There is also the chance to visit Cerveceria del Valle Sagrado, the Sacred Valley brewery, including a tour and tasting of the nine craft beers brewed on site. These activities include a guide and transport, they can be booked with your Tour Leader on the first day.
This morning we leave the city of Cusco behind and drive to Ollantaytambo, an original Inca town. Here we have a short walking tour to stretch our legs, visiting a traditional house and our first view of Inca terracing. We continue by bus for another hour to reach KM82, the starting point for the classic Inca Trail. The trail was first explored by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and opened for walkers in 1970. The famous ruins of Machu Picchu are not the only historical remains within the area: many other interesting sites are hidden in places which can only be reached on foot, and have scarcely been explored. We meet our porters and support staff, beginning our trek after lunch. The route crosses the Urubamba river, following a wide dirt trail alongside the riverbank. The undulating path takes us into the Sacred Valley of the Incas to Llaqtapata (2,700m). Here we camp opposite the ruins of Llaqtapata, a spectacular spot with amazing night skies. There are no permanent facilities here, the camp crew will set up a toilet tent for the group to use. Today's moderate six kilometre walk is expected to take around two-and-a-half hours with an ascent of 100 metres.
After a hearty breakfast we cross the river to visit the Llaqtapata Inca ruins before continuing with the trek. Today we follow the course of the Kusichaca river past small communities, crossing it to reach Wayllabamba, a quiet village of Inca origins and the last settlement on the route. After lunch we gradually ascend through the start of the cloud forest to Llulluchapampa (3,800m) which affords stunning views of the snowy peaks around us. Here we set up camp for the night; there is a well maintained facilities block with flushing toilets and sinks at this site. Today's moderate 10 kilometre walk is expected to take around six hours with 1,080 metres ascent.
Today is an earlier start as we trek over the Warmiwanusca (Dead Woman's) Pass to 4,200 metres. The two hour ascent is one of the more challenging sections of the trek, we take is slow and steady with many stops to admire the view and sunrise. After a rest and photo opportunity we descend along a stepped path to the valley of the Pacamayo river with its tropical vegetation. Here we break for brunch before beginning the ascent (mainly on steps) to the second pass of the day. After visiting the ruins of Runkuraqay it's the final ascent to cross the Runkuraqay Pass (3,950m). After the pass it is a long gradual descent passing into the start of the main cloud forest to reach the bottom of the valley. The Sayacmarca ruins are visible on a rocky outcrop, they command an imposing view and have only one means of access, a narrow granite stairway. We cross the valley to reach the Sayacmarca campsite for a late lunch. From here the trail goes through cloud forest with vines, exotic flowers (among them orchids) and luxuriant trees, with views (if we are lucky) of the snowcapped peaks of Salkantay. We walk through an Inca tunnel and along a ridge above the Urubamba River to our campsite above the Phuyupatamarca ruins (3,579m). The campsite has amazing panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and down the valley towards Machu Picchu mountain. There is a toilet block but it's not kept in the best condition so the camp crew will set up a toilet tent for the group to use. Today's challenging 15 kilometre walk is expected to take around eight hours with 1,000 metres ascent and 630 metres descent.
This morning is our final day walking along the Inca Trail. We say thanks and goodbye to our porters and begin our trek into Machu Picchu. We pass the Puyupatamarca ruins and spend the majority of the morning going down following stone paths and stairways, 80% of which are original Inca architecture. Coming out of the cloud forest we are greeted by the spectacular views down the valley, walking through the impressive Inca terraces at Intipata we reach our lunch stop at Winay-Wayna (2,591m). Those who wish can visit the ruins here, this Inca site is built into the steep hillside and like Machu Picchu, was abandoned for unknown reasons. Winding our way along the edge of the mountain we follow a wide path adorned with wild flowers and orchids to we take the final steps up to reach Inti Punku - the Gate of the Sun. Passing through there is a sudden and fantastic view of the Lost City itself, Machu Picchu, set in a grandiose landscape that amazes all spectators. We walk down through the site and then take the public bus down the mountainside to our hotel in the town of Aguas Calientes situated on the valley floor below Machu Picchu. Today's moderate 14 kilometre walk is expected to take around six hours with 1,000 metres descent.
Our final morning is spent at Machu Picchu, probably the most astounding feat of engineering in all of ancient America. Temples, stairways, palaces and gabled stone dwellings are scattered everywhere, testifying to the energy and ingenuity of the builders. We have a guided tour with our Explore Leader before taking the bus back down to Aquas Calientes. It is also possible to climb the steep peaks of either Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu Mountain to look down on the citadel. Machu Picchu Mountain is a 700m climb from the top of the citadel. There are cobbled stairs all the way up with a few eye-opening drops in some parts, and the round-trip takes about tow and half to three hours. Huayna Picchu Mountain is only 350m, half the size of Machu Picchu Mountain, but much steeper. There are many more sheer drops, and it is definitely not suitable for someone with a fear of heights. For those who fancy doing the one hour climb, you'll be rewarded with world-beating views of Machu Picchu, and the feeling that you're standing on a precipice at the top of the world. These climbs must be pre-paid at time of booking. If you change your passport between your time of booking and prior to travel please take your original passport with you. Those doing one of the optional climbs will take the first bus back up the Machu Picchu to begin the climb at 7am after which you will meet up with the rest of the group to take the guided tour. In the afternoon we get the train to Ollantaytambo, located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and then return to the historic town of Cusco by bus. Depending on the time of the train, you may have a free afternoon in Aquas Calientes, where there are many restaurants and cafes and a large covered market.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Cusco. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Cusco at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ). Depending on the schedule of your flights, you may have some additional time to visit a museum or do some souvenir shopping in the winding streets and alleys of the city. If you are travelling onto the Amazon, you will be transferred to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport this morning for your flight to Puerto Maldonado.
8 Break Fast(s) 4 Lunch(es) 3 Dinner(s)
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