Arrive in Lima for hotel check-in. Airport transfers included (minimum of 2 travelers—solo travelers ad $10).
Meet up with the rest of the group at breakfast. Possible yoga in the park. Then explore Lima on your own or join our small group city tour.
INCLUDED: Breakfast, yoga, city tour
After checking out of our hotel in Lima, we'll take a short flight to Cusco (approx. 1:25 in length), where we'll be greeted by our representative, transported to our hotel for check in, and prepare for comprehensive afternoon tour of the Imperial City of Cusco.
Please keep in mind that landing at 3,300 meters above sea level can have its toll on the body. Do not feel concerned if upon arrival you experience some shortness of breath or a small headache. This will all go in time once your body adjusts. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you take it easy upon arrival and let your body ease into the altitude by staying hydrated.
Your Cusco City Tour will begin at 1:00 pm, when we are picked up at our hotel lobby. We will visit the key sights in the city centre and Inca archaeological sites in the surrounding area, including the Cusco Cathedral, the Q’oricancha Museum, Sacsayhuaman, Q’enqo, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay.
To begin, we will head to Cusco’s Plaza de Armas (main square), to visit the famous Cusco Cathedral. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Cathedral will awe you with its impressive architecture, extensive collection of original artwork and gold-leafing decorating the altars.
Continuing on, we will continue on foot through an ancient Inca-built street from the Plaza de Armas to the Q’oricanca or the Temple of the Sun. At the Q’oricancha, you will be able to compare and contrast the building methods of the Incan culture and the Spanish conquerors. This was the key spiritual center of the Incas, leading to all four quarters of the Inca Empire. There is also a bronze, high altar to be witnessed.
From Q’oricancha, we will walk down Avenida El Sol, where we'll take our bus for our 25-minute car drive outside the city to visit the most important archaeological sites around Cusco. We'll visit the majestic Inca site of Sacsayhuaman, with its enigmatic 200-ton monoliths. Here, we'll enjoy a guided tour of the site and then free time to explore on our own. From Sacsayhuaman, we'll take a five minute bus ride to the Q’enqo Inca site to see its fascinating Incan altars. Following, we'll take another five minute drive to Puca Pucara, a small, circular Inca site. The final stop on our tour is Tambomachay, a water temple with impressive water fountains, thought to be used by the Inca for bathing. We’ll then drive back down to Cusco where the tour ends in the main square.
From Q’oricancha, we'll walk down Avenida El Sol, where you will take your bus 25 minutes outside of the city. We'll be taken to the majestic Inca site, Sacsayhuaman, with its enigmatic, 200 ton monoliths, We'll first hear from our guide and then have an opportunity to explore on our own.
From Sacsayhuaman, we'll take a five minute bus ride to the Q’enqo Inca site to see its fascinating Incan altars. Following, you will take another five minute drive to Puca Pucara, a small, circular Inca site. The final stop on our tour is Tambomachay, a water temple with impressive water fountains, thought to be used by the Inca for bathing. We’ll then drive back down to Cusco where the tour ends when we are returned to our hotel.
INCLUDED: All transportation, tours, entrance fees, guide.
Today's tour will begin with an early morning pick up, at approximately 7:30 am, from our accommodations in Cusco. This will be a full day tour giving us the opportunity to visit the most important and beautiful sites of the Sacred Valley, including the town of Pisac, Moray, Maras and Ollantaytambo.
From Cusco, we will head to the first stop of the tour, the town of Pisac. This will be approximately a 45-minute car drive. On the way, we will stop at some of the most beautiful lookout points from where to see the Sacred Valley. Once in Pisac, we will arrive at the town's traditional market for a brief exposure to all local artisans and their colorful merchandise. This stop will be the perfect opportunity for some souvenir shopping. Still in Pisac, we will continue to the town's main archaeological site, where you will be first introduced to the day's learnings about the powerful Inca Empire.
After the guided tour in Pisac, we will continue with our tour by heading on a 1-hour car drive to the next town of Urubamba for lunch. Here, you will have the option to choose where to grab a bite to eat.
Continuing on, we will make our way to Moray after lunch. Moray is an archaeological site located in the Sacred Valley and known for its unusual ruins. The site is composed of deep, circular terraces thought to have been agricultural terraces during the Inca Empire. You will appreciate the grandeur and be amazed by the perfection of such construction.
From Moray, the tour will continue to the next stop at the town of Maras. Here you'll be mesmerized by the naturally occurring salt mines still cultivated to date. This site will be sure to leave an impression you by the thousands of small salt-evaporating on ponds. Be sure to check the small shop offering some of the most soothing baths slats made from the extracted salt in Maras.
To finish off, we will head to the last stop of the tour – the town of Ollantaytambo. Once here, we will explore the town's archaeological fortress along with one of the most important Sun Temples of the region.
Our tour will end after our guided tour in Ollantaytambo, and we will be returned to our accommodations in Cusco,
MACHU PICCHU BY SCENIC TRAIN (NO HIKING)—INCLUDED
In the included option, We will picked up at 9:00 am from our hotel in Cusco and brought to Ollantaytambo (approximately 2 hours from Cusco depending on weather conditions and availability) to catch the 11:52 am train. If you are staying in Ollantaytambo, your pick-up will be at 11:00 hrs.
The train ride is breathtaking with very comfortable seats. During the trip, you will see many glaciers and snow-capped peaks, lush, green valleys and Incan farming terraces on both sites of the valley. You can also see the many Inca ruins along the way and Km 82, where the Classic 4-day Inca Trail begins.
After a while, you will enter the subtropical areas with bromiliads and ferns growing and then arrive in Aguas Calientes (2000m/6000ft above sea level), the town for Machu Picchu .Our representative will meet you just outside the train station (and before the market) and take us to our hotel.
You will have the so you can organize some optional activities if you’d like, such as a visit to the hot springs, Mandor Gardens and waterfalls or visit the small Machu Picchu museum which has interesting photos of the condition of Machu Picchu when it was first discovered. No guided services will be arranged for the afternoon and only your dinner in Aguas Calientes is included.
In the afternoon, we will re-group with those on the hike (at least, those that are not camping) for dinner at Indio Feliz, considered to be the best restaurant in Aguas Calientes, After dinner, we recommend going to bed early to make the most of the next day.
OPTIONAL INCA TRAIL TREK 2D-1N (Add $175)
Your day will begin with an early morning pick up from our accommodations in Cusco – at approximately 4:00 am. From here, we will head to the train station to catch the 6:10 am train headed to Aguas Calientes town. The train tracks follow the Urubamba River and will give you spectacular views of the nearby farmlands, snow-capped mountains and the mighty Urubamba River itself. The train ride will be approximately 45 minutes, and will take us directly to the trek's trail head, commonly known as KM 104 located at 2,000 meters above sea level.
Once at the trailhead, we will have some time to get ready for the day's hike. Here you will meet your trekking chef and porters and will also enjoy breakfast before starting your trek. Be sure you bring your original passport, since this is the very first checkpoint along the Inca Trail. After breakfast, you will visit the first Inca site on this trail, Chachabamba - the first ancient Incan checkpoint for entering to the Inca trail, and will have a brief guided tour to understand its importance.
The hike will begin from KM 104 on a gently uphill trail towards the Classic Inca Trail. If the weather is clear, we will have tremendous views of Machu Picchu, the Urubamba River and other surrounding Inca Sites. We will also see waterfalls. The trail itself has some flat areas, as well as some short uphill and downhill hikes. It also has steps, arranged in sections that can be narrow in some areas, but not dangerous. After hiking for approximately 3 hours, we will reach the most beautiful Incan site on the Inca Trail, Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young) at 2,600 m.a.s.l. Here you will visit and learn about the site's impressive water fountains, temples and agricultural terraces. The backdrop of Wiñay Wayna is also impressive, dropping off a cliff with beautiful mountains surrounding the area.
From Wiñay Wayna, we will continue trekking to the Sun Gate, from where we will see the picturesque landscape of Machu Picchu. At this location, we will take enough time to breathe in the beauty of the surrounding sights before continuing on with our descent to Machu Picchu and the town of Aguas Calientes. A big advantage of this hike is that by the time we reach Machu Picchu most of the day's travelers will have returned home. This will leave the sights of Machu Picchu to be almost empty.
CHOOSE ONE: WITH HOTEL OR WITH CAMPING
(Choose between the 2-day Inca Trail Trek WITH HOTEL option, or WITH CAMPING option, explained below.)
From Machu Picchu, we will take the bus down to Aguas Calientes and head to the hotel. For dinner, we will head as a group to Indio Feliz. This restaurant is considered to be the best restaurant in Aguas Calientes. After dinner, we recommend going to bed early to make the most of the next day.
From here, it is another hour hike to the Machu Picchu ruins. Once in Machu Picchu, you can explore the watchtower area where you can get charming pictures of Machu Picchu (without crowds). We’ll then take the 20 minute bus ride to the campsite of Puente Ruinas. When you arrive at the campsite, your tents will be all set up. You will meet your porters, and enjoy a social happy hour with hot drinks and dinner. Later in the evening, we’ll have a small ceremony with your chef and porters in order to say good bye to them. They will still be there the next morning to cook breakfast. This is the proper goodbye.
Today will be the most important day of our tour. To get the most out of the day, we will grab an early breakfast before catching one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu (starting at 5:30 a.m.). The hotel will hold our bags for us while in Machu Picchu. This way, you will only be required to take your personal backpack with all essentials up to Machu Picchu. The bus ride from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu will take approximately 30 minutes.
Once in Machu Picchu, our guide will introduce us the beauty of Machu Picchu. We will head directly to the perfect spot from where we will watch the sunrise and take photographs.
Our guide will then guide us around the main sectors of the citadel for a total of 2.5 hours. During this guided tour, we will learn more about the history and culture of the Inca Empire. At the end of the tour, there will be time to hike up Huayna Picchu Mountain* or Machu Picchu Mountain or exit the Machu Picchu Citadel.
For our return from Machu Picchu, it is recommended we begin heading back to Aguas Calientes town by no later than 2 hours prior to our train departure. Our guide will inform us of our train times prior to our return. The train return from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo will take approximately 2 hours. In Ollantytambo, our representatives will be waiting for us right by the station's exit door ready to bring us back to Cusco by car. The car ride to Cusco will be approximately 2 hours and will dropped us off at our hotel in Cusco.
*Huayna Picchu, or "young mountain", is an exhilarating and invigorating OPTIONAL hike immediately following our private tour of Machu Picchu.
This is the tall, beautiful mountain peak you see in the background of most pictures you see of Machu Picchu.
It is steeper, and there are some parts where you may need to use your hands for balance. If you are afraid of heights, you may not enjoy this hike. I don't personally love heights, but this was so worth it!
This hike offers one of the best views of Machu Picchu you can find. You might want to hang out for a while at the top to take in and enjoy the view.
There is a shorter hike which takes about and 1 1/2 - 2 hours, and a longer hike which will take 3 1/2 - 4 hours.
The cost for this optional hike is $75 and it is NOT a guided hike (a guide is not necessary). Three months advance notice is necessary to purchase the permit (there are a limited number allowed each day).
On this day, our last full day in Cusco, you have a free day, and may choose to enjoy a yoga class (included), a spa treatment, shopping, or wandering around town in a relaxed manner.
OR you can choose between one of two optional active hikes, Rainbow Mountain, or Humantay Lake.
You will be picked up at 4:00 – 4:30am from our hotel in Cusco. It will be a 2½ hour drive to the trailhead - we will arrive at around 7am. Here at the trailhead our chef will make a delicious breakfast including coffee, hot chocolate, teas, bread, fruit salad, eggs, and hot drinks. Cusco’s elevation is 3300m/11,300ft and the trailhead, which is called Phulawasipata, is at 4200m/ 14,300ft. Cusco’s weather is usually quite cold and the trailhead is even colder so early in the morning. Be sure to bring a warm jacket, scarf, hat and gloves. After breakfast we’ll hike about 2 hours uphill to the Rainbow Mountain range. At a slower pace it could be 2¾ hours, or if you are really fit, quick and acclimatized well, some people can do in 1½ hours. The hike up includes some short breaks where the guide will explain some important information about the mountains and the geography of the area. Perhaps you’ll have a chance to catch sight of some of the locals, including llamas and alpacas that frequent this area. The trail itself is quite wide and so is helpful for those with vertigo or fear of heights. The trek is best during dry season as the trails are not paved, so it can be a bit dusty, and in rainy season it can be slippery since it may be wet, but with good waterproof hiking shoes and hiking poles, it will be just fine.
Upon your arrival to the top of Rainbow Mountain, around 9-10:00am, you will have about 1 hour to explore the amazing views of the surrounding areas - valleys, mountains and to view the highest glacial mountain in Cusco - Ausangate, whose summit is at an elevation of 6,384m / 20,944ft, making it one of the tallest mountains in Peru. After giving you a bit of time to take some treasured photos, your guide will give you some interesting facts about this fascinating place - like why the colors?! – and he will also share some detail about the Inkan history. A few last photos of this amazing mountain and we will begin our descent. We will do this a little differently than other groups. Instead of hiking the same route as the others, we will hike to a lookout point to see the Red Valley and hike it. This valley is the icing on the cake - many hikers say that it is even nicer than Rainbow Mountain! It is about 2½ hours - mostly downhill - from Rainbow Mountain to the end of the trail, which is near where we started the hike. Here we will enjoy a fresh meal, prepared by your chef, which includes cold drinks, appetizers, soup and a main course. After lunch, it will be another 2½-hour drive to Cusco, where we will drop you off at our hotel at around 5:30 – 6:00pm.
* NOTE: There is an option to hire a horse for this hike, at an additional cost of $50 per person. This will get you close to the pass, but you will still need to hike about 20 minutes. Most people feel the cost of hiring the horses are worth it.
This one day hike on the Salkantay Trail to the Humantay Blue Lagoon starts with an early morning pick up (4AM) from our hotel in Cusco. The drive itself is most interesting as we have amazing views of the mountains as we drive along, also passing through a few indigenous villages and cornfields en route to the trailhead. The drive to Soraypampa is about 3 hours, and we will be starting our hike at an elevation of 3800 meters/12,460 feet. Here, surrounded by majestic mountains and valleys, your hiking team will prepare a delicious breakfast to give you lots of energy before we start our ascent. The uphill hike along the Salkantay Trail is 1½ to 2 hours, with your guide pointing out the various flora and fauna along the way, perhaps stopping for a postcard-perfect shot of the snow-capped peaks here and there.
At the top is the treasure! The magnificent Humantay Blue Lagoon, otherwise known as Laguna Humantay, which is an incredible and unforgettable shade of deep turquoise with the snow-capped Humantay glacial mountains in the background! Of course, descent is usually a bit quicker than your initial climb, and when we get to the bottom, there will be a nice lunch prepared to reward us! With our hearts and bellies full, we will start our 3-hour return to Cusco in our private van.
Enjoy 2 extra nights hotel in Cusco so you can participate in BOTH the Rainbow Mountain AND Humantay Lake hikes, with a free day in Cusco in between (to get a massage, practice yoga, shop, and basically give your body a chance to rest).
This would have you checking out on September 29th, rather than September 27th.
The additional cost for this package is $610 per person. This includes the hotel for 2 extra nights, and the cost of BOTH hikes).
Our representative will pick us up from our hotel in Cusco and deliver us to the airport for our departure flight to Lima.
When it comes to booking your RT flights to and from Lima, this is something I can help you with to arrange for the right timing, etc.
NOTE: If you are doing the 2 night optional extension so you can do BOTH Rainbow Mountain and Humantay Lake, your departure date would be September 29th.
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It's all heart and joyful energy!"
"Thank you for organizing and introducing me to so many wonderful, like-minded people."
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"The trip was amazing and I am so grateful to have been a part of it."
No problem. Some travelers are opting to add 2 extra nights at the end of the trip so they can do BOTH the Rainbow Mountain and Humantay Lake hikes and not have to choose between them, and they still want a free day to rest in between. Here's what that would look like:
So, 2 additional nights, plus both hikes (Rainbow Mountain AND Humantay Lake), would have you checking out on September 29th, rather than September 27th. The additional cost for this package is $610 per person. This includes the hotel for 2 extra nights, and the cost of both hikes).
There is a minimum of 2 people required for these optional hikes, but currently there appears to be plenty of interest in this optional extension, so that shouldn't be a problem.
First and foremost, make the decision to go and register to reserve your spot as this trip is expected to sell out fast.
As far as the rest of it is concerned, there's plenty of time to decide. After you register, I'll notify you of any and all options available (with regards to hikes, etc.) and let you know of any decision deadlines.
There are no required tourist visas for entry into Peru (for stays shorter than 183 days).
A passport is, of course, required, and must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of your scheduled return.
There are no required vaccinations for travel to Peru. However, before traveling anywhere, always check with the Centers for Disease Control and make your own educated decisions with regards to which, if any, travel vaccines you will get.
Here is a link to the CDC specifically with regard to travel to Peru. Click here.
While weather everywhere tends to be more unpredictable these days, September highs and lows typically range between 69° during the day and 39° at night.
It is safe to expect it to be dry during the day and chilly at night. For this reason layering is recommended.
If you're anything like me and the people I first traveled with to Peru, you'll get yourself all worked up and worried about altitude sickness, and people will tell you all kinds of stories. However once we arrived, and took into consideration the tips we were given about how to prepare our bodies to acclimatize, we were all just fine.
Altitude sickness is not a concern until you reach 8,000 feet, which won't happen until we arrive in Cusco.
Most travelers will only feel the altitude in moderate levels (light headaches, tiredness and shortness of breath). You will find that most restaurants, hotels, etc., have coca leaves (not processed) for tea. This is by far the most natural remedy for altitude sickness.
Ways to combat altitude sickness include:
It is worth noting that as a standard, all hotels in Cusco are implemented with oxygen tanks for emergencies. Also, safety is of utmost importance to our private tour operator, which is why they are equipped with first aid kits and oxygen tanks in all of their services. They are also the only tour company in Cusco to carry satellite phones.
If you are at all concerned about the possibility of altitude sickness during the trip based on past experiences or perhaps health conditions, you should consult your doctor prior to traveling.
Tips for tour guides, cook and porters (for those on the Inca Trail Trek) are not included. This is something extra to offer after a special experience. While tips are nice, they are not mandatory.
In addition, here is an article you might find useful on tipping in peru.
The currency of Peru is the nuevo sol. (characterized by the symbol: S/.).
One nuevo sol (S/.1) is worth about US$.30 US. Or, US$1.00 is worth S/.3.33.
A helpful currency exchange app you may want to consider downloading is XE Converter. Click here.
It is never recommended to carry around large amounts of cash, although you may want to convert some upon arrival. It is easy to withdraw from ATMs all over Peru.
For more information on money and currency in Peru, check out this TripSavvy article.
NOTE: Travelers who stick with the included Machu Picchu 2D by Train or those who choose the Inca Trail 2D trek WITH HOTEL will be required to bring their personal items (for the overnight in Aguas Calientes town) in their personal backpacks.
Also, the backpack size restriction entering Machu Picchu Citadel is 25 L. Travelers must plan to bring a personal backpack (in addition to their suitcase/luggage) fitting this restriction for their visit to Machu Picchu Citadel.
PACKING FOR THE INCA TRAIL 2D TREK WITH HOTEL
INSIDE YOUR DAYPACKS:
Daypacks can be any size for hiking, but we always recommend the smaller, the better. Inside Machu Picchu, no bag larger than 25L will be allowed in. If larger, you will need to store outside citadel gates.
PACKING FOR THE INCA TRAIL 2D TREK WITH CAMPING
It is important to note that this service will include a porter which will carry no more than 7KG (of personal belongings) for the trek. This is the only trek option that includes this service.
FOR YOUR DUFFEL:
Porters will carry up to 7 kg of your personal items. This must include your sleeping bag and air mat (if you bring/rent one). From us these two items weigh 3.5 kg.
INSIDE YOUR DAYPACKS:
Daypacks can be any size for hiking, but we always recommend the smaller, the better. Inside Machu Picchu, no bag larger than 25L will be allowed in. If larger, you will need to store outside citadel gates.
Every aspect of this trip has been carefully crafted to give you top quality comfort and door-to-door care while remaining locally-sourced, socially conscious, and environmentally sustainable.