Day 1 Lima Arrive in Lima at any time. A representative from Adventures to Peru will greet you at the airport and private transfer to your hotel. There are no planned activities today so check-in and enjoy the city. This afternoon you are free to explore colonial and modern Lima, with visits to the Government Palace, cathedral, Plaza de Armas and the Archaeological Museum. Or hang around the bustling commercial districts of and Miraflores and Barranco.
Day 2 Cusco (B) Transfer early this morning to the airport for the flight to Cusco. Often times the flights depart early – we may leave the hotel as early as 5:30 am.
Today is a free day in the Incan Imperial Capital. If you like museums we recommended a stop by the Incan Archaeological Museum located a block from the Plaza de Armas. Then, time permitting, visit the recently opened ‘Casa Concha’, which houses hundreds of pieces removed from Machu Picchu by Hiram Bingham in 1912 and recently returned in 2011 (Centennial Anniversary of Machu Picchu’s scientific discovery) to Peru by Yale University in the United States.
Also worth a visit is the colorful local market at San Pedro and/or the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas, full of artists, craftsmen and street vendors, both only minutes from the hotel. The day is yours!
While most ruins are just outside of the city, the main ruin within is that of the Koricancha, once the Inca Empire’s richest temple. Today the ruin forms the base of the colonial church of Santo Domingo. During Inca times this temple was literally covered with gold, but within months of the arrival of the first conquistadors this incredible wealth had all been melted down. It is left to the individual imagination to envision the magnificence of the original structure.
Our best advice for exploring Cusco is to wear a comfortable pair of shoes, arm yourself with a city map and set off to explore!
Days 3-5 Apurimac Canyon (2B, 3L, 2D) Raft through the Apurimac canyon, reputedly one of the best rafting spots in the world. Spend 3 challenging days on this turbulent river, descending class III, IV and V rapids. Camp along the white sand shores of the river for 2 nights, returning to Cusco on Day 5.
High in the Andes of southern Peru, the Apurímac River flows north for 428 miles before uniting with the Urubamba River to form the Ucayali River. One of the sources of the powerful Amazon River, the Apurímac canyon is one of the deepest depressions on the continent. With such a rapid change of altitude there are a variety of climates in this rugged area, ranging from warm and humid tropical weather on the jungle floor, to the cool, temperate weather of the high Andean plateau. We drive about 4 hours outside of Cusco to our drop-in point, the Huallpachaca Bridge (2000m). Here we have a training session on the river before descending class II and III rapids to our campsite. The second day will be a full day on the river, battling through mostly class III and IV rapids. We will again sleep on the sandy shores of the river for one last night on the Apurimac. Our last day we face a couple of class V rapids, with names like “Tooth Ache,” and “Last Laugh.” Anyone not wishing to do these rapids can easily pass on them, as there are support rafts and trails to detour around the biggest ones. After three to four hours on the river, we return to Cusco in the evening of day 5.
Day 6 Ollantaytambo (B) One of the most spectacular days of the tour takes us through the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Once an important source of food for the Inca, the Sacred Valley is a lush agricultural region that continues to supply the city of Cusco with much of its produce. As it is 600m lower than Cusco, temperatures are on average 5 degrees Cº higher in the Sacred Valley.
Our travels will bring us through the major archaeological sites of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. At Pisac, an optional two hour or 5km hike will allow us to fully appreciate the Incan city nestled high in the Andean range. Later, the colorful artesian market at Pisac will no doubt be a highlight for those in search of unique souvenirs.
The day trip finishes in the picturesque village of Ollantaytambo, location of another large Inca site. This major ruin is known as the best surviving example of Inca urban planning and engineering. But more than that, Ollantaytambo is a living breathing Inca City. Here we catch our breath and prepare for the hike ahead.
Focus today: Inca stone working techniques, 3 Peruvian blessings: Coca leaf, Andean Maca, Potato
Days 7-9 Inca Trail (B,L,D) The 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is physically challenging but worthwhile, and within the ability of most reasonably fit travelers. Go for it. As an old college professor once said, “The saddest words ever coined by mouth and pen, what might have been.” Harold Mueller, San Diego State University.
NOT HIKING? Those passengers not interested in the hike spend 2 days in Cusco, then travel by train to Aguas Calientes, where they overnight. Next morning they take the bus to the Machu Picchu entrance and rendezvous with the hikers at the ruins. If you decide not to do the hike we need to know prior to your departure in order to obtain train tickets. Please advise your Adventures to Peru contact as soon as you know you will not hike. Also note that portions of the Inca Trail will be closed for general maintenance during the month of February each year. Also, closures may occur at various times throughout the year due to weather or other conditions beyond our control. During these periods, any tour affected will take an alternate route along the Urubamba River or the trek to the Lares Valley.
The Inca Trail is exceptional; however it is important to be prepared! It is a 43-km (25 mile) hike, with 3 high passes to be crossed, one of which reaches an elevation of 4200m (13776 ft). The trail is often steep, and it may rain even during the dry season. The temperatures at night may fall below zero, so it is important to come prepared. If you do not wish to bring a sleeping bag or inflatable Thermarest mattress, they will be provided to you before the hike.
Our local crew of porters, cook and guide will look after us well for the duration of the hike. You can be sure there will be no shortage of food, and we’ll guarantee superb quality.
Porters carry the majority of the gear for the hike, so those passengers doing the hike only carry a small day pack with water, rain gear, snacks, a camera and personal items. As you walk the trail that linked this ancient empire, admire breathtaking views at every step as we move from high plateau areas to dense cloud forest. Depending on the season, you may see a great variety of flora, including miniature and large orchids, and fiery rhododendron bushes.
Day 7 Inca Trail (B,L,D) Day one of the Inca Trail is considered ‘the easy day’. We’ll depart Cusco or Ollantaytambo early for Piscacocha at km 82 where we begin our walk in the footsteps of the Inca. Take in the scenic views of the Urubamba River and Vilcanota mountain range as we hike 7km northeast along the Urubamba River Valley. We will then detour as we begin our first ascent and make our way up the Huallabamba Valley in route to lunch. After a couple hours of relatively easy ascent you arrive in Huallabamba. Depending on your particular trip, you may camp for the night near the small village of Huallabamba or continue trekking about 1 more hour to our first campsite at Allapata campsite (3,300mts).
* Accommodation: Tents
* Included: Lunch, Dinner, + Camping facilities.
* Today’s walking distance approximately 12km
Day 8 Inca Trail (B,L,D) After full and nutritious breakfast you’ll begin trekking toward today’s goal, Dead Women’s Pass. At 4198m (13769 ft) above sea level, this pass is the highest point of the trek. Today, you must take your time, find your own pace and stop to appreciate the views, for this is why you have chosen to hike the Inca Trail. Once you summit, have a few minutes for photos followed by a steep decent accompanied by insane scenery takes us to the valley of Pacaymayo for lunch. Depending on your particular campsite assignment, following lunch you’ll either have the afternoon free to relax, or continue on to summit the second pass of the hike, which is at 3998m (13113 ft). With some luck we’ll enjoy superb views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba. After a visit to the serine ruins of Sayacmarca, we will pitch our tents for the night at Chaquicocha or ‘Dry Lake’ in hopes of crystal clear views of the Salkantay range at dawn the next morning.
* Accommodation: Tents
* Included: Lunch, Dinner, + Camping facilities.
* Today’s walking distance approximately 11km
Day 9 Inca Trail (B,L,D) On day 3, the magnificent views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba and the Salkantay range are still visible. After breakfast, set off through some beautiful cloud forest on the gentle climb to the third pass, where you will walk through a causeway and a tunnel, both original Inca constructions from about the 14th century. The highest point of the third pass is at 3700m (12136ft). On clear days you are rewarded for all this work with beautiful views of the Urubamba Valley below. Soon after the pass, you reach the serene ruins of Phuyupatamarca (poo-yu-pata-marca), or the ‘Town above the Clouds’, at about 3650m (11972ft) above sea level.
After a short explanation and guided visit at Phuyupatamarca, begin the decent to Wiñay Huayna (Forever Young) ruins, a grandiose terraced hillside site, with panoramic views of the valley below and just a short hike from Machu Picchu. Our campsite is located 5 minutes from the archaeological site, which even if exhausted after a full day, we recommend you visit. Enjoy an afternoon tea, hot shower and final dinner. Before calling it a night, say good bye to your porters, cook and crew.
Tomorrow you’ll get an early wake up call, have breakfast and set off by torch light in route to the steps of the Sun Gate overlooking the peaks that surround Machu Picchu. There is no way to describe the feeling of the first views of Machu Picchu, as the mist rises off the mountains early in the morning and the famous city appears in front of you.
* Accommodation: Tents
* Included: Lunch, Dinner, + Camping facilities.
* Today’s walking distance approximately 14km
Day 10 Cusco (B) An early morning start from Wiñay Huayna takes us to the steps of Intipunku, or the ‘Sun Gate’. Here you are rewarded with your first, distant views of the Inca Citadel Machu Picchu. From the Intipunku decent another 1 hour to Machu Picchu. Following a short break, you’ll then begin a 2 hour guided tour visiting the principle temples, plazas and shrines within the Citadel.
After the guided tour, you’ll want free time to explore independently, rest, meditate or simply chill out, which you will have. Climb Huayna Picchu (Young Peak not included), hike to the Moon Temple or venture to the Inca Draw Bridge! There is no shortage of things so see and do in Machu Picchu. Lunch in Aguas Calientes, soak in the thermal baths before an afternoon train to Cusco and transfer to your hotel.
Focus: Machu Picchu practical explanations and theories
* Included: Breakfast, Expedition Train service to Ollantaytambo or Cusco
* Today’s walking distance approximately 8km
* Focus: Machu Picchu practical explanations and theories
Day 11 Cusco (B) One free day in Cusco is never enough. That is why you’ll have 2 days to really soak up Cusco’s ethnically brilliant atmosphere. Relax in the main ‘Plaza de Armas” or explore the enchanting network of narrow streets and white wash mud-brick walls. Set off on foot to Sacsayhuaman and Q’enko, located near Cusco’s X-zone. Investigate the markets, churches, museums and first-rate restaurants, all at your fingertips while exploring the city center on foot. Take a short walk to the ‘Koricancancha’, or Incan Temple of the Sun. As the only Incan Temple in Cusco still standing, the Koricancha unique because it has a Dominican Church built around it, all atop Incan stone foundations. A true amalgamation of cultures!
More active options include river rafting, motorcycle tours and mountain biking. The day is yours!
Have a laid-back undemanding evening and get ready for the biking trip to the jungle!
Days 12-14 Biking to the Manu Biosphere Reserve (2B,3L,2D)
The Manu area includes habitats ranging from the Andean highlands around the rivers’ headwaters through some of the last remaining intact cloud forests, to the lowland rainforests of the Amazon basin. Over 1,300 bird species (including 32 parrot species – 10% of the world’s total), 200 mammal species, 90 frog species, 1,200 butterfly species and 10,000 species of higher plants are protected within this reserve.
Day 12 Paucartambo (B,L,D) We leave early from our hotel and drive over an amazing road towards the eastern part of Cusco. Our first stop will be the familiar village of Pisac, home to both ruins and a small market. An hour later we will arrive at the pass of Qolqepata where bikes will be unloaded and get ready for some exciting and easy downhill towards the colonial town of Paucartambo (3017m), about 35 km, where will have the opportunity to stretch our legs and rest as we stroll through this picturesque town.
Day 13 San Pedro (B,L,D) After breakfast and an hour long drive we will ride mostly down hill for about 50 kms to our lodge in San Pedro. During the ride, photo opportunities will abound as the vegetation becomes greener and more lush and the opportunities to spot wildlife increase. Take the afternoon to explore the San Pedro area where your guide will show you the habitat of this unique cloud forest.
Day 14 Cusco (B,L,) An early morning visit to the Cock of the Rock Lek (a mating ground for the bird) is possible. Located within walking distance from our lodge where we are likely to have the chance to see these birds in their natural habitat and demonstrating their typical behavior. After breakfast we will start our drive up the road up to Ajanacu Pass to start our descent by bike as far as Paucartambo where will have lunch. We will leave Paucartambo to start our drive back to Cusco taking the Pisac road and have a smooth descent by bikes back to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where we will meet our bus that will drive us back to Cusco arriving late afternoon.
Day 15 Lima (B) Fly to Lima for the final stop on our journey. Finish up last minute shopping at the Indian market and enjoy one last evening in the capital.
Day 16 Departure Day (B) Adios amigos! Adventures to Peru services end today. Adventures to Peru will collect you from the hotel and private transfer to the airport.