Itinerary & Map
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
You will receive full details of exactly where to meet your Group Leader on the Joining Instructions which will be sent to you 2-3 weeks before your trip starts. For information on when the trip ends please refer to the itinerary as described below.
Discovered in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro, Lima was the principal city of Spanish South America for 300 years until the wave of independence swept the continent. You stay in the pleasant coastal suburb of Miraflores where shady parks, bustling cafes and the South Pacific coastline all lie within easy reach.
Hotel Carmel (AA) - 1 night - (B)
This morning, you will get a chance to visit the city on a bus tour which will take you through the archeological museum and the infamous Catacombs underneath San Francisco church. You'll take a short flight from Lima to Cusco this afternoon. Cusco, once the imperial capital, was laid out in the rough shape of a puma. Today, its orderly streets bear witness to the extraordinary skill of Inca stonemasons; many are still lined with precisely interlocked stonework, which serves as the foundation for later buildings from the colonial era, creating an atmospheric pastiche of contrasting architectural styles.
Tupac Yupanqui Palace (AA) - 3 nights - (B)
This morning you visit the fortress of Sacsayhuaman lying just outside Cusco city. The skilfully constructed outer walls consist of massive blocks of stone (the largest weighing over 350 tonnes) which must have been difficult to manoeuvre, let alone to cut and dress with such precision. The tour continues on foot in the city centre and reveals more of Cusco’s historical and archaeological treasures. The rest of the day is free to relax or further explore Cusco. This afternoon you’ll jump on a mountain bike and ride from the ridges above Cusco, exploring a variety of different routes, all of which end up back in town. The routes taken will depend on the ability of the group. (B)
Today, you’ll have a fun day out rafting on the Urubamba River. The section we usually take is the Chuquicahauna section, graded class 3-4 (depending on weather conditions). You’ll receive a full briefing on arrival before setting off on the river to practise your manoeuvres (the minimum age for rafting is 12). As you make your way through the beautiful canyon, where you’ll hopefully see torrent ducks and the magnificent surrounding peaks, the rapids build in intensity. You’ll stop midway for a picnic lunch before finishing your journey and returning to Cusco. (BL)
Sacred Valley (Yucay)
In the morning you transfer to the Sacred Valley. With its warm climate and fertile soil, the Sacred Valley was considered the greenhouse of the Incas, who built many towns and agricultural terraces along its length. Small farming hamlets dot a landscape of patchwork fields; many are still ploughed by oxen and other beasts of burden. En route you reach the village of Pisac (2950m), where you can stop and explore the traditional market and the Inca ruins overlooking the town. This is your first taste of Inca architecture - the ruins stick out on a pinnacle overlooking the valley whilst steep terraces sweep around the hillside. Your hotel is located in the heart of the beautiful Sacred Valley (2800m), in a quiet farming village. Hotel Casona de Yucay (AAA) - 1 night- (B)
Today you will start to prepare for the Inca trail, with a walk up to the village of Chinchero. Leaving the fertile Sacred Valley behind, you follow a newly reopened section of Inca road up the Urquillos Valley, climbing 900m in about four hours to reach the high altitude plains of Chinchero (3760m). This route is rarely walked by tourists and offers great views of the Vilcanota range and hopefully a chance to spot some birdlife such as parrots and hummingbirds. At Chinchero the villagers are famous for their skills in weaving and they can be seen in traditional dress tending their fields. In the afternoon, you can explore the village, where the people of Chinchero offer their textiles in a colourful local market, visit the painted church and investigate the Inca ruins. Tonight you will sleep in a village house and stay with a local family. Local house (A) – 1 night - (B)
Facilities are limited at a village homestay but this will be an unforgettable night with the local people.
Sacred Valley (Ollantaytambo)
You leave Chinchero by bike on a one day mountain biking adventure which offers five hours in the saddle to experience great views of the Urubamba Mountains. You ride through the quiet countryside of the high Andes, visit the enigmatic circular terraces of Moray before an exciting descent past the ancient salt pans at ‘Salineras’. You finally reach the Sacred Valley at its northern end, where you finish your day cycling along the banks of the Urubamba River. Your destination is the Inca town of Ollantaytambo (2760m), a traditional Inca village laid out on a grid plan (one of only four surviving examples) overlooked by the magnificent fortress of Ollantay. Hotel Pakaritampu (AAA) - 1 night - (B)
Today you visit the ruins of Ollantay, the only Inca stronghold ever to have resisted persistent Spanish attacks. The steep terraces cling to the mountainside, supposedly in the shape of a llama with a large rock outcrop forming the pack baggage. Right on the ridge with commanding views of the valley, the temple area appears to have never been completed and it is possible to gain a fantastic insight into how these incredible structures were built. This is good preparation for the trail which you will start after your visit to the ruins. You set off to Chilca, where the Urubamba gorge narrows, forcing us to abandon motor transport. Here you meet your trail crew and begin the trek. Heading away from the river, a gentle climb soon brings you to a pleasant campsite at Llactapata (2850m), overlooked by ruins. This is camping made easy: as you walk, you carry only a daypack whilst an experienced team of porters carries all other equipment for you. You will be provided with a duffle bag in which to put items needed for the trek. Anything you don’t need is left behind in Cusco in your main bag. You camp in spacious tents; porters, with the assistance of a cook and helper, do all camp chores. A toilet tent is provided at camp and at each lunch stop. Camp Llactapata - 1 night - (BLD)
Approx. 4-5 hours easy walking today.
You are woken with a hot drink and a bowl of warm water at your tent to prepare for what will be the most demanding climb of the trek. You follow the course of the Cusichaca River, ascending a broad valley to the village of Wayllabamba (3,000m), the last human habitation on the trail. Your porters go ahead and prepare your lunch which will be waiting close to the summit. The trail steepens through fertile cloud forest and eventually onto high altitude grassland. Finally you reach the highest point of the entire trail, called Warmiwañusca or Dead Woman’s Pass, located at 4200m. We pause to rest and enjoy the views before starting a steep descent into the valley below and our camp at Pacaymayo (3700m). Camp Llulluchapampa – 1 night - (BLD)
About 6/7 hrs demanding walk mostly uphill.
Your ascent this morning leads past a fine set of ruins to Runkuracay Pass (3998m); from here the trail is largely downhill! The vegetation changes as you walk through areas of cloud forest that mark the outer edges of the Amazon Jungle. You cross the Aobamba River below the Sayacmarca ruins, which overlooks it from a rocky spur. A final easy ascent over a lower pass, with spectacular views over the Urubamba Valley far below, takes you to the campsite, perched above Phuyupatamarca ruins. Camp Phuyupatamarca – 1 night - (BLD)
About 7 hours moderate walking today.
You awake to a spectacular vista and set off this morning on one of the most beautiful parts of the trail. Excitement mounts as you conquer a steep flight of steps and arrive at Inti Punku, the Gateway of the Sun where you aim to stop for a well deserved packed lunch. The toil of the day is forgotten at a stroke as you are treated to a spectacular view of Machu Picchu below. After lingering to admire the panorama, you walk through the site and catch a bus down the narrow access road. You rejoin the Urubamba River in the village of Aguas Calientes where you check in to your accommodation and enjoy a well-earned, long shower. Pequeña Casita (AA) - 1 night - (BL)
About 5 hours walking today, mostly downhill.
Machu Picchu & Cusco
Rising early this morning, you return to the Machu Picchu ruins which you will have largely to yourself before the train brings in day-visitors from Cusco. Your guided tour will unravel the magnificent lost city rediscovered by American archaeologist Hiram Bingham in 1911, which stands on a high saddle dominated by the jungle-clad peak of Wayna Picchu. You have time to explore the citadel and enjoy nearby walks before catching the late afternoon train back to Cusco. Tupac Yupanqui Palace (AA) - 1 night - (B)
Free day at leisure
Cusco; trip ends
Your trip ends in Cusco. (B)