Itinerary & Map
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
After your flight, you transfer to your accommodation and check in. 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 El Tambo II or similar
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. In the afternoon, you'll take a short flight from Lima to Cusco. 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. Take the time to acclimatise to the city's 3,450 m (11,150 ft) altitude and explore the many Baroque churches and ancient temples that dot the city.
Hotel Garcilaso - Breakfast included
Approach day 3 at a nice easy pace, taking time to acclimatise to the city's altitude (3,450 m). You will enjoy a half-day city tour in which a guide will show you some of Cuzco's excellent sights and activities.
This city is really the heart and soul of Peru. The city itself is the continent's oldest continuously inhabited city and was the home of the Incas for two centuries before the Spanish built their first capital here. Today Cuzco is a fascinating combination of both cultures, and it's a dream to walk around. Inca-built walls line the central streets, and many of the elegant colonial buildings are built on or around Inca foundations.
While you're here, you'll visit the local Coricancha archeological site, Cuzco Cathedral, the ruins of the most opulent temple in the Inca Empire as well as the 4 main archaeological sites near the city: Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Pucapucara and Tambomachay.
Day 4 is yours to explore the city as you please. Armed with a full boleto turistico (tourist ticket), you'll have access to almost all of the best museums and sights in town. Perhaps start your day at the local market – a great chance to mingle with the locals, sample some street food or some pastries, and perhaps browse for some strange items such as 'Dragon's Blood' (medicinal tree sap). Some great museums to visit are The Pisco Museum, the Museum of Inca Culture and the Museum of Popular Art. There are also many adventure activities on offer in the gorgeous surrounding hills, from trekking and mountain biking to via-ferrata climbing and zip-lining
Hotel Garcilaso - Breakfast included
Sacred Valley (Yucay)
Venture into the Sacred Valley. With its warm climate and fertile soil, this valley was considered the greenhouse of the Incas, who built many towns and agricultural terraces along it. Small farming hamlets dot a landscape of patchwork fields, and many are still ploughed by oxen and other beasts of burden. En route you will reach the village of Pisac (2,950 m), where you can stop and browse the stalls of the traditional market. There are also some fascinating Inca ruins to explore – your first taste of Inca architecture. The ruins stick out on a pinnacle overlooking the valley while steep terraces sweep around the hillside. Your hotel for tonight is located in the heart of the valley (2,800 m) in a quiet farming village.
Today you will explore the Pisaq inca site and walk down to Pisaq town. Stop in the historic colonial town to browse the stalls of the traditional market.
Royal Inka Pisac Hotel - Breakfast included
Today you will start to prepare for the Inca trail, with a walk up to the village of Chinchero. Leaving the Sacred Valley behind, follow a newly reopened section of Inca road up the Urquillos Valley, climbing 900 metres (approximately 4 hours) to reach the high-altitude plains of Chinchero (3,760 m). This route is rarely walked by tourists, so enjoy the ambience. You will take in amazing views of the Vilcanota range and, with some luck, spot some parrots and hummingbirds along the way. At Chinchero, the villagers are famous for their skills in weaving, and you might see them in their traditional dress, tending their fields. In the afternoon you can explore the village where the people of Chinchero offer their textiles at a colourful local market. You'll also check out the painted church and investigate the Inca ruins. Enjoy the hospitality of a local family who will welcome you into their home for the night.
Chincheros Homestay - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included
Facilities are limited at a village homestay but this will be an unforgettable night with the local people.
Sacred Valley (Ollantaytambo)
This morning you will be picked up at the homestay where you will be taken by private transport to Maras and its archaeological site. This was an experimental centre of agriculture in Incan times. You start biking from here along a mild-intermediate section, pause for some included snacks and then continue onto the Salt Flats of Maras. Here is a great spot to drink in the views and take some pictures. We then continue downhill along an intermediate section until we reach Pichingoto on the route to Ollantaytambo, where your cycling adventure ends and your private transfer will be waiting to take you to Ollantaytambo, a traditional Inca village laid out on a grid plan (one of only four surviving examples) overlooked by the magnificent fortress of Ollantay.
Pakaritampu Hotel - Breakfast included
Today after breakfast you will set off to visit the archeological site of Ollantaytambo.
Next stop is KM 82, the starting point of the Inca Trail and your next few days of adventure. Here you will meet your trail crew and begin the trek. The first day includes uphill trekking to your first campsite which is at 3,100 metres about sea level. On the way you will you'll see the Inca sites of Huillca, Raccay and Llactapata as well as incredibl views of snow-capped Veronica Peak. Relax and unwind this evening at the campsite with a nourishing meal.
This is camping made easy; as you walk, you'll carry only a day pack while an experienced team of porters carries all the other gear. 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. Tonight you'll camp in a spacious tent; porters, a cook and a helper will take care of all camp chores. A toilet tent is provided at camp and at each lunch stop (you'll find this is usually the cleanest option for nature calls).
Notes: You'll take your entire luggage with you to the Sacred Valley. At Ollantaytambo, pack a duffle back (6 kg max) to take with you on the Inca Trail, while the main luggage is left at the hotel in Ollantaytambo. The group will stop off at the hotel to pick it up after completing the trail. Sleeping mats will be provided, and sleeping bags are available for rent (US$20 for regular ones; US$25 for feathered ones). These do not have to be pre-booked – your guide will check which passengers need to rent equipment after the briefing in Cuzco on Day 4.
Camp Hatunchaca - 1 night - Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Approx. 4-5 hours easy walking today.
Wake up to a hot drink and prepare for the most demanding climb of the trek. Set off along the course of the Cusichaca River, ascending a broad valley to the village of Wayllabamba (3,000 m). This is the last place of human habitation on the Inca Trail. Your porters will go ahead and prepare lunch, which will be waiting for you at a spot that's close to the summit. The trail steepens through fertile cloud forest and eventually onto high-altitude grassland. Finally you will reach the highest point of the entire trail, called Warmiwañusca (Dead Woman's Pass) (4,200 m). At this point you can pause to rest and enjoy the views, perhaps snapping a photo or two of the lush surrounds from this vantage. Then you will begin the steep descent into the valley below. Your camp is located at Pacaymayo (3,700 m).
Camp Pacaymayo – 1 night - Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
About 6/7 hrs demanding walk mostly uphill.
A second ascent leads past a fine set of ruins to Runkuracay Pass (3,998 m). From here, you'll be pleased to discover, the trail is mostly downhill! The vegetation gradually changes as you walk through part of the cloud forest. You'll be skirting the outer edges of the Amazon Jungle. Cross the Aobamba River, from where you can see the Sayacmarca ruins sitting on a rocky spur up above. A final, easy ascent over a lower pass takes you to the campsite, which is perched above the ruins of Phuyupatamarca. On this final stretch you'll take in many incredible vistas out across the vast mountains and jungle.
Camp Phuyupatamarca – 1 night - Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
About 6 hours moderate walking today.
The final day of the trek starts with an amazing view, and after breakfast you'll set off on one of the most scenic parts of the whole trail. It's all downhill for the first 2.5 hours until you reach your lunch stop at inca site of Winay Huayna. From here, it is just 2 more hours until you reach the highlight of today: Machu Picchu. The toil of the day is forgotten at a stroke as you are treated to an out-of-this-world view of Machu Picchu before you. After lingering to admire this panorama, catch a bus to Aguas Calienets Here you can check into your accommodation, stretch your legs and take a long-awaited hot shower.
Hostel Contiental or similar - Breakast and lunch included
About 5 hours walking today, mostly downhill.
Machu Picchu & Cusco
It's an early one this morning - head out on a bus to Machu Picchu at 5.30am. The journey will take 30 minutes. Once you arrive, enjoy a two-hour guided tour of this incredible site. You will then have free time to explore the ruined city by yourself.
While it is thought Machu Picchu was built around 1440 as a country retreat for Incan nobility, there is evidence that it had been a sacred site for much longer. Another school of thought is that it was an astronomical observatory. Decide for yourself as you wander around the many temples, palaces and living quarters.
In the afternoon, take the train back to Ollantaytambo and then a bus back to Cuzco.
Hotel Garcilaso - Breakfast included
Today is a free day in the Gold city to recover from the Inca Trail and immerse in this vibrant place. Your Cusco Tourist Pass will still be valid to allow you to visit many of the city museums. You could practice your bargain skills and the craft markets or visit colonial Spanish churches built by the Incas and search for the indians print or enjoy a well deserved massage.
Hotel Garcilaso - Breakfast included
Your trip finishes after breakfast and you are free to leave at any time.