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Venture into the heart of the ancient Inca Society as you challenge yourself to complete the epic and world-famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Tramp along the very same trails that the ancient Inca people – and later the explorer Hiram Bingham – once trod. You’ll see jaw-dropping views of the jagged Andes and revel in the relaxed pastoral atmosphere of Peru’s Sacred Valley, even meeting some of its inhabitants, from traditional craftspeople to lovable camelids. Marvel at Machu Picchu as well as some of the other amazing Inca sites.
Arrive in Lima, Peru’s largest city, founded in the 1500s by Francisco Pizarro. We know you’ll most likely be a little tired after your long flight, so we’ll save you the stress of trying to navigate and bring you straight to your hotel adjacent to the airport where you can shake off that icky flight feeling with a shower and a sleep. Relax into the evening and enjoy a good night’s rest before your flight to Cusco in the morning!
Fly to Cusco this morning! Upon arrival, your personal guide and private driver will greet you at the airport to head straight to the Urubamba Valley – also known as the ‘Sacred Valley’. Learn about the different camelids that live in the Andes such as llamas, alpacas, vicuñas and guanacos. In Pisac experience the sights and sounds of the town’s famous market, with its variety of handcrafts and fresh produce. With Inca masonry of superlative quality, the stunning terracing following the contours of the mountain and superior view of the valley will leave you in awe.
Follow the Sacred Valley’s most scenic roads, passing through a patchwork of verdant fields set in front of the snowcapped peaks. At a weaving center supported by The Center of Traditional Textiles of Cusco, attend a private demonstration on the production of Andean textiles. Traditional weaving and wool-dying practices have been recently revived thanks to the efforts of Nilda Callañaupa, a master weaver native to the valley and her family. See the terraced remains of impressive Inca agriculture systems at Chinchero and Moray. Then visit the white salt mines stacked on the slopes of Maras.
Set out on the iconic Inca Trail, departing Urubamba by our private van to km 82 in Ollantaytambo, the starting point of the trek. Immerse yourself in the enchanting Andean countryside, hiking along meandering streams and crossing remote mountain villages and ancient sites as we get warmed up for the more challenging days ahead. Explore Llactapata, and other small sites on your way to Huayllabamba, the first campsite.
After a relaxed breakfast, climb a tough ascending trail with increasingly fantastic views and a clear change of vegetation as you gain altitude. Today, we ascend the long, steep path to Warmiwañusca, better known as Dead Woman’s Pass—the highest point on the Inca Trail, at 4,198 meters (13,769 feet). Enjoy stunning views of the valley and the surrounding mountains as you make your way up the rugged terrain, and aim to reach our camp by early afternoon. Rest and relax at camp the remainder of the day.
Today is a long but rewarding, since you will be encountering both original Inca cobblestone trails as well as magnificent archaeological sites along the way. Climb up and over the second pass, Runkuracay, (3,950m/12,959ft). On a clear day your efforts are rewarded with unparalleled views of the snow-covered peaks of the Cordillera Vilcabamba and the lush valley vegetation. Masterful Inca engineering is visible along the trail and at the Inca remains of Sayacmarca (3,640m/11,942ft), a highlight of the trek. Explore the site, have a picnic lunch and continue to the incomparable site of Phuyupatamarca at 3,650 meters (11,975 feet), known as «the city above the clouds.”
Sunrise in Phuyupatamarca is considered one of the highlights of the trek on the final day of the trail which culminates at Machu Picchu. After an early breakfast, trek down a clear stone paved trail with several incredible stairways, some carved in stone, a small tunnel, several viewing terraces, and eventually the flag-stoned trail winds sharply down into the cloud forest to the site of Wiñay Wayna (2,644m/8,675ft) for our last picnic lunch. Continue on our adventure and stare out into the horizons and be in awe with the views of the mountains and Machu Picchu hidden between steep peaks below you, from the Sun Gate. Enjoy a short evening visit after the majority of the day trippers have since left, before you take the bus down to the village of Aguas Calientes.
Isolated among mountain peaks, Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most awe-inspiring sites. The sacred citadel was abandoned by the Inca, reclaimed by the jungle, and lost to history until it was rediscovered by Agustin Lizarraga in 1902 and excavated by Hiram Bingham in 1911 with support from the National Geographic Society. During a tour of the sacred citadel with your private guide, learn about the Inca’s incredible construction feats and day-to-day life in the ancient city. After lunch, board the train back to the Sacred Valley. Continue to Cusco, a city of astonishing charm and beauty that was once the capital of the Inca Empire.
Since its narrow alleyways were originally designed by the Inca Society as a city for walking, start your exploration of Cusco on foot. Begin at the Plaza de Armas, the Main Square, which is marked by the exquisite Spanish Colonial architecture and ornamentation imposed by Spanish colonists to exert religious and political influence. Visit Qoricancha, the most sumptuous “Sun Temple” in the Inca Empire, and the breathtaking Cathedral, a repository for Cusco’s colonial art, as well as many other important archaeological relics and artifacts. Stop by the colourful San Pedro market and pass through the charming neighborhood of San Blas. This evening, gather for a regional dinner at a local restaurant, enjoying Cusquenian dishes, ancestral dance performances and Pisco Sour.
Transfer by private vehicle from your hotel to the airport in Cusco for your domestic flight to Lima. Upon arrival you will be met by your guide for a half-day city tour. One of the main fascinations of Lima is the concentration of ancient history in the área. Visit the colonial area of Lima, featuring the Cathedral, the Convent of Santo Domingo, and the Main Square with its beautiful baroque style buildings. Visit the renowned Museo Larco to view the world’s largest private collection of pre-Columbian art. Transfer to the airport after lunch for you flight home.
We will be traveling at high elevations while in Cusco, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. Cusco is at an altitude of 3350m – 10,990 feet, the Inca Trail is at 4,198m – 13,772 feet and Machu Picchu, 2,400m – 7,974 feet. Participants should be physically fit. This expedition is not suitable for anyone who suffers from a respiratory disorder, a circulatory ailment, or a disability that limits mobility. Departures are typically 15-20 guests with a tour director and a guide for each group of 8.
Throughout the Expedition, you’ll stay in accommodations selected for their exceptional quality, location, and character. Our Tents
A Natventure expert and an expedition leader will accompany this trip, and local guides join us along the way.
We have arranged all of your transportation needs during your stay in Peru as specified in your Expedition itinerary. When spending time on your own, you may choose to visit a site that requires transportation. If this is the case, your private guide will happily recommend convenient transportation options.
Natventure Deluxe Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. These Expeditions are designed to fit into your schedule. You choose your desired departure date, and we’ll make all the arrangements.