Day - 1
Location: Lima - Bienvenidos! Welcome to Peru. With Indigenous cultures dating back millennia, this country is a fascinating land of Amazonian rainforests, diverse wildlife and soaring mountains. Your adventure begins in Lima with a welcome meeting at 2 pm at your hotel in Lima. After, head downtown for a guided walking tour of the city's historical centre to take in the colonial mansions, palaces and churches that line the streets. Then, you’ll have the rest of the afternoon free. You might visit the Museum of the Inquisition to learn about Spanish colonialism in Peru. Otherwise, wander around the city until night falls, then embark on an optional Lima Bites and Sights Tour with Urban Adventures, taking you to the bohemian Barranco district to sample the best local street food and Pisco cocktails.
Day - 2
Location: Cusco (3450m) - This morning after breakfast, you’ll fly to Cusco. When you arrive, you’ll have a second welcome meeting at 2 pm where you'll meet your next group of fellow travellers (some people will probably start this trip in Cusco, rather than Lima). After, get acquainted with this charming city and its intriguing blend of cultures on a leader-led walking tour. Check out some of Cusco's main attractions, as well as its lesser-known sights, such as the Qoricancha temple, San Pedro market, the main square, the 12 Angled Stone, Regocijo Square and San Blas Square. Tonight is free to explore at your own pace or find the perfect dinner spot with your group and try some local Peruvian favourites.
Day - 3
Location: Ollantaytambo - This morning, drive through the Sacred Valley. Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, the valley has been a source of livelihood for the locals for hundreds of years. You’ll see maize crops covering the terraced walls and the sacred river beneath. Stop for lunch in a local community, where you'll also get the chance to learn about their traditional lifestyle and maybe wrap your tongue around a few words of the Quechua language. If it’s market day, you'll have time to browse the local handicrafts on offer, such as beads and ponchos. Then, visit the AMA Restaurant in Urubamba for afternoon tea – this café is dedicated to working with single mothers throughout the Sacred Valley, where there are few opportunities for childcare and employment. As all the ingredients used here are grown and purchased locally, the establishment also prides itself on its organic and locally focused practices. Enjoy a coffee, tea or juice with a slice of vegan beet cake or a homemade cookie and continue your journey to Ollantaytambo. Check out the town’s fascinating archaeological site – ancient remnants of an Inca city with soaring views over the present-day settlement.
Day - 4
Location: Inca Trail - Depending on the travel arrangements you made before the trip, during the next four days you’ll be either hiking the Inca Trail (Route 1), hiking the Quarry Trail (Route 2) or staying in Cusco for two days before taking the train to Aguas Calientes (Route 3). All routes visit Machu Picchu.
While away from Cusco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. If you’re hiking the Inca Trail or the Quarry Trail, the evening before you leave you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (5 kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. You won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group. If you’re travelling to Aguas Calientes by train, you'll be able to leave most of your luggage at the hotel in Cusco and travel with only a small bag for the overnight stay in Aguas Calientes.
Route 1 Inca Trail
Today, travel by minivan to the 82 km marker and meet your crew of local porters, your cook and your guide. Your first day will include uphill trekking to the campsite, which sits at 3100 m above sea level. On the way, you’ll see the Inca sites of Ollantaytambo, Huillca Raccay and Llactapata, as well as incredible views of snow-capped Veronica Peak. In the evening, unwind at the campsite with a nourishing meal prepared by your cook.
Route 2 Quarry Trail
Make an early start today and drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon. From here, you’ll head to the small community near Qory Song’o (Golden Heart) hill, where you’ll climb to the top for the incredible views of the Soqma Perolniyoc, Pachar and Huarocondo valleys. There are also several sacred tombs in the area, protected by the locals, which you can explore with your leader and even see some of the original structures crafted from wood and leather. These remains have never been seen by travellers before, so you can be a part of this exclusive experience. Carry on to the Perolniyoc Cascade lookout, where you can stop for some snacks and photos. Arrive at the campsite, 3700 m above sea level, around lunchtime. After, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint to the Incas.
Route 3 Cusco:
After spending the night in Ollantaytambo, take a short drive to the town of Pisac. Pisac is well known for its market. Here you’ll have the opportunity to shop for souvenirs and perhaps try some local empanadas. Arrive back at Cusco in the afternoon, where your leader will take you to San Pedro Market, where you have the option to buy some local favourites for a picnic tomorrow.
Day - 5
Location: Inca Trail - Route 1 Inca Trail
This is the most challenging day of the trek, as you ascend a 5-hour long steep path to reach the highest point of the trail. Colloquially known as 'Dead Woman's Pass', Warmiwanusca sits at a height of 4200 m above sea level, providing amazing views of the valley below. The group will then descend to the campsite in the Pacaymayo Valley at 3650 m.
Route 2 Quarry Trail
This is the most challenging and rewarding day of the hike. A 3-hour walk takes you to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa, about 4370 m high. After enjoying the picturesque views of the valley, it’s a short walk before stopping for lunch. After, make the 2-hour hike to Kuychicassa, the highest pass of the trek at 4450 m. From here, descend to the sacred site that the Incas called Intipunku. This is a sun gate, where the sun will stream through at particular times of the year and there are views of the Nevado Veronica mountain year-round. The Incas built several sun gates, the most notable overlooking Machu Picchu. Head to the campsite, only a stone’s throw away and at 3600 m.
Route 3 Cusco
Today, take a taxi to Tambomachay, an archaeological site just outside of Cusco. From here you’ll take a 1 to 3 hour walk back to Cusco. On the way, stop to admire some of the archaeological sites, including Puka Pukara, Qinqu Quenqo and Saksaywaman. Arrive back in Cusco in the afternoon and enjoy some free time. Maybe visit the Merida, Mendivil and Olave art galleries and workshops before finding a great spot to sit down and enjoy some dinner.
Day - 6
Location: Inca Trail - Route 1 Inca Trail
Start the day with a climb through the Pacaymayo Valley to Runkuracay Pass at 3980 m. Enjoy views of the snow-capped mountain of Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending for around 2 to 3 hours to the ruins of Sayacmarca. Continue over the trail’s third pass to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca at 3850 m, also known as the 'Town Above the Clouds'. Start the 2-hour descent down the Inca steps to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site.
Route 2 Quarry Trail
Today’s hike will all be downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Incas were intercepted by the Spanish. Explore the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo when you finish your trek, before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. This is where you’ll meet with the travellers in your group who didn't hike. Spend the night in a hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.
Route 3 Train to Aguas Calientes
After a 1.5-hour drive to Ollantaytambo, you’ll catch a 1.5-hour train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes. The city is nestled in the cloud forest at the foot of Machu Picchu. This is where you’ll meet up with the travellers in your group who hiked the Quarry Trail. Spend the night in a hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.
Day - 7
Location: Cusco - Route 1 Inca Trail
This is the final and most spectacular leg of the trek to Machu Picchu – one of the famed Wonders of the World. The day starts before dawn, with breakfast at 4 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and begin hiking. Once the final checkpoint opens at 5 am, you’ll begin the final 2.5 hour trek to Intipunku (the Sun Gate). Weather permitting, you’ll enjoy unforgettable views over the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ as you enter Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate.
Route 2 and 3 Machu Picchu to Cusco
Take an early bus up to Machu Picchu at 5.30 am. The city was built around 1440 AD as a country retreat for the Incan nobility, but there’s evidence that the land had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Take a guided tour around the ruins of temples, palaces and living quarters. This is a day to remember!
For all travellers, after taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to catch the bus to Aguas Calientes, where you’ll stop for lunch together. From here, take a scenic train ride to Ollantaytambo, then drive back to Cusco, arriving in the evening.
Day - 8
Location: Cusco - Your trip comes to an end today, and there are no activities planned. If you’d like to stay longer, just speak to your booking agent. You may want to consider purchasing a Boleto Turistico (tourism ticket) It gains access to the many fascinating museums here, such as the Contemporary Art Museum, Regional History Museum and Qosqo Native Art Museum. Please speak with your tour leader about this for more details.