- Follow in the footsteps of the Inca to spectacular Machu Picchu
- Tour Cusco and the iconic sites of the Sacred Valley of the Incas
- Spend 2 days at Machu Picchu with a guided tour and time to explore
- Follow expert, local guides and stay in charming, small hotels
Longing for a grand adventure but short on time? REI's active exploration of Machu Picchu provides a memorable escape to the Peruvian Andes, where dramatic landscapes and archaeological wonders bring out the bold adventurer in all of us.
Our journey to the Lost City of the Incas begins in Cusco, former capital of the Inca Empire. There we learn about the fascinating history of its founders. The Urubamba Valley reveals more of its Andean treasures as we delve deeper. We hike to well-preserved ruins and appreciate the craftsmanship and ingenuity of an ancient civilization. At Pisac market, one of the largest traditional markets in Peru, we admire the handicrafts of the Quechua people. Ultimately arriving at Machu Picchu itself, we have the better part of two days to discover the most spectacular ruins complex on the continent.
Along the way, we stay in a series of charming small hotels. Expert, local guides unravel the mysteries and secrets of this truly remarkable region of the world.
Who says a week-long vacation isn't worth it?
Want more time in Machu Picchu itself? Check out our Machu Picchu Explorer 7-Day adventure for the same itinerary with an extra day to explore the ruins. Or, extend your stay in South America by visiting other great Peruvian sites: Lima, Paracas & Nazca Lines; Lake Titicaca; Northern Peru; Peruvian Amazon – Sandoval Lake Lodge; Peruvian Amazon – Tahuayo Lodge; and Peruvian Amazon – Heath River Wildlife Center extensions.
Traveling with kids under 18? Check out our Machu Picchu Family Adventure.
- Day 1 - Take a tour of Cusco including its famous temple and fortress ruins.
- Day 2 - Hike to well-preserved ruins and shop for crafts at Pisac market.
- Day 3 - Visit the village of Chinchero and hike through terraced salt mines.
- Day 4 - Amazing Machu Picchu awaits! Enjoy a guided tour of the Sacred City.
- Day 5 - Hike to Machu Picchu's Temple of the Moon or Huayna Picchu.
- Day 6 - Depart the land of Incas for home or continue your travels in Peru.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Day 1 - Take a tour of Cusco including its famous temple and fortress ruins.
Your trip begins today in Cusco, Peru. Located high in the Andes at an elevation of 11,150', this beautiful red-tile-roofed city was founded in the 12th-century by Manco Capac, the original Inca considered to be a child of the sun god himself. For almost 400 years, Cusco served as the flourishing capital of the Inca Empire and still retains its centuries-old appeal with numerous sections of original Inca stonework still visible in the streets and buildings. Upon arrival in Cusco, we're greeted by our local guide and transferred to our centrally-located hotel where a brief orientation meeting will be held. Early afternoon, we depart on a walking tour of the city's most intriguing sites including the bustling Plaza de Armas, the Santo Domingo Church (built atop the great Inca temple Koricancha), and the imposing hilltop ruins of the monolithic Sacsayhuaman fortress. Considered by many to be one of the greatest examples of stonemasonry in human history, the 60-ton limestone boulders used in the construction of the fortress walls fit together so perfectly without mortar that even a blade of grass can't be inserted between them. Overnight in Cusco tonight. Dinner included.
Walking: 2 miles.
Day 2 - Hike to well-preserved ruins and shop for crafts at Pisac market.
We set out this morning for the Urubamba Valley and famous market village of Pisac (approximately one hour's drive from Cusco) where authentic shopping and photographic opportunities abound. This region is well-known for high quality local crafts including handknit wools, ceramics, leather goods and jewelry - all available in Pisac as we time our visit to coincide with one of the liveliest market days in South America. This afternoon, we hit the trail for an uphill hike to the nearby Pisac ruins. One of the most important and well-preserved ruins in the Sacred Valley, our guide helps us identify the various structures at the site including the fascinating Temple of the Sun, used by the Incas as an astronomical observatory. We climb to the top of the ruins to take in the spectacular views of the terraced countryside before heading back down the trail to Pisac town. We spend the next two nights at a traditionally styled boutique property in the village of Urubamba. All meals included.
Hiking: 3 miles.
Day 3 - Visit the village of Chinchero and hike through terraced salt mines.
This morning we visit Chinchero, a high Andean town that once served as a country estate for Tupa Inca, one of the early Incan rulers. Known for its commanding view of the surrounding snowcapped mountains and traditional centuries-old houses, Chinchero's inhabitants continue to honor their Inca ancestors by passing their weaving skills from generation to generation and dressing in traditional Quechua clothing. Following our stop in Chinchero, we drive to the nearby village of Maras where we begin a two-hour downhill hike to the multi-tiered Pichincoto mines, local salt mines used by the Inca as a mineral source and still visited by local residents today. This afternoon, we travel through the Sacred Valley, past Incan terraces and fields of corn, wheat, barley and quinoa, ultimately arriving in the small town of Ollantaytambo, whose street plan still maintains its original Incan layout. After Cusco was overtaken by the conquistadors, Manco Inca and his army of approximately 30,000 retreated to Ollantaytambo and were victorious here against the forces of Spanish commander Hernando Pizaro in the Battle of Ollantaytambo. After a guided walking tour of the town, we return to Urubamba for dinner. All meals included.
Hiking: 5 miles.
Day 4 - Amazing Machu Picchu awaits! Enjoy a guided tour of the Sacred City.
We return to Ollantaytambo this morning by private van (approx. 25 minutes) and connect with the scheduled daily train to Machu Picchu. We arrive at the village of Aguas Calientes at the base of the Lost City in mid-morning and take a shuttle up to this spectacularly perched archeological treasure. Our knowledgeable guide leads us through the center of the site, recapping Machu Picchu's rediscovery by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and explaining the current theories regarding the purpose and significance of the city. Later this afternoon, we'll return to Aguas Calientes and the always welcoming Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel. All meals included.
Hiking: 2-3 miles.
Day 5 - Hike to Machu Picchu's Temple of the Moon or Huayna Picchu.
Perhaps the best time of day to appreciate the full majesty of this remarkable site is during the early hours, taking advantage of the soft morning light for dramatic photography or just some quiet meditation. Our goal is to ride one of the first shuttles of the day up to the complex and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere before the first tourist train from Cusco arrives. As the sun continues to climb, we can choose from a variety of different active explorations including a challenging hike to the top of Huayna Picchu, the iconic peak that soars above Machu Picchu itself or a hike to the Temple of the Moon, located inside a cavern part-way down the north face of Huayna Picchu.
This afternoon we'll head back to Aguas Calientes at midday for lunch. After lunch we board the train to Ollantaytambo, connecting there with our private van to Cusco, arriving in early evening. Dinner is on our own allowing us to choose from the variety of local restaurants serving Peruvian and international cuisine. Overnight in Cusco tonight. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 2-3 miles.
Day 6 - Depart the land of Incas for home or continue your travels in Peru.
After breakfast, transfers back to the Cusco airport will be arranged for travelers departing today. Breakfast included.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control including unexpected weather and terrain conditions.
Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.
Hotel accommodations with private bath; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; bilingual guides; all ground transportation within Peru as noted, arrival transfers on Day 1, departure transfers on the last day of the published itinerary; all sightseeing excursions as noted (including daily admission to Machu Picchu).
Air transportation to/from Cusco; 1 lunch and 1 dinner; guide gratuities; excess baggage charges; alcoholic beverages; airport taxes and items of a personal nature such as souvenirs, laundry fees, immunizations or insurance of any kind.
This trip is rated Moderate . Participants should enjoy hiking/walking and arrive in good physical condition. Daily hikes/walks will be on-trail and may include some short, steep ascents and descents and climbing numerous flights of stairs at various ruins complexes. Please keep in mind that we spend all of our time at moderately high altitude (7,800’ -12,300’) where most trip members will feel the effects of the thinner air. We highly recommend a conditioning regimen consisting of activities such as hiking, jogging, stair-climbing or cycling beginning several months prior to departure to get in shape for the adventure. The better shape you are in, the more you will enjoy all this trip has to offer!
Effective immediately, all visitors to Machu Picchu are required to have entrance tickets valid for the specific date(s) of their visit. These tickets are included in the price of your trip and will be purchased for you in advance by REI Adventures. In order to purchase entrance tickets on your behalf, we must have your valid passport number as soon as possible after your initial trip sign-up. Any delays in submitting your passport information may result in our inability to procure entry permits for you on the trip dates.
Permits are now also required for the popular hike to the top of Huayna Picchu, the iconic peak that rises above the ruins of Machu Picchu. The number of daily permits issued for this hike is extremely limited. Please be advised that we will automatically obtain a Huayna Picchu hiking permit for all trip participants when we obtain your Machu Picchu entrance permit. While you will not be obligated to hike to the top of Huayna Picchu, those interested will have the opportunity to do so at some point during your visit to the Sacred City, based on the hiking time noted on the permit. If you should choose to participate in this hike, be advised that you may miss the included guided tour of Machu Picchu. Your trip leader will provide specific schedule details and options upon your arrival in Peru. Please note that the Huayna Picchu hike is challenging, steep (with some exposure) and unguided.
Average daytime temperatures in and around Cusco generally range from 55° - 75° F with Andean evenings cooling down into the 40s and 50s. Much of the itinerary takes place in the mountains where weather can change very quickly. During the months of May-October, days are typically clear and pleasant, with afternoon clouds occasionally building and leading to small amounts of precipitation. While rainfall is more common during the months of December-April, all-day rain is unlikely.
If you are traveling alone and specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the single supplement fee. There is no single supplement fee for those willing to share accommodations, and we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. Please be advised that there are a limited number of single accommodations available.General Information
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Machu Picchu Explorer – 6 Days Gear List
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you in choosing your equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary as this will help you and the field staff.
- Airline ticket
- Duffel bag or soft sided luggage, sturdy, large enough to hold all your gear.
- Small spare overnight bag for 1 night at Machu Picchu
- Day pack or fanny pack (1500 cu. In.), for carrying water bottle(s), lunch, rain gear, camera
- Luggage tags and luggage locks
- Passport pouch or money belt
- Rain jacket, lightweight and breathable
- Rain or wind pants
- Lightweight, waterproof hiking boots, broken in, aggressive tread
- Comfortable shoes for travel and evening wear
- Bring a few lightweight, easily washable items for travel and evening wear
- Midweight fleece or wool sweater
- Lightweight thermal underwear top and bottom, synthetic or wool
- Hiking pants
- Hiking shorts
- Long-sleeve shirts
- Hiking socks
- Liner socks
- Casual socks
- Sun hat
- Wool or fleece hat
- Two (2) 1-quart water bottles or hydration system
- Watch with alarm or travel clock
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Sun block and lip balm
- Toiletry kit
- Baby wipes
- Hand sanitizer gel
- Small first-aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Camera and spare batteries
- Electrical adapter plug
- Spare contact lenses or glasses
- Reading and writing materials
- Ear plugs
- Favorite energy snacks or drinks
- Sewing kit
- Knee supports
- Travel pillow
- Hiking staff or trekking poles
Things to Consider
- Please remember to always pack essential items such as your passport, money, eyewear, a change of clothing, hiking boots and medications in your carry-on baggage, in case your luggage is delayed.
- Regarding weight and size restrictions of luggage: The Peruvian Government regulates policies for the Machu Picchu Sanctuary and Peru Rail. The luggage size and weight restrictions listed in our materials are accurate at time of printing; however it is highly possible that due to unforeseen circumstances or changes in government policy, these figures can change with little to no notice. At our group orientation our guides will advise the group of the most current policy.
- Cotton is wonderful in warm weather. However, once it becomes wet, it will drain your body heat. Bring wool or synthetics such as Capilene, MTS and Thermax.
- Always test your layers before a trip. Your outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without binding and bunching up.
- Make sure boots are broken-in. Bring moleskin for foot treatment. Thin liner socks worn under regular hiking socks may minimize the risk of blisters. The liner sock should be synthetic, not cotton. Test your sock combination before you go on the trip.
- Stuff sacks are great for sorting gear. Use different sizes/colors to differentiate contents.
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.