Our trip begins today in Cusco, Peru (11,250'). Upon arrival in Cusco, we will be met by our local guide at our centrally located hotel where we'll have a brief orientation meeting. We have most of the morning to relax and acclimatize before setting out on a tour to the archaeological sites of Tipon and Pikillacta. Tipon has numerous impressive terraces that are still being used today. It is one of the most elaborate examples of agricultural terracing created by the Incas. Pikillacta provides an excellent blueprint of an ancient pre-Incan city that had a population estimated in the thousands. Dinner included.
After breakfast we make our way to the colorful town of Chinchero with its colonial buildings, cobbled streets and beautiful churches. Tonight we spend our first night at Lamay Lodge (9649'). All meals included.
- Easy active option (Level 2): Extended visit in Chinchero, then a guided tour of Moray Inca Agricultural Site and the Maras Salt Mines. Optional hike to Pichingoto. Walking 2?3 hours.
- Moderate option (Level 3): After passing impressive Inca walls, we hike downhill using an original Inca trail that eventually leads to the Rio Vilcanota in the Sacred Valley. Hiking: 3.5 hours, 5 miles, 2,725' elevation loss.
Today we explore the local towns of Pisac and Viacha and hike among ancient Inca ruins. We later return to our lodging where we are treated to a pachamanca meal, cooked under hot stones. All meals included.
- Easy active option (Level 2): Visit the town and market of Pisac. Short drive to the village of Viacha. Hike down to Pisac ruins before driving to the lodge. Late afternoon free. Walking 1?2.5 hours.
- Moderate option (Level 3): Begin the hike from the village of Amaru, high in the Andes, to Challwaccasa Pass (14,170') where we're rewarded with great views of impressive mountains. Hike downhill to the community of Viacha where we enjoy a well-deserved picnic lunch. Later, our hike leads us to a bird's-eye view of the stunning archaeological site of Pisac. Drive to lodge. Hiking: 6 hours, 5.1 miles. 1,170' elevation gain/loss 2,740'.
Today's journey begins with an hour's transfer to Ancasmarca, where we explore an old Inca site that features a variety of ancient food storages, dwellings and farming areas. After today?s activities, we end at Huacawasi Lodge. All meals included.
- Easy active option (Level 2): Drive to archaeological site of Ancasmarca and tour the ruins. Continue on to Choquecancha and visit more Inca ruins. Lunch in town. Arrive at lodge. Walking 1?2 hours.
- Moderate option (Level 3-4): Begin hike at Cuncani. Hike for about two hours to Cruzccasa Pass (13,740'). From the pass, hike a one-hour descent to picnic lunch spot. Another hour's hike brings us to Huacawasi. Hiking: 4 hours. 3.4 miles. 1,437' elevation gain/1,240' elevation loss.
Today we immerse ourselves in this remote area. Lodging tonight is at Haucawasi. All meals included.
- Easy active option (Level 2): Visit the community of Huacawasi and meet local people in their homes. Hike to a nearby waterfall. Hiking: 2?3 hours, 2 miles.
- Vigorous option (Level 4): Hike over two mountain passes at an elevation of over 14,000?. Hiking: 7 hours, 5.4 miles, 1,978' elevation gain/2601' loss.
Feel free to take the afternoon to enjoy personal hot tubs, curl up with a good book, or take a cooking class with the lodge chef.
This morning prepare your luggage before heading out on your excursion. Tonight?s lodging is in Ollantaytambo. All meals included.
- Easy active option (Level 2): Scenic drive to the community of Huilloc (1 hour). Continue on to the sheepherding community of Marcacocha and participate in a traditional Andean ceremony to honor the apus for the good health of their flock. Lunch at the archeological site of Pumamarka and then easy hike to Ollantaytambo town, visiting the amazing agricultural terraces along the valley.
- Vigorous option (Level 4): Depart from Huacahuasi lodge and hike over a mountain pass at an elevation of 14,646'. End in Patacancha Village. Our vehicle will meet us here to take us to the town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. Hiking: 7.5 hours, 8 miles. 2,250' elevation gain/2,211' elevation loss.
After breakfast we begin with a visit to the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo, an impressive, well-preserved archaeological site dating from the late 15th century. In fact, it has some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America. Ollantaytambo was the estate of Emperor Pachacutec who conquered the region and who, most archaeologists now believe, is the reason Machu Picchu was built. Later this morning we board our train for a 1.5-hour ride to the small town of Aguas Calientes near Machu Picchu and enjoy a boxed lunch along the way. After checking into our hotel, we enjoy an afternoon visit to Machu Picchu Sanctuary. All meals included.
This morning we head back up to Machu Picchu for another full day of exploration. After more site visits, we have several options: a hike to the dramatic viewpoint of Intipunku (the Sun's Gateway), an easy walk to an ancient Inca drawbridge, a more vigorous hike to the Temple of the Moon, or an ascent up Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, based on permit availability. The option to return to the hotel for a massage or souvenir shopping is possible too. Our lodging is at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel for a second night. All meals included.
Hiking: Optional Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain hikes will be unguided and are steep with some exposure. Permits are limited. An alternative optional hike may be available if these permits cannot be obtained.
We board the train back to Cusco, arriving in the afternoon. After checking into our hotel, the afternoon is free to explore the city of Cusco or shop for any last-minute souvenirs. Tonight we'll toast to new friendships and exchange stories from our week of hiking in the beautiful Andes. Overnight in Cusco. Breakfast and Dinner included.
After breakfast, we head to the airport for our departing flights. Trip members can opt to return to Lima for connecting flights home or extend their travels in Peru. Breakfast included.