Lodge-Based Trek and the Lost City of the Incas

Overview

Enjoy a spectacular Andean trek—without camping! Following ancient Inca trails in the Cordillera Vilcabamba, the precipitous mountain range cradling Machu Picchu, you’ll hike through an exquisite setting of gleaming glacial lakes, cloud forests full of orchids and waterfalls, and the dazzling peaks and glaciers of Salcantay (20,574') and Huamantay (19,239'). At the end of each exhilarating day, you’ll be welcomed at mountain lodges in dramatic settings, each one featuring private rooms, hot showers, delightful cuisine—and even saunas! Your ultimate reward is an exploration of ethereal Machu Picchu, the crown jewel of the Inca world.

5 stars! The lodges were comfortable and beautiful, the hotels in Aguascalientes and Cusco beyond expectations, and our guides provided the best possible experience of their beautiful Peruvian highlands.
— Shelley W. San Anselmo, CA

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Cusco / Salcantay Lodge

After exploring the Inca’s imperial city of Cusco, we head through the Soraypampa Valley, with an optional hike along the way, to Salcantay Lodge (11,800'), ringed by the snowy peaks of the Cordillera Vilcabamba. An acclimatization hike to a turquoise glacial lake at 14,000 feet offers stunning views of Salcantay and Huamantay. Feeling adventurous? Go for a refreshing dip!

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Day 4-6
Salcantay Pass / Santa Teresa Valley

Enjoy a stunning backdrop of glaciers and icefalls as you cross Salcantay Pass (15,200'), a dramatic notch between the glacial moraines of Huamantay and Salcantay. Keeping an eye out for Andean condors, descend to Wayra Lodge (12,800'), where you can soak in the Jacuzzi beneath a starlit sky. We continue to descend, entering delicate cloud forest vegetation as we reach Colpa Lodge (9,414'), where we are treated to a special pachamanca, a traditional festive Peruvian meal. Hikes in an orchid-draped forest and the waterfalls and bromeliads of the Santa Teresa Valley bring you to Lucma Lodge (7,000').

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Days 7-9
Machu Picchu / Cusco

Crossing Pallayacta Pass (8,974'), you’ll arrive at the recently restored Inca ruins at Llactapata, set high on a ridge facing Machu Picchu. After enjoying this rarely seen view of the sanctuary, we descend to the banks of the Urubamba River and head by train to the bustling town of Aguas Calientes. After exploring the evocative ruins of Machu Picchu with a specialist guide, return to Cusco and depart on Day 9 (or extend your stay at Machu Picchu or in Cusco).

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Highlights

Highlights

Trek in a high Andean realm, but stay in mountain lodges with private rooms and hot showers—no camping!
View ice-clad Salcantay, Huamantay, and the diverse ecosystems of the Cordillera Vilcabamba
Explore the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu with a specialist guide

Details

Length: 9 days
Cost From: $4095  
Arrive: Cusco, Peru
Depart: Cusco, Peru
Lodging: 3 nights hotels, 5 nights mountain lodges
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 2 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

5-day trek on moderate to steep trails, 6-8 hours a day, altitudes between 7,000-15,200 feet