Ready for one of the world’s “must-do” adventures? Join us on our trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru’s glorious city of stone perched high above the Sacred Valley. This fabled lost city is the most magical of all the Inca sites, and its exquisite setting makes it utterly unforgettable. Our perfectly paced trek follows in the path of the ancient Incas and brings you to fascinating ruins accessible only on foot and through the legendary “Gate of the Sun” right into Machu Picchu itself. We’ve honed this journey to perfection with spectacular campsites, superb camp amenities, and an extraordinary team of Trip Leaders. If you’ve ever dreamed of hiking the Inca Trail, this is the way to do it!
Superb trip! Just loved it. The Andes is such a rich area. Natural beauty (mountains, interesting flora and fauna) and such a strong cultural history make for a great trip. And when combined with an excellent leader and support team, the combination is unbeatable.
— Russell M., Granger, IN
Arrive in Cusco (11,200'), where you are met and transferred to the Belmond Hotel Monasterio, a landmark 16th century monastery beautifully transformed into a luxurious 5-star hotel, close to Cusco’s central square. Our afternoon walking tour through central Cusco, once the ceremonial heart of the Inca Empire, includes a visit to the Coricancha, a sacred Inca temple whose walls were once covered with sheets of gold, the Plaza de Armas, and the Baroque cathedral, built on the site of an old Inca palace. Later we head up to stunning Saqsayhuaman, a monumental Inca fortress overlooking the city, with its zig-zag walls of enormous, perfectly fitted stones. We gather for our Welcome Dinner tonight.
Urubamba, the Sacred Valley of the Incas
This morning we head to the beautiful “Sacred Valley of the Incas” and Pisac, a colonial and modern village above which lies a majestic Inca fortress overlooking the valley. The ruin at Pisac was the largest fortress-city complex of the Incas, and has some of the finest examples of Inca terracing in existence, still in use by local inhabitants. Overnight at a lovely hotel in the valley.
Ollantaytambo / Begin Trek
We visit the stunning ruins at Ollantaytambo, a major Inca fortress and one of the few places where the Conquistadors lost a battle with the Incas. In the afternoon, we drive to our trailhead and begin our trek with a 3-hour hike to Wilderness Travel's beautifully situated permanent campsite on the banks of the Urubamba River at 8,900 feet. The amenities at our private camp include a dining/living room with indoor plumbing, hot showers, and panoramic views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba and dazzling Mt. Veronica (20,275').
Trek beyond Huayllabamba
We’re one of the first trekking groups into the park this morning (which means the crowds are behind us), and after lunch we soon split off the main trail. Our 5- to 6-hour hike leads us past the extensive Inca ruins of Llactapata and past the village of Huayllabamba to our private camp in a quiet spot near little-known Inca ruins at 9,840 feet, just off the main Inca Trail. On our afternoon hike, we have this historic trail largely to ourselves, immersed in the atmosphere of the Inca realm.
Trek to Pacaymayo
Hiking back to the main trail (most hiking groups are now ahead of us), we make a long, uphill climb through villages, woods, and alongside a stream, then continue with a slow but steady ascent up the very steep switchbacks of the famous Warmiwañusqa Pass (“Pass of the Dead Woman”) at 13,776 feet. At the top of the pass (the highest altitude we reach on our trek), we are rewarded by sweeping views of a panorama of snow-covered Andean peaks. We descend to our camp at Pacaymayo at 11,480 feet.
Trek to Phuyupatamarka
Most trekking groups rush out early this day, but we take our time. Today’s 5- to 6-hour hike brings us to three of the most fantastic ruins on the classic Inca Trail: Runkuraqay, Sayaqmarka, and exquisite Phuyupatamarka. After visiting Runkuraqay in the morning, we continue our ascent along cobblestones of the original Inca Trail. Crossing a pass at 12,960 feet, we descend steeply on Inca stone stairs to the pretty ruins at Sayaqmarka, with its Inca baths and many varieties of orchids. Our support staff will have gone ahead to secure a high camp spot above the ruins of Phuyupatamarka, where the views of Humantay (19,239') and Salcantay (20,574') are breathtaking. You’ll feel like you’re at the top of the world!
Trek to Machu Picchu
We take our time hiking today, exploring the ruins of Phuyupatamarka, the “Town in the Clouds,” and Wiñay Wayna, the last major site on the trail before we get to Machu Picchu. After lunch, we make our long-anticipated hike up to Intipunku, Gate of the Sun, where a magnificent view unfolds before us: the storybook ruins of Machu Picchu, straddling a green ridge high above the Urubamba River. This spot has the absolutely classic view of Machu Picchu, and we will hike down into the ancient city just as the Incas would have done. Our overnight at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel right at the ruins, allows unparalleled access to this renowned site after the crowds are gone (and a fantastic sunset view!). In the evening, we celebrate with a festive Farewell Dinner.
Machu Picchu / Cusco
We can set out early for an optional hike up the steep trail on Huayna Picchu, the peak that rises above the ruins. Later, with our specialist guide, we explore Machu Picchu and its intriguing altars, terraces, fountains, and mysterious chambers filled with intricate stonework. A mid-afternoon train brings us to Cusco in the early evening. Overnight at the Hotel Monasterio.
Fly to Lima and depart on homeward-bound flights.