Follow in the footsteps of the Inca as you make your way along the ancient path known as the Inca Trail that leads to the timelessly enigmatic Machu Picchu ruins. Experience the essence of the ancient Inca empire with a journey that takes you to the legendary Sacred Valley of the Incas and the Anta Valley with its it's magnificent Inca complexes of Pisaq, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero against a stunningly dramatic backdrop of the high Andes. Visit the engineering wonder of the Maras salt mines worked since the pre-Inca times and still in use today. Submerge yourself for two unforgettable days in the cloud forest and explore the sacred heart of the Inca empire at Machu Picchu while you marvel at its timeless mystery. The 9 days/ 8 nights journey will end in Cuszco with a guided tour of its greatest cultural and historical treasures, retracing the history of the longest inhabited city in the Americas with its magnificent churches and Inca temples like Coricancha and Sacsayhuman.
This journey, for the most part, is a camping trip, at high altitude and as such can be very strenuous. If you wish to embark on this journey you must be in excellent physical health and fitness.
Morning arrival in Cuzco where you will be met at the airport by a representative of the tour company. Transfer to the village of Pisaq. Located on the banks of the Vilcanota River, Pisaq is a very picturesque town. You will travel to the ruins of Pisaq. The ruins are located on the top of a mountain 2 ½ miles outside the town and are surrounded by the most impressive Inca terraces in all of Peru. Even more amazingly, they are still being used for farming to this date.
After lunch you will travel to Ollantaytambo. The most fascinating aspect of this town is that it gives a vivid insight into the way the Quechuas lived their lives during the Inca times. The walls, homes, canals and streets have survived practically intact, despite the wear and tear of time and the influence of the Spanish conquest. Some very steep steps (over 200) lead up to the fortress, which were once a part of the fortified terracing used for the protection of the complex. The Spaniards lost a battle here and never managed to conquer this area by force. The most impressive aspect of theses ruins are the six huge stones located in the Temple of the Sun. This site was never finished.
The night will be spent at a hotel in the Sacred Valley.
After breakfast we will depart from the hotel and travel through the valley of Anta on the way to Chincheros. This typical Andean village is nestled in one of the most spectacular high plateaus with tremendous views of the Cordillera Vilcabamba mountain range as well as the majestic Salkantay mountain (almost 20,000ft.) From here the journey continues to the village of Maras.
Not far from the village set among the beautiful valley of Anta and surrounded by its stunning scenery there is very special site called 'the Salinas of Maras', ancient salt flats, that have been worked since Inca times. With its salt terraces on overhanging cliffs, this site is an engineering wonder and a must for photographers.
The night will be spent at a hotel in the Sacred Valley.
Hotel in the Sacred Valley.
Early morning pick up from your hotel to transfer to Km. 82, upon arrival we meet our porters and begin our trek. After a couple of hours of gentle hiking we visit the Inca ruins of Llactapata beside the Urubamba River, later we continue to our lunch spot at a small set of Inca ruins near the trail, here we have a picnic lunch. After lunch we hike towards the village of Huayllabamba, a small agricultural settlement were traditional people live. At this point we make a detour from the original trail and hike for about 40 minutes to our campsite at Paucarcancha, a small but well preserved set of Inca ruins located at the junction of two small rivers that eventually flow into the Urubamba and the Amazon rivers. We visit this interesting site and set camp at Paucarcancha.
An early nourishing breakfast boosts our energy for a short but fairly strenuous hike towards the first pass. We return to the main trail, past the village of Huayllabamba and we check in with the authorities at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Park Station. After registration we continue on an ascending trail and enjoy the changes of vegetation as we enter the protected area. We have a picnic lunch at a small clearing named "3 white stones" before we enter a forest of rare natives trees. Past the tree line we will reach our campsite at Llullucchapampa, bellow the first pass.
Today is our longest day. A nutritious breakfast will give us energy to climb up and over the first high pass of Warmiwañusta at 4,200 m. Our efforts are rewarded with magnificient views of the snow covered peaks of the Cordillera Urubamba and the lush valley vegetation. From the pass we descend along the Inca Trail into the Pacaymayu valley and then return uphill towards the second pass. Masterful Inca engineering is today's highlight along the trail as we surmount the second pass at 3,950 m and descend to the ruins of Sayajmarca at 3,640 m, explore them and continue to the incomparable site of Phuyupatamarca, THE PLACE AMONG THE CLOUDS at 3,680 m. We camp here and have enough time to soak up some of the magical charm of this marvelous site and if you like take a cold shower in an original Inca bath before settling down for the night.
Today we reach Machu Picchu, the lost City of the Incas. Strengthened with breakfast, we hike several hours down a clear stone paved trail with several incredible stairways, some carved in stone, a small tunnel and several viewing terraces, then we come to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna, FOREVER YOUNG. We continue on to Inti Punku, THE GATE TO THE SUN. From here we first see the spectacular city of Machu Picchu below us. Have a Picnic lunch with views of the ruins. A quick descent along the wide royal Inca road and we enter the mysterious citadel for a guided tour of Machu Picchu and to spend some time wandering and wondering in the midst of its eternal beauty. We take the bus down to the town of Aguas and Overnight at hotel in Aguas Calientes.
Free day to explore Machu Picchu or the trails at the hotel. The hotel Pueblo is nested in the cloud forest and it provides visitors with wonderful activities. The famous "Orchid Trail" has over 150 species of native orchids and is also ideal for nature walks and birdwatching. Overnight at hotel in Cuzco.
Optional Activities at Machu Picchu Pueblo:
At 11,200ft. above sea level, Cuzco is the heart of Tahuantinsuyo, Peru's pre- Colombian Empire. Cuzco today is the oldest continuously inhabited city in South America, a fascinating and colorful paradox of the past and the present.
Sites the group will visit in Cuzco:
Santo Domingo.- This church is built over what once was the most magnificent temple in the Americas, Coricancha or Temple of the Sun. Its courtyards were filled with life-sized gold and silver representations of all the flora and fauna of the Empire. Pizarro's men looted the temple as part of Inca Atahualpa royal ransom who was held prisoner in Cajamarca by the Spaniards and later killed.
An earthquake destroyed the Santo Domingo church in 1950 revealing the Inca walls that were hidden or plastered over. These walls of the Temple of the Sun, are the finest example of Inca stonework in existence.
The Cathedral.- The church is located in the northeast side of the Plaza de Armas, built in 1550. It contains over four hundred XII century paintings done by the members of the renowned Cusco School. The Lord of the Earthquakes altar weights over 52 pounds and is made of solid gold and studded with precious stones. The main altar is covered with sheets of silver.
Plaza de Armas.- Called Huacaypata by the Quechuas, signifies cry or moan, and originated in the expressions of reverence and submission with which the religious or military ceremonies were carried out in this place. Colonial arcades, remains of ancient Inca temples and churches, today surround the plaza.
Sacsayhuaman.- Located two kilometers from the city of Cuzco, the immense walls of the complex made up of huge stones distributed in a zigzag pattern in three platforms with an average of 1,181ft in length. These platforms are connected by flights of stairs and doorways also in stone; one of these is 29ft tall and 15ft wide and weighs more than 100 tons. The largest stone block found in Sacsayhuaman stands 27.88ft high and weighs 361 tons. Inca Pachacuti employed 20,000 men for the construction of the complex and it took approximately 50 years to complete. Overnight at hotel in Cuzco.
Transfer to airport for departure from Cuzco. B
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For further information and booking inquiries please email Sacred Earth.
In the mountain regions of Peru the dry season is from April to September and is the best time of year to travel if you are planning trekking and climbing. The days are for the most part clear and sunny and the chances of rain are minimal. The day temperatures can be in the high 70s and nights in the low 40s with occasional freezing at high altitudes.
Travelers to the Cuzco and Andean areas need to take common sense measures in regards to altitude acclimatization. Cuzco is located at about 11,400 feet above sea level. Visitors are encouraged to limit exertion for the first few days and maintain themselves adequately hydrated. Coca tea is available at all hotels and assists in the acclimatization process. Individuals with coronary or other health problems should consult their physician before deciding to travel to Cuzco and other high altitude locations.
For the most part, this is a camping trip. Tents and equipment will be provided, just bring your own sleeping bag - 3 seasons minimum, as it can get very cold at night. Hikers will only need to carry their daypack. The camp cook is excellent and will produce delicious food even in the wilderness. If you have any special dietary requirements or restrictions please let us know well in advance.