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Cusco, Sacred Valley, and the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: (9 Day Encounter)

On this unforgettable 9-day journey across Peru, explore the heart of the ancient Inca empire. Visit the political and religious capital of Cusco and explore the Sacred Valley. Continue your pilgrimage along the Inca Trail across tundra-like highlands and dense cloud forests. End your adventure at Machu Picchu, the outstanding city that truly speaks to the political, technological, and cultural power of this mighty empire.

 

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Cusco, Sacred Valley, and the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: Discover the Heart of the Inca Empire

On this unforgettable journey across Peru, explore the heart of the ancient Inca empire from its political and religious capital of Cusco, to the Sacred Valley, and along the Inca trail to Machu Picchu.

Begin your journey in Cusco, the Inca capital and “naval of the Earth.” As you explore Cusco, you’ll visit the temples and palaces that became the foundations for magnificent Spanish churches and mansions.

High above the city’s main square, you’ll explore Sacsayhuaman Archaeological Park, before venturing into the Sacred Valley of the Incas to visit other monumental sites.

Continuing your pilgrimage across the land of the Incas, you’ll hike the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, rightly regarded as one of the ten best treks on Earth. Follow the Inca highway across the diverse landscapes of the eastern Andes — ranging from tundra-like highlands to dense cloud forest. Trek past glaciers, waterfalls, and sheer canyons that combine to create truly dramatic landscapes.

End your adventure at Machu Picchu, the outstanding city that truly speaks to the political, technological and cultural sophistication and power of this mighty empire.

Highlights

  • Explore the Inca capital of Cusco and surrounding archaeological sites
  • Travel through the Inca Sacred Valley
  • Hike along ancient Inca highways to Machu Picchu
  • Trek for 3 nights past high mountain passes and cloud forests with a bilingual guide and local Quechua porters
  • Visit a diverse selection of Inca ruins and understand the true magnitude of this great and powerful empire
  • Explore Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and wonder of the world

Tour Information

Duration: 9 Days / 8 Nights

Start/End Location: Cusco

Availability: March to January (the National Park is closed in February for maintenance)

Difficult Level: Very strenuous. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu involves high altitudes, long distances, and occasional narrow paths with sheer drops.

Itinerary

Day 1:Arrive in Cusco
Welcome to Cusco! Your driver will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. Once there, you’ll have the opportunity to relax, explore the historic city center, and acclimate to the altitude (10,900 feet/3300 meters).

Day 2: Visit the Inca “House of the Sun”
Today you’ll visit the impressive Sacsayhuaman Archaeological Park. This complex was once the Inca “House of the Sun” and comprises of temples, palaces and astronomical observatories. Many of the stones which form the walls weigh up to 130 tons each and were positioned with incredible precision.

Day 3: Explore the Sacred Valley Of The Incas
Leave the city in the early morning and travel to the Sacred Valley of the Incas by bus. En route, you’ll visit a weaving center and museum, where local weavers explain the traditional textile making process — from shearing, spinning and dyeing with plant extracts to the weaving.

After this outstanding cultural experience, you’ll continue onward to the archaeological site of Pisaq. This charming colonial-era village and its vibrant local market are situated at the base of a mountain upon which the Incas built a fortified temple complex. At Pisaq, you’ll enjoy a picnic at the temple with fantastic views of the Sacred Valley far below. After lunch, you’ll visit the colorful handcraft market in the village.

In the afternoon, continue onward to the village of Ollantaytambo. Located at the narrow end of the Sacred Valley, this village is often described as a living museum. Descendants of the Incas continue to uphold Inca customs and live in houses built by their ancestors, below the ruins of an imposing Inca temple complex.

Day 4: Begin your Trek on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Wake up for an early morning drive that will take you to the starting point of your trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (Kilometer 82). Here, you’ll meet with local, Quechua porters who will help to navigate and care for the pack mules as you trek through the mountains. Today, you’ll follow an easy trail along the Urubamba River to the first archaeological site at Llaqtapata (2650 meters/8,750 feet).

After resting and exploring the site, you’ll travel onward to Cusichaca Valley for lunch. In the afternoon you’ll will follow Cusichaca Creek on a gentle ascent to your first campsite at the village of Huayllabamba (3000 meters/9,900 feet). You’ll enjoy dinner at camp.

Day 5: Continue your Trek along the Inca Trail
After an early breakfast you’ll begin the long and steep ascent to Warmiwañusca Pass (4200 meters/13,900 feet), the highest point along the Inca Trail. The hike will take you through different ecological zones with outstanding flora and fauna, including several endemic bird species.

From the pass you’ll encounter outstanding views the Runcuracay ruins and the Vilcabamba range ahead of you. After lunch, you’ll continue with a 2-hour descent to your campsite in the valley. Enjoy dinner at camp. On a clear day, the site will offer offers fantastic views of the glaciers of Mount Veronica to enjoy as the sun sets over the mountains.

Day 6: Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
In the early morning you’ll start the day with an ascent to the Runcuracay Pass (3900 meters /12,900 feet). In good weather the views of the Vilcabamba range from the high pass are stunning.

After reaching the summit and eating lunch, you’ll make a 2-hour descent to the fascinating Sayacmarca archaeological site. From there, continue along Inca stone pathways that wind through lush cloud forests, past waterfalls and deep canyons.

In the afternoon you’ll reach the mountain pass of the trip: Phuyupatamarca (3600 meters/11,900 feet). From Phuyupatamarca, you’ll truly have followed the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, as you get your first glimpse of the outstanding Lost City surrounded by spectacular mountains and snowy peaks.

The trek continues along an Inca staircase, down a long and steep descent. You’ll end the day at the archaeological site of Wiñaywayna — justly considered among the Inca Trail’s most marvelous ruins. Enjoy dinner and camp at the ruins.

Day 7: Explore Machu Picchu
After breakfast, you’ll leave your Quechua porters and continue hiking through the cloud forest towards Sun Gate — the doorway to Machu Picchu (2400 meters/8,000 feet).

After reaching the ruins, you’ll explore the site with your knowledgeable guide and have time to wander independently. In the afternoon, you’ll venture to the nearby village of Aguas Calientes. Here, you can relax your muscles in the restorative and mineral-rich natural hot springs or stroll the small town. Spend the night sleeping soundly in well-earned comfort at a local hotel.

Day 8: Relax or Hike in Aguas Calientes
After breakfast, the day is yours to explore Machu Picchu, hike independently, or rest up before you take the afternoon train back to Cusco.

Day 9: Say Goodbye to the Inca Trail
After breakfast, your guide will transfer you to the airport in Cusco for your onward travel.

What’s Included

  • Nightly accommodation
  • Bilingual guide
  • Tours as mentioned in the itinerary including entrance fees
  • Transportation to all itinerary sites (bus, train, private transfer)
  • Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: Bilingual guide, cook, porters, camping equipment
  • Entrance fees to National Park & Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
  • All breakfasts, 1 lunch, and full board on Inca Trail

What’s Not Included

  • International/domestic flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Sleeping bag
  • Additional meals/excursions
  • Gratuities (optional)
  • Personal expenses

Map

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Cusco Cusco, Peru

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Cusco Cusco, Peru -13.521400, -71.971300

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