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  • Location: Lima, Peru
  • Duration:  8 days (approx.)
Discover the mysteries of Machu Picchu on a seven-night tour through Peru! Retrace the steps of the Inca Empire from Lima to Cuzco, including the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Ollantaytambo. Your adventure includes either a three-day or four-day trek – via the Inca Trail or the Quarry Trail. Explore the magnificent Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World! Receive personal attention from your expert guide on this small-group tour, limited to 16 people.

Highlights

  • 7-night tour of Peru, from Lima to UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cusco
  • Drive through the Sacred Valley of the Incas – the Urubamba Valley
  • Visit a traditional community near the ruins of Ollantaytambo
  • Guided tour of Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Choose either a four-day trek on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or hike for three days on the Quarry Trail
  • Explore historic Cusco, known as the navel of the Inca empire
  • Small-group tour limited to 16 people ensures a personalized experience with an expert guide

What You Can Expect

7-Night Tour of Lima and Cusco Including the Inca Trail

Hike the Inca Trail

Your 7-night Inca tour of Peru with a small group includes transport by minibus from Lima to Cusco, with guided walking tours in both cities. Explore Lima’s historical center on foot and learn about Peru’s mix of colonial and Inca architecture in Cusco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Be prepared for simple meals: a basic daily breakfast – such as bread, butter, jam, coffee/tea and juice – plus three lunches and three dinners included (the rest of your meals are at your own expense).

Select from three great options to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu:
  • Hike the Classic Inca Trail for four days, with overnight camping for three nights (arriving at Machu Picchu on foot)
  • Hike the Inca Quarry Trail for three days, with overnight camping for two nights (with train to Aguas Calientes and bus to Machu Picchu)
Both the 28-mile (45 km) Inca Trail and the 16-mile (26 km) Quarry Trail require a reasonable level of fitness. Accommodation on each trek is camping (with basic facilities) in double tents (twin-share), using foam camping mats provided. Tents are set up by porters and simple meals are prepared by your trek cook. (On the Quarry Trail, your personal and camping gear is carried by horses instead of porters.)

See the Itinerary below for a full tour description, including more information on each trekking option.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Lima
After settling in at your hotel, meet your small group and guide at a 2pm welcome meeting. (Check at reception for a note indicating the location of your meeting.) Afterward, embark on a guided walking tour of Lima’s historical downtown – a well-preserved center of the Peruvian capital, founded in 1535 when Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro conquered the Incas.

Head to Plaza Mayor, the central square, to begin your exploration of this fascinating city where an array of architectural styles and traditional cultures mix with world cuisines and modern art. Pass the Museo de la Inquisicion (Museum of the Inquisition) and the Monasterio de San Francisco, which houses interesting catacombs and works of art. Learn about the Spanish colonial buildings that were built over Incan temples and palaces as you hear historical anecdotes from your guide.

Then, enjoy an optional small-group dinner at one of Lima’s plentiful restaurants or cafés – a great opportunity to sample the local cuisine including delicious specialties such as ceviche!

Consider arriving a few days early to explore Lima on your own. Stroll around the suburb of Mireaflores in search of more scrumptious cuisine, visit local museums or the beaches of Parque del Amor (Love Park), or mix with the friendly locals as you enjoy Lima’s thriving nightlife.

Overnight: Buena Vista Lima Hotel or similar in Lima

Day 2: Lima – Cusco (B)
When you arrive in Cusco, gateway to Machu Picchu, take time to acclimatize to the 11,150-foot (3,450-meter) altitude as you explore the continent's oldest continuously inhabited city, where Inca and Spanish cultures blend. See Baroque churches and impressive Incan temples, as well as some of Cusco's lesser-known sights, on a small-group walking tour with your guide.

Pass Inca-built walls that line the central streets and many of the elegant colonial buildings built on or around Inca foundations. Learn about the significance of the ancient ruins, home to the Incas for two centuries before the Spanish built their first capital here.

Your guided walking tour includes a visit to the local San Pedro market as well as the Coca Museum. Enjoy a taste of mate de coca (coca tea) as you learn about this infamous plant that has been important to life in the Andes for centuries.

Enjoy free time to explore Cusco and its surroundings at your leisure, with a variety of optional activities available (at additional expense). Embark on a city tour or visit the cathedral, built on top of an Incan palace in the Plaza de Armas, Cusco's picturesque center. Admire the cathedral’s artwork as well as its elegantly carved choir stall and silver-covered neoclassic altar.

Get a more in-depth look at several Inca ruins within the city, such as the easily accessible Coricancha, which was the Inca Empire's richest temple. Once plated in thick gold, it was covered by a Dominican church that the Spanish built atop its sturdy walls.

If you’d like, purchase a boleto turistico (tourism ticket) to gain entry to Cusco’s museums, such as the Contemporary Art Museum, Regional History Museum and Qosqo Native Art Museum. This ticket also includes entry to several archaeological sites around Cusco, such as Saqsaywaman, Q'enqo, Pica Pakara, Pisac and Ollantaytambo.

Overnight: Buena Vista Cusco Hotel or similar in Cuzco

Day 3: Cusco – Ollantaytambo (B)
Travel by private bus on an approximate two-hour drive through the Sacred Valley of the Incas – the Urubamba Valley – once the fertile heartland of the Inca Empire. Pass maize crops growing alongside the river and over terraces carved high into the walls of the valley, known as Wilcamayo to the Incas.

The Sacred Valley, a longtime site of Andean food production, contains picturesque villages and impressive archeological sites. Your guide will accompany your small group to a local community in the valley to absorb the traditional lifestyle; don’t be surprised if you pick up a few words of the local Quechua language. If your visit coincides with market day, spend time browsing the handicraft stalls in search of hand-painted beads or colorful ponchos.

Then, head to the city of Ollantaytambo, built over the Ollantaytambo ruins – an ancient Inca town and the starting point of the classic Inca Trail trek. If you’d like, spend your free time exploring this amazing archeological site (entry at additional expense), one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish. Located to the east of the Plaza de Armas, the Ollantaytambo ruins showcase excellent urban planning by the Inca, who built upper terraces with great views of the town below.

Overnight: Tika Wasi Valley Hotel or similar in Cusco

Day 4:
If Classic Inca Trail Option Selected: Inca Trail (B,L D)
Travel by minivan to the starting point of the trek, located at an elevation of 9,350 feet (2,850 meters), and join your crew of local porters, cook and trekking guide. Your first day on the Inca Trail includes some uphill trekking to the first campsite, situated more than 10,825 feet (3,300 meters) above sea level. Along the way, see the ruins of Llactapata, burnt to the ground by the last Inca emperor to discourage Spanish pursuit down the trail!

Overnight: campsite on Inca Trail

If Inca Quarry Trail Option Selected: Quarry Trail (B,L,D)
Get an early start on the drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas once revered the moon. After a short drive to Rafq'a, the starting point of your trek, you’ll meet the horsemen that will join your small group during the hike.

Set out on an approximate one-hour walk to the small community of Socma before another hour-long hike to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout. Here, take a break for photo opportunities and a snack before continuing on to your campsite, situated at an elevation of 12,140 feet (3,700 meters). After lunch, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint during the reign the Inca Empire.

Overnight: campsite on Inca Quarry Trail

Day 5:
If Classic Inca Trail Option Selected: Inca Trail (B,L D)

After fortifying yourself with a simple breakfast, ascend a long, steep path on an approximate four-hour hike to the highest point on the trek, Warmiwanusca (Dead Woman's Pass). You’ll reach an elevation of 13,779 feet (4,200 meters) before descending to the Pacaymayo Valley at 11,975 feet (3,650 meters).

Next, climb uphill for approximately 1.5 hours to the second pass known as Runkuracay at 13,060 feet (3,980 meters). Here, stop to enjoy views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending for two to three hours to the ruins of Sayacmarca. After your most challenging day on the trail, it's just a short walk to the Chaquicocha campsite, located at 11,880 feet (3,620 meters).

Overnight: campsite on Inca Trail

If Inca Quarry Trail Option Selected: Quarry Trail (B,L,D)

After breakfast, head out for the most challenging – and rewarding – day of your hike. Walk for three hours with your small group to the top of Puccaqasa, the first pass, located at an approximate elevation of 14,335 feet (4,370 meters). Enjoy views of the valley below and then follow your guide down for half an hour to your lunch spot for a break.

Feeling rejuvenated from rest and food, hike for another two hours to Kuychicassa – the highest pass of the trek – situated 14,600 feet (4,450 meters) above sea level. From here, descend for two hours to a site the Incas called Inti Punku, (Sun Gate), with imposing views over the valley bellow and the Veronica mountain rising over the horizon. Finally, walk to your nearby campsite, where you’ll sleep at an elevation of 11,810 feet (3600 meters).

Overnight: campsite on Inca Quarry Trail


Day 6:

If Classic Inca Trail Option Selected: Inca Trail (B,L,D)
After breakfast, pick up the trail from where you left off and continue over the third pass. After approximately 1.5 hours, you’ll reach the beautiful ruins of Phuyupatamarca, referred to as the 'town above the clouds' at 12,630 feet (3,850 meters).

From here, begin your descent down steep Inca steps, heading downhill for two hours until you reach your final night's camp by the Winay Wayna (Forever Young) archaeological site, located at 9,020 feet (2,750 meters). Enjoy a drink as you relax and take in the panoramic views of the valley below.

Overnight: campsite on Inca Trail

If Inca Quarry Trail Option Selected: Quarry Trail – Aguas Calientes (B,L,D)
Embark on a half day of downhill hiking, with a first stop at the Kachiqata quarry, where you’ll learn from your guide about the work interrupted by the Spanish conquest. Around midday, arrive in the town of Kachiqata to enjoy the finale to your challenging trek.
Catch an afternoon train to Aguas Calientes, where you’ll have time to relax from your days on the trail. In the late afternoon or early evening, enjoy soaking tired muscles in the natural hot springs in town before spending the night in your simple but comfortable accommodation.

Overnight: Plaza Andina Hotel or similar in Aguas Calientes

Day 7:
If Classic Inca Trail Option Selected: Inca Trail – Machu Picchu – Cusco (B)

On the final morning of your trek, climb the steps for approximately two hours to the Sun Gate (Intipunku) for the opportunity to watch the stunning ruins of Machu Picchu emerge through the mist below. Take a break and absorb this breathtaking sight before descending to the famous ruins, which were built in the mid-15th century, abandoned during the Spanish conquest and unknown to the outside world until their discovery in 1911.

Join fellow travelers who opted to hike the Inca Quarry Trail, for a 1.5- to 2-hour guided tour of Machu Picchu, originally thought to be an estate for the Incan Emperor, Pachacuti. As you wander over terraces through temples, palaces and living quarters in the lost city of the Incas, unlock the mysteries of Machu Picchu, meaning ‘Old Peak.’

See Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows, each located in what archaeologists refer to as the Sacred District of Machu Picchu. Your guide will point out the classical Inca architectural style of the central buildings, constructed of dry-stone walls.

Then, enjoy plenty of free time to explore the restored archeological site on your own. Take advantage of exquisite photo opportunities at every turn before it's time to return to Cusco with your small group for a well-deserved shower and perhaps a pisco sour.

Overnight: Buena Vista Cusco Hotel or similar in Cusco

If Inca Quarry Trail Option Selected: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco (B)

Take an early bus (5:30am depending on weather conditions) for an approximate 30-minute ride along the winding road to Machu Picchu, situated 7,950 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level. Join fellow travelers who opted to hike the Classic Inca Trail and go on a 1.5- to 2-hour guided tour of the immense ruins of Machu Picchu, originally thought to be an estate for the Incan Emperor, Pachacuti. (See tour description under Day 7 of the Inca Trail.)

Then, enjoy plenty of free time to explore the restored archeological site on your own before returning to Cusco by train with your small group.

Overnight: Buena Vista Cusco Hotel or similar in Cusco

Day 8: Cusco (B)
With no activities planned for your final day, you can depart the accommodation at any time. Please check with your hotel for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities if you plan to stay longer in Cusco.
From USD $ 1,469.99

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Tour code: 5891GGTBC

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