- Catch your breath in the Andean colonial city of Cusco.
- Meet the girls at Chicuchas Wasi School and exchange stories and cultures.
- Trek some of Peru’s most spectacular and famous mountain trails.
- Indulge in the creature comforts of a luxury lodge after each trekking day.
- Reach a high point in life atop Salkantay Pass (over 15,000 feet high)!
- Sit down to a traditional “Pachamanca” feast, cooked underground with stones.
- Have a taste of coffee farm life amidst a verdant cloud forest.
- See Machu Picchu in the distance from a little-traveled trail.
- Get inside the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu, and hike to a birds-eye view.
- Choose to add four additional days in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest.
DAY 1: Welcome to Peru
Costa del Sol Ramada
Arrive in Lima where you’ll be greeted at the airport. Pass through immigration and then head across the street for overnight at the Costa del Sol, Ramada. Have an early night so you can connect with your morning flight to Cusco the following day. Relax and recoup after a long flight.
Day 2: Welcome to Cusco
El Mercado Hotel
Catch an early flight from Lima to the high altitude colonial city of Cusco, where your driver will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel to relax and settle in. Drink lots of water and coca tea as your body adjusts to the altitude. This afternoon, you’ll be guided through the highlights of this lovely high Andean city. Scope out the best restaurants (there are many to choose from!) and have dinner.
Day 3: Chicuchas Wasi School or Pisac Ruins and Market
El Mercado Hotel
Today you will have the chance to visit a very special school for girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, but with hopeful futures. Head out to Chicuchas Wasi to meet the inspiring group of kids that will warm your heart. They’re curious about the world, so be prepared to present a bit about where you come from!
The other option would be to visit the Pisac Ruins and market, featuring a beautiful drive and classic rural Andean town. Return to Cusco for overnight.
This evening, your guides will meet you at your hotel for a briefing about the trek and everything you will need to bring with you. A duffle bag will be provided to help you pack for the trek.
Day 4: CUSCO TO SALKANTAY LODGE
Salktantay Lodge (3,869 m/12,690 ft.)
Rise and shine! Today is the first day of the trek. After an early breakfast, prepare for pickup at 7:00 am at your Cusco hotel by a trekking guide and vehicle. En route we take a short break to visit the archeological site of Tarawasi near the town of Limatambo. After leaving Limatambo, we pass through the mountain village of Mollepata where we stop for a short coffee break before ascending a winding mountain road to a place called Marcoccasa (30 minutes from Mollepata by vehicle).
Here, take the first steps of the trek, heading toward Soraypampa on an old route called the “Camino Real” (Royal Path). This is a good opportunity for everyone to acclimate, while enjoying a beautiful six-hour trek.
This afternoon, the lodge will appear at the end of the path. Salkantay Lodge takes its name from the majestic peak at the head of the valley – Mt. Salkantay, the second most sacred peak in Inca mythology and, at 6,270 m (20,600 ft), the highest in the region. After a warm welcome by the friendly staff, get comfortable in your room and freshen up for tea and cookies. The trip leader will hold a briefing by the fireplace, followed by aperitifs and dinner.
Trekking Time: Approximately 6 hours (including picnic lunch en route)
Hiking Level: Moderate
Option: Guests who do not wish to trek may be transported to the lodge by vehicle.
DAY 5: A HIKE TO HUMANTAY LAKE
Salkantay Lodge (3,869 m/12,690 ft.)
Today is for acclimating on a hike along the slopes above the lodge to Lake Humantay, fed by the hanging glaciers of Mt. Humantay. The hike is optional, but the views are amazing, and those brave enough can even go for a dip. We return to the lodge for lunch with your afternoon at leisure, after which you may choose to reward yourself with a relaxing soak in the outdoor jacuzzi. Spend the night at the Salkantay Lodge with gourmet food and warm, comfortable beds. In the evening, the guide briefs us on gear and the itinerary for the following day. All meals are served at the Lodge.
Trekking Time: Approximately 4 hours
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging
Option: Horseback Riding
DAY 6: CROSSING THE SALKANTAY PASS
WAYRA LODGE (3,906 m/12,812 ft.)
This is the big day! After an early start, hike up the Rio Blanco valley, circling Humantay Peak across from Salkantay Peak. The highest point on the trek is the Salkantay Pass, at a dizzying 4,638 m (15,213 ft). At the pass, take in views of snowcapped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction, and the glaciated south face of Salkantay towering above.
Keep your eye out for Andean condors, often visible in this area. From the pass we descend towards Wayra Lodge (“Wayra” means wind; taken from the name of the location “Wayracmachay”, or “the cave where the wind lives.”) A hot lunch is served en route; dinner and overnight at the Lodge.
Trekking Time: 6–8 hours (including lunch)
Hiking Level: Challenging, crossing a 4,638m (15,213 ft) mountain pass
Option: Horseback Riding
DAY 7: DESCENDING INTO THE CLOUD FOREST
COLPA LODGE (Colpa Lodge at 2,870 m/9,414 ft.)
Today is least intense of the hiking days. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Wayra Lodge. Then continue the descent along the left bank of the Salkantay River, through increasingly verdant scenery. Feel the warm air rising from the jungle, accompanied by colorful butterflies and striking orchids.
Upon arrival at Colpa Lodge we are greeted with a Pachamanca, a traditional festive Peruvian meal cooked by layering meat and vegetables with hot stones. Everything is then covered with hot stones, plantain leaves, high Andean grass and local herbs and the contents are baked in the underground oven. Colpa Lodge is located on an open plateau at the confluence of three rivers. The outdoor jacuzzi has panoramic views of lush green mountains. Spend the afternoon relaxing or exploring the nearby orchid trail. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Trekking Time: 3–4 hours
Hiking Level: Easy to Moderate
DAY 8: THE SANTA TERESA RIVER VALLEY
LUCMA LODGE (2,135 m/7,003 ft.)
Today is a glimpse at farm life on a hike along the Santa Teresa River valley, through more populated rural areas. We pass through banana, granadilla, and avocado orchards and coffee plantations (said to produce one of the best organic coffees in the world). A hot picnic lunch is served by the river.
After lunch, hike another hour before a private vehicle meets us for a short drive to the beginning of the “Llactapata Inca Trail” (aprox. 30 minutes). From the head of this newly restored Incan trail we easily make our way to Lucma Lodge, set in an avocado orchard. On the way we visit an organic coffee plantation where we join the owner on a short tour of the farm and learn how coffee is grown, harvested, dried and processed. Take a soak in the Jacuzzi and relax. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.
Trekking Time: 5–6 hours (including lunch)
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging (because of distance, not terrain)
DAY 9 FIRST VIEWS OF MACHU PICCHU FROM LLACTAPATA PASS
INKATERRA PUEBLO (1,900 m/6,232 ft.)
After a hearty breakfast, tackle the last day of our trek. Head uphill for 2-3 hours towards Llactapata Pass (2,736 m/8,974ft), where we come upon a distant but spectacular view of Machu Picchu Sanctuary from the southeast, a view few travelers ever get a chance to admire. We take a short break to explore the archeological site of Llactapata, which has recently been restored.
Lunch is served at a scenic viewpoint, looking out to Machu Picchu. Afterward, begin our final descent to the Aobamba River through lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations. We then board a train for a scenic ride (approx. 1 hour) to Aguas Calientes, the town of Machu Picchu. Upon arrival, we check into an award-wining hotel for a celebration dinner with the guide and one last briefing.
Trekking Time: 4–6 hours
Hiking Level: Moderate to Challenging
DAY 10: VISIT MACHU PICCHU, RETURN CUSCO
PLAZA NAZARENAS HOTEL
After a very early buffet breakfast at the hotel, we make our way to the bus station for the ride up to Machu Picchu Sanctuary (30 min). Our trip leader will give an introductory two-hour guided tour of the ruins, after which we have the option of climbing the steep staircase of Huayna Picchu, a steep and vertically quite challenging hike that takes about two hours and affords great views of Machu Picchu. Afterwards, we meet up with our guide again and return by bus to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch and to catch our train.
The ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo takes about 1½ hours, and then a private vehicle will drive us back to Cusco (an additional 1½ hour). Upon arrival in Cusco (approximately 7 or 8 p.m.), we are dropped off at your hotel, Plazas Nazarenas for a little luxury and perhaps book a nice massage in their relaxing spa!
Add a 4-night Extension to the Amazon:
Day 1: FLIGHT TO PUERTO MALDONADO
Today you will catch a 30 minute flight from Cusco back to Lima and connect with your flight to Puerto Maldonado.
Arrive and head to the main office of Refugio Amazonas for check in.
Afterward, drive to the port to board your boat, a 2.5-hour ride via motorized canoe, to enter this amazing Amazon reserve.
The lodge manager will welcome you and brief you regarding important details about your stay. Relax, shower and have dinner. After dinner, your guide will take you on a caiman search where you will look for their red eyes to appear on the water’s edge.
DAY 2: Amazon Rainforest
Today explore the jungle, starting with a paddle around the lake looking for wildlife. – keep your eyes out for the giant otters! Climb the canopy tower to see amazing views of the top of the Amazon Rainforest, including many birds and possibly monkeys. Visit a farm where a pioneer Don Manuel still lives and grows traditional Amazonian plants, often used for medicine and food.
Return to your lodge for the evening. Enjoy a conservation lecture by a research scientist. Learn about species in this part of the Amazon.
DAY 3: Amazon Rainforest
Today you’ll visit the parrot clay licks where you will see many colorful and magical parrots, macaws and parakeets. Also, take a walk through the rainforest and what used to be a brazil nut growing region.
After lunch, head to a very special mammal clay lick, where you can see animals like the peccary (a wild pig) that eat this clay to help digest foods.
Tonight you can take a night walk as well and learn about all of the nocturnal animals, such as frogs, which might be difficult to spot during the days.
DAY 4: Depart Amazon for Lima and flight home
Depart from the Amazon, taking your boat to go back and collect your luggage from the safe. Head to your flight from Puerto Maldonado to Lima and connect with your international flight home.
Contact us to learn more about this exceptional itinerary!