Let the saga of the Inca Empire come alive as you marvel at the massive stones of the Fortress of Sacsayhuamán and tour sites such as Qorikancha, the Temple of the Sun, in Cusco, the imperial capital of the largest pre-Columbian empire of the Americas. Trek an ancient and remote footpath which will take you from pristine glacial lakes and high Andean mountain passes to tropical rainforest studded bright birds, fruit orchards, and coffee plantations before arriving to watch the morning fog lift from one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu.
You'll be picked up at the appropriate time from the airport or bus terminal and taken to your hostel to rest and accommodate your things. At 1:30 we'll begin a tour of historical monuments within Cusco proper and along its outskirts. Transport between the sites will be provided by tourist bus.
In the Plaza we'll see the Cathedral of Cusco, built on the site where the palace of Inca Wiracocha once stood, and its prized paintings by the Cusco School. Along with the modern religious center of Cusco, we'll also tour ancient Qoricancha (Golden Temple), the Temple of the Sun, the city's most important religious center during the time of the Incas. This was a sacred place where offerings were rendered to Inti (Sun), the supreme Inca deity.
Other sites include Sacsayhuaman, the fortress of massive stones, Qenqo (Labyrinth/Zigzag), an astronomical calendar and temple dedicated to the earth, Tambomachay (Resting Place), also known as the Inca Baths, with its artificial waterfalls, canals, and aqueducts channeled through the terraced rocks, supplied by nearby waterfalls and thermal springs, and Puka Pucara, suspected to have been a military fort securing the entry to Tambomachay. You'll be dropped off at your hotel around 6pm.
*Allows entry for archeological sites noted in the itinerary: Sacsayhuamán, Qenko, Tambomachay, Puka Pucara, and the archeological part of Qorikancha.
Cost of Cusco Cathedral:
Cost of Qorikancha Admission:
You'll be picked up at your hostel very early at 5:00am and we'll drive through the Apurímac River Valley for about an hour to our starting point, Mollepata (9793ft), the town where we'll meet our mule drivers and ready the equipment. We'll set of for Soraypampa (13780ft) about a 5hr hike along the Rio Blanco Valley, watered by the icy thawed glacial peaks of Salkantay and Humantay, whose visages you will become familiar with throughout the day as we encounter one striking view after another. We'll stop for lunch en route, around midday. In Soraypampa, with an impressive view of the snowy peak of Humantay, we'll have dinner around 5:30pm and settle in for a well-earned night's sleep.
Low Point: 9,793ft (Mollepata)
High Point: 13,780ft (Soraypampa)
Duration: 5 hours
The landscapes today will astound you as they drastically shift between snow-covered mountain peaks and tropical areas. After a nutritious breakfast we'll undertake a rigorous ascent at around 7:00am as we climb the winding trail to Humantay Pass (15748ft), from where we'll be treated to astounding views of snowy Salkantay peak, the Santa Teresa Valley, lagoons and surrounding mountain peaks. We'll stop for lunch and a brief rest around midday before descending for about 3 hours to our dinner and campsite at Challhuay (9350ft). This descent will take us to the sub-region known as the high jungle, or jungle-eyebrow, which stretches between the eastern slope of the Andean Cordillera and the Amazon basin and is defined by a climate neither as cool or dry as the mountains nor as hot and humid of the jungle. We'll have dinner around 7:00pm.
Low Point: 9,350ft (Challhuay)
High Point: 15,748ft (Humantay Pass)
Duration: Approx. 7-8 hours
After a delicious breakfast we depart on a 6hr downhill stretch of trail marked by scenic coffee plantations, orange groves and other tropical fruit trees, coca cultivations, waterfalls, and colorful birds. We'll enjoy lunch and a brief rest along the trail, keeping an eye out throughout the journey for the famously ostentations national bird, the Cock of the Rocks. We'll continue on until La Playa, near the Santa Teresa River. In this lush paradise we'll have our dinner and enjoy the pleasant climate of the campsite, with an option to visit the thermal baths.
Low Point: 6890ft (La Playa)
High Point: 9,350ft (Challhuay)
Duration: 6 hours
After a delicious breakfast we'll follow alongside the Vilcanota riverbank to the village of Santa Teresa, appreciating along the way bright orange, plantain, and other tropical orchards. After lunch in Santa Teresa and a comfortable rest, we'll continue along flat stretch for a couple of hours to the Hydroelectic. At the Hydroelectric we'll board the local 4:00pm train to the vibrant and bustling travelers' hub of Machu Picchu Pueblo (known colloquially as Aguas Calientes). We'll savor a delicious dinner here and spend the night in a hostel. In the evening you'll have free time which you might use to visit the natural hot springs for which Aguas Calientes is named.
Cost of Aguas Calientes Thermal Baths as of Aug 2011
After a very early breakfast to beat the crowds catch the bus to the Machu Picchu Archeological Complex. Once we arrive at the Lost City of the Incas, we'll have a 2hr tour of the famous citadel. After the guide highlights the key areas of the complex and teaches about their significance, you'll have free time to take photos and explore on your own. In the afternoon you'll return to Aguas Calientes. You'll have time for lunch (this is not included but there are many area restaurants from which to choose) before catching a train to Ollantaytambo, and from there a bus back to Cusco.
End of Service.