Day 1: Cusco Tour
On arrival in Cusco airport please proceed to the baggage hall. At the exit to the building your guide will be waiting for you with a sign at the barrier outside the arrivals gate. They will escort you to the hotel for the night. As in all Peruvian hotels, reception will need to take a copy of your passport and immigration card when you are checking in. You will have an expert guide at your disposal to show you some of the highlights of this beautiful city. Tell him what you like and he can advise as to the best route for your tour. You may choose to start with the Plaza de Armas and a visit to its impressive cathedral. Qoricancha temple, once home to life sized statues in solid gold is another very popular option. If time permits, you could visit one of the bustling markets, full of tropical fruits fresh from the Amazon or even head up through the San Blas artisan district to San Cristobal church for a spectacular view over the red tiled rooftops of Cusco. At a convenient time your guide will arrange a full briefing for the days ahead.
Day 2: Cusco Outlying Ruins
This lovely walking (or vehicle) tour is a superb introduction into the Inca heritage of Peru. First we visit the impressive site of Sacsayhuaman. Huge stone ramparts surround a beautiful grass amphitheatre. Once the scene of fierce battles it now hosts the recreation of traditional Inca ceremonies such as Inti Raymi and Warachikuy. Next is the Inca water temple of Tambo Machay lying at 3700m (12,000 feet) and the Red fort of Puca Pucara followed by a picnic lunch nearby. From here, an optional hike following an ancient Inca trail takes us downhill to Cusco (or vehicle transfer) , stopping at the Temple of the Moon and other historical sites along the way
Day 3: Hike to Moray Maras
We head towards Chinchero plain before taking a dirt road to the incredible ruins of Moray. These rarely visited circular ruins are thought to have been agricultural experimental stations in the times of the Incas.
After visiting the ruins we follow an ancient mule trail with spectacular views of the snow capped Cordillera Vilcanota. We will also see examples of the finest Andean farming on our way. We head back across the plains to the interesting town of Maras for lunch.
In the afternoon we descend from Maras to the amazing Salinas, a series of salt pans that have been worked since Inca times. We explore this amazing site then descend to the Urubamba river and our awaiting vehicle, which returns us to your hotel for the night.
Day 4: Ollantaytambo and the Inca Trail
This morning you visit the old Inca town of Ollantaytambo. After a look around we have a short drive to the trail-head at Piscacucho (km 82). Here you meet the porters and cooks that will support your journey to Machu Picchu. We enjoy a light lunch whilst the porter prepare their cargo.
Whilst walking all you need to carry is a day-pack. Your luggage is carried by the porters, your tents are put up for you and your food is prepared for you. All you have to do is shoulder your day-pack and enjoy the walking. With the crowds now long gone, we head to the Inca Trail control post.
The afternoon’s hiking is an undulating trail above the fascinating Urubamba river. Finally we arrive at the spectacular Inca site of Llactapata (2,788m / 9,146ft) and our camp for the night. (2,788m / 9,146ft).
Day 5: Llactapatat to Llulluchapampa
After a hearty breakfast you climb gently up the Cusichaca valley to the small hamlet of Huayllabamba. This is the last inhabited place on the trail.
A little steeper now, you head up the beautiful Inca path, past hummingbirds and stunted cloud forest to your camp at Llulluchapampa (3,680m / 12,073ft). This beautiful grassy area has outstanding views and you may be even see the Andean deer that come to feed here.
Day 6: Lulluchapampa to Phuyupatamarca
Today is the most challenging day but also the most exhilarating.
You climb to Dead Woman’s Pass (4,212m / 13,819ft) the high point of the trail before dropping into the Pacaymayu valley. Climbing once more you pass the Inca control post of Runkuracay to the second pass of the day (3,998m/13,117ft). On a clear day there are spectacular views towards Pumahuanca mountain in the Vilcabamba range.
Day 7: Phuyupatamarca to Machu Picchu
This is the day you finally reach Machu Picchu. As you step out of your tent the views are stunning. Perhaps you will see the sun rising over the snow-capped mountains of Salkantay (6,200m/20,341ft) and Veronica (5,800m / 19,029ft). Or perhaps you will have a cloud inversion, with the clouds filling the valleys beneath your feet. After saying a fond farewell to your porters it is time to put on your boots and head to Machu Picchu.
You descend through the cloud forest on beautiful Inca stairways, to Wiñay Wayna, another interesting ruin full of swallows and orchids. Finally you contour the hillside to arrive at Inti Punku, the gateway of the Sun. As you step through the old stone gate-way, Machu Picchu appears laid out before your eyes. After plenty of photos you carry on past this wonder of the world to catch the bus down to the lively town of Machu Picchu Pueblo and a well-deserved hotel and shower.
Day 8: Machu Picchu
Today you explore the pinnacle of Inca engineering – Machu Picchu.
For years it was lost to the jungle. Rediscovered in 1911 by the Yale professor Hiram Bingham, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Machu Picchu exceeds all expectations.
This astounding site lies in an even more astonishing location. Perched high on an inaccessible hilltop it is protected by huge cliffs and the raging Urubamba river. Things are slightly easier now than in the time of the Incas and so you start your day with a twenty minute bus ride up to the site.
Please discus with your guide exactly what time you wish to arrive at Machu Picchu. The guided tour takes around two hours leaving you a few hours free to wander amongst the old Inca walls and just sit and take in the scale of the place on your own. For those who want to walk a bit more, you could take the hour long trail up to the Sun Gate, or a shorter trail to visit the Inca Bridge which once spanned a sheer cliff face.
Eventually the time comes to catch the bus down to Machu Picchu Pueblo and board your train back along the Urubamba River. The scenery is beautiful and the train jolts softly along, allowing you to sit, stare out the window and reflect on all you have seen.
Day 9: Cusco Airport
We transfer you to Cusco airport in time for your onward flight.