Machu Picchu Lodge Trek Expedition Itinerary
Day 1: Depart USA (some flights may require overnight in Lima - not included)
Day 2: We arrive in Cusco (9,500 ft) mid morning where we will be met by our local guide and driven to Hotel Libertador, one of the nicest hotels in town and centrally located. We have lunch then a group meeting and gear check to make sure every one is ready for the trek. That night Alpine Ascents provides a welcome dinner at one of the finest restaurants in Cusco.
Day 3: We have breakfast early in the Hotel then take a walking tour around Cusco. We visit old Spanish churches, the local market and then after lunch take a van out to an ancient Incan Sun Temple and learn more about their way of life. The stone work is truly amazing. Tonight you have the choice of dining with the group or venturing out on your own in the night life of Cusco. Overnight at Hotel.
Day 4: After an early breakfast, we depart at 7:00 AM to drive to the start of the Salkantay Trek. En route we will take a short break to visit the Inca ruins of Tarawasi near the town of Limatambo (approx. 1.5 hrs from Cusco). After leaving Limatambo, we pass through the mountain village of Mollepata where we stop for a short coffee break and some lunch before ascending a winding mountain road to a place called Marcoccasa (30 minutes from Mollepata by vehicle). Here, we will begin our trek to Soraypampa, on an old route called the 'Camino Real' (Royal Path). The route follows an ancient Inca aqueduct that is still used today to transport water from the mountains to the lower valleys. As we ascend, the Andes come into view. These steep and snow covered peaks are some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. At the end of the day we reach our first lodge, Salkantay Lodge (12,500 ft). This luxurious lodge offers 12 beautiful bedrooms, lounges with fire places, and a spotlessly clean Jacuzzi all with views of the 'Salkantay', the 2nd most sacred peak in Inca mythology and, at 20,600 ft (6,270 m), the highest in the region. After a warm welcome by our friendly staff, we have some time to clean up and relax. An evening briefing by the fireplace is followed by aperitifs and dinner. (Optional: guests who do not wish to trek may be transported to the lodge in the vehicle).
Day 5: After a leisurely breakfast we have a 3 to 4 hour acclimatization hike to a beautiful glacial lake at the foot of Humantay Mountain. During the entire hike we are surrounded by the high Peaks of the Andes Mountains. The more adventurous might take a very short swim in the glacier lake but most choose to trade the glacial swim for a relaxing soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi upon our return to the lodge. In the evening, the guide will brief the trekking party on gear and the itinerary for the following day. Then our bartender will demonstrate how to make the perfect Peruvian Pisco Sour, the signature drink of Peru. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are taken at the Lodge. Overnight at the Salkantay Lodge.
Day 6: Today is the longest hike of the trek, (7 – 9 hours). After an early breakfast, we hike up the Rio Blanco valley, circling Humantay Peak across from Salkantay Peak. As we ascend we trek along trails cut into the hillside with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. The highest point on the trek is a pass at 4,638 m (15,213 ft). At the pass we stop to take in views of snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction, the south face of Salkantay towering above us. We will keep our eyes out for Andean condors, often visible in this area. From the pass we descend for an hour to our lunch location. We dine in tents where a hot lunch is served. From here we continue our descent to the Wayra Lodge (12,600 ft). Smaller than Salkantay Lodge with only six bedrooms (we have the whole place to ourselves!), but the bedrooms, lounge and Jacuzzi are incredible. After showers and Jacuzzi we have hors d'oeuvres, a wonderful dinner and enjoy the fire for the rest of evening. There is even a good wine list to choose from. (Hiking time: 6-8 hours. Total excursion time for day: 7-9 hours. Hiking level: challenging with a 15,000ft mountain pass).
Day 7: On this day we enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Wayra Lodge. We then begin our trek by hiking downhill above the Salkantay River, through increasingly verdant scenery. We descend into a forest full of a large variety of flowers, including several species of Orchids. Our local assistant guide will help us identify the local flora during our 4 hour hike to reach our next destination, Colpa Lodge (9,200 ft), which is located in an open promontory at the confluence of three rivers. The outdoor hot tub in this lodge has prominent views of lush green mountains and a small, far-away, local town. Dinner that night is cooked over an open Peruvian fire pit which includes several types of meats and vegetables. (Hiking time: 3-4 hours. Hiking level: easy to moderate).
Day 8: We depart early today and head down the Santa Teresa River Valley, through more populated rural areas. We will pass through banana, granadilla, and avocado orchards and coffee plantations (said to be one of the best organic coffees in the world). We stop along the river for a hot picnic lunch. After another hour of trekking a private vehicle arrives to take us to the beginning of the 'Llactapata Inca Trail' (30-minute drive). From the head of the trail it is a short climb (30 min.) to the Lucma Lodge (6,900 ft), set in an avocado orchard. We arrive in time to allow for exploration of the small village of Lucmabamba and possibly meeting with members of the local community. (Hiking time: 5-6 hours. Total excursion time for day: 6-8 hours. Hiking level: moderate to challenging, basically due to distance, not terrain).
Day 9: After an early start and a hearty breakfast, we tackle the last day of our trek. We head uphill for 2-3 hours towards Llactapata pass (2,736 m/8,974ft), where we come upon a distant but quite special view of Machu Picchu from the southwest, a view few tourists ever glimpse. An added value is the Llactapata Ruins, which have recently been restored. Lunch is provided at the observatory, in view of Machu Picchu. We then begin our final descent to the Aobamba River through lush bamboo forests and more orchards and coffee plantations (2-3 hour descent). We reach a small train station where we board a local passenger train for a 30 minute ride to Aguas Calientes, a small town about 1500 ft below Machu Picchu. This night we dine and sleep in a beautiful Hotel that is surrounded by an amazing number of species of wild Orchids. In fact, they found 3 new species last year in the hillside of the resort. (Total hiking time: 4-6 hours. Hiking level: moderate to challenging).
Day 10: We wake up for an early breakfast at the hotel and then travel to the bus station for a ride up to Machu Picchu (30 min). Our guide who is well studied in Incan culture and Machu Pichhu gives us a detailed tour of the entire compound. We then have an additional 4 hours to explore the area on our own. Afterwards we will take a bus back to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch and then to the train station for an afternoon departure to Cusco. We usually arrive in Cusco at 8pm.
Day 11: Airport transfer. Fly to Lima and connect with homeward bound flights.
Day 12: Arrive USA