Machu Picchu Lodge Trek Expedition Itinerary
Depart from country of origin. (Some flights may require you to overnight in Lima, which is not included in this package.)
We’ll arrive in Cusco (11,200 ft.) by mid-morning, where we’ll be met by our local guide and be driven to our centrally located hotel. We’ll have lunch, then a group meeting and gear check to make sure everyone is ready for the trek. That night, Alpine Ascents will host a welcome dinner at one of the finest restaurants in Cusco.
We’ll have breakfast early in the hotel then take a walking tour around Cusco. We’ll visit old Spanish churches, the local market and then, after lunch, take a van to an ancient Incan Sun Temple and learn more about their way of life. Their stone work is truly amazing. That night, you’ll have the choice of dining with the group or venturing on your own into the night life of Cusco.
After an early breakfast, we’ll depart at 7 a.m. 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 (about 1.5 hours from Cusco). After leaving Limatambo, we’ll pass through the mountain village of Mollepata, where we’ll stop for a short coffee break 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 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’ll reach our first lodge, Salkantay Lodge (12,500 ft). This luxurious lodge offers 12 beautiful bedrooms, lounges with fireplaces, and a spotlessly clean Jacuzzi all with views of the Salkantay, the second-most sacred peak in Inca mythology and, at 20,600 feet (6,270 m), the highest in the region. After a warm welcome by our friendly staff, we’ll have some time to clean up and relax. An evening briefing by the fireplace is followed by aperitifs and dinner. (Guests who do not wish to trek may be taken to the lodge by van).
After a leisurely breakfast, we’ll take a three to four hour acclimatization hike to a beautiful glacial lake at the foot of Humantay Mountain. During the hike, we’ll be surrounded by the high peaks of the Andes Mountains. The more adventurous might take a short swim in the glacier lake but most will 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, where we’ll overnight.
The longest hike of the trek, (7-9 hours). After an early breakfast, we’ll hike up the Rio Blanco Valley, circling Humantay Peak across from Salkantay Peak. As we ascend, we’ll trek along trails cut into the hillside with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. The highest point on the trek is a pass at 15,213 ft. (4,638 m). At the pass, we’ll stop to take in views of snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction, with 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’ll descend for an hour to our lunch location, where a dining tent is already set up and we are able to enjoy a bit of rest and a hot lunch. From there, we’ll continue our descent to the Wayra Lodge (12,600 ft.). It’s 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 time, we’ll 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: six to eight hours. Total excursion time for day: seven to nine hours. Hiking level: challenging, with a 15,000 ft. mountain pass).
We’ll enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Wayra Lodge, and then begin our trek by hiking downhill above the Salkantay River, through increasingly verdant scenery. We’ll 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 four-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: three to four hours. Hiking level: easy to moderate).
We’ll depart early 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 among the best organic coffees in the world). We stop along the river for a hot picnic lunch. After another hour of trekking, we’ll be driven to the beginning of the Llactapata Inca Trail. From the head of the trail it is a 30-minute climb to the Lucma Lodge (6,900 ft.), set in an avocado orchard. We’ll arrive in time to explore the small village of Lucmabamba and possibly meet with locals. (Hiking time: five to six hours. Total excursion time for day: six to eight hours. Hiking level: moderate to challenging, basically due to distance, not terrain.)
After an early start and a hearty breakfast, we’ll tackle the last day of our trek. We head uphill for 2-3 hours towards Llactapata Pass (8,974 ft./2,736 m), where we’ll 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’ll then begin our final descent to the Aobamba River through lush bamboo forests and more orchards and coffee plantations (2-3-hour descent). We’ll reach a small train station, where we’ll board a local passenger train for a 30-minute ride to Aguas Calientes, a small town about 1,500 ft. below Machu Picchu. This night, we’ll dine and sleep in a beautiful hotel surrounded by an amazing number of wild orchid species. In fact, three new species were found last year in the hillside of the resort. (Total hiking time: four to six hours. Hiking level: moderate to challenging).
We’ll wake up for an early breakfast at the hotel and then travel to the bus station for a ride up to Machu Picchu (30 mins.). Our guide, who is well-studied in Incan culture and Machu Picchu, will us a detailed tour of the entire compound. We’ll then have an additional four hours to explore the area on our own. Later, we’ll 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 by 8 p.m.
Fly to Lima and connect with homeward-bound flights.
Arrive in country of origin.
Overall quality of the trip was fantastic. Just enough trekking to enjoy the mtns but also have some downtime to allow for people to relax and enjoy other things. Quality of the food and lodging first rate. Demeanor of the guides were excellent. Mountain lodges or peru guide super knowledgeable. No weakness.