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Itinerary

SACRED VALLEY & LARES TREK AND MACHU PICCHU

DAY 1

Depart from country of origin. (Some flights may require you to overnight in Lima, which is not included in this package.)

DAY 2

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 hotel.   The elegant and welcoming El Mercado is located just three and a half blocks from the Plaza de Armas or main square of Cusco.   The El Mercado was formally part of an old farmer’s market and now provides a beautiful blend of colonial and contemporary architecture as well as an on-site restaurant featuring innovative Peruvian cuisine. We’ll enjoy lunch at the hotel followed by a group meeting and gear check to make sure everyone is ready for the adventure.  At night, Alpine Ascents will host a welcome dinner at one of the finest restaurants in Cusco.

Overnight: El Mercado at 3,41m / 11,200 ft.

DAY 3

We’ll have an early breakfast at our hotel followed by a scenic walking tour of old Cusco. We’ll visit old Spanish churches, the bustling local market, and enjoy the strolling among the rich history of this beautiful city.   After lunch, we’ll travel by van to the Inca ruins of Sacsayhuamán, an excellent example of the Incas’ extraordinary architecture and monumental stonework.   The ruins cover a huge area, but experts believe they constitute only one-quarter of the original complex; a religious temple with military significance.  After our guided tour of this impressive site, we’ll enjoy free time to rest and acclimate to the thin mountain air.   In the evening, you’ll have the choice of dining with the group or venturing out on your own into the night life of Cusco.

Overnight: El Mercado at 3,41m / 11,200 ft.

DAY 4

After an early breakfast, we’ll leave the bustling city of Cusco behind and journey into lush green fields of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.  We will explore the beautiful archeological site of Chinchero, where colonial buildings rest atop Inca foundations.  After a comprehensive guided tour of the site, we will follow old Inca trails that connect Chinchero with the small town of Urquillos.  The trails wind through fragrant eucalyptus forests and pass by cascading waterfalls with views of Andes Mountains.   The last section of the trail follows an Inca water canal that is still in use today!  At the end of the hike, we will drive to the Lamay Lodge (9,705 ft).    This luxurious lodge offers beautiful bedrooms, a spacious lounge with a fireplace, and a Jacuzzi with stunning Andean Mountain views and lounging llamas nearby.  After a warm welcome by our friendly staff, we’ll have some time to clean up and relax. An evening briefing is followed by aperitifs and dinner.  The top-notch culinary team presents an inventive menu of international and Peruvian cuisine and all offerings are locally sourced.

Hiking Info: Approximately 3 hours (including picnic lunch en route).

Optional: Guests who do not wish to hike may go on a van-supported cultural excursion.

Overnight: Lamay Lodge at 2,958m/9,705 ft.

DAY 5

After a leisurely breakfast, we’ll drive up the scenic mountain roads connecting Lamay to the small community of Amaru.  From Amaru, we will meet our mule support and begin our hike to Viacha. We will pass through beautiful rolling high alpine terrain with craggy peaks stretching out in every direction.   After crossing a mountain pass at 14,200’ we will head down valley, sharing the trail with llama, alpaca, and sheep.  Midway through the hike, we will enjoy exclusive access to the isolated community of Viacha, where we will learn about the artisanal potato farming practices and enjoy a traditional “Pachamanca” meal, cooked under hot stones.  If you have never tasted cuy (guinea pig), this is your chance!   After lunch, we will continue to follow Inca trails down to the Incan hilltop citadel of Pisaq for a guided tour.  In the late afternoon, the crowds have dispersed and we’ll have the archaeological site almost to ourselves.  At the end of the day, we will return to the Lamay Lodge.   After showers and Jacuzzi time, we’ll enjoy hors d’oeuvres followed by a wonderful dinner and enjoy relaxing by fire for the rest of evening.

Hiking: Approximately 4 hours, crosses Challwacasa Pass at 14, 200 feet

Optional activity available: Guests who do not wish to hike may go on a van-supported cultural excursion.

Overnight: Lamay Lodge at 2,958m/9,705 ft.

DAY 6

After an early breakfast, we will depart from the lodge on foot for a tour of small town of Lamay, including a visit to a local wood fired bakery to purchase bread for local children we may meet on the trail.  From Lamay, we will take a scenic drive into the mountains along the celebrated “Inca Weaver’s Trail” to the unique and uncrowded archeological site of Ancasmarca for a guided tour of the ruins.  From Ancasmarca, we will drive about forty minutes to Cuncani for the start of our hike.  We will hike up along old Inca trails cut into the hillside with spectacular views of the valley below and the craggy peaks beyond.  The highest point on the trek is a pass at 13,838’ where we will stop for lunch and admire the pristine alpine lake below.  From the high pass, we will wind down through the lush valley to the Huacahuasi Lodge (12,585’).    The lodge offers 8 beautiful rooms, each with its own terrace and small personal balcony jacuzzi.  The lounge has floor to ceiling windows, an open fireplace, and is blend of traditional Andean and contemporary design.   After having time to unwind and enjoy the beautiful lodge, we’ll enjoy tea time, followed by a wonderful dinner.

Hiking Info: Approximately 4 hours (including lunch), crosses Cruzccasa Pass at 13,9838 feet

Optional: Guests who do not wish to trek may go on a van-supported cultural excursion.

Overnight: Huacahuasi Lodge at 3,835m/12,585 ft

DAY 7

After an early breakfast, we will embark on an all-day hike from the community of Quiswarani onto the “Trail of 1,000 Lakes”.  Although the hike is strenuous, we will be amazed and awakened by the simple but majestic beauty of the landscape.  We will enjoy the company of herds of llamas and alpacas grazing on hillsides while we make our way over challenging mountain passes.   At the end of a long day of hiking, we will return to the Huacahuasi Lodge.  We’ll have time to rest and rejuvenate with much needed Jacuzzi time.  The evening will close with tasty hors d’oeuvres followed by an expertly crafted dinner and plenty of time to recuperate after a long day on the trail.

Hiking Info: 6-7 hours, crosses Huchuyccasa Pass at 14,505 feet and Phonoccassa Pass at 14,475 feet

Optional: Guests who do not wish to hike may go on a van-supported cultural excursion.

Overnight: Huacahuasi Lodge at 3,835m/12,585 ft

DAY 8

We’ll have a leisurely breakfast and spend a bit of time learning more about the heritage and day-to-day activities of the Huacahuasi community before driving to Lares Pass.  On the roughly one hour drive, we will pass seemingly endless mountain vistas and admire the snowcapped peaks of the Urubamba mountain range.  From Lares Pass, we will follow an old Inca trail past hillside farming communities and down into the beautiful eucalyptus forests and rushing waterfalls of Totora Canyon.   As the canyon walls rise and begin to tower above the trail, we will pass a centuries-old Inca tombs nestled into the steep cliffs.  We will end our hike in the small village of Totora and will return to our beautiful, casita-style hotel for a hearty lunch of fresh local fare.   After lunch, hikers can opt to tour Ollantaytambo, a former Inca administrative center and the gateway to the Amazon or explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas on mountain bike.  Either option will end with a visit to an artisanal brewery for hopped libations and Peruvian bar snacks.  At the end of the day, we’ll return to the hotel for a delicious dinner followed by glasses of South American wine around the fire.

Trekking Info: Approximately 3 hours

Optional Activity: Guests who do not wish to trek may go on a van-supported cultural excursion.

Overnight: Kuychi Rumi Lodge 2,830m/9,284’

DAY 9

After an early start and a hearty breakfast, we will return to Ollantaytambo for a short and steep hike to Inca storage structures high above the town.  We’ll get a magnificent view of the layout of the town as well our next destination; the main archeological site across the valley.  From its beginnings as the royal estate of Inca-Emporer Pachahutec, to a stronghold against the Spanish conquistadors for Manco Inca Yupanqui, the temple at Ollantaytambo was regarded by the Incas as one of their most important ceremonial centers.  After our hike, our guide will lead us through a morning tour of the temple and explain its strategic architectural planning.  We’ll also get a sense of its mystic history…a perfect prelude to the wonder of Machu Picchu scheduled for the next day. After our comprehensive site tour, we will walk to the train station and board the train to Machu Picchu with our tasty boxed lunches in tow.  There is also complimentary drink and snack service on the roughly 1 hour and 45 minute ride to the bustling town of Aguas Calientes, the gateway to the Machu Picchu.  The train tracks follow the path of the Urubamba River into the lush, tropical cloud forest.  We will check into the Inkaterra Hotel, an intimate Andean village boasting 12 acres of exquisite natural beauty including 214 bird species and the world’s largest native orchid collection (372 species).   We’ll enjoy a complimentary Pisco sour and a guided orchid excursion to observe the plethora of native orchid species on the grounds.  We’ll return with ample time to enjoy tea time featuring tea harvested and dried on site as well as local organic coffee and sweet treats before a gourmet three-course dinner of contemporary Andean cuisine.

Hiking Info: Approximately 1.5 hours

Overnight: Inkaterra Hotel 1,900m/6,232 ft. located in the base town of Machu Picchu

DAY 10

After a buffet breakfast featuring local specialties like quinoa pancakes and freshly squeezed tropical juices, we will begin our journey to Machu Picchu at dawn with a short and rollicking uphill bus ride.  As we enter the “Sanctuary” (as locals refer to it), we will catch sight of the iconic Sun Gate.  We’ll then be awed by the imposing and skillful architecture of the Watchtower, the Temple of the Sun, and the royal Inca residences.   We’ll share the space with sunbathing llamas while contemplating the history of Machu Picchu and its mysterious origins.  Mid-morning, we will hike Huayna Picchu, the iconic towering mountain often seen in photographs. At the summit, we’ll enjoy dramatic views that stretch from the Urubama River valley to the edge of the Amazon Jungle.  After basking in the sweeping panoramic view from on high, we’ll return to the site for further exploration.   As we will find, the site truly has a unique energy that imparts a feeling of peace and rejuvenation which will linger even as we journey back to the city lights and hustle and bustle of Cusco.  After getting our fill of Machu Picchu, we’ll return to the Inkaterra Pueblo Hotel.  We will have ample time to wander through the lush property, indulge in spa treatment, or simply soak in the hot tub before another enjoying another excellent dinner.

Hiking Info: Approximately 2 hours

Overnight: Inkaterra Hotel 1,900m/6,232 ft. located in the base town of Machu Picchu

DAY 11

We’ll enjoy a leisurely breakfast and return to the train station for a mid-morning train back to Ollantaytambo.  As we wind along Urubamba River, we’ll bid farewell to the topical cloud forest and the treasures hidden within.  From Ollantaytambo, we’ll drive back to Cusco and enjoy a quick lunch before flying to Lima to connect with homeward-bound flights.

DAY 12

Arrive in country of origin.

What a fantastic trip! I loved the combination of hiking Inca trails over high mountain passes with a daily dose of culture in the form of exploring archaeological sites. Plus, it was always a treat to end the day at a beautiful luxury lodge with delicious food and dip in a hot tub!

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