Arrive in the beautiful, historic town of Cusco after spending the night in Lima, Peru. This first day allows you to acclimatize to the 11,200 feet elevation of Cusco and explore the city’s sights like the Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, La Catedral and the Cusco Market. You’ll spend the first night learning about the days ahead and getting to know your fellow Lodge to Lodge Trek companions as we discuss our itinerary next to a cozy fire at the Hotel Monasterio, our home for the evening. We’ll also enjoy a delicious Peruvian meal at one of Cusco’s finest restaurants to fill our bellies before our next day’s hike!
After a restful evening at the Hotel Monasterio, we will be met by a shuttle which will take us to the Tarawasi ruins; here, we’ll catch our first glimpse of ancient landmarks left behind by the Incans…just a preview of what is to come at Machu Picchu. We’ll enjoy a quick lunch, and then it’s time to hit the Salkantay Trail! Guests have the option to hike 3-4 hours to our first lodge, known as Soraypampa, or to continue by shuttle to the lodge. Once at Soraypampa, we’ll find ourselves with a stunning view of Mt. Salkantay – perhaps taking a dip in the outdoor hot tub before a scrumptious meal!
Now that we’ve had a chance to experience the luxurious accommodations and fantastic service of our first lodge on the Salkantay Route, we must get our bodies used to the high elevation where we now find ourselves. Our guide will take us on a 4-5 hour hike to Humantay Lake where we will be able to relax and take beautiful pictures by the bluest water you’ve ever seen! This hike will prepare us for our trek across the Salkantay Pass tomorrow, arguably our most challenging and most rewarding day on the trail. Once we return from our day hike, we’ll enjoy a late lunch and relax in the cozy commons room at Soraypampa. But we have one more task before heading to bed…learning how to make (and enjoy) Peru’s signature drink, the Pisco Sour!
Today, we will find ourselves atop the 15,345 foot Salkantay Pass…and for some of us, this will be the highest altitude we’ll ever achieve in our lifetime! We’ll get an early start as we head up the trail, over the pass, enjoying amazing views all the while. This 7-8 hour trek will challenge us but prove to be one of the most climactic and awe-inspiring moments of our journey. Shortly after we breathe in the fresh air atop the Salkantay Pass, we’ll be treated to a tented lunch along the trail by our fantastic chef as we make our way down to the Huayraccmachay Lodge. Hitting the hot tub here is a must as we’ll want to soothe our limbs from such a successful day of hiking!
Expect a less challenging but equally stimulating 4-5 hour trek today as we make our way to the Collpapampa Lodge, over 3,000 feet below our last lodge. Along the way, we’ll pass remote mountain villages in the cloud forest where the Quechua people have lived for hundreds of years. Once we reach the Colpa lodge, we’ll be treated to a traditional Peruvian style of cooking known as “Pachamanca” or a “barbeque of the earth”, and we’ll have the opportunity to enjoy local delicacies including guinea pig, if you’re up for it! Tours of the orchid garden behind the lodge are available for those interested, and of course, we will delight in yet another delicious meal cooked by our very own chef.
It’s time to choose our own adventure today as we find ourselves heading to Lumcabamba Lodge, our last lodge. As we descend through the Santa Teresa River Valley, we’ll have the option of hiking to Lucma Lodge or taking a detour for a little high flying adventure on the Cola de Mono zipline. Whether we hike or zip, we’ll all find our way to the beginning of the Inca Trail and begin a quick ascent to Lucma Lodge. Once we’ve had a chance to settle in, we’ll have the option of touring a small, locally operated coffee plantation and tasting the goods, of course! Or, you may choose to stay at the lodge and curl up with a good book before we all meet up again for a well-earned dinner feast.
Our last day on the trail! Today, we’ll have the opportunity to catch a once in a lifetime view of Machu Picchu from the Llactapata Pass, a view often only enjoyed by locals of the area. Today’s 5-6 hour hike will take us to the Observatory where we’ll enjoy a gourmet meal of fresh fish and local avocado while overlooking the Urubamba River that snakes around Machu Picchu. Following lunch, we’ll begin our descent to the train station and meet up with our mode of transportation to Aguas Calientes, the gateway city to Machu Picchu. Once we arrive in Aguas Calientes, we’ll have the chance to pass through markets and colorful streets as we make our way to our hotel for the evening, the Inkaterra. This tropical setting boasts beautiful waterfalls and a top-notch spa where you can treat yourself before a three-course meal at the hotel’s restaurant. You’ll want to get to bed early tonight, however, to rest up for tomorrow’s grand visit to Machu Picchu!
Time to explore! An early wake-up time is necessary to soak in an entire day at Machu Picchu and all it has to offer. We’ll have a private 3 hour tour of the grounds as we take a peek at famous landmarks like Huayna Picchu, The Sacred Plaza, the Royal Tomb, The Temple of the Condor and The Temple of the Sun. After snapping as many pictures as possible, we’ll break for lunch Sanctuary Hotel, just outside the gates of Machu Picchu. Once we’ve fueled up, you’ll have the option to continue to explore Machu Picchu – perhaps hiking up to the Sun Gate and enjoying another view of The Lost City – or finding your way back to Aguas Calientes to enjoy a dip in the Inkaterra pool or a visit to the spa. Tonight, we’ll reminisce on the incredible journey we’ve had together and the great friendships we’ve made and enjoy one last night at the Inkaterra before we make our way back to the States.
Today, we’ll begin our travels back to our family and friends in the States. We’ll take the train to Ollantaytambo where we’ll be greeted by our driver who will take us back to Cusco. Those who are departing Cusco on a later flight may want to head back into the city to shop and explore, or you may want to relax at the airport as you await your flight.