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Camping along the Urubamba River, Peru.
Dates
  • Waitlist Sep 1-10, 2014
  • Waitlist Sep 11-20, 2014
  • Waitlist Sep 22-Oct 1, 2014
  • Friday departures beginning in Mid Mar. 2015
  • View all trip dates
  • Duration 10 days
    Group Size 4-12
    Land Cost $3,095 Details
    Single Supplement $550
    Lodging 1 star, 3 stars
    Grade III
    Best Time

    Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

    The classic high-route trek with full logistical support and reserved camps

    Day 1      Lima

    Upon arrival in Lima, you will make your way to the Ramada Costa del Sol which is across the street from the airport for your overnight.

    Lodging: Costa del Sol

    Day 2      Cusco

    Your day begins with an early morning flight to Cusco, high in the Andes, where you will be met and transferred to your local hotel. Enjoy an easy afternoon walking tour of the ancient city. From the Plaza de Armas, you can visit many of the city’s historical sites, see Incan stone walls serving as the foundations of Spanish architecture, and view the cathedral built atop the ruins of an Incan temple. For lunch and dinner, enjoy the variety of great places to eat in the city. (To start acclimatizing to the high altitude, don’t overdo it on your first day, and drink plenty of water.) Stay overnight in Cusco for two nights. [Altitude 10,990’]

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: local hotel in Cusco

    The colonial city of Cusco
    Day 3      Cusco Ruins/Jakima Project of Chincheros

    This morning you will have a guided tour of the four extraordinary nearby ruins, Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puca Pucara, and Tambomachay. Cusco was the head of the Incan Empire and was built in the shape of a puma. The city itself is the puma’s body, and the enormous Sacsayhuaman ruins represent the head and teeth. The largest and most impressive of Sacsayhuaman’s original rocks are still in place, though only about 20% of the entire site remains today. Qenko, meaning zig-zag, consists of a large limestone rock covered with carvings with mysterious caves and alters below, and its zig-zag walls and channels are thought to have been used for ritual sacrifices. Puca Pucara, or red fort, is a small site that appears red when viewed in the right light. Tambo Machay, another small site, is known locally as “El Bano del Inca,” or the Incan bath, as it has beautiful ceremonial stone fountains and bathing pools.

    In the afternoon, visit the Jakima Project of Chincheros at the Center for Traditional Textiles in Cuzco (CTTC). The Center was formed in response to concerns that valuable 2000-year-old textile traditions are in danger of being lost in our generation. The Jakima Project was created to engage as many children as possible from communities around Cusco to learn the basic skills of weaving and the designs native to their respective communities. [12,000’-12,350’]

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: local hotel in Cusco

    Visit the nearby ruins of Cusco
    Day 4      Cusco/Ollantaytambo

    Today head further into the Sacred Valley to visit the sites of Maras and Moray. Since Incan times, local people have collected salt from the terraces of Maras. This site is not on the main tourist trail, but the natural formation is spectacular. Wind your way through the salt pans and take an easy walk down to the floor of the Urubamba River Valley. Also see evidence of Incan crop experimentation at the circular agricultural terrace at Moray before returning to Ollantaytambo (aka, Ollanta).

    Ollanta is remembered as one of the few places where the Spanish lost major battles during their conquest of the continent. Climb 200 steps straight up a stone stairway to the top of the huge Incan fortress, where you will be rewarded with great views. The unfinished temple at the top was still being built when the Spanish eventually succeeded in conquering the area. This site offers an excellent example of Incan city planning: each cancha (block) had one entrance to the central courtyard, from which individual homes were entered. By the end of today you will have a much more sophisticated understanding of the structure of Incan communities.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: local hotel in Ollantaytambo

    Day 5      Cusco/Llactapata - Begin Trek

    This morning your guide will met you at the hotel to begin your day. You'll drive past the impressive Inca fortress, Ollantaytambo and stop to buy any last minute supplies. From Pisca K'uchu, you'll start trekking! Walk along the banks of the Urubamba River and stop for the night at Llactapata. Here you'll camp beside some spectacular ruins which, if you have the energy, you can explore. (Time: 5-6 hours, Distance: 11 km). [8,365']

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Tented camping

    The trek begins
    Day 6      Llactapata/Llulluchapampa

    Get an early start for your day of climbing Inca stairs through lush tropical forests and small villages and trekking over rivers and streams until you reach your camp in a valley near Llulluchapampa. The trail winds slowly uphill through a small forest to reach the site of Patallacta. After a short visit you continue up the Cusichaca Valley, passing houses of settlers to finally reach the Andean community of Huayllabamba. From here the trail ascends steeply to a large pampa below the first pass, where you will camp. This camp hosts wild llamas and has a breathtaking view of Mt. Huayanay. Along the trail up this narrow hanging valley, you can begin to see a cloud forest that harbors the Queñua tree. Llulluchapampa is a bare area above the forest with good camping, but please be aware that it gets very cold at night. This is a long uphill day of trekking. (Time: 6 hours, Distance: 9 km) [12,000']

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Tented camping

    A view of the camp
    Day 7      WarmiwaƱusca Pass/Phuyupatamarca

    This morning, continue your trek through cloud forests along mountain streams and old Inca trails. The trail ascends at a typical angle of 30 degrees across the hillside of Puna grassland as you leave the campsite behind, bringing you to the Warmiwañusca Pass, or "Dead Woman's Pass," the highest point of the trek [13,776']. The trail descends to the Pacaymayo River and then climbs slowly past Runkuraqay ruins. You finally reach camp at Phuyupatamarca, which means “the town at the edge of the clouds” in Quechua. Take things very slowly and carefully today. Most people experience minimal altitude discomfort. (Time: 8 hours, Distance: 14 km) [11,100']

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Tented camping

    Beautiful sites along the trail
    Day 8      Phuyupatamarca/Winay Wayna/Machu Picchu

    Wake up very early this morning so that you can negotiate an Incan stone tunnel and follow a buttress along a ridge-top to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca. Mt. Salkantay is prominent from this perspective. The trail winds sharply down a series of Incan steps and flagstone paths through thickening cloud forest to the well-restored Inca ruins of Wiñay Wayna. After a two-hour walk through cloud forest, you reach the Intipunku, or Gate of the Sun, the main entrance to Machu Picchu. You will have some time to admire the ruins before you continue to your hotel. Stay overnight in Aguas Calientes (Upgrade to the Sanctuary Lodge). [9,000’ to 7,900’ at Machu Picchu]

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Local hotel in Aguas Calientes

    The ruins at Winay Wayna
    Day 9      Machu Picchu/Urubamba Valley

    Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins with time afterwards for individual exploration. Be sure to read about Machu Picchu in advance to fully appreciate your guide's expertise. Stumbled upon by accident in 1911, it remains a mysterious site, as there are no Spanish records, Incan legends, or oral histories which describe its exact purpose. Elegant ornamental stonework hints at the possibility of Machu Picchu's importance as a ceremonial center. You will have the option to climb the steep path to Huayna Picchu for a spectacular view of the ruins. This afternoon, take the four-hour ride back to Cusco on the train through the spectacular scenery of the Urubamba Valley. You will be met at the station and transferred to your local hotel.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: local hotel in Cusco

    Explore Machu Picchu
    Day 10      Cusco/Lima/Onward

    You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Lima. Time permitting, enjoy a tour of the city of Lima while you wait for your late night departure. On your tour, you will visit the Plaza de Armas, the newly refurbished main square, where you will appreciate the majestic colonial architecture. You can see the Government Palace where Francisco Pizarro took up residence in 1538, and the cathedral/museum that houses Pizarro's remains. You may also visit the Archbishop's Palace with its beautiful balconies, the catacombs and library of the San Francisco Church and Monastery, and Plaza San Marin. Finally, you might also opt to visit the Gold Museum or the Larco Herrera Museum, which has 45,000 pieces, mainly pottery, that were excavated by Peruvian archaeologist Rafael Larco Hoyle. Then enjoy dinner before going back to the airport for your flight home.

    Meals: Breakfast



     
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