15 days from £4750pp plus international flights.
See Machu Picchu with fresh eyes after trekking through the stunning scenery of the Peruvian Andes. You will hike through nine eco-zones in six days, experiencing dramatic changes of climate and scenery, passing through cloud forests and valleys, coffee plantations and fruit orchards and traverse 4,600m+ Andean mountain passes en-route to the Inca sanctuary. This is absolutely not roughing it; you’ll travel with full support and stay at luxury lodges along the route - and can even relax in a jacuzzi each evening!
Before you head off on the trail, you’ll have five days in the Sacred Valley and Cusco, allowing you to acclimatise to altitude as you explore some famous archaeological sites, get to know historic Cusco and shop in the vibrant market at Pisac. You’ll stay in great hotels, including a deluxe stone and adobe casita in lush gardens in the Sacred Valley, a charming 17th century mansion in Cusco and a beautiful luxury casita in orchid-filled gardens at one of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.
The trekking element of the holiday has fixed departures most weeks on Friday or Saturday from March to December. This award-winning trek has a maximum group size of 12 people though, if no-one else is departing on the day you have chosen, you could find yourself on a private trek. An experienced mountain guide leads the trek and your luggage is transported from lodge to lodge by mules, so you only carry a small daypack. The lodge staff will prepare excellent meals for you, and the lodges offer massage to help relax tired limbs. All have wood-burning stoves, copious hot water, outdoor hot tubs and supremely comfortable beds. If you want a break from trekking at times, there will be the option of mountain biking or horse riding (depending on the lodge, and at additional cost).
On arrival at Lima Airport you’ll be met and transferred to the Wyndham Costa Del Sol Lima Airport hotel. Here you can enjoy a meal in the restaurant, take a dip in the pool or take advantage of the fitness centre and spa before getting a good night's sleep.
This morning you'll make the short walk back to the airport for your flight to Cusco. Our local representative will meet you at Cusco Airport and transfer you to the beautiful Sol y Luna hotel and spa, which is set in gorgeous gardens just outside Urubamba in the Sacred Valley. It’s at lower altitude than Cusco, so acclimatisation is more effective here. You have two nights here. Breakfast
This morning you will be collected from your hotel after breakfast and driven to the market at Pisac. You’ll find plenty to tempt you here, from Inca artefact replicas to alpaca textiles and local paintings and jewellery. Above Pisac there’s an impressive Inca archaeological site with agricultural terracing, and your guide will take you on a tour there. Following lunch, you’ll visit the small town of Ollantaytambo, a living example of Inca urban planning. High on a promontory above the town there are some fabulous Inca ruins, complete with baths, a ceremonial complex and incredible stonework. You’ll return to Sol y Luna in the evening. Breakfast, lunch
Yet more archaeological wonders await you today, starting with the concentric terraces at Moray, believed by some to be an Inca agricultural research centre. Then you’ll head to the white saltpans at Maras, which are still worked today. From here you will go to Cusco and the Ramada by Wyndham Costa del Sol Cusco hotel, which is a short distance from the main square, the Plaza de Armas. You have a Colonial Room in the historic section of this 17th century mansion for the next three nights. Breakfast, lunch
Today begins with a half-day guided walking tour in Cusco. This will include Koricancha, which was one of the city’s most important buildings in Inca times when it was clad in gold and formed a centre of worship to the Sun God. The conquistadores took the gold and built a convent over most of the structure. Then you’ll visit the magnificent Cusco Cathedral, which was built between 1560 and 1664. Your tour of Cusco ends with a visit to San Pedro market, a bustling shopfront for thousands of products from across the region. You’ll be returned to your hotel and have the afternoon free to explore Cusco at your own pace. Breakfast
Today you have a full day in Cusco to spend as you wish. You might choose to return to San Pedro market and sample some street food for lunch, visit some of the historic sites not yet explored, seek out a café or restaurant or visit some craft shops. This evening you will go to a nearby hotel for a briefing about the trek, which begins tomorrow! Breakfast
You’ll be collected from your hotel after an early breakfast and join the rest of the group you’ll be with for the next 8 days. You’ll all be driven to the mountain village of Mollepata, stopping on the way at the Quillarumiyoc archaeological site, once used to worship the moon goddess. You’ll stop for lunch at El Pedregal farmhouse in Mollepata and then be driven along the scenic road to Challacancha. From here you continue on foot, walking for three hours on the picturesque Camino Real (Royal Road) to the Salkantay Lodge at Soraypampa (2,690m). Take in the glorious views of Salkantay mountain, relax with a massage or in the hot tub. Enjoy an excellent meal before you fall into your comfortable bed. This is your wonderfully restful home for the next two nights. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Note – the hike to the lodge is optional; you can instead travel to the lodge by vehicle, but we do recommend this hike as acclimatisation for Day 9’s seven-hour challenge.
This morning you can trek 1½ uphill to Humantay Lake (4,200m). This turquoise lake in the shadow of the Humantay glacier is a magical place. Here you can take a breather, have a snack and then walk back down to Salkantay Lodge in time for lunch and relax in the afternoon. If you prefer, instead of hiking to the lake, you can take a horse-riding/trekking excursion in the hills around the lodge. This takes five hours in total and is available at extra cost. If you’re feeling fit, there’s the option of taking a two-hour horse ride in the afternoon, again at extra cost. Please note, this is not a ride for beginners. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Note – the hike to Humantay Lake is optional. You could choose an alternative activity this morning, but we do recommend the hike as acclimatisation for Day 9’s seven-hour challenge.
You have a seven-hour trek ahead of you today, and it’s going to be great! You’ll leave early and circle around Humantay peak, cross plateaux of large boulders and then negotiate the switchback paths up the pass. Then you’ll descend through rock formations before stopping for a hot picnic lunch, prepared for you by the lodge staff. From here you walk across a marshy plain and rolling hills to remote Wayra Lodge (3,906m). Here you can congratulate yourself on your day’s splendid achievement, admire the views of Mt Humantay, chill out with a massage, enjoy a fine meal and then perhaps reward yourself with a hot tub under the stars before snuggling into bed under the goosedown duvet. We suspect you’ll sleep well tonight! Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
You have a gentler hike and a total change of scene today, with the three to four-hour descent into warm cloud forest, full of butterflies and orchids. You’ll reach Colpa Lodge (2,870m) in time for a tasty traditional lunch and in the afternoon you can soak in the outdoor hot tub or just doze in the sun. The lodge sits on a promontory at the confluence of three rivers, and is surrounded by green-clad mountains, so enjoy the incredible views. You’ve earned this rest! Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Today a 5½ -hour trek takes you to Lucma Lodge (2,135m). You’ll be aware of the temperature and humidity increasing. Your route follows the Santa Teresa River valley and you’ll picnic on the river bank. After a brief road transfer you will visit an organic coffee farm on the way to the lodge. If you would rather not trek, a mountain bike route can be arranged (at extra cost). Lucma Lodge is situated in an avocado orchard on the edge of the Amazon jungle and looks rather like a modern treehouse. It has huge windows with wonderful views. Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
After breakfast don your walking boots again for a 2-3 hour hike through cloud forest on an Inca stairway to the Llactapata Pass (2,736m). You will be rewarded with an astonishing and seldom-seen view of Machu Picchu. There’s an Inca ‘tambo’ (way station) at the pass, together with a lookout point where you will stop for lunch. For the final stage of trek, it’s downhill through orchards, coffee plantations and bamboo forests to the Aobamba River and on to the Hidroeléctrica railway station. Here you board the train for the one-hour ride to Aguas Calientes, where you can settle in and rest in your lovely casita at the luxurious Inkterra Machu Picchu Pueblo hotel. Take a leisurely stroll through the grounds, looking out for birds and orchids, have a spa treatment or pay a visit to the rescued spectacled bears. And put your feet up! Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
It’s another early start today – but it’s worth it, as you’ll leave the hotel after an early breakfast and take the bus up to Machu Picchu. Your guide will give you a two-hour tour of the sanctuary, bringing this iconic Inca citadel to life for you. Then you can explore on your own or (depending on ticket availability and your legs’ willingness to tackle another challenge) climb Huayna Picchu peak. In the afternoon, return to Aguas Calientes and explore the town before dinner at your hotel. Breakfast, dinner
This morning you can choose between enjoy the activities and grounds at the hotel or return to Machu Picchu for further private time at this incredible archaeological site (remember to keep yesterday’s entry ticket as you’ll need it today). In the afternoon you will take the scenic Andean train ride to Ollantaytambo followed by a 1-2 hour drive back to Cusco, arriving around 7-8pm. Then it’s time to say goodbye to the friends you've made during your trek, before you’re dropped back at the Ramada by Wyndham Costa del Sol Cusco for the final night of your holiday. Breakfast
After breakfast you’ll be taken to Cusco airport for the flight back to Lima, where you’ll connect with your flight home. Breakfast
Guide price from (pp sharing): £4750 (ex. international flights)
Price notes: 2019 guide price pp sharing: from £4750.
14 nights accommodation in the properties mentioned; private transfers; private sightseeing tours with an English-speaking guide in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu; entrance fees in Cusco and Machu Picchu; Return train ticket to Machu Picchu; fully supported lodge to lodge shared trekking itinerary from day 7 to 12; Meals as indicated in the itinerary.
International and domestic flights (we would normally book these for you and add this to the package); Visas (not currently required by British passport holders); insurance; Huayna Picchu entrance; meals not mentioned as included; drinks; tips; personal expenses such as laundry.
This trip starts and ends in Lima. From Europe Iberia Airlines or KLM are most frequently used for this route. There is no direct flight from the UK to Lima. A return flight will cost from about £900.
Departure dates: The trek has fixed departures most weeks on Friday or Saturday from 1st March to the end of December.
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo is set amidst a private 12-acre area of cloud forest on the edge of Aguas Calientes.
Mountain Lodges of Peru comprise 4 luxury lodges along the Salcantay Route to Machu Picchu, providing high levels of comfort and service.
Sol y Luna Hotel provides a perfect base to explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Wyndham Costa del Sol Lima Airport is a modern hotel located within walking distance of Lima's international airport, offering good accommodation and facilities.
How this holiday helps
Taking this trek not only helps local people, but you get an amazing experience walking the Andes yet come 'home' each night to high quality lodges with great food.
The trek is run by a company committed to helping their local communities. They work through a charity arm known as Yanapana a not-for-profit Civil Association. Their purpose is to reduce the condition of extreme poverty in the Andean Highlands, and improve the quality of life through sustainable community development.
Most of the projects are related to education and health for those families and individuals in poverty so they have helped schools and clinics, but they also help with income-generating projects such as organic coffee production, women making handmade textile, provision of clothing in the cold periods and so on.
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Flight time: Both KLM and Iberia have flights to Lima via Europe, leaving the UK early in the morning to arrive in Lima in the evening. The flight time is about 14 hours. It is also possible to fly to Lima via America.
Language: Spanish and Quechua are the official languages.
Visas: Not required for British travellers (up to 90 days). EC nationals can ask us for further advice.
Health: There are no compulsory vaccinations, except yellow fever if visiting the rainforest. Malaria prophylactics are also recommended in the rainforest.