Explorers through and through, Deb and William decided to spend their anniversary trekking the Inca Trail. Spending their first few days in the Sacred Valley, Peru, they got to behold some of the incredible local culture, explore Inca sites, visit with community members, and learn about the history and traditions that make Peru such a uniquely beautiful country.
After acclimatizing for several days in the Sacred Valley, the couple started out along the historic Inca Trail for their multi-day trek to Machu Picchu. Hiking between 6-8 hours for the four days they were on the trail, Deb and William passed along other Inca ruins and enjoyed unbelievable views of the Andes as their scenery. On the afternoon of the fourth trekking day they arrived at Machu Picchu, passing through the Intipunku, the Sun Gate, to enjoy their first views of the site before heading into the town below for the night. They spent the next day exploring the Lost City and then made their way (by train this time!) to Cusco for the final few days of their adventure.
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INCA TRAIL ANNIVERSARY TREK
DAY 1 USA – Lima
You will fly from the USA to Lima arriving most likely in the evening. Upon your evening arrival to Lima you will be met at the airport and assisted in crossing the street and checking in to the hotel adjacent the terminal.
- No meals – Costa del Sol Ramada airport hotel
DAY 2 Lima – Cusco – Sacred Valley
You will be met in your hotel lobby and accompanied back across the street to check in for your flight. After your short flight to the former Incan capital of Cusco where Andean cultures come alive (don’t be surprised when the language doesn’t sound like Spanish – it is most likely the native Andean tongue Quechua), you’ll be met at the airport and taken for a light lunch. Departing for the Incan sites around the town, you’ll visit the fortress Sacsayhuaman and its megalithic stone terraces; Kenko, with its carved stone surfaces and subterranean altars; the Puka Pukara fortress that protected the royal capital from attacks; and the water temple, Tambo Machay. Driving through the city and into the snow-capped Andean peaks with inspired views you descend into the Sacred Valley of the Incas where you’ll check in to your hotel, an oasis in this beautiful valley. Take the afternoon to relax while acclimatizing to the altitude (the Sacred Valley is lower than Cusco and the perfect place to gradually acclimatize).
- B, L – Sol y Luna
DAY 3 Sacred Valley Villages and the Weavers of Amaru
After breakfast you’ll head by van along the Sacred Valley past the communities of Calca, Coya, Lamay and Pisac. From here the van goes completely off the map winding up a small dirt road, which takes you through remote Andean villages and arrives to the community of the Amaru people. This isolated community holds strongly to their ancient customs and practices a largely subsistence lifestyle on the slopes of the Andes. The Amaru will proudly open their village to you where you will learn of their lifestyle and traditions. Among other things, take part in gathering plants used as natural dyes, learn of their medicinal and culinary properties, and see how Peru’s world-renowned textiles are woven and brought to life. Stay for lunch with the Amaru community leaders. Afterwards, hike along the high-mountain terraces and through the ruins before descending to Pisac – one of Peru’s largest and most vibrant markets – where you can bargain with Andean campesinos for handcrafted wares. Return to your hotel for a relaxing evening.
- B, L – Sol y Luna
DAY 4 Sacred Valley – Maras y Moray
Heading out early you’ll arrive to the massive Inca agricultural terraces of Moray, thought to have been a nursery to experiment with and modify different varieties of crops. From here hike or go by van (depending on your preference, time, and weather) to the little-known village of Maras where pre-Columbian terraced saltpans are still being harvested in the traditional way by villagers. Enjoy a picnic in this surreal setting before you are taken back to your hotel in the Sacred Valley.
- B, L – Sol y Luna
DAY 5 Sacred Valley
Enjoy the day independently exploring the Sacred Valley at your leisure or enjoying your hotel’s beautiful grounds as you relax and take in the breathtaking scenery.
- B – Sol y Luna
DAY 6 Inca Trail – Sacred Valley – Llaqtapata
Geared up and ready to go, today you begin the Inca Trail departing in the morning to Piscaycucho. After meeting the porters, hike through a little-visited section of the trail gently winding up the valley until arriving to the Incan ruins at Q’oriwayrachina – first discovered in 2001. Enjoy a picnic lunch surrounded by stones from more than 200 structures. Crossing the Urubamba River at Q’ente arrive to an isolated campsite amidst Inca terracing and nearby the archaeological sites of Wayna Q’ente and Llaqtapata which you can visit at your leisure in the evening.
Hike details: 6.8 miles, approximately 5-6 hours
- B, L, D – camping
DAY 7 Llaqtapata to Llulluchapampa
Continuing up the Cusicacha Valley you reach the small indigenous community of Huallabamba. After glimpsing into the life and traditions of the high Andes, make your ascent to a large Pampa below the first pass to where your camp awaits pirched for breathtaking sunset and sunrise views of Mount Huaynay. Ascending this narrow hanging valley with views to the cloudforest, you’ll see the very rare Andean Quenua tree.
Hike details: 5.6 miles, 6 hours
- B, L, D – camping
DAY 8 Llulluchapampa to Phuyupatamarca
Begin the most challenging day of hiking with a steady ascent until rewarded with big Andean views from the 13,692-ft Warmiwanusqa Pass. From here head down towards the Pacamayo River and up the other side of the valley to the Runkuraqay atop the second pass. Visit the Sayacmarca ruins after just entering the cloudforest. A beautiful location overlooking the Aobamba Valley, it affords a respite for a liesurely walk through the imposing structures often enshrouded by clouds. Continuing along the ridge you’ll see the majestic Mount Salkantay and the silhouette of Mount Pumasillo to the north on the horizon. Arriving to a small village on the edge of the clouds, continue just beyond to your isolated camp.
Hike details: 8.7 miles, 7-8 hours
- B, L, D – camping
DAY 9 Phuyupatamarca to Machu Picchu
Begin todays trek by passing the Phuyupatamarca ruins and winding sharply down into increasingly dense cloudforest to the well-restored ruins of Winay Wayna. Continue on until you cross through Intipunku – the Sun Gate – as the Incas did long ago for your first bird’s-eye view to the Lost City of Machu Picchu. Arriving to the Sun Gate in the evening helps avoid crowds and allows you to first see Machu Picchu when it is less visited. From here you will descend to Machu Picchu Pueblo to toast your feat of retracing the ancient Incan pathway to Machu Picchu and your upcoming full-day exploration of the site.
Hike details: 8.1 miles, 8 hours
- B, L, D – Machu Picchu Pueblo
DAY 10 Machu Picchu
Early risers can watch the sunrise from the Machu Picchu citadel or make the early morning climb of Huayna Picchu mountain. This incredibly vast archeological site – lost to the world until well into the twentieth century – is perched amongst Andean peaks and lush cloud forest making it one of the most breathtaking sights in the world. You’ll have the opportunity to get a complete guided tour of the site as you begin to unlock the mystery of the Inca, and will also have plenty of time to explore the ruins on your own. Lunch at the adjacent Sanctuary Lodge means you’ll be able to enjoy the whole day without leaving awe-inspiring Machu Picchu. Return to Machu Picchu Pueblo for the evening.
- B, L, D – Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
DAY 11 Machu Picchu Pueblo – Ollantaytambo – Cusco
Taking the train after breakfast, you’ll have time to roam through Ollantaytambo town taking in the ancient ruins towering above. Heading into the Sacred Valley you’ll stop to enjoy lunch at an authentic colonial-era hacienda before continuing on and arriving in the early evening to Cusco.
- B, L – Marqueses
DAY 12 Cusco
Enjoy a half-day guided walking tour of the city where traditional Andean cultures, the colonial Spanish, and modern Peru come together in one of South America’s most culturally and visually dynamic cities. Visit Incan architectural jewels such as Korikancha – the temple of the sun, shop at Andean markets, enjoy savory, wide-ranging Peruvian cuisine, and see the colonial cathedrals built atop Incan foundations around the Plaza Central.
- B – Marqueses
DAY 13 Cusco
Enjoy another day to independently explore Cusco.
- B – Marqueses
DAY 14 Cusco – Lima – Onward
Enjoy the morning at leisure to continue exploring Cusco. You will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport in accordance with your onward flight to Lima. After arriving in the Lima airport you will be responsible for checking in and catching your international flight. This is often a long & unavoidable layover, so save a few pages in your book or enjoy dinner across the street at Ramada’s restaurant and then fly out.
DAY 15 Arrive Home
Hasta Pronto, Knowmad Adventurers
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