A Journey Through a Fabled Past

12 Days /11 Nights
Lima – Cusco – Sacred Valley – Salkantay Trek – Machu Picchu – Cusco – Lima

The Inca Trail hike, though undoubtedly beautiful, is not the only way to reach Machu Picchu. For those who want to discover a more scenic and lesser-trodden trail, or those who find the Inca Trail is fully booked (due to restrictions on the number of trekkers allowed), we have a seriously attractive alternative for you: the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. Though it is nowhere near as well-known as its famous counterpart (the Inca Trail) it is, unquestionably, just as magical. On this sample tour through the Andes, you will travel around the serene Sacred Valley where age-old ways of living and working with the land are still practiced, meet the local inhabitants (both the human and animal varieties), and delve into the world of the Incas. Finally, embarking on the Salkantay Trek you’ll ultimately reach what for many is the top bucket-list destination: Machu Picchu!

DESTINATIONS
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Take the road less traveled by hiking the lesser-known Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu, which is every bit as scenic as the Inca Trail.
  • Wander the capital Incan city of Cusco with your private guide, discovering local highlights and hidden treasures at your own pace.
  • Delight in luxury trek amenities, such as deluxe lodges, Jacuzzis, and nightly massages.
  • Relish a luxury tour to Machu Picchu with your very own expert guide to explain the history, architecture, and theories surrounding the site.
  • Discover the delights of Peruvian cuisine at the country’s finest dining establishments.
  • Immerse yourself in local life with visits to remote Andean villages that are, for most travelers, uncharted territory.
  • Enjoy enriching experiences with local artists at their workshops.

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    ITINERARY
    Arrive at your hotel in Lima after your international flight to Peru!
    When your international flight arrives in Lima, look for your Kuoda host holding a sign with your name on it! We know you’ll most likely be a little tired after your long flight, so we’ll save you the stress of trying to navigate and bring you straight to your hotel where you can shake off that icky flight feeling with a shower and a sleep. Relax into the evening and enjoy a good night’s rest before your flight to Cusco in the morning!
    Lima Peru Travel
    Fly to Cusco and visit a local community in Chinchero, Maras, and Moray

    Fill up with a complimentary buffet breakfast in the hotel before catching your morning flight to Cusco. The flight time between the two cities is welcomingly short (less than an hour and a half). The views from the plane window – the desert coast at first before the needle-like peaks of the Andes come into view – are a great distraction to pass the time.

    When you arrive in Cusco, we’ll be waiting and will take you on a private tour to the Sacred Valley. Your first stop will be the community of Chinchero. Besides being famous for its Incan and colonial architecture, it is well known for its church and handicraft market. Afterwards, we’ll pass through the town of Maras – before arriving at the town’s still-in-use salt pans. The small white evaporation pools that cover the hillside are still harvested by locals in a traditional manner.  After a local gourmet lunch en route, you’ll be taken to see the ancient agricultural site of Moray. Experts today believe these grassy amphitheaters served as a farming laboratory, with the varying temperatures and soils of the ascending terraces providing different growing environments.

    Moray Cusco Peru
    Take a full day excursion into the Sacred Valley, visiting Ollantaytambo, Pisac Market, and Pisac’s Archaeological Complexes.

    Today you’ll witness just how Peru’s past shapes its present. We’ll start things in the ancient town of Ollantaytambo, one of the few remaining places in the Sacred Valley that has retained its original Inca urban planning. Walk through the maze-like streets which come complete with Inca-era canals and view the ancient houses still in use today which feature interior courtyards and trapezoidal doors.

    Alongside your guide, climb past the agricultural terraces toward the Temple of Sun, where you can enjoy an Inca’s-eye-view of the valley. From this elevated position, you’ll also be able to see some of the quarries from where the stone for Ollantaytambo was sourced. It’s amazing to think how far these large stones were transported, especially considering the challenge faced by the Incas, who didn’t have pack animals strong enough to carry them.

    Descend back into the valley to the pretty village of Pisac and browse the wares on offer at the market. Both travelers and valley villagers come from miles around to barter and sell goods ranging from textiles and dyes to fresh vegetables. After you’ve had your fill of shopping, you’ll venture up to a ridge high above the stepped agricultural terraces where Pisac’s mountainside Inca ruins are located.

    At the end of the day, your guide and your drive will drop you off at your Cusco hotel so you can participate in a briefing about your upcoming trek.

    Ollantaytambo Experience
    Explore the hidden cobblestone streets of historical Cusco on a private city tour!

    It’s time to get acquainted with Cusco, a gorgeous city that wins the heart of most every traveler that passes through it. Get to know the real Cusco during a private tour. After breakfast, meet your guide and wander among the archaeological remains of Sacsayhuaman, where the Incas staged a great battle against the conquistadors. Return to the city and roam the atmospheric streets of the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas, which is known for its free-spirited scene. Explore Qoricancha and the Santo Domingo monastery (a colonial structure built on top of the ancient Inca temple of the sun); see where the locals make their grocery runs at the open-air San Pedro market and pass the famous 12-angled stone, whose image appears on the bottle of the local Cusqueña beer.

    At the end of the tour, your guide will suggest places to visit for lunch. This evening, rest up before you begin the physically demanding portion of your Peru journey: the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu!

    Sacsayhuaman Cusco Peru
    Start your journey on the Salkantay Trek!

    After an early breakfast, you’ll be picked up from your hotel in Cusco. About an hour and a half drive outside of Cusco through the purple and blue mountains of the Andes, you will visit the Tarawasi Incan ruins, and then reach Marcoccasa. Here, you will begin your trek on the “Camino Real.” It will be a few hours hiking today before reaching your first lodge, the Salkantay Lodge and Adventure Resort in Soraypampa.

    Salkantay Lodge takes its name from the majestic peak at the head of the valley, Mt. Salkantay. Eternally topped with a covering of snow, Salkantay’s 20,600-foot summit is the highest in the region, and is often obscured by the swirling clouds that rise from the jungle. For the Incas, it was one of the most sacred mountains. You’ll be given a characteristically Peruvian welcome to the lodge and will have time to freshen up before enjoying dinner.

    Sleep overnight at the lodge, which – at 12,690 feet – is a good place to acclimatize to the thinner air.

    Salkantay treck Peru
    Relax and enjoy Soraypampa before the real hiking begins

    Today is all about rest and relaxation in the breathtakingly beautiful Humantay Lake only a half an hour from the lodge. After this excursion of about four hours you will enjoy an evening at the lodge, maybe take a dip in the outdoor Jacuzzi, and prepare for the next few days of rigorous hiking.

    Humantay lake Salkantay trek
    Reach the highest point of the trek at Vilcabamba Range

    Today, the challenge begins! We’ll get off to a mesmerizing start, with the sun illuminating the Andean peaks as we hike up the Rio Blanco valley, circling Humantay Peak across from the summit of Salkantay. Once we reach the highest point on the trek, Salkantay Pass, we’ll take a break. At 15,213 feet, the views from here are – as you can imagine – glorious, with the white-hatted Vilcabamba Range looming in every direction and the glaciated south face of Salkantay towering above. Be on alert for Andean condors zooming by; these majestic birds are often seen soaring around the rocky ledges.

    From the pass, we’ll descend toward Wayra Lodge, our destination for the night. ‘Wayra’ means wind, and references the nearby Wayracmachay, literally the “the place where the wind lives.” Hikers will be given ample sustenance, with a hot picnic lunch served en route and dinner at the lodge.

    Salkantay trek
    Descend into the cloud forest and enjoy a Pachamanca feast

    Start with breakfast at Wayra Lodge, then continue your descent along the left bank of the Salkantay River. The lower we go, the more verdant the scenery becomes. As the warm air from the jungle rises to meet us, so too do the colorful creatures who thrive in its warmer climes: intricately patterned butterflies flutter through the air and attractive orchids can be seen spurting up from the ground.

    Our destination is Colpa Lodge, a charming lodge set on an open plateau at the confluence of three rivers. Once we get there, you and your fellow hungry hikers can fill up on Pachamanca – a traditional Peruvian meal made by layering meat and vegetables with hot stones and cooking them in a covered earthen pit. After, you might want to sooth your shaky calves with a soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi and enjoy the mountain panoramas from the tub. Or, should you crave something a little more active, you can ramble along the nearby orchid trail. Dinner will be at the lodge.

    Salkantay Trek
    Trek past rural farms and explore small villages following the Santa Teresa river valley

    Today, your luxury Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu continues with another bout of hiking. This time, you’ll tramp along the more populated Santa Teresa River valley, where encounters with locals are much more likely. You’ll see evidence of how the valley dwellers make their living. You’ll pass through plantations and may even see the local inhabitants tending their crops of banana, granadilla, avocado, and coffee. Caffeine enthusiasts may be interested to know that some of the best organic coffees in the world are produced in this very valley!

    Come lunchtime, we’ll find a suitable spot to stop by the river and refuel with a hot picnic. After lunch we’ll get moving again, though just for an hour or so until a private vehicle comes to collect us to make the 30-minute transfer to the beginning of the Llactapata Inca Trail.

    Tucked away into the mountainside among a laden avocado orchard is our next overnight stop: the strikingly set Lucma Lodge. It’s here where you’ll have dinner and sleep – that is, if the excitement of finally glimpsing Machu Picchu tomorrow doesn’t keep you awake!

    Salkantay Trek
    Get a first glimpse of Machu Picchu and arrive in Aguas Calientes

    Today you’ll tackle the last day of your trek. The first two to three hours will be an uphill slog toward Llactapata Pass, which sits at an elevation of 8,974 feet yet pales in comparison to the higher altitudes of your first days trekking. Here, you’ll be treated to your first view of Machu Picchu in the distance. This vantage point – you’ll see the site from the southeast – offers out-of-this-world views and is one that few travelers get the privilege of seeing.

    After gawping at the ruins, we’ll take some time out to check out the Llactapata ruins, which were also “discovered” by Hiram Bingham on that fateful expedition in 1911. The site, which has been restored recently, looks better than ever. We’ll sit down for lunch at a special scenic spot, which looks out onto Machu Picchu.

    After lunch, we’ll start descending again toward the Urubamba River, passing through several camera-worthy landscapes comprised of bamboo forest, orchards, and plantations. From there, you’ll ride the train to Aguas Calientes, the closest settlement to Machu Picchu and your final overnight destination before exploring Machu Picchu properly tomorrow. Celebrate your completion of the Salkantay Trail over dinner with your guide!

    Tour the Machu Picchu Citadel with your Trek guide

    Today will be a day that remains permanently etched in your mind, long after you’ve returned from your personalized trip of Peru, for today will be the day you finally set eyes on the storied city of Machu Picchu! After an early breakfast at your hotel, meet your guide and begin the bus ride up switchbacks to the Lost Citadel. As you trek up the entrance’s stone steps, heavy foliage hides the surrounding views until you emerge at what seems like the top of the world, with Machu Picchu spread out below. You’re sure to reach for your camera to try and capture the vista, but before you do, be sure to take a moment to stop and truly appreciate this staggering site. Return to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch, before heading back to your return train to Ollantaytambo.

    Machu Picchu Peru
    Tour the inspired streets of bohemian Barranco and bid farewell to Peru!

    Going home is the worst part of any private Peru vacation, but at Kuoda, we’ll do our best to make it as smooth and hassle-free as possible. First, we’ll bring you to Cusco airport for your return flight to Lima. In Lima, a Kuoda host will meet you and take you to the seaside bohemian district of Barranco. See the streets of Barranco come alive as you visit a number of local art galleries and shops that support local artisans. Finally, enjoy a first-class gourmet meal featuring world-renowned Peruvian flavors in a restaurant of your choosing before returning to the airport for your journey home! Buen viaje!

    Like the sound of this Journey Through a Fabled Past private tour? Get in touch with Kuoda and we’ll start crafting your very own customized private travel experience to Peru!

    Barranco Lima Peru
    INCLUDED
    • Personalized itinerary planning
    • A Kuoda host to assist you in every location
    • The majority of meals in the itinerary
    • Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
    NOT INCLUDED
    • International flights to and from your home country
    • Travel insurance
    • Meals not specified
    • All gratuities
    PRICE REFERENCE
    An exemplary way for any adventure seeking traveler to experience the best of the region! This sample itinerary is just the way for you to get inspired.
    ACCOMMODATIONS
    • Our staff handpicks the best hotels to ensure you get ultimate comfort and character during your stay.
    • Talk with your Kuoda Travel expert to help find the right hotels for you during your personalized luxury tour.
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