Crossroads of History
Venture into the heart of the ancient Inca Empire as you challenge yourself to complete the epic and world-famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Tramp along the very same trails that the ancient Inca people – and later the explorer Hiram Bingham – once trod along. You’ll see jaw-dropping views of the jagged Andes and revel in the relaxed pastoral atmosphere of Peru’s Sacred Valley, even meeting some of its inhabitants, from traditional craftspeople to lovable camelids. Along the way you’ll have the chance to marvel at Machu Picchu as well as some of the region’s other amazing Inca ruins.
- Trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, one of the most famous and coveted hiking routes in the world.
- Follow in the footsteps of the Incas and enter the ancient kingdom of Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate.
- Visit rural communities in the Sacred Valley towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo.
- Embark on a private city tour of Cusco, whose fascinating streets feature a unique concoction of Inca ruins and colonial constructions.
- Scale the ancient stone stairway up Machu Picchu’s neighboring peak, Huayna Picchu.
- Discover the delights of Peruvian cuisine at the country’s finest dining establishments.
- Stay at your choice of signature accommodations throughout your exclusive tour of Peru.
Itinerary at a Glance
Day 1: Welcome to Peru! – Arrival in Lima
Day 2: Over the Andes to the Sacred Valley – Flight from Lima to Cusco – private car to the Sacred Valley
Day 3: Delving into past and present in the Sacred Valley – Private Tour – Ollantaytambo, Pisac Ruins and an artisan market
Day 4: Over the hills to Machu Picchu! – Your first day trekking the renowned Inca Trail
Day 5: Conquering “Dead Woman’s Pass” – Your second day on the Inca Trail
Day 6: Inca ruins and Inca roads – Your third day on the Inca Trail
Day 7: Through the Sun Gate and triumphant arrival in Machu Picchu – Your final day on the Inca Trail and a private tour of Machu Picchu
Day 8: Hiking Huayna Picchu – Hike a coveted limited-entry hike with your guide
Day 9: Exploring the Imperial City of Cusco – Private walking tour of Cusco
Day 10: Return to Lima – Fly from Cusco to Lima and explore Miraflores before heading home
DAY 1: Welcome to Peru
Arrival in Lima
Get ready to trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu! We’ll be waiting for you as soon as you arrive Lima. Just head for arrivals and look for a smiling Kuoda representative, who will be holding a sign with your name. We’ll take you to your hotel and help you with anything you may need to get settled. Then we’ll leave you to enjoy a good night’s sleep – the perfect remedy for a long flight.
DAY 2: Over the Andes to the Sacred Valley
Flight from Lima to Cusco – Enjoy the “Imperial City” of Cusco!
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 of the Inca capital.
Your guide will tell you about Cusco’s illustrious past as the center of the Inca Empire and will draw your attention to this city’s unique layers of history – most plainly evident in the impeccably wrought Inca stones that form the bases of more modern colonial buildings. We’ll stick around Cusco’s historic city center for lunch, where you’ll get a real flavor for the Imperial City of Cusco with a traditional-style meal. If you are interested in trying any particular Peruvian specialties (guinea pig or alpaca, anyone?), please let us know in advance and we’ll make sure you get it.
After lunch, you’ll continue your private walking tour of Cusco with a visit to the chic cafe-filled San Blas neighborhood, the lively San Pedro market, and the acclaimed MAP museum (Museum of Pre-Columbian Art). Later, you’ll return to your hotel for some much-needed rest.
*If you feel ready to grab Cusco’s altitude by the horns and are in the mood for more exploring, you can continue your private tour of Cusco with a trip out to the nearby fortress of Sacsayhuaman, the temple of Q’enko, and Puca Pucara – Consult with your Kuoda Travel Designer to include this in your personalized itinerary.
DAY 3: Delving into past and present inthe Sacred Valley
Private Tour – Ollantaytambo, Pisac Ruins and an artisan market
Today, you’ll get a sense of the wonderful combination of old and new that makes Peru so compelling as you travel around the enchanting Sacred Valley.
First stop on our agenda will be the ancient hillside town of Ollantaytambo, where the influence of its old Inca inhabitants is still writ large on the town’s streets. The traditional Inca urban planning remains in place here, and is evident in the street canals, the multi-family stone residences and the solid trapezoidal doors – a shape frequently used in Inca construction to denote importance.
From here it’s on to the charming valley town of Pisac, best known for its market – a vibrant, crowded, and colorful spectacle that attracts visitors and residences from all over the country. Pick up some patterned textiles or artful ceramics for friends and families back home, or inspect the fresh and unique produce. After, we’ll head up to see Pisac’s mountainside Inca ruins. Get a close-up look at the impeccably fitted stonework on the site and peer down at the views of the agricultural terraces, which sweep around the slopes.
Later, your guide and driver will bring you back to your hotel for a quiet evening in preparation for the Inca Trail adventure that awaits!
DAY 4: Over the hills to Machu Picchu!
Your first day trekking the renowned Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is consistently rated among the best treks in the world and you’ll soon see why. This hiking route traverses several different ecological areas, from the high deserts to tropical rain forest, and the natural surroundings are seriously beautiful. Then there are its mysterious archaeological sites, whose covering of jungle overgrowth gives the impression that you are discovering them for the first time. Of course, the Inca Trail saves its greatest reward for last, culminating at the lost city of the Incas: Machu Picchu.
With Kuoda, you can rest assured that your Inca Trail experience will be a safe one. You’ll be accompanied by experienced guides and aided by support staff, who will ensure your trek is comfortable and pleasant. Native Quechua porters will help you with your luggage and you’ll be provided with delicious, hearty meals to help you keep your energy levels up. We’re also happy to include portable hot showers and massage services – a godsend for weary trekkers – just make sure to ask!
From the hotel, we will transfer you to the start of the trek (point km 82) where you’ll meet your porters with all necessary equipment. You’ll set off on the first section of the trail, which weaves through semi-arid terrain along the rushing Urubamba River, providing magnificent views of the looming snowcapped mountains. We will leave the Urubamba Valley and set off up the Kusichaca River to our first camp site in Huayllabamba, at 9,842 feet above sea level.
DAY 5: Conquering “Dead Woman’s Pass”
Your second day on the Inca Trail
Fortify yourself with a hearty breakfast before beginning the ascent up the Warmihuañusca pass, which has an elevation of 13,860 feet above sea level. From the top of the pass, it is possible to see the trail on the other side of the valley, which leads all the way down to a small Inca complex known as the Runkurakay ruins. Once we reach the end of the gorge, we will stop and settle into our second camp site, Pacaymayo, which is located at 11,181 feet.
After two days of hiking, your leg muscles may be starting to feel the effects. Now would be a good time to make use of that hot shower and elicit the services of the massage therapist who can rub away the tension in your tired muscles.
DAY 6: Inca Ruins and Inca Roads
Your third day on the Inca Trail
Your private tour of Machu Picchu continues today as we depart from Pacaymayo. Climb up a short, zig-zagging path that leads up to the Runkurakay circular ruins, which you will have seen from a distance earlier on the trail. With no signs of human life here – and only the age-old forests and towering hills watching on – it’s a place where hikers feel especially close to nature. After a rest here, we’ll hit the road again heading toward the best-preserved section of the Inca Trail.
Just a short climb up a flight of steps and we’ll arrive at another set of Inca ruins. The Sayacmarca ruins, at an elevation of 11,946 feet, are a wonder to behold. How the Incas managed to build this complex in such an isolated and breathtakingly scenic setting, is a mystery. From Sayacmarca, we follow the stone road down into the jungle and we continue our trek through the canopied ‘tunnel’ toward the Phuyupatamarca campsite.
Having completed the bulk of this challenging trail, we think it’s time for a little reward. Toast the success of your intrepid adventure before dinner then kick back and relax. Tomorrow will be the final leg of your quest!
DAY 7: Sunrise at the Sun Gate and Triumphant Arrival in Machu Picchu
Your Final Day on the Inca Trail and a Luxury Tour of Machu Picchu
This morning, take a moment together to thank and say goodbye to your trekking team, as you continue onwards without them. A few hours through a magical environment of mists, vines, leaves, and quiet will bring you to a campsite by the name of Wiñaywayna.
Returning, you’ll set off on the other path for the hour-long walk to your final destination. You’ll drop into a cloud forest before coming to an almost vertical flight of 50 steps leading up to the final pass at Intipunku, known widely as the Sun Gate. You’ll approach this stone construction, catch your breath and then lose it again as you see Machu Picchu nestled and hidden between steep peaks below you. You’ll tread in the footsteps of the Incas as you descend over ancient paving stones to the city and you’ll arrive at the Watchman’s Hut from where you’ll be able to appreciate the ruins in all their glory. This is the classic postcard viewpoint and the point at which you should pat yourself on the back for having conquered the historic Inca Trail!
Descend triumphantly over ancient paving stones to the lost citadel, and relish in the audacity of a construction of this caliber in this stunning location before catching the bus to Aguas Calientes and checking in to your hotel. Enjoy an excellent dinner on-site at your hotel and fall into bed, lulled to sleep by the sound of the cloud forest around you.
DAY 8: Hiking Huayna Picchu
Hike one of the Coveted, Limited-Entry Hikes at Machu Picchu
This is your day to enjoy a tour of Machu Picchu. In the morning after breakfast in your hotel, you and your guide will board the bus to the entrance of the ruins. You will then ascend stone steps, through heavy tree cover to finally emerge at the top of the world – Machu Picchu! Your expert guide will give you a private tour of the ancient city, introducing you to the history of this spectacular citadel and showing you the most important temples and ceremonial sites.
Optional: The adventurous can either hike the steep Huayna Picchu peak for the postcard view of the city, or scale Machu Picchu Mountain to reach the highest point in the park (depending on availability, both hikes are limited-entry and require advance notice). Delight in an alternate perspective of Machu Picchu from an exclusive vantage point!
After completing your Machu Picchu visit you will descend to Aguas Calientes for lunch and your return Vistadome train. We will be waiting to collect you in the Ollantaytambo train station and will bring you to your hotel for the evening.
DAY 9: Exploring the imperial City of Cusco
Private walking tour of Cusco
You’ll spend day nine getting to know Cusco, a city that seems to straddle the divide between the past and the future. On the one hand, it wears its history on its sleeve with Inca stonework, traditionally dressed locals and grand colonial churches. On the other hand, it is thoroughly cosmopolitan with trendy bars, world-class restaurants and familiar multinational names. The contradiction of old and new is a curious, but winning mix. You’ll tour the city with a private guide, who will show you the extent of Cusco’s contrasts and help explain how it ended up as it is today. You’ll see the Santo Domingo monastery, which sits atop what was once the most opulent Inca temple in the region, as well as the treasure-laden Pre-Columbian Art Museum, the famous 12-point stone (which you may recognize from the label of Cusqueña beer) and the cooler, more alternative city quarters, such as the trendy San Blas district.
Once you’ve gotten your bearings with the help of your guide, you’ll be free to spend the afternoon exploring on your own or simply relaxing back at the hotel. At a loss for what to do next? Ask your guide for suggestions; they can point you in the direction of some more of Cusco’s must-see sights or suggest a good spot to grab a drink or an early dinner.
DAY 10: Return to Lima
Fly from Cusco to Lima and explore Miraflores before heading home
You’ll be transferred to Cusco airport in the morning for your return flight to Lima. In Lima, you’ll be met by your Kuoda host who’ll take you to Miraflores, where there are tons of places to while away your few remaining hours. Shop in the markets and fashionable boutiques, go for one last Peruvian supper or simply people-watch from the Pacific-facing parks.
As your personalized trip to Peru draws to a close, we will meet you and bring you to Lima airport so you can catch your flight home.
If you’ve ever dreamed of trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, get in touch – Kuoda will help you plot and maximize your personalized Peru trip.
- Sit down with a shaman for a private meditation ceremony.
- Observe local weavers at work during private demonstrations.
- Admire views of the Andes from your luxury, vintage-style carriage on the Belmond-owned Hiram Bingham Train on your way back to Cusco.
- Learn about preparing and cooking Peruvian classics with professional local chefs.
- Lunch on hearty Peruvian fare hosted by a local family, who will welcome you into their private home.
- Amp up the adrenaline with exhilarating adventure activities, such as riding the fast-flowing rapids of the Vilcanota River or zooming along zip lines in the Andes.
- Personalized itinerary planning: Work with a Kuoda Travel Designer to create the trip of your dreams.
- Kuoda hosts take the hassle out of traveling. They’ll be there to assist you – whether with luggage, check in, transport or translating – at every destination during your private tour of Peru.
- Got a question or query? Kuoda operate a 24-hour, seven day a week customer service operation and can provide updates and assistance whenever you need it.
- With Kuoda, you’ll never be bundled in with big groups; each visit, activity, tour and experience will be completely private and conducted by your very own expert, English-speaking guide.
- Our private tours of Peru are fully flexible, which means we can modify them to suit your travel mood. So if you want to cut an activity or add on a new one, just say the word!
- All necessary adventure and trekking equipment will be provided so all you need bring is yourself.
- Receive a customized Kuoda Travel kit upon arrival.
Our staff hand picks the best hotels in the country to ensure you experience utmost comfort and character.
Feel free to browse our recommendations and let us know if you’d like to incorporate a specific property in your customized journey!
This sample itinerary takes you on a multi-day trek on the iconic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This Crossroads of History itinerary will serve as the perfect inspiration for you!
Please know we will work with you to change or modify these tours however you deem necessary – all Kuoda itineraries are crafted just for you, built to suit your individual interests and schedules. Interested in customizing this particular itinerary?
The price will be based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.