Peru: Machu Picchu & the Sacred Valley

Guided Walking Tour, Ecuador: Machu Picchu & the Sacred ValleyGuided Walking Tour, Ecuador: Machu Picchu & the Sacred Valley

Peru

Machu Picchu & the Sacred Valley

overview

Legendary Machu Picchu, hidden city in the clouds, is just one highlight on a trip steeped in Peruvian magic. Led by guides with a deep passion for their land and its people, your adventure begins in the high-altitude city of Cusco, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wind your way through the sacred Urubamba Valley to age-old burial sites built into steep cliffs. Visit mountain villages for traditional meals and dancing with local families. Hearty lunches and savory dinners fuel you for browsing Andean markets and exploring the 900-year-old Maras salt mines. With every footstep, you travel deeper into a land of snow-mantled peaks, lush forests, and dramatic valley vistas. Step back in time among ancient Incan ruins that are yours to wander. If you choose, accept the challenge of the spectacular Inca Trail. You’ll experi­ence mystical Machu Picchu fully by visiting at off-peak hours…on a journey that consistently takes the path less traveled.

Please note: Permits for the Inca Trail (on which we walk to approach Machu Picchu) are no longer available for our 9/26 departure. New guests will have the option of a different hike and may access the site via alternate means. These permits are in short supply; we recommend reserving early to guarantee availability.

2014 Downloadable Itinerary

2015 Downloadable Itinerary

Activity Level
Moderate with
challenging
sections;
4-7 miles daily
Meet
Cusco, Peru
Depart
Cusco, Peru
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
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From our blog

Guided Walking 
8 days, 7 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Two expert, local guides (for groups of 7 or more), with you 24/7
  • All meals; local wine or beer included with dinners
  • All accommodations while on tour
  • Transportation from the meeting to the departure point
  • Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the Country Walkers staff
per person double occupancy
Solo surcharge + $0
 

2014 Single supplement + $1,125
2015 Single supplement + $1,025
Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION
Number of Travelers
Total in your party
Price From
per person double occupancy

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Cusco
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2
Yucay
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3
Yucay
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4
Yucay
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5
Aguas Calientes
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6
Aguas Calientes
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7
Cusco
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8
Cusco
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Day 1

Cusco

Cusco and surrounding ruins; 3-4 miles, easy

After an early breakfast and an orientation meeting, your Peruvian guides acquaint you with the history and culture of this ancient city on a walking tour. Your meeting hotel is a lovely colonial building situated in the heart of Cusco, one of the highest cities in the world at 11,400 feet. Your explorations take you over the cobbled streets as you visit the main cultural and religious sites within the city, both Incan and colonial. Later, a short drive brings you to the city’s outskirts, where you explore the famous sites surrounding Cusco, such as the Koricancha (Temple of the Sun) and the Cusco Cathedral. You begin at Sacsayhuaman, which sits at 12,200 feet, the principal Incan temple in the region, where the Inca held religious celebrations. Because of its hilltop location, it is often referred to as a fortress and offers incomparable views of Cusco. You then proceed to Quenko, a ceremonial site for important Inca families. Although Quenko was virtually destroyed by the Spanish, remains of ceremonial altars and gods worshiped by the Inca are still visible. Time permitting; you may visit the impressive site of Tambomachay, the site of ritual baths and the Temple of the Water.

After returning to the hotel, you have a bit of time to relax before dinner. The evening meal is at an inviting restaurant in Cusco featuring local specialties such as rocoto relleno (stuffed peppers) and chupe de quinoa (stew made with local cheese, vegetables, and the local power-packed grain called quinoa).

Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel

Cusco, Peru

A former 16th-century colonial mansion, this elegant boutique hotel is ideally located just two blocks from the Main Square. The property features lovely rooms equipped with an intelligent oxygen system.

Day 2

Yucay

Pisac Ruins and Market; 2-5 miles, moderate, includes steep descent on stairs, 1,800-ft. elevation loss, sections of walk may cause vertigo

After breakfast, you transfer 1½ hours to begin a walking tour of the Sacred Valley at the mountaintop site of Pisac. This imposing site clings to steep, terraced fields far above the valley and offers one of the finest examples of Incan architecture in the Cusco region. Winding your way on foot through ancient ruins and temples towards the Urubamba Valley floor, you marvel at this Inca burial site ingeniously built into a steep cliff. Along the way you delight in spectacular views of terraced fields used by local farmers for growing maize, potatoes, and quinoa. You arrive to the wonderful village of Pisac on foot, and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, featuring a hearty buffet of salads, potato dishes, meats, and breads.

Afterward, you will have time to peruse Pisac’s Andean market or relax at a café. Late in the afternoon you drive (40 minutes) to your beautiful monastery-turned-hacienda in Yucay, where there may be time for a short walk around the farmlands before reuniting for a traditional Peruvian feast.

La Posada Del Inca

Yucay, Peru

A beautifully restored hacienda with colonial architecture and expansive gardens, located at the base of the Andes.

Day 3

Yucay

Chinchero Market; Maras and Moray, to the Urubamba River; 4-7 miles, moderate with easy option, 500-ft. elevation gain and 1,700-ft. elevation loss, sections of walk may cause vertigo

Your day begins with a visit to Chinchero (a 40-minute transfer), where you experience a traditional Andean market. Here, locals from the surrounding communities come to barter or sell their handicrafts and products. Colorful assortments of weavings, fruits, vegetables, beans, and livestock make this a truly unforgettable experience.

Afterward, you transfer to the charming village of Maras, from where you begin a walk along ancient farming paths. Along the way you may see shepherds herding flocks of sheep or farmers threshing wheat. You stop to refuel with a gourmet picnic lunch, complete with local wines. A short transfer takes you to the fascinating Inca site of Moray, once used for agricultural experimentation (and today preserved by UNESCO).

After a walking exploration of the site, you begin a descent through a narrow canyon to the Maras salt mines. The snowcapped Andes and golden wheat fields provide a stunning backdrop for a walk to this unique site, still mined for salt. Here you learn about the process of harvesting the salt from terraces of pools created by an underground saltwater spring. The entire process is done by hand, and the methods have not changed since pre-Hispanic times. A final 30-minute descent brings you to the Urubamba River and the village of Pichingoto, where you are met by your bus driver for the short transfer back to the hotel. Dinner this evening is at a local restaurant.

La Posada Del Inca

Yucay, Peru

A beautifully restored hacienda with colonial architecture and expansive gardens, located at the base of the Andes.

Day 4

Yucay

Traditional Andean Village; 5-7 miles, moderate to challenging, 300-ft. elevation gain and 800-ft. elevation loss

The village of Ollantaytambo is the first stop today. The spectacular Incan site above the village is famous as one of the few places where the Inca defeated the conquistadors in battle. Here you learn how the Inca maneuvered huge blocks of stone from the riverbanks below to the steep cliffs above to build their terraced temple.

Afterward you transfer (one hour) to a remote, traditional village, which provides an opportunity for an intimate view of mountain life in Peru. You are warmly welcomed by its inhabitants as you visit their primary school and homes. The walk starts at 13,420 feet, the highest walk during the tour, and follows ancient footpaths. Life here continues as it has for hundreds of years, as farmers still work the high Andean terraces, harvesting wheat and a variety of vegetables. Residents still wear the traditional dress of the area, and houses are made of stacked stone. Overlooking the Urubamba Valley, you encounter llamas, cows, and goats grazing alongside the trail, and the snowcapped peak of Mount Alacoma appears close enough to touch.

You descend in time for a pisco sour (Peru’s national drink made with clear, white-grape alcohol) by the fire before a final dinner in Yucay. This afternoon there is also an optional visit to the renowned Pablo Seminario pottery studio.

La Posada Del Inca

Yucay, Peru

A beautifully restored hacienda with colonial architecture and expansive gardens, located at the base of the Andes.

Day 5

Aguas Calientes

Train and Inca Trail to Machu Picchu; 7.5 miles, moderate to challenging, sections of steep stair climbing, 2,000-ft. elevation gain and 1,200-ft. elevation loss, sections of walk may cause vertigo. Option to continue on train for shorter walk into Machu Picchu

After an early breakfast, you transfer by bus to the Ollantaytambo station to board the train bound for Machu Picchu. The train follows the river and offers magnificent views of the surrounding peaks. Along the way, the landscape magically transforms from vast highlands into lush cloud forest. You disembark from the train at kilometer 104, cross a footbridge, and begin a walk along the original Inca Trail towards Machu Picchu. Today your hike takes you from 7,200 feet at the trailhead to over 9,000 feet at its highest point. After visiting the ancient Incan site of Chachabamba, you ascend steadily for three to four hours in the midst of lush mountain valleys and snowcapped peaks. Along the way you pass rushing waterfalls, delicate orchids, and perhaps even spot the native condor.

You stop to explore the well-restored Winay Wayna ruins, perched precariously on a steep mountain slope and flanked by ancient farming terraces. Winay Wayna, meaning “forever young” in Quechua, was named after a brightly colored orchid that blooms year-round. From here, you continue walking for approximately two more hours along a mostly shaded section of the Inca Trail before arriving at the stairs leading to Intipunku (“Gate of the Sun”), and the entrance to Machu Picchu. You enter the site, like the ancient Inca themselves, through Intipunku, and the spectacular view of the citadel unfolds before you. After taking in the fantastic ruins of this city, you descend to the valley floor by bus.

Walking the Inca Trail requires a permit which is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Permits are limited and your passport details will be required to apply. We recommend booking as early as possible to acquire a permit. If CW is unable to obtain an Inca Trail permit, we will automatically request a permit for the optional walk which is Machu Picchu Mountain, located to the south of the archaeological site (not to be mistaken with Huayna Picchu which is the mountain behind Machu Picchu). In this case, you and a CW guide will continue on the train from kilometer 104 to the riverside town of Aguas Calientes. Upon arrival, you board the bus to Machu Picchu, where you start your hike. This two-mile trail involves a challenging 2,000-foot ascent and descent along mostly stone steps. The hike takes about three and a half hours and features spectacular views of Machu Picchu throughout. Additionally, less-challenging options are available. Your hotel for the next two nights is a lovely eco-property overlooking a river at the edge of the cloud forest.

Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Aguas Calientes, Peru

A Travel + Leisure “World's Best Hotel.” A unique ecoboutique hotel with extensive grounds including cloudforest gardens, medicinal plants, orchids, and a panoramic riverfront restaurant.

Day 6

Aguas Calientes

Machu Picchu; 3-5 miles on easy to challenging terrain (approximate 900-ft. elevation gain and loss)

To experience the magic of sunrise over Machu Picchu, an optional bus ride to the site is offered in the pre-dawn hours, just as the gates open. After watching the sun rise over the site, you then eat breakfast at the nearby Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge before joining the full group for a guided tour.

If you choose not to join the sunrise visit, you have breakfast at your hotel before boarding a bus for the breathtaking climb up a series of switchbacks to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Your guide provides a comprehensive tour of the site including exploration of the Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Condor, and the astronomical observatory. There is time to explore the mystical temples, altars, terraces, and chambers in solitude, or to embark on one of the short walks leading from the site.

After lunch, you may choose to explore Machu Picchu on your own for the afternoon, go back to the Sun Gate for that sought-after picture of Machu Picchu in all its glory, browse through the town’s market, or follow the fragrant orchid trail at the hotel. Tonight you dine while listening to Peruvian music in the property’s lovely dining room above the rushing river.

Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Aguas Calientes, Peru

A Travel + Leisure “World's Best Hotel.” A unique ecoboutique hotel with extensive grounds including cloudforest gardens, medicinal plants, orchids, and a panoramic riverfront restaurant.

Day 7

Cusco

Transfer to Cusco, 3 hours; free afternoon

Following a hearty breakfast, you have the opportunity to enjoy some of the many activities offered at your hotel, including a guided nature walk through the orchid gardens. Mid-morning, you board the train to Cusco, allowing opportunity to further explore this celebrated city in the afternoon. This evening, your journey culminates in a farewell celebration and dinner at a Cusco restaurant, where you bid farewell to this magical land.

Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel

Cusco, Peru

A former 16th-century colonial mansion, this elegant boutique hotel is ideally located just two blocks from the Main Square. The property features lovely rooms equipped with an intelligent oxygen system.

Day 8

Cusco

Departure from Cusco

After breakfast you transfer to the Cusco Airport. Complimentary transfers to the airport are provided throughout the morning, depending on the time of your departing flight.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

Guides

Freddy Delgado

Born in Cusco, Freddy Delgado has spent his life living between urban and rural areas where he learned Quechua, the Inca native language, from the local people. After trying different careers he decided to study tourism and archaeology, eventually becoming an official tour guide. He has developed an expert knowledge of the region and his kindness and love for his country are contagious and will leave you with many fond memories after your trip.

Juan Carlos Yanez

Guiding runs in the family for Juan Carlos, who is a certified professional tour guide of Cusco and has been leading tours in the Andes for many years. Trained in his mother city of Cusco, Juan Carlos enjoys sharing his vast knowledge and love for his ancestral culture; evident from his enthusiastic smile and warm sense of humor. When not guiding, Juan Carlos spends time researching the Peruvian Andes with his father, also a well-known tour guide.

Alex Pavel Pumacayo

Born in Cusco, Alex Pavel Pumacayo lives in San Blas, the artistic and handicraft center of the city of Cusco. Graduated as a tourist guide in the University San Antonio de Abad of Cusco, he started working as a field assistant in field operations. He is now a full-fledged guide leading treks and tours. His interests include strengthening Andean cultures through tourism and he likes participating in religious festivals in the Southern Andes.

Harry Cavero

Harry Cavero is a specialized guide from Cusco with ample experience leading walking, cultural, and rainforest tours. After graduating as an official guide from the Tourism Institute in Cusco, Harry began leading tours in the Tambopata Rainforest for a number of years before moving back to his hometown of Cusco. Harry is an amateur photographer which combined with his expert knowledge of flora and fauna make him an ideal nature guide, providing his guests with tips to get the perfect shot! Harry enjoys riding his motorcycle and traveling throughout South America, having visited Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile.

Guest Comments

S. Doebler, Illinois, May 2013

This tour was the perfect mix of history, fun, walking, local interaction and information! This tour was everything I had hoped it would be and then more!

T.A. Yang, California, May 2013

I had high expectations of this tour, given the destination, the cost of the tour, and the recommendation of a friend who has traveled with CW in the past. Even so, this tour completely surpassed these high expectations. I can't wait to go on another CW tour in the future.

L. Frey, California, November 2010

A highlight of years of travel. Pavel and Fredy coudn't have done more to make our trip seamless and nothing but pleasure. The countryside and, of course, the Inca trail were fascinating.

G. Coolidge, Massachusetts, November 2011

Seeing Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate was a wonderful experience.

T. Dennis, California, November 2010

My sister choose the tour and I was not so keen on it. I went to please her. We had a fantastic time. The food, lodging and traveling were wonderful. Most of all, our guides were excellent. They were interesting and very knowlegable on top of being kind and accommodating. My sister got quite ill for a day and they worked hard to make sure that she was comfortable. I would go again in a heartbeat. If we had any complaints it is that we would have liked a little bit more physical challenge.

J. Knaus, Michigan, September 2008

The Peru trip provided a superlative mixture of hiking, sightseeing, interaction with local indigenous people, cultural traditions, authentic foods of the region, and shopping.

S. Patent, Florida, August 2010

I knew we would have a great time in Peru, but I had no idea what an incredible experience CW would present us with. Our guide taught us about every aspect of Peruvian culture and showed us so much of the beautiful country in just 1 week—his knowledge and enthusiasm is unmatched. An all around amazing experience!

D. Shaughnessy, Missouri, December 2009

Our expert guides illuminated the Peruvian culture beyond what I could have learned on my own. They ran our tour so smoothly that we didn't have a worry or concern about logistics. Juan Carlos and Pavel seemed to enjoy themselves as much as we did!

P. Westfall, Missouri, May 2012

Fredy and Pavel were excellent. Fredy was very helpful with altitude issues. The hotels were excellent. The only negative was feeling "not great" for most of the trip.

V. Brunner, Michigan, May 2012

Pavel and Fredy are super guides! Knowledgeable, courteous, caring. Always willing to add a special request to the experience.

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