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Peru: Walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu


PYI12C
12 NIGHTS
FROM £2,095
International flights quoted separately
Combine a holiday to Peru with walking the iconic Inca Trail through the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu, walking 21 miles (34 km) over 4 days & sleeping in dome tents. Trek at high altitude through amazing Andean scenery and cloud forests - an unforgettable experience. Also visit the old Inca capital of Cusco & Lima. All transfers & Inca Trail fees included. Advance booking is essential.
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Peru Photo
• 
Lima
• 
City Tour
• 
Cusco
• 
Temple of the Sun
• 
Saksaywaman
• 
Sacred Valley
• 
Indian Markets
• 
Walk the Inca Trail
• 
Machu Picchu
• 
Aguas Calientes
• 
Lima
• 
City Tour
• 
Cusco
• 
Temple of the Sun
• 
Saksaywaman
• 
Sacred Valley
• 
Indian Markets
• 
Walk the Inca Trail
• 
Machu Picchu
• 
Aguas Calientes
Day 1
You will be met at Lima Airport and transferred to your hotel.
 
Check in and relax in this capital city - the largest in Peru and its gastronomical centre.
Day 2
Today enjoy a half day tour of historic Lima, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its well preserved architecture.
 
Founded in 1535, Lima was re-named the "City of Kings" when it was conquered by the Spanish and became the most important city in the region. On the main square, the Plaza de Armas, you can see many imposing colonial buildings with their intricate balconies - including Government Palace, where the changing of the guards takes place. See the beautiful Cathedral, the Archbishop's Palace and the City Hall. The baroque Torre Tagle Palace, a couple of blocks east of the main square, adds to the city's charm.
 
Our next stop is the 17th century Santo Domingo Convent, which is also a World Heritage site. We then drive through the modern financial district of San Isidro for a tour of Huaca Huallamarca, a pre-Incan adobe pyramid.
 
Afterwards we head for the residential district of Miraflores, stopping off at the Parque del Amor (Lover’s Lane), with its incredible views over the Pacific Ocean. Balance of day at leisure.
 
Note: Lima Cathedral is not open on Sundays.
Day 3
Transfer to Lima Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Cusco Airport and transferred to your hotel.
 
Check in, settle in and relax in this ancient Inca capital city set high in the Andes Mountains, that is today a World Heritage Site.
Day 4
Today enjoy a half day shared tour of the magnificent colonial city of Cusco, built on Inca foundations and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Comprising a fascinating mix of colonial churches, monasteries and extensive pre-Columbian ruins, almost every central street in this city has remnants of Inca walls.
 
We start with a visit to the impressive Temple of the Sun (Koricancha) whose walls and floors were once covered in sheets of solid gold. On the site of this ancient Inca palace and centre of worship of the Sun God, the Dominicans ordered a church to be built, which survives to this day  (Note: not open on Sunday mornings & religious holidays).  
 
We walk along the cobbled streets to the Plaza de Armas, the central plaza around which you will see many magnificent colonial buildings - including the Cathedral and the Church of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Walking down well-preserved Loreto Street you can see the remains of Incan palaces, as well as old colonial buildings. If you walk down Hatun Rumiyoc, a cobbled street near the Archbishop's Palace, keep an eye out for the famous 12-sided stone that fits so perfectly you can't even insert a coin.
 
We then leave the city and visit the impressive walled fortress of Sacsayhuaman on the northern outskirts, believed to have been both a military and ceremonial centre. This enormous Inca structure has massive walls of hewn stone and is strategically located on a hill overlooking the city. We also visit Qenko - where the sun, moon and stars were worshipped - and Puca Pucara, which may have been a "tambo" or rest and lodgings for the Inca. Finally we visit an art workshop, where you will be able to see artists working in silver, paint and wood - the perfect place to see Andean art.
 
After your tour why not try a Pisco sour - the national drink. If you are feeling adventurous you can also savour guinea pig - the local speciality dish.
 
Note: You will need to carry your passport today to gain access to the site at Sacsayhuaman.
Day 5
At leisure to explore more of the sights of Cusco independently.
Day 6
This morning we set out on a shared tour to the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
 
Our first stop is at Chinchero, a small picturesque Andean village. Enter the home of a textile artisan, where you will see some of his original work and learn about his techniques and creative process.
 
We continue to significant Inca ruins dating from the end of the 15th Century and visit a beautiful traditional church. We also stop at the Racchi viewpoint, for one of the best views of the Sacred Valley.
 
After an included lunch we visit the citadel of Ollantaytambo, built to protect the northern entrance to the Sacred Valley from invasion, and later the centre of Incan resistance against the Spanish. The fortress and walled terraces of this town provide some of the finest examples of Incan architecture, with the six rose-coloured monoliths of the Temple of the Sun being particularly outstanding. The village itself is the best surviving example of Inca urban planning, with stone-paved streets that have been used since the 12th Century. At the end of your tour you will be dropped off at your hotel in the Sacred Valley.
Day 7
We leave the Sacred Valley this morning and transfer to Km.82, the starting point of the famous Inca Trail. Over the next four days we will walk 21 miles (34 km) at high altitude to the most famous Inca citadel in the world.
 
Machu Picchu is a magnificent mountain top city situated in a beautiful cloud forest, that was abandoned and reclaimed by the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911. This legendary "Lost City of the Incas" is without a doubt one of the world's most impressive archaeological sites. Built on the summit of Machu Picchu (meaning "Old Peak"), on a natural saddle between steep forested mountains, it overlooks the deep canyon of the Urubamba River some 3,400 m above sea level. With its giant walls, terraces and ramps that appear to have been cut naturally out of the rock escarpments, Machu Picchu's history remains shrouded in mystery as the Incas did not leave any written records.
 
We will walk 6.8 miles today (11 km) along the banks of the Urubamba River, stopping at the first archaeological site of Llaqtapata. Here we enjoy lunch in a beautiful setting before continuing into a side valley and starting to gain alltitude, as we walk to our campsite in the village of Huayllabamba.
 
Note: The best months to walk the Inca Trail are from April to October when the weather is usually fairly dry and sunny - but June, July and August (the high season) can be very cold at night. The Inca trail is closed each February for conservation work. The trail is rated as moderate so any reasonably fit person should mange it, but the challenge is that it is at very high altitude (up to 4,200 m) so ensure you spend at least two full days in Cusco to  acclimatise.
 
As conditions can vary from intense equatorial heat to cold mountain nights, dress in several layers & take a fleece (or buy a warm alpaca jumper locally). You will need good walking boots, a daypack & water bottle. Also pack lightweight trousers, shorts & T-shirts, thermal underwear, rainwear, hat, sunglasses & sunscreen, torch, insect repellent, lipsalve & personal snacks. Sports bag (7 kg), mountain quality sleeping bag, inflatable mattress & toilet tent will be provided, as well as filtered water & all meals. You will need your passport to enter Machu Picchu.
Day 8
Rise at sunrise today and enjoy a cup of hot coca tea, before setting off on day two of the Inca Trail - an experience of a lifetime.
 
We walk 4.3 miles (7 km) today with our backpacks, as we leave Huayllabamba and trek uphill through a beautiful rainforest with waterfalls, butterflies and tropical plants, stopping for lunch at Llulluchapampa ('Place of Offerings').
 
As we continue walking these woodlands give way to scrub, bleak grasslands and bare slopes, where lamas and horses graze. The ascent becomes increasingly steep as we continue up Warmiwañusca Pass (Death Woman's Pass) - the highest point on the trail at 14,400 ft (4,200 m) above sea level. We then descend steeply down cobbled Inca steps into the Pacaymayo Valley, where our campsite is set up for overnight. Our porters join us at this point.
Day 9
After seeing the sun rise over Pacamayo we walk 6.4 miles (10 km) today, starting with a trek up our second pass called Runcuracay (meaning 'Pile of Ruins').  The Inca building here is thought to have been a stopping post for couriers on their way to Machu Picchu, with a sleeping area and stabling for their animals.
 
After Runcuracay Pass the trail descends to a valley containing a shallow lake and at this point changes from a dirt path to a narrow stone road. At Sayacmarka ('Town in a Steep Place') we find the ruins of another large Inca settlement that controlled the trail, which passes under it. Built on a promontory of rock, it is accessed by a single narrow stone staircase. Nearby is a stone aqueduct that brought water to the site.
 
We continue down to the valley floor and walk through an Inca tunnel built in a natural fissure, before climbing through cloud forest our third pass. Here we find the Phuyupatamarca Ruins ('Cloud Level Town'), where we stop for lunch. Ritual ablutions appear to have taken place here. On a clear day enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding snow peaks and the valley below.
 
The trail then spirals and drops steeply to Huinay Huayna ('Forever Young'). We stop to admire the splendid Intipata Ruins with their large terraces used for cultivation, before arriving at our campsite at Wiñaywayña which is one of the most beautiful sites in the area.
Day 10
An early start this morning, as we rise at 03.00 and aim to reach Machu Picchu by sunrise.
 
Enjoy the light rising over the Wiñaiwayña Ruins, as we walk the last 3.7 miles (6 km) along an easy broad path. The trail winds through scrub and light woodland to a narrow flight of steps that lead upwards to a small stone structure. This is the Sun Gate - Intipunku - through which you will have your first amazing view over of the ruins of Machu Picchu.
 
After a short break to refresh ourselves, enjoy a 2-hour guided tour of this famous 14th century citadel. Visit the Main Plaza, the Circular Tower, the Sacred Sun Dial, Royal Quarters, Temple of the Three Windows and various burial grounds. We then descend by bus to Aguas Calientes where we enjoy lunch at the end of your tour. Check into your hotel in this small town.
 
Note: recommended tip is $10 per person per day (this will be shared between all the porters & staff).
Day 11
This morning is at leisure to stroll around Aguas Calientes and visit its hot springs. Or you can re-visit Machu Picchu, paying locally for an additional admission (approx $82 pp, but subject to availability so advance booking essential in high season).
 
If you are very fit, you can rise very early (before 4 am) and make the tough high-altitude trek up many steps to see the sunrise from Huayna Picchu, the steep peak that rises above Machu Picchu.
 
In the afternoon walk to the station for the 1.5-hour Vistadome train back to Ollantaytambo Station, continuing 2-hours by train to Cusco Station, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
 
Note: During the rainy season (January to May) the train ends at Ollantaytambo Station. From here you will be transferred by road to Cusco.
Day 12
Transfer to Cusco Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Lima Airport and transferred to your hotel.
 
Check in and relax in this capital city - the largest in Peru and its gastronomical centre.
Day 13
Transfer to Lima Airport for your flight home.

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