Our Legendary Peru tour is designed for the active and experienced trekker with a love of nature, culture, and archeology who also enjoys a hot shower and a very comfortable bed at the end of a strenuous day. Our day hikes offer life-changing experiences full of discoveries and include downtime in order to acclimatize and prepare you for trekking in the thin air. The Incas built over 15,000 miles/25,000 km of trails throughout Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina, with Cusco as the political, administrative and religious capital of this great civilization. Incan engineers designed trails all around Cusco, including trails to be used only by the king, trails designed for masses of pilgrims traveling from all over the Incan Empire into Cusco, and trails for merchants traveling with large herds of llamas. As a result, Cusco is a paradise for day hikers.
Cusco, known as the home and residence of gods and the spiritual and political capital of the Incan Empire is a city built in the shape of a puma that can only be seen from the air. You will walk through Incan streets that are illuminated by the sun every winter solstice, and experience some of the most important Incan and Spanish religious sites, such as Koricancha, also known as the Golden Enclosure, which displays a sophisticated stone construction technology, and Cusco Cathedral, which is still in use today and contains an art gallery consisting of 17th-century canvasses in the Cusco School of painting, with a special highlight consisting of 'The Last Supper' featuring a guinea pig.Lunch and dinner on your own.
In order to prepare for the later high-altitude hike, your first encounter with an Incan trail and classic Incan ruins will happen on this day. You will climb up to the ruins through a rocky gorge surrounded by vertical walls that house Incan burial sites on its sheer face. Here you will observe lots of Andean flora, along with well-preserved Incan farming terraces, while farther up on the crest of the mountain you'll witness Incan "condos" and the Sun Temple surrounded by awesome views.Box lunch included.
Starting from the hotel, our trek follows the trail used by Manco Inca to escape from the Spaniards. We will climb up to Sacsayhuaman, an Incan fortress at 400 ft./120 m above the city of Cusco. This site was built with massive boulders, some of which weigh more than 100 tons. Next we will climb to Sencca Pass at 14,180 ft./4326 m and will hike on isolated Incan trails winding thru Andean communities.Box lunch and dinner included.
Today is the best and hardest day of the trek. Our day hike takes us by waterfalls, through llama and alpaca farms, and across the fabled Pachacutec Pass (at 4,600 m/15,000 ft.), where you will have a close-up view of glaciers, glacial lakes, spring-fed lakes, impressive Andean trees under towering vertical walls, and the two highest peaks in the Urubamba range, Sahusiray and Pitusiray (19,400 ft./5,900 m).Box lunch and dinner included.
We are back on the Urubamba range and will follow the less traveled Incan trails through a mystical high Andean forest and by waterfalls and lakes high above the Sacred Valley. Here you'll take in great views of Veronica Mountain and Helancoma, while passing through colorful Andean communities.Box lunch and dinner included.
Today features a climb to an exquisite example of Incan stonework: the unique Sun Temple made out of pink granite boulders each weighing 50 tons. We will walk through the marvels of a superbly preserved Incan town named in honor of an Incan warrior called Ollantay, who was deeply in love with Kusi Qoyllur, the forbidden and "high maintenance" daughter of King Inka Pachacutec. You will have a chance to rest and recover before trekking onto Machu Picchu the next day, or you can use your free time to raft the Urubamba rapids.
The train we will take on this day follows the dramatic Urubamba River with its striking scenery of white granite cliffs cloaked by a cloud forest full of thousands of orchids, ferns and bromeliads. We will hike a classic Incan trail in the cloud forest, passing through the exceptional ruins of Winay Huayna and through the Sun Gate Pass at 2,750 m/9,000 ft. This is truly one of the world's most thrilling viewpoints and the only way to see Machu Picchu in its full glory. You will have a chance to stay to enjoy the sunset until the park rangers close the park to visitors.
Machu Picchu is the only major Incan site to escape 400 years of looting and destruction by the Spanish conquistadors. To be sure, it is not an ordinary Incan settlement; it sits on a nearly inaccessible location high above the Urubamba gorge and contains exquisite engineering and architecture. Was it a spiritual destination and pilgrimage center located within a sacred geography? Or perhaps a royal retreat for the king, Inka Pachacutec? Or maybe the biggest or the first agricultural research center built by the Incans? Whatever its purpose may have been, you will have a chance to explore every corner of the majestic Machu Picchu.
Depending on the time of your international flight departure, there will be a chance in the morning for shopping, or you'll take an afternoon flight to Lima for your international connection. You may also take advantage of one of our optional post-trip extensions at this point.
You will stay 2 nights in a row at hotels/lodges except at Machu Picchu and on the last day Cusco.