The best way to get the full experience of Machu Picchu is by hiking there. This trip provides a quick, daylong hike along the Inca trail and in our opinion is better than taking a bus ride to the site and missing the exquisite sacred geography along the way. This one-day Inca trail provides a unique experience within the cloud forest on a path carved from a white granite hill site containing stairs paved from white granite stones, and natural gardens of orchids along the way. This entire trail has survived in the jungle for hundreds of years. We will be hiking through three magnificent archeological sites: Chachabamba, Winay Wayna, Waynapicchu, and the Sun Gate. The next morning, we will have a chance to explore Machu Picchu without being in a rush with plenty of time for taking pictures and enjoying the site.
Upon your arrival to the Cusco airport you will be transferred to a lower altitude at the Sacred Valley. On your route you'll witness scenic views of the Andes. In Pisac you'll visit classic Incan ruins with lots of Andean flora, located on a hill top, where the western side is a gorge with vertical walls that house Incan burial sites on its sheer face, and on its eastern side lays a very fertile valley, along with well-preserved Incan farming terraces. Way up on the crest of the mountain there are hanging stairs and Incan "condos", surrounded by awesome views. Following our visit to the archeological site in Pisac we will drive down to Urubamba.Lunch included
The train we will take this day follows the dramatic Urubamba River with its striking scenery of white granite cliffs cloaked by the cloud forest which is full of thousands of orchids, ferns and bromeliads. Our train will drop us in Chachabamba at 7,150 ft. where we start in on the classic Inka trail. The cloud forest features prevalent views along the trail and touches the towering mountains. We will pass through the exceptional ruins of Wiñay Wayna 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 linger and enjoy the sunset until the park rangers close the park to visitors.Box lunch and dinner included.
Early in the morning we will take a shuttle bus to the Incan Citadel for a private, guided tour of the site. 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 Inca settlement; it sits at a nearly inaccessible location high above the Urubamba gorge and has 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, Inca Pachacutec? Or maybe the biggest or the first agricultural research center built by the Incans? You will have a guided tour of the majestic Machu Picchu so that you can decide for yourself its purpose. In the evening, we return by a train that runs through the beautiful Urubamba River Valley back to Ollantaytambo (approx. 1 1/2 hours). We will then travel the remainder of the way to Cusco by car (approx. 2 hours).Lunch included.
The City of Cusco provides a unique testimony to the urban and architectural achievements of the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. Cusco was the home and residence of gods and as such was the spiritual and political capital of the Inca Empire. 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 Qorikancha, 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. After lunch we will explore Sacsayhuaman by foot, an Inca fortress 400 ft./120m above the city of Cusco. The site was built with massive boulders, some of which weigh more than 100 tons. Interestingly, the Spaniards did not believe that such monolithic stones could be moved by human beings and they attributed Sacsayhuaman's construction to the mythical Cyclops. Thus, this type of architecture is known as the "Cyclopean Inca style".Lunch included.
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.Lunch and dinner at your own otherwise.