In Search Of Machu Picchu
12 Days / 11 Nights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1: This will be a travel day from home and you may arrive on an overnight flight to Lima, especially if traveling from North America, and connect directly to Cusco early Sunday morning. Arrangements can be made to assist you onto your connecting Cusco flight or we can advise you of the process should you feel uncomfortable in strange airports or arrange overnight on Saturday in Lima if required.There is a comfortable Ramada Hotel at the airport.
 
Day 2: Arrival in Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incas. We greet you at the airport. (plan to arrive on one of the early flights if possible). Following brief orientation and a cup of traditional coca tea, we organize an afternoon introductory walk around town with a visit to the archeology museum and the Coricancha, temple of the Sun, the most important of Inca ceremonial sites. Most will need the morning to rest and recover from yesterday's travel. Refreshed and eager, we meet for dinner at a favorite restaurant. Our guide may tell the story of legendary Manco Inca and the lost cities of Vilcabamba or perhaps we just get to know each other. There are many days ahead to hear the story of the Incas. We lodge in a comfortable quiet hotel near the main plaza.(D)
 
Day 3: Leaving Cusco in the rear view mirror, we travel by van over a low pass then down into the famous Sacred Valley of the Incas. The scenery is unsurpassable, close and distant snow
peaks glistening in the sun. The Sacred Valley is the location of the major Inca temple/fortress of Ollantaytambo. Probably built by the great Inca ruler, Pachacuti in the 1460s, it was the site of Hernando Pizzaro’s defeat by Manco Inca in 1536. Constructed of finely cut polygonal stones and rhyolite blocks, the fortress and nearby town represent the best of Inca architecture and construction. Large worked blocks, some weighting as much as 100 tons were quarried from a site more than a thousand vertical feet above the valley floor using a technique of pecking with hammer stones, then skidded down and across the Urubamba river several kilometers to the temple site. Inclined ramps were built to raise the blocks several hundred feet up hill to the construction area. We have ample time to examine the complex and ponder its many mysteries. We will also undertake a hiking tour of the extensive Inca hill top complex of Pisac. We overnight at a comfortable inn in the valley at an altitude of 2600 meters. Clean sheets, traditional Peruvian dinner and chilled, Cusqueña beer complete the day. (B,L,D)
 
Day 4: Wakeup call…coffee, breakfast…we are soon bouncing along the back roads in a tough Manu Expeditions overland bus, eager to start the trek. A colorful band of desperados, our crew of Quechua speaking wranglers as it turns out, are busily saddling horses while assorted local kids and elderly spectators look on. Our guide gives a short riding lesson concerning our sturdy Andean horses and day trail hiking instructions as duffels and gear are expertly sorted and matched to mule loads Leaving tents and baggage to follow, we set off up a winding trail into the remote Cordillera Vilcabamba range. This is not just any old trail. Gaining altitude we soon realize that we are on a well constructed Inca highway, carefully planned to make the climb as easy as possible. If weather permits, spectacular views of geometric Inca fields dominate the valley below. Crossing Edychayoq pass at 3800 meters, we descend for a picnic lunch at Wilkaracay. After lunch a steady climb takes us over over Vicuñitas Pass, 3,900 Mts. where there is a breeding station for Vicunas, a rare Andean Camelid closely related to the Llama and world renowned for the quality of its wool. Later, descending to a place called Chaqui, we reach our first campsite camp at 3700 meters. Travel time is 6 to 8 hours with an estimated distance of 12 miles. The staff sets up a large dining tent with tables and chairs. One or two persons are assigned a four person sleeping tent. Meals are prepared from fresh meats, grains and vegetables. Our seasoned (no pun intended) cooks are well experienced in catering to vegetarian diets for those of that calling. Before the evening meal, we enjoy happy hour with popcorn, assorted hot beverages and for those who imbibe, our famous expedition vodka martini or a hot cup of tea spiked with Pisco – the local beverage. (B,L,D)
 
Day 5: After tea and coffee served in bed along with a tub of warm washing water, we breakfast in the large tent then head out (usually around 8:30 or so). This may be our longest and most physically exerting day. Travel time will be 7-8 hours. Following an ancient Inca custom still practiced to-day, we join our wranglers in offering coca leaves to the Apu's or mountain gods who allow us a safe passage. Our journey takes us over Milpucasa pass at 4650 meters/15,250 ft. We pass through several Quechua villages where home-woven ponchos and clothing present opportunity for photos and a view of mountain life. A lunch of Hot soup and broiled chicken follows the hump over the pass. Finally, we climb down again to arrive at the traditional village of Pampacahuana, 3900 meters. Camp is pitched beside an ingeniously designed Inca canal. (B,L,D)
 
Day 6: Wow…it's all downhill today. Departing camp, we soon reach tree line below. The abundance of wild flowers and small songbirds indicates a warmer climate and changing eco zone. Lunch is set beside the interesting Inca site of Paucarkanca. Reflecting the Inca genius for enhancing natural topography and blending design with in-site stone, Paucarkanca is a classic example of early `Frank Lloyd Wright' architecture. The site dominates a ridge dividing two major valleys at the junction of two Inca roads. Large U shaped terraces andenes surround two walled compounds kanchas inclosing a number of well made field and worked stone houses. The construction appears to replicate the shape of the ridge and mountain rising above. The site probably served as a control point and way station Tambo but also may have been an estate or residence for someone important. We have ample time to explore, speculate and share observations. Turning up the Quequa valley, the route steadily climbs on an ancient Inca road connecting Cusco with Machu Picchu, to our next campsite at 3,700 meters. (B,L,D).
 
Day 7: After a hearty breakfast a steady climb from camp brings us to Puerto Huayanay pass at 4550 meters/14,950 ft. Climbing a switch backing trail, we follow the old stone paved Inca road to the ruins of Incarakay, a tambo or way station on the royal highway. Descending from the pass, we enter a broad glaciated valley below the massive ice walls of Nevado Huayanay. Lunch is set beside deep green Ancascocha lake. Continuing down the Silque valley, our route follows a small, active glacier fed river to a campsite at Saylla, 3500 meters. We arrive at camp in time for an Andean traditional feast, Pachamanca. (potatoes, lamb and spices cooked in a pit covered hot stones). (B,L,D)
 
Day 8: Last day of the trek/ride…a leisurely day with extra coffee and late start. We continue along the Silque Valley passing a beautiful canyon full of native plants, shrubs, multicolored Hummingbirds and Orchids. Announcing day's end, deep shadows bring on a peacefully cool Andean night. Sadly we bid our horses, mules, cooks and wranglers goodbye Glasses filled with a good wine; we toast our staff and the successful completion of a magical journey back through time. A short bus ride takes us to our charming hotel in the authentic Inca town of Ollantaytambo. (B,L,D).
 
Day 9: We hop aboard the morning narrow gauge train heading down valley. An interesting hour of click, clack and sway with all of the accompanying sounds and smells of rural Peru takes us to our overnight stop at the bustling town of Aguas Calientes. Some may opt to stay here relaxing at our comfortable hotel while we bus up to the journeys final famous destination.(not to worry…if you stay behind, you will have ample time to see all tomorrow…it's your call) Machu Picchu. Otherwise romantically known to the tourist world as "The lost city of the Incas". Gary Ziegler's description of the site is a bit more academic but that’s another story if you read his papers and reports. We bus back down with the setting sun to Aguas Calientes, joining those who have stayed behind at the hotel. Dinner follows at the local gourmet French bistro or perhaps simpler beer and pizza at one of the track-side cafes. Some undoubtedly opt for after dinner Pisco Sours. (B,L,D)
 

Day 10: Early visit to MACHU PICCHU long before the tourist hoards arrive… A moderate hike back along a finely constructed Inca trail takes us to INTIPUNKU at 2950 meters/9000 ft., the impressive Gate of the Sun overlooking Machu Picchu, otherwise romantically known to the tourist world as "The lost city of the Incas". Our guide concludes the story of the raise and fall of the ancient civilizations of the Andes with the tragic end of the Inca and the enigma that this remarkable site remains. We bus back down to Aguas Calientes.
Boarding the Cusco bound afternoon train, we arrive back in the Capital of the Inca and comfortable rooms at our selected hotel near the central plaza. (B,L,D)

 
Day 11: This is the day to rest, shop and wander around Cusco. The city abounds with small shops and street side vendors selling their wares. Colorful weavings and hand made alpaca sweaters are popular gifts for friends at home. Most migrate to the Cross Keys, Cusco's only authentic English Pub, for drinks and lively conversation with the resident congregation of guides, expatriates, adventurers, treasure hunters and smugglers from far corners of the universe. (B)
 
Day 12: Breakfast at the hotel then we help you onto the morning flight to Lima. (B)
 
Tour includes: - Bi-lingual in english and spanish mountain guides
- Experienced cooks, camp and field staff
- All terrestrial transport on a private basis
- All food except lunches and dinners in the cities of Lima and Cusco
- All hotels except in Lima (We will arrange this if required)
- Top quality camping equipment where relevant (except sleeping bag)
- Sleeping pads
- Transfer to and from hotel in Cusco
Not included: - Lima - Cusco - Lima flights (can be arranged on request)
- Hotels or airport transfers in Lima (can be arranged on request)
- Sleeping bag (Can be hired in Cusco by per-arrangement)
- Airport tax
- Entrance fee to the Inca Trail (Relevant for the traditional and Sacred Inca Trail treks only)
- Bottled drinks except water or where provided with meals
- Optional tips to staff
- Items of a personal nature, e.g. Laundry
- Excess baggage changes
2011 Rates per person: $
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