You'll be met at the airport and transferred from Cusco airport to our hotel located in the historic centre where you will have some time to explore the city and also enjoy a few hours of rest, essential to initiate successful acclimatisation to the altitude. In the evening you will meet with your guide at 6pm at your hotel for an initial trip briefing. Overnight: Casa Andina Standard Cathedral or similar.
Today we have a guided tour of Cusco and its nearby ruins. The city, once capital of the extensive Inca Empire, has seen many changes since Francisco Pizarro's men took the city with such apparent ease in November 1533. We explore the city by foot to appreciate its superbly constructed Inca walls and architecturally extravagant colonial churches and palaces. This also includes a visit of Koricancha, the Golden Temple of the Sun, in ancient times. After this we take a short drive to visit the monolithic walls of Sacsayhuaman along with Tambomachay, better known as 'the bath of the Inca'. Both sites are spectacularly set above the city. In the afternoon you may have time to explore some of the central parts of the city and a chance to look at some of the great varieties of local craft work on sale in open-air artisan markets and shops. Overnight: Casa Andina Standard Cathedral or similar.
At 8:30 hrs the guide will pick up from Your Hotel then we will depart in our private van towards the archaeological site of Tipon (3499msnm), it is one of the most elaborate examples of agricultural terracing created by the Incas. These tall terraces which run up the narrow valley are irrigated by an aqueduct from Pachatusan, the mountain above the site. In addition to the terracing there are also some other structures including baths, a temple complex, canals and aqueducts, then we will continue to Piquiillacta (3201msnm) the only pre-Inca site in the Cusco area. This adobe complex was built around 700 to 900 years AD by the Huari Culture, in the area, there is a small Inca site just a short walk from Pikillacta, known as Rumicolca, a travel checkpoint for the Incas. Then we will have time to rest and enjoy our picninc lunch. We then drive to Corao pass and start cycling downhill and through beautiful woods to visit local communities. After a brief rest we will continue across the wilderness to visit Inkilltambo (Inka jail) and further to the Chuquiquirao site, with terraces, fountains and an ancient astronomical observatory located. The ride continues down to Rumiwasi and ends at Las Salineras San Sebastian; here our van will be waiting for you and return to your hotel.
At 08:30 hrs the guide will pick you up from your Hotel and drive you to Pisaq, here we will visit the archaeological site and the market, then we will continue in our van to the biking starting point, we will bike by a dirt road crossing an impressive landscape before returning our hotel.
After a briefing from our professional river rafting guides we board our rafts and set off downriver. The rafting is relatively gentle and would best be described as Class 2-3 rafting. We will then have lunch in a traditional restaurant located on the riverside, owned by the local community. This is a great chance to enjoy the Andean cuisine while supporting community projects. Later cycle from Cachiccata to Paucarbamba along the Sacred Valley before returning to our hotel.
Drive to Cruzpata on the Maras's plateau, where we start our mountain bike adventure discovering the mysterious Moray agricultural terraces and enjoying wonderful views of impressive Andean peaks. After a picnic lunch we continue on a dirt road to Maras, where we visit the salt evaporation ponds, before returning to your hotel. This evening we have a pre-trek briefing with our trekking guide at our hotel and prepare for the trek.
An early morning departure for the drive to Chilca or Piscacucho where we start our first day of trekking. At this point we meet our cooks, porters and camp staff before setting off on this famous 'Royal Highway of the Incas', built more than 500 years ago. The first day involves approximately five to six hours of walking. During the first few hours of walking we follow the course of the famous Urubamba River before stopping to admire the archaeological site of Patallacta 2750m (9,020ft) an ancient Inca city built on a series of terraces below the trail. From here we continue to follow the narrow valley of the Cusichaca River to camp at one of two sites near the village of Huayllabamba this means we actually avoid the very crowded camp sites within the village used by most of the trekkers on the trail. Overnight: campsite.
*Important: Please be aware that, because of the Peruvian authorities' rules on the Inca Trail, there may be changes in the actual trek itinerary and the campsites we use.
After breakfast, we begin the most difficult part of the trek. We continue up this narrow valley on the left bank of the river - whose source is one of the great glaciers of Mt Salcantay. We then start the steep climb up our first pass, Warmihua usca, which is also the highest point of the journey at 4,200m (13,700ft). After a rest at the pass and time to take in the spectacular views we descend steeply into the Pacamayo Valley 3,500m (13,700ft) where we spend our second night on the Inca Trail. Overnight: Campsite.
After breakfast in our campsite in the verdant Pacamayo Valley we start ascending towards the small but impressively set ruins at Runkuraqay and on to Cochapata set just below the second pass at 3,900m (12,800ft). From here we walk the short distance to the pass and then descend past a mysterious small green lake to the large ruins of Sayacmarca and on to the last pass at 3,800m (12,450ft) which is more like a low ridge-line than a true pass. From here we get a great view down into the forested gorge of the Urubamba River set more than 1700 metres below us. A short hike from here takes us to our stunning final campsite set above the site of Phuyupatamarca 3,600m (11,900ft), so aptly named the 'City in the Clouds'. This wonderful campsite perhaps the most beautiful on the entire trail is used by very few groups since the vast majority continue for another 90 minutes to camp at the often extremely crowded site at Wi ay Wayna. Below us are laid out the great forest-covered peaks and deep dark valleys - the setting of our goal, Machu Picchu.
We walk down along an incredibly well preserved section of the trail with great white granite slab walls and staircases all impressively set in high jungle. Since we have the luxury of another full day to reach Machu Picchu we'll take time out to explore the recently cleared extensive Inca site at Wi ay Wayna, 2,700m (8,800ft) before covering the last few kilomtres to finally reach Inti Punku (The Gateway to the Sun) awe-inspiringly set above the 'lost city' of Machu Picchu 2,400m (7,900ft). Your first view of the ruins really ds take your breath away! After a brief 'first look' at the ruins, we head down to our hotel in Aguas Calientes for a well deserved soak in the nearby hot springs (optional).
Today we start early to visit this remarkable and truly enigmatic Inca site. We will enjoy a guided tour of the sanctuary followed by time to explore this fascinating site at your own pace (with the accompaniment of the guide). In the afternoon or early evening we depart from Machu Picchu for the train ride back to Ollantaytambo where we transfer to our vehicle for the drive back to Cusco. Overnight in Cusco hotel. NB - depending on train schedules, we may arrive into Cusco very late at night.
*Important: Peruvian authorities have implemented entry restrictions to protect Machu Picchu from the impact of its immense popularity. As of January 2018 there are two time slots (morning and afternoon) in which patrons can enter Machu Picchu for a limited number of hours and must follow one of three predetermined routes. Additionally, all visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times. These changes have been made to improve the visitor experience and in an effort to deal with overcrowding. World Expeditions endeavour to ensure you get the most of your Machu Picchu experience regardless of these restrictions.
You will be transferred to the airport for your flight where your trip concludes.