You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel where you are free to rest in the hotel or just wander around Miraflores, the area of Lima where our hotel is located. Some of Lima's best galleries and shops and restaurants are located in this area. Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima is the oldest capital in South America, with a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture. If you have time to visit a museum we would recommend the brilliant Larco Herrera Museum which also has an excellent onsite restaurant or the Museo de La Nacion or the Larco Herrera Museum. Overnight: Casa Andina Standard Miraflores Centro or similar.
Transfer to Lima airport and fly to Cusco. Try to get a seat on the left side of the aircraft for the best views of stunning snow peaks. After your transfer to our hotel located in the historic centre 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 and receive your kitbags and jackets for your trek.
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.
We leave Cusco and head to the Chinchero Plateau to explore Chinchero, an important town in Inca times. The most striking remnant of this period is the massive stone wall in the main plaza which has ten trapezoidal niches. There are beautiful views overlooking the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with the Cordillera Vilcabamba and the snow-capped peak of Salcantay dominating the western horizon. Chinchero is believed to be the mythical birthplace of the rainbow. Next we visit the mysterious concentric circular terraces of Moray which, according to some scholars, could have been an agricultural research centre. From here we head to the salt mines of Maras. This village is a salt-producing centre that dates back all the way to pre-Inca times. There are thousands of salt pools all carved into the mountain side. We walk down through the salt pans to the Sacred valley for a lunch break before heading to our hotel in Ollantaytambo. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy beauty of this famous valley. Overnight: Tika Wasi Hotel or similar.
Today we enjoy another day in the beautiful Sacred Valley with a tour of Ollantaytambo. During our time in Ollantaytambo we visit its remarkable temple/fortress set high on a ridge above the village. We also explore the quaint village itself with a fascinating mixture of Inca and Colonial architecture. This evening we have a pre-trek briefing with our trekking guide at our hotel and prepare for the trek.
Overnight: Tika Wasi Hotel or similar.
Today we have an early start as we begin our scenic 5-hour drive north to our trailhead at Mollepata, where we will meet up with our team of muleskinners and their pack animals to start our 7-day trek towards Salcantay and Machu Picchu! After a picnic lunch we start hiking steadily uphill towards our first night's campsite close to Soraypampa at approximately 3,700m. Today we'll get our first glimpse of Salcantay's sister peak, Humantay (5,950 m / 19,700 ft). Overnight at campsite.
This morning we'll be woken early with hot tea brought to our tents, and after breakfast we'll get an early start on our day's hiking. We'll hike for about 3 hours, steadily gaining altitude, before stopping for a lunch break at Salcantaypampa (4,150 m / 13,600 ft), set in front of an enormous mass of glacial moraine. After a rest we continue on for 2-3 hours of steady hiking towards at our next camp of Ichupata (4,400 m / 14,400 ft), set on the flanks of the majestic peak of Mt Salcantay (6,271m / 20,574 ft), which dominates the skyline for most of our trekking days. The camp at Ichupata is cold due to its proximity to the Salcantay massif, but since our cooks and pack animals will have set out earlier, we should find the camp already set up and a fresh pot of hot tea awaiting our arrival!
Overnight at campsite.
After a hearty cooked breakfast we set off to hike across one of Salcantay's ridges and over the mountain pass of Incachiriasca. At an elevation of 4,870 m / 15,970, Incachiriasca is the highest pass of our trek, offering us spectacular views of our dramatic surroundings. After a stop at the pass to rest and take photos, we head down to follow the ancient trail to our next camp at Acobamba, set on a lovely little plateau above Sisaypampa.
Overnight at campsite.
From Acobamba we descend into the scenic Pampacahuana valley, passing simple shepherd's homes and scattered communities, and stopping to visit the extensive Incan ruins of Paucarcancha (3,350 m / 11,000 ft). From here we trek up the valley towards the Ancascocha Pass. Tonight we camp just above the small village of Q'esca, home to shepherds and potato farmers. (We might also consider staying higher up and taking an alternative route to Q'esca).
Overnight at campsite.
Another early morning today as we begin our climb up to the second high mountain pass of our trek, the Ancascocha Pass (4,695 m / 15,400 ft). From here we begin a steady descent, hiking through dramatic mountain scenery and passing two pretty alpine lakes known for their large trout. Tonight we camp near the small farming village of Ancascocha.
Overnight at campsite.
This morning after a 3 to 4 hours trek, we will cross over a pass at 4750 m and if the weather allows, we will enjoy spectacular views of the snowy Huayna Potos . Our vehicle will be waiting for our arrival and continue our way to La Paz. Two hours' drive (Arrive at 14:30pm approximately). Overnight in La Paz.
Departure for a 6 -7 hour trek crossing over a first pass at 4950 m with the beautiful peak Cabeza del Condor and then a spectacular view over the Tuni Condiri mountain. A second pass at Cerro Mirador 4.800m (one hour approximately), from the place we have some good views of the south west of the Huayna Potos , in the afternoon we will reach a good camping site at the base of the Maria Lloco Mountain 4560m. Overnight: camping
This morning we meet our porters, carrying all our essential necessities, on the backs of their llamas and mules. The trek commences at a height of 4300m, from where we hike progressively to an altitude of 4600m, until we reach our second camping place, on the shores of the beautiful Chiara-Khota lagoon. In the afternoon it is possible to walk (3-4 hours round trip) to the base of the glacier, this is an easy trekking which will give us the chance to see the local fauna, some seagulls, and viscachas (relatives of the chinchillas), returns to our base camp, before it gets cold in the afternoon. Overnight: camping
Breakfast and morning at leisure; around noon, visit the Inca "Grand Stairs" and the Sacred Fountain; taste the water believed to give eternal youth and happiness. Lunch will be served at the Uma Kollu archaeological restaurant, next to the small handicraft market. Hydrofoil cruise to Copacabana. We travel to the base of Condoriri (approx 3 hours). Here we will set our camping for the first night at 4300m. Overnight: camping
After breakfast we head down to the old lake port with its century old steamers still tied up at the wharf. From here we board small motorboat to cruise out to visit the famous Uros Islands. These fascinating islands are constructed from packed layers of the buoyant (and edible) tortora reeds that grow abundantly in the shallower waters of the vast bay of Puno. For centuries, the islands have been occupied by the small Uros community who continue their traditional methods of 'farming' and fishing the lake. We return to Puno and set off in a private vehicle for a spectacular 3-hour drive round the lakeshore and into Bolivia, to the town of Copacabana beautifully set right on Lake Titicaca. Once again we board a small motorboat and head out into the lake, this time to the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun), where we spend the night in a lovely little 'albergue' (small hostel) on the island. Before dinner we repack our bags and prepare for the next part of our trek.
Overnight in albergue on Island of the Sun.
From Ancascocha we head down a narrow valley whose rivers run right down into the mighty Amazon. As we descend, the sparse alpine vegetation begins to change and we start to encounter larger trees a good chance to spot some of the most common Andean birds in this region: the black-throated flowerpiercer, great sapphirewing, rusty-fronted canastero, creamy-crested spinetail, and if we remember to look up, the endangered Andean condor among the largest and heaviest flying birds in the world. Near the end of our day's trek, we reach Hatunrumiyoq from where we'll have incredible views of the rugged snow-capped peak of Mt Veronica (5,980 m / 19,500 ft). Tonight we camp near the large village of Chilca, and if time permits, our cooks will prepare a special 'Pachamanca' a traditional Peruvian feast of meat and vegetables cooked in the ground using hot stones. A good night's sleep at this lower altitude will put us in good stead for tomorrow's trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu!
Overnight at campsite.
Today we have a free day in Cusco to relax, do our washing and repack after our trek, or to enjoy a spot of souvenir shopping, choosing from a huge variety of beautiful Peruvian craft work including alpaca sweaters and hats, vibrant textiles and weavings, ceramics and traditional Andean instruments. In the evening we'll prepare for the next stage of our journey through the Andes.
Overnight: Casa Andina Cathedral Hotel or similar.
This morning we get up early to savour the views and atmosphere of the mystical morning light over Machu Picchu. We are treated to a unique second visit to Machu Picchu including another guided tour visiting the sites that you may have missed yesterday in this colossal sanctuary. After the official tour ends, you will have more time in the company of the guide to continue exploring this incredible site. 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: Casa Andina Cathedral Hotel or similar. 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.
After an early breakfast we hike down to the railway at Chilca for a short drive to Ollantaytambo to take the tourist train to Km 104 from were we start our steep hike up to the important site of Wi ay Wayna. At this point after a rest and enjoying our box lunch we continue the last section of the Inca Trail via Inti Punku where we get our first awe-inspiring views of the 'lost city' of Machu Picchu After a brief look at the site from above we head down by bus to our hotel in Aguas Calientes for a well-deserved soak in the nearby hot springs (optional).
Overnight in Aguas Calientes hotel.
This morning we visit the colourful local and tourist markets and one of the local museums, after which the afternoon will be free for you to continue exploring this intriguing city. As tonight is our last night together, we'll get together to enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. La Paz has a reputation as the centre of Andean traditional music, and after dinner we can head out to one of the superb 'pe as', local live music clubs where we can watch a variety of excellent bands and soloists playing the traditional Andean instruments.
Overnight in La Paz.
Today we depart early in the morning for the 6 8 hour journey by private vehicle to Puno, set on the shores of Lake Titicaca at an elevation of 3,820 m / 12,630 ft. The road takes us south along the great valley below Cusco and then as we head further south we start to climb towards the great continental divide at La Raya. To the east we see some of the strange peaks of the Carabaya Range, and from the pass we descend quickly onto the vast dry altiplano with its isolated villages and herds of Andean camelids, including the alpaca and vicu a. Our first glimpses of lake Titicaca remind us that this is hardly a lake it's actually a vast inland sea, and the world's highest navigable body of water.
The fact that we travel by private vehicle means we can stop where we wish during today's fascinating journey (this is a tremendous advantage over the many companies who use public transport for this drive). Our stop for the night is Puno, a typical high Andean town set on the great altiplano that surrounds Lake Titicaca and stretches?all the way to La Paz.
Note: There is an option to upgrade from private vehicle to the Andean Explorer luxury railway from Cusco Puno (additional cost).
Overnight in Puno.
After breakfast, our trip concludes. If you are flying home today, you will be transferred to the airport in time for your departure. If you are staying on in La Paz there is a chance to join an optional tour to the ruins of Tiahuanacu, or the highest ski-resort in the world at Chacaltaya.