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 drive to the Chinchero Plateau where we visit a famous tradtional weaving cooperative. After visiting the picturesque colonial church we will make our way down through the spectacular Inca terraces. Here we'll start a 3 hour downhill walk along a beautifully restored Inca highway to the Urquillos valley. After reaching the small town of Urquillos we drive along the Sacred Valley to Yucay where we spend the night. Overnight: La Casona de Yucay Hotel or similar.
After a leisurely breakfast we drive up to a hill high above the valley that affords superb views across to the snowpeaks of the Urubamba Range. From here we walk down through the extensive terraces and ruins of the Pisac Inca fortress and citadel. These ruins are a rare combination of residential, military and religious construction that offer some of the best examples of the stunning stonework for which the Incas were famed. After lunch in Pisac we continue to wander around the extensive crafts market before heading back to Yucay. Overnight: La Casona de Yucay Hotel or similar.
Drive to Moray, where we'll experience brilliant views of many of the snow peaks and glaciers that surround this high plateau. We also explore the unusual amphithreatre-like circular terraced ruins which are believed to have been an Inca agricultural research station with different micro-climates at each terrace level. We then walk down through the incredibly picturesque Pre-Inca Salt Pans to the Sacred Valley below. The 90 minute walk takes us down past the village of Pichingoto where the salt miners live. After lunch at a local restaurant (at your own expense) we will be driven the short distance to the village of Ollantaytambo. Overnight: Tika Wasi Lodge or similar.
After breakfast we explore Ollantaytambo. It is the best pre-served Inca village in Peru with its traditional cobbled streets, trapezoidal doors and water canals. We also walk up to the Inca Citadel/Fortress which rests majestically above the village and which is second only in beauty to Machu Picchu. We then drive up the scenic Patacancha valley to the gorgeous hamlet of Marcacocha with its beautiful chapel. After this we walk up an ancient Inca trail to Pumamarca - a unique example of circular Inca and Pre-Inca buildings. From here we walk down past Inca terraces, still used for agriculture, and back into the village of Ollantaytambo. Overnight: Tiki Wasi Lodge or similar.
From our hotel in the village, we walk across a bridge built on superb Inca foundations and then follow the left bank of the Urubamba river before starting to ascend to the Inca quarries of Cachicata perched high on a hillside littered with massive chiselled rocks and small burial towers. From here there are spectacular views of the classic snowpeak of Veronica (5590 m). After exploring the quarries we descend to the village of Cachicata near the river below before making our way back to Ollantaytambo for our last overnight in the village. Overnight: Tiki Wasi Lodge or similar.
After a very early breakfast we walk down to the train station for a spectacular one hour journey to Km104. From here we commence our trek, ascending steeply, to join the last and perhaps most beautiful section of the fabulous "Classic Inca Trail" to Machu Picchu. The last part of the walk takes us through the famous Inti Punku (or Gateway of the Sun). 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). Overnight: El Mapi Hotel or similar.
This morning we get up early to savour the views and atmosphere of the mystical morning light over Machu Picchu. 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). We return by bus down to Aguas Calientes for lunch (at your own expense, there are many options to choose from) before 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 breakfast you will be transferred to the airport where your trip concludes.