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The incredible beauty of Peru is evident on this journey as we explore the culturally rich farmlands of the Sacred Valley, the reaches of the majestic Andes, and the lost citadel of Machu Picchu. On this very special Boundless Journeys tour, The Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu, we begin by exploring Cusco’s lovely Spanish colonial cathedrals and rare artwork before descending to the Sacred Valley, where our local guides take us to fascinating ruins, festive markets, and traditional villages.
Between awe-inspiring hikes, we are welcomed into the home of local weavers, where we learn about the traditions of life in the valley. This is followed by the climax of our journey where we travel to the lost citadel of Machu Picchu, learning about this mysterious center of Inca life, and ride the famed Hiram Bingham luxury train back to Cusco. Throughout our journey, we indulge in delicious local foods and memorable, perfectly located accommodations.
Please note: There is the option to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu on Day 5 of our tour. This is at an additional expense and hiking permits are limited and issued first come, first served, so you are encouraged to reserve early.
Arrival in Cusco; Afternoon City Tour & Sacsayhuaman
After a group lunch and brief orientation, we begin our exploration of the land of the Incas in the city of Cusco (11,150'), whose name is taken from the Quechua word for "naval" or "center." Here, dramatic Spanish colonial architecture blends with solid Inca masonry in a harmony belying the area's tumultuous history. Beautiful cathedrals abound, often built directly on top of ancient Inca temples. The juxtaposition of pagan and Christian art and architecture is fascinating.
After exploring the center of Cusco, we drive to the surrounding countryside for a walk on the grounds of the impressive site of Sacsayhuaman, where we encounter our first example of the huge boulders the Incas used in building temples and fortresses. The stonework of the Incas is unsurpassed by that of any other culture. Massive rocks were painstakingly ground to fit so perfectly together that no mortar was needed, and many walls have remained for over 500 years in spite of tremors that sometimes occur in the area. It is mind-boggling to think of the work that went into producing these temples and fortresses.
After time to freshen up at our hotel, we dine at one of our favorite restaurants while enjoying traditional music.
Belmond Hotel MonasterioCusco, Peru
Belmond Hotel Monasterio, a former monastery and national monument dating from 1592, is a delightful retreat located next to the lively Cusco central square. The property combines centuries-old charm with luxury service, inspired restaurants and boutique rooms and suites all clustered around a tranquil central courtyard. Featuring warm and inviting Spanish colonial décor, rich wood furnishings, antique artwork and architectural quirks, each room is unique, reflecting the monastery’s charm and elegance. Superior and Deluxe Rooms feature king-sized or twin beds, luxurious marble bathrooms, and views across a cloistered courtyard or the cobbled streets of Cusco.
Chinchero, Moras to Moray & Into the Sacred Valley
This morning we leave Cusco early for the Sacred Valley, stopping along the way at a local market and the village of Chinchero. Here, we meet artisans who are part of a cooperative based on one of the tenets of Inca philosophy: service to community. We are introduced to traditional spinning, dying, and weaving methods that result in beautiful and unique cloth. We then enjoy a scenic walk along the pathways above the village.
We continue toward the Sacred Valley, taking a side trip to Moray, an important experimental agricultural site for the Incas. After exploring this interesting site, a short drive brings us to Maras and a hacienda where we will enjoy a delectible lunch made with ingredients from the extensive organic gardens surrounded by the impressive landscape of the Andes.
After lunch, we visit the nearby Maras Salt Mine, where white pools have provided salt for the southern highlands since the time of the Incas.
Later this afternoon, we arrive at our hotel for the next three nights, a charming country lodge on the site of a restored, 350-year-old monastery. You may choose to relax with a pisco sour in front of the lodge's fireplace, before we meet for dinner in the hotel's restaurant.
Posada del IncaYucay, Peru
This Spanish hacienda-style lodge is located on the site of a restored, 350-year-old monastery in the heart of the Sacred Valley in the foothills of the Andes. The property is an oasis of lush gardens, fruit trees, an inviting courtyard, and quaint chapel. Enjoy local musicians over a cocktail in the lounge before savouring the restaurant’s authentic Peruvian and novoandean cuisine created with native ingredients from the hotel’s gardens and fertile Sacred Valley.
Kinsa Cocha Lake & Pisac
We begin our day with an early morning drive to the nearby town of Pisac, and ascend into the foothills to Kinsa Cocha Lake. Here, a European NGO is working with local villagers to promote the preservation of dozens of types of potato seeds. We spend some time learning about the project, before a walk with spectacular views over the Sacred Valley.
Next we descend to Pisac, where the well-preserved ruins above town offer excellent views and further insight into the spiritual life of the Incas. Here are good examples of Inca stairs, and the hills above the site are dotted with caves which functioned as ancient burial grounds. The belief was that the ancestors would be able to watch over and protect the living from their vantage point on the hillside. We depart the ruins for the town of Pisac, where we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
We have some time to relax and enjoy our hotel this afternoon, before dinner tonight at a local home in Yucay, where we have the opportunity to enjoy traditional Peruvian dishes and learn about life in the Sacred Valley.
Mountain Village & Ollantaytambo
Today?s hike begins in one of the mountain villages near the town of Ollantaytambo. If school is in session we may stop for a visit to meet some of the children, before departing on foot. Our route allows us a glimpse of the agricultural life the campesinos have lived for centuries, growing wheat and potatoes, and raising sheep and guinea pigs. We pass through remote areas where we may see isolated herds of llama or alpaca roaming amid the patchwork of cultivated fields.
After a picnic lunch we return to Ollantaytambo, a charming town of cobblestone streets, ingenious aqueducts, and colorful market stalls at the base of an impressive ruin. Exactly how the Incas moved the rose-colored stone blocks from their quarry miles away is a mystery to this day. This spot, at a narrow part of the valley, is the only place where the Incas managed to stave off the Spanish conquest by using canals to flood the valley floor.
Tonight we enjoy dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants before retiring early in anticipation of tomorrow?s journey to Machu Picchu!
Machu Picchu by Rail
Today we board the Vistadome train to the town of Aguas Calientes (also called Machu Picchu Pueblo) at the base of Machu Picchu Mountain. Our hour-long, breathtaking train journey takes us along the Urubamba River, winding through a narrow valley, where we begin to note the landscape changing to lush forests and steep cliffs indicative of the cloud forest surrounding this mythical site.
Upon arriving in Aguas Calientes, our guide will offer several options to best plan your visit based on your timing and interests. We may take the bus to Machu Picchu and begin our exploration of these amazing ruins. Our guide will introduce us to this mesmerizing site, and following lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge, there will be time for you to explore the lost city on your own. For those who are feeling more adventurous, you can venture up to Intipunku (the Gate of the Sun), Inca Bridge, or you may simply choose to find a quiet spot from which to soak in the splendor. (Please contact Boundless Journeys to request the day hike on the Inca Trail into Machu Picchu. This is an additional expense requiring a permit.)
Tonight we enjoy dinner at our award-winning hotel, where we share a festive celebration of our day at Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu Pueblo HotelMachu Picchu Pueblo, Peru
This highest rated hotel in the Machu Picchu region (Travel + Leisure, "World’s Best Hotels") offers Andean-style individual bungalows in a quiet riverside spot in the town of Machu Picchu Pueblo. This acclaimed hotel is renowned for its progressive sustainability programs, featuring an impressive tropical garden showcasing a wide variety of native plant species, stone paths, and canals flowing with spring water, creating a special atmosphere. Enjoy the spa services, including a eucalyptus sauna, and excellent restaurant overlooking the rushing Vilcanota River.
Mystical Machu Picchu
Today offers plenty of time to learn more about the complexities of this mystical mountaintop city. You may opt for a pre-dawn bus ride up to Machu Picchu, or enjoy a more casual morning at the hotel. Our guide will present options to explore Machu Picchu, including an in-depth tour of the citadel as well as optional walks in the surrounding hills. You may choose to challenge yourself to a final hike up Huayna Picchu, the dramatic spire that rises in the background of every classic photograph of the famed citadel.
Upon concluding our excursion to Machu Picchu around mid-day, we return to Aguas Caliantes by bus and enjoy lunch before having some independent time for exploration and shopping.
In the late afternoon, we travel back to Cusco in style aboard the Hiram Bingham train. This is a highlight of our journey, as we unwind over a delicious gourmet meal and listen to lively Peruvian musicians.
Free or guided exploration of Cusco
This morning we have the opportunity to explore Cusco independently or join our guide for excursions to some of the city sights. Cusco is a lively city, and often there are festivals and celebrations taking place. You may stroll the markets or sit back and relax at the main square, a great place to simply watch the daily scene unfold. You may also choose to join a cooking class (at an additional expense), or visit one of the many famous museums or cathedrals.
Lunch is on your own today, and you may choose one of the many world-class restaurants emerging as a result of the budding gastronomic scene in Peru.
After some time to rest in the afternoon, we gather this evening for our final celebratory dinner at a favorite restaurant in Cusco.
Departure from Cusco
After breakfast we say goodbye and transfer to the Cusco airport in time for flights to Lima and homeward.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Jul 7-14, 2019
Jul 21-28, 2019
Sep 22-29, 2019
Take over a date for your group! See "Make It Private" on Dates & Prices tab.
From $4,795 Per Person
First two reserved:$350
See single supplement policy below.
10+ Guests: $4,795 per person
9 or Fewer: from $5,095 per person
Make it Private price is based on Land Cost only, and a guarantee of the specified number of guests in double occupancy. For groups smaller than the numbers shown, or those requiring single occupancy, we reserve the right to adjust the per person price. Additionally, some trips have minimum group sizes. Please call 1-800-941-8010 for details.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Peru: The Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu is rated 2+, easy to moderate, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The walks and hikes on this trip are easy to moderate with some moderately strenuous options, at altitudes of 8,000 to 12,000 feet. Walks and hikes are generally from 2-6 hours in length with minimal vehicle support. On days with significant ascents or descents, we have noted them in the itinerary.
Inca Trail hike option:The Inca Trail hike itself is rated 3+, an approximate 5-6 hour hike, over 6 miles, with 2600 feet gain and 890 feet loss. The terrain is a hiking trail, with rocks and roots, and uneven stone steps, thus requires sturdy boots and comfort hiking on uneven trails.
Most Convenient Airport: Jorge Chavez Lima-Calleo International Airport, Lima, Peru, for international arrivals (airport code LIM)
Cusco Valazco Astete Airport, Cusco, Peru, for domestic arrivals from Lima (airport code CUZ)
Meeting Time and Place: 12:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Hotel Novotel in downtown Cusco
Departure Time and Place: Cusco airport in time for your departing flights to Lima on the last day of the tour
Peru's geography is as diverse as its culture, with altitudes from sea level to over 22,000 feet. Our trip begins and ends in Cusco, which is situated at 11,150 feet, in the foothills of the Andes. After our first night, we move to the Sacred Valley, and our hotel is located at 9,350 feet. Our third hotel, in Machu Picchu Pueblo, is located at about 6,500 feet.
Our walks and hikes will take place at elevations of 8,000 feet to approximately 12,000 feet. There is time to move at a comfortable pace, allowing ourselves to adjust to the mountain air. Keeping well hydrated, avoiding excessive alcohol, eating frequent, light meals, and getting plenty of rest will help with any effects of altitude that you may feel.
It is important to sign up early, as the Peruvian government has a permit system in place that strictly limits the number of hikers who are on the Inca trail at any given time. Permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Now is the time to reserve if you dream of hiking into Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail. There are alternative hiking options if permits are not available at the time when you reserve. This will not affect our visit to Machu Picchu, just the hike to the ruins. Please contact our office with any questions regarding this.
The mountainous areas of Peru have pronounced rainy and dry seasons, which are more responsible for the prevailing weather than seasonal temperature fluctuations. While the dry season lasts only from May through September, the most significant rains fall from January through March. Temperatures do not fluctuate as much, although nights do tend to be colder from May through September. Any time of year, dressing in layers is a good strategy so that you can shed or add layers as the day heats and cools.
You may obtain more detailed weather information at www.weatherbase.com.
Peru is generally delightful for hiking from April through December. We avoid scheduling trips during January through March, as this is the height of the rainy season. That being said, the hillsides and valleys tend to be greener in April, May and June. Later in the dry season the fields turn golden and the campesinos harvest their crops.
Dinners in Peru feature generous portions of beef, lamb, chicken, or fish, potatoes or rice, and fresh vegetables, such as locally grown avocados, summer squash, and olives. Delicacies such as roast cuy (guinea pig), alpaca, and ceviche (chilled marinated fish) are available on some menus. Breakfast generally features common continental offerings, cereals made from quinoa, as well as scrambled eggs and sausage. Delicious hearty soups are also a staple of Peruvian meals, and are often available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Vegetarians can be accommodated with advance notice, though choices tend to be more limited.
Harry was born in a village in the center of the Incas' Sacred Valley and began hiking the Inca Trail and exploring the Vilcabamba region as a young boy. The son of a traveling teacher, Harry had the opportunity to travel extensively through the mountains and villages surrounding Cusco and near Machu Picchu.
Harry started his career as an assistant guide at the age of 13 and went on to earn his degree. In addition to guiding, Harry has worked with NGOs in support of impoverished Andean families, and he has participated in anthropological projects studying the native communities of Central America to assess similarities with his native culture.
Harry’s true passion for the cultures of the Andes and his extensive experience make him an ideal companion for exploring the mountains and villages of Peru.
Knowledgeable, friendly, and energetic, Wilfredo has been guiding trekking and cultural experiences for curious travelers for over 20 years and has developed a reputation as one of southern Peru’s most highly sought-after guides. He speaks Spanish, English, French, Japanese, and the native Peruvian language of Quechua.
An accomplished musician with three albums to his name, when not leading active cultural adventures, Wilfredo can be found playing, building, and teaching traditional Andean wind instruments, including the Quena and Zampoña. We are thrilled to have someone with such varied skills on our guiding team!
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work—the mark of a truly great leader—our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own. Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
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