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Machu Picchu Active Adventure

Explore the Sacred Valley and Hike the "Inca Trail Express" into the Lost City of the Incas!
Day 1: Lima, Peru
Arrive in Lima, where our local representative meets you and accompanies you to our hotel.

Day 2: Cusco
Fly this morning to Cusco, heart of the once-grand Inca empire. From the indigenous Quechua word “qosq’o,” Cusco means the “navel of the earth.” Set in a high Andean valley, the city was founded in the 12th century and thrived until Spanish conquistadors destroyed the Inca civilization in their 16th-century colonial quest. We tour Cusco and visit the ruins at Sacsayhuamán, where we see the most impressive example of Inca walls in the Sacred Valley, marveling at how such large, honed granite stones fit together so tightly that a pocketknife blade will not fit between them.

Day 3: Sacred Valley / Pisac / Ollantaytambo
The historic treasures of the Sacred Valley are unveiled today as we travel along the Urubamba River past farms, villages and Incan architectural ruins. The original vast empire was connected by a network of 10,000 miles of stone roads woven through the imposing terrain of the Andes. Suspension bridges spanned rivers and aqueducts carried water from mountain streams to irrigate terraced fields of crops, vestiges of which we see on our drive today. At Pisac, we visit the famous market where the local Quechua Indians, dressed in vivid attire, sell their handicrafts. Brightly embroidered wall hangings and sheep and alpaca wool garments are favorite purchases. We also explore the magnificent Incan ruins at Ollantaytambo, with its impressive stone terraces that made farming possible on such steep mountainsides. During the Inca Empire it was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region, then served as a stronghold for the Inca resistance at the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru. 

Day 4: Inca Trail Express / Machu Picchu / Aguas Calientes
This morning we board the train at Ollantaytambo for a scenic short journey along the Urubamba River, which narrows into furious whitewater as we travel deeper into the mountains. Disembarking at Kilometer 104, we set out on an exhilarating hike to the famed Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu. Sometimes called the "Inca Trail Express," this one-day trek along the ancient stone path through the Andes climbs first to the spectacular ruins at Wiñay Wayna before descending to Inti Punku, the 'Sun Gate,' high above the Machu Picchu ruins. Nothing quite prepares you for the spectacle of this classic vista, with the ancient stone city spread out below, ringed by mist-swathed mountain ramparts that rise like green walls into the clouds.

Our expert local guide interprets all we see as we explore the labyrinth of granite houses, temples, walls and cisterns. Llamas wander among terraced steps that once grew maize and potatoes for some 1,200 inhabitants. Archaeologists believe Machu Picchu may have been a royal estate and religious retreat, based on its sacred geography and astronomical orientation. Important ceremonies were conducted here, including a winter solstice rite at which a priest would “tie the sun” to a hitching post stone to prevent it from disappearing altogether. After our tour of the ruins, we continue by bus a short way to Aguas Calientes, the lively town that serves as the tourist base for Machu Picchu. 

Day 5: Wayna Picchu / Cusco
We return to Machu Picchu early this morning for an exciting adventure: a climb to the top of Wayna Picchu, the imposing peak that provides the iconic backdrop for the ruined city. The Incas constructed a steep trail up the side of the mountain and built temples and terraces atop it. The summit of Wayna Picchu, almost 9,000 feet, is about 1,180 feet higher than Machu Picchu itself, offering stupendous views and photo opportunities over the ruins. After our hike there's more time to wander through the ruins before returning to Aguas Calientes for lunch prior to our afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo and return bus journey to Cusco. This evening we'll enjoy a farewell dinner together at a restaurant in Cusco. 

Day 6: Lima / Depart
Fly back to Lima this morning where our local guide meets us on arrival. From the airport we set out on a half-day city tour with lunch en route. Peru's capital was founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1535, and Lima's colonial quarter was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its high concentration of historic monuments, cobbled squares and more than 1,600 balconies dating to the 16th century. Our tour encompasses all of Lima’s most famous sights including magnificent public squares, the ornate Archibishop´s Palace, the gilded baroque Cathedral, and the Convent of Saint Francis with its famous catacombs. Peru gained its independence in 1821, and we follow its history into contemporary Lima, traveling into the upscale Miraflores district known for its world-class shopping and dining, theater, art galleries, gardens, parks and beaches. Following our tour, we return to the airport for departing flights.

Physical Rating: Moderate

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