Day 1: Cusco
We greet you at the airport and transfer to the hotel followed by a walking city tour. Depending on the time of your arrival, the first stop is the great temple of the sun, known as The Golden Qoricancha, (closed on Sundays) not far from the Plaza de Armas. This impressive temple is considered a sacred and treasured Inca structure. It is said that the temple housed a large group of Inca priests responsible for worshiping the moon and the sun gods. And at the time the conquistadors arrived, the walls were covered with solid gold and so many gold ornaments and gold jewelry, that it took weeks to melt all the gold for shipment to Spain. We continue the tour stopping along the ancient Inca streets, to the divine Cathedral of Cusco, considered by many to be one of the most splendid in all of South America. You can do as little or as much as you like. This will give you a day to adapt to the 11,000 ft. altitude. Dine in local restaurants of your choice.
Day 2: Cusco - Sacred Valley of the Incas
08:30 AM Pickup from hotel and drive about 30-40 min to Chinchero, home to the famous colonial style church and archaeological ruins and the backdrop for Qechua women & girls who demonstrate traditional dyeing and weaving. (One of the best indigenous markets is on Sunday in Chinchero) Continue 20 KM to the greenhouse ruins of Moray to learn about the sophisticated botanical practices of the Inca. Then drive about 11 KM over dirt roads to Maras Terraced Salt Ponds. Here you learn how salt is harvested and the importance of salt for economic exchange since Inca times. Each town offers its own unique view of life and traditions established long ago. Finally arrive in Ollantaytambo, the oldest still-occupied town in Peru where you visit the prominent ruins overlooking the Sacred Valley. Arrive at hotel for checkin. Dine in local restaurant of your choice. (B)
Day 3: Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu
After breakfast in your hotel, it's short 5 minute walk to the station where you board the train for 1.5 hour ride through the picturesque Urubamba Valley. Arrive in Aguas Calientes where you have quick lunch then continue 30 minutes by shuttle bus to Machu Picchu. Your guide escorts you into the national park for a 2-3 hour private tour of the ruins. Option to re-enter on your own. Park closes 5 pm daily. Return to Aguas Calientes by shuttle bus and enjoy the evening in the village.
Day 4: Machu Picchu - Cusco
Walk to the station and board the morning train to Ollantaytambo where our driver will be waiting. Continue by car to Pisac for lunch and time to explore the famous market. Drive to your hotel in Cusco.
Day 5: Cusco
Transfer to the airport at least 2 hours prior to your scheduled departure. Farewell & conclusion of our services.
7-Day Tour includes:
- 1 additional day of guided sightseeing in Cusco outskirts ruins by car or on foot - Tambomachay, Pukapukara, Qenco, Sacsayhuaman
- 1 additional free day in Cusco to explore, shop, dine, and enjoy the city
Frequently Asked Questions
It's common for most people coming from sea level to experience at least mild symptoms of altitude sickness when they arrive in Cusco, whichis 11,000 ft/3430 m above sea level. Age is not a factor for the severity of symptoms one can experience. But fitness can be. Symptoms vary from person to person, but can include:
- loss of appetite.
Treatments may include:
- OTC pain reliever - bring your own favorite remedy for pain relief
- Oxygen. Most hotels have oxygen tanks in their lobbies and guides will carry small tanks of oxygen on hikes. Some local pharmacies sell an individual size O2 tank for personal use.
- Coca Leaf. Locals believe that drinking coca leaf tea will help and you will find the tea leaves readily available in hotel tea bars as well as restaurants.
- Water. Drink extra to keep your blood flowing freely. Dehydration leads to sludgy blood and may contribute to your discomfort.
- Diamox. (AKA "Acetazolamide" is a diuretic or "water pill") can be purchased by prescription in some western countries or over the counter in Peruvian pharmacies.
- Treatments may alleviate the symptoms as you adjust in the first 24-48 hours. But you cannot expect the sense of breathlessness to completely disappear, no matter how you treat it. If symtoms do not show signs of improvement within 24 hours of your arrival, please notify your travel companions or guide so s/he can monitor your progress. In rare occasions, individuals may need to seek medical attention.
Is it safe to drink the water?
Tap water in Lima, Cusco and other larger cities is consumed by local people every day. But is it safe for you? There's only one way to find out and we suggest that you not drink the tap water or use it to brush your teeth. Bottled water is cheap and available everywhere including small towns and villages. We support Travelers Against Plastic to reduce the use of disposable water bottles and encourage you to bring a purification device to make your own safe drinking water. The device should be rated to purify water from microbes and viruses, not just for taste. Purified drinking water is provided on all the multi-day hikes and during your stay in the Amazon jungle lodges.
Should I travel to South America if I have a life-threatening allergy?
We've learned that there are different kinds of allergies; from hayfever to insect stings. IF YOU HAVE A LIFE-THREATENING ALLERGY TO ANY FOOD, INSECT, MEDICATION OR NATURAL ELEMENT, WE REQUIRE WRITTEN, ADVANCE NOTICE WITH FULL DESCRIPTION OF THE ALLERGEN AND THE TREATMENT. We reserve the right to require a doctors written approval for you to travel or ask you to provide your own treatment remedy and plan. And we ask you to notify your guide during your first meeting. In rare circumstances we may choose to reject your reservation if we feel that your condition is beyond the scope of the training of our guides or negatively impact other travelers. Epi-pens are only useful in areas where you are close to medical services like Lima or Cusco.
What is the best way to travel between Lima and Cusco?
We recommmend flying between the cities because other means requires more time or is not practical for short vacations. There is no train service between Lima and Cusco. And while there is bus service, the drive is almost 24 hours long over paved, but winding mountain roads. There is no speedy highway. The cost of round-trip air tickets varies from around $250 pp on the domestic carriers, including STAR PERU AIRLINES and PERUVIAN AIRLINES, to $450 pp on LAN AIRLINES and somewhere in-between on TACA (recently merged with AVIANCA) AIRLINES. The majority of the flights between the cities occurs in the morning to mid-day hours. Afternoon flights taper off by 5 pm and there are no evening flights in either direction due to mountain weather conditions.
Where should I stay if my international flight arrives in Lima in the evening?
There are no late evening flights from Lima to Cusco. And there is only one hotel at the Lima airport. The Wyndham Hotel is connected to the arrivals terminal by a skybridge on the 2nd floor. It takes literally 2 minutes to walk from the terminal to the lobby of the hotel. The hotel is expensive by Peruvian standards (in excess of $250 per double room per night). We've seen good rates on booking.com and hotels.com The hotel will accommodate as many as 3 to a room, but not 4.
This hotel is best for groups who arrive in Lima late evening and plan to depart again by air the next day. For groups planning to stay in Lima, it's best to pre-arrange a transfer to a hotel outside the airport, unless you don't mind paying the "gringo rate" when you negotiate on your own. The travel time is about 45 minutes each way when the traffic is moderate. And the cost ranges from $35 each way and up. If your group is larger than 3 persons, you may need a transfer in a mini-van or two taxis.
Do I need vaccinations to visit Machu Picchu?
The altitude of Machu Picchu is 8000 ft/2440 m and higher. Disease-carrying vectors do not thrive at higher elevations. US passport holders are not required to get Yellow Fever vaccinations or prophylactic Malaria treatments. Although there have been no recent cases of Yellow Fever in Peru, some countries, including the US, recommend that visitors get Yellow Fever vaccinations prior to visiting the Amazon Rainforest including Tambopata Reserve or Manu National Reserve. We recommend that travelers check the regulations for re-entry for any countries they will pass through after leaving Peru, Bolivia or Ecuador. Bolivia requires all foreigners to have proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry if you plan to travel to the Bolivian Amazon jungle. (Some countries including Australia, require their citizens to get yellow fever vaccination if they enter Peru, even if they are only visiting the higher elevations)
This Adventure Includes
- Lima airport transfers and all land transportation (private vehicle, bus and train)
- 3 * Hotel accommodations/private bathroom, including Peruvian breakfast buffet
- Entry to Machu Picchu National Park and the sites as described
- Private, guided tour of the ruins with English-speaking guide
- Full-time, private, English-speaking escort
- International airfare to and from Lima, Peru
- Domestic airfare from Lima to Cusco and Cusco to Lima
- Hotel or transfer services in Lima (available on request)
- Lunches or dinners
- Bottled water or other beverages
- Travel insurance
- Itinerary subject to change
- Machu Picchu Visit is in the afternoon when it's less crowded
- Option to visit Machu Picchu again on morning of Day 4 - Add $75 USD pp and buy shuttle bus tickets for $24 USD pp
- Easy 1-day Inca Trail hike can be substituted on Day 3 - Add $75 USD pp for permit
- Single supplement available - add $180 for 5 Days and $210 for 7 Days
- Hotel/Transfer services available in Lima upon request
- Ask about extending your trip to Lake Titicaca, Amazon Jungle, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Ecuador or Galapagos Islands.
- Can be combined with Amazon trip before your visit to Machu Picchu
- Can be combined with Lake Titicaca trip after your visit to Machu Picchu