Travel through the Sacred Valley and hike along the Inca Trail through the Sun Gate to the famous archaeological site of Machu Picchu on this lodge-based Peru adventure.
Explore Peru’s rich culture and ancient Incan civilization with us as we travel through the Sacred Valley and into the Andes to Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. A local Peruvian guide will share the secrets of his cultural heritage as we explore the Living Inca Town of Ollantaytambo, Andean villages, ruins, and agricultural terraces. We’ll hike through lush high-mountain forests where hummingbirds and sparkling waterfalls entice us on our journey. Finally, on this Machu Picchu hiking adventure, we pass through the Sun Gate where majestic views of the Lost City of the Incas reward us.
What to Expect
Itinerary & Map
Itinerary at a Glance
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every Machu Picchu hiking trip is different depending upon the group, other trips in the area, and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
Sunday: Arrive to Cusco, Afternoon City and Ruins Tour
An OARS representative will meet you upon arrival at the airport. From there, you’ll be taken to our hotel where you can check into your room, relax and have lunch at your convenience before joining our guide for a walking tour of Cusco (11,152 ft) in the afternoon.
We’ll spend 3 to 4 hours wandering Cusco’s historic streets and visiting the Main Square and the Cathedral, which was built over the Inca palace of Suntur Wasi. Then it’s on to Coricancha, the Temple of the Sun which was of great significance for the Inca culture. From Coricancha we visit one of the well-known Cusco neighborhoods – San Blas, known as the artisan district.
Our afternoon tour will introduce the construction style of different periods: Inca – Coricancha; Colonial – the Cathedral; modern – the pool and buildings around the main square.
We’ll enjoy a nice dinner in the San Blas neighborhood before returning to our hotel for the night. (D)
Monday: Chinchero to Urquillos
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll begin our journey out of Cusco, traveling by vehicle to the small Andean town of Chinchero. Chinchero is a village with a traditional Andean feel, with many homes still constructed of mud brick (adobe style) and locals going about their daily business in traditional dress.
Our visit starts at the main square, where a striking remnant of the town’s cultural history is the massive stone wall which has ten trapezoidal niches. The construction of the wall, and many other ruins and agricultural terraces (which are still in use), are attributed to Inca Tupac Yupanqui who possibly used Chinchero as a kind of country resort. In the main plaza, we’ll find an adobe colonial church dating from the early seventeenth century, which has been built upon the foundations of an Inca temple or palace. The ceiling and walls are covered in beautiful floral and religious designs.
After our visit to Chinchero, we will start our hike to Urquillos. Our walk takes us along the historic Inca trail that connects the two towns. This hike is scenic and peaceful, as few tourists walk this trail and we can typically expect to see only locals. After a short distance, we find ourselves at an impressive example of Incan agricultural terracing, most of which are still in use today. We explore the archaeological site and the elaborate Inca terraces and learn about how Chinchero was the main producer of potatoes during Incan times and still is today in the greater region.
Along our ancient Incan pathway, we will take a side trail to a waterfall where we will rest and have lunch. Continuing with the hike, we’re offered spectacular views of the Sacred Valley and of the snow-covered mountain in the distance, called Pitusiray. We will traverse the mountainside, passing the homes of local residents, before ending at the small village of Urquillos and our hotel. (B, L, D)
Hiking distance / time: ~5.5 miles / 4 hours (peak altitude ~12,300 feet)
Tuesday: Moray and the Salt Mines of Maras
From the hotel, we will head to Maras (~11,150 ft), a small Andean community perched above the valley. Here we will have a short visit around the town before departing on a 2 to 3-hour hike reaching the circled terraces of Moray, which may have played the key role in the original transformation of maize into a high-altitude crop.
We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch on the plateau, with breathtaking views of the Vilcanota Mountain Range. After a short rest, we will continue our hike for ~2 1/2 hours until we reach the salt pools of Maras (~10,820 ft). The Maras salt works, or salt mines, are about 3,000 small pools constructed on a slope of the Qaqawiñay mountain. After visiting this fascinating site, we have the option to hike to the caves of Pichingoto or take our transport to the hotel.
Tonight you’re free to dine at the hotel restaurant or venture into the nearby town to explore other options. (B, L)
Hiking distance / time: ~7.5 miles (includes Pichingoto) / 6 hours (peak altitude ~11,500 ft)
Wednesday: Urubamba to Yanahuara to Ollantaytambo -or- Perolniyoq Waterfall to Naupa Iglesia to Ollantaytambo
Today we’re happy to offer you two great options to choose from. Your guide will discuss these options with you and determine which is of most interest to the group.
OPTION 1: Urubamba to Yanahuara to Ollantaytambo
This trek takes us along the Vilcanota River, through Inca terraces and little-known archaeological sites. Along the route, we will get to see local people in their daily routines working on their farms.
We will stop at the village of Yanahuara, considered to be the peach capital of the Sacred Valley. Here we have a good opportunity to try a favorite local beverage – chicha (Andean corn beer). Continuing along our path, we will cross the river via the Paucarbamba Bridge. From this side, we will have spectacular views of the Inca agricultural terraces, the snow-capped mountain of Veronica, and more Inca archaeological sites.
Before long we arrive at Ollantaytambo, where we have time to take in the sites of this bustling, historic town. This small town is the last of its kind, considered to be a living Inca town due to the working infrastructure, historic lived-in homes, and practiced traditions dating back to their Inca ancestors.
Hiking distance / time: ~8.7 miles / 6 hours (peak altitude ~9,350 ft)
OPTION 2: Perolniyoq Waterfall to Naupa Iglesia to Ollantaytambo
For this option, we will take a short drive to Socma to hike to the spectacular waterfall of Perolniyoc. The waterfall is big, dropping almost 300 ft to where we stand at its base. Here we enjoy this natural wonder, and maybe even take a swim for those feeling up to it. The surrounding landscape and beautiful views make for great photos. You’ll also be able to observe some common birds of the Sacred Valley, along with a great variety of flora species such as elderberry, queuña, chachacomo, and more.
Continuing our hike, we reach Ñaupa Iglesia (old church), which has been a place where people worship their ancestors, a place of connection, astronomical events, and of rituals for specific dates of the agricultural calendar.
After visiting this mystical place, we will start our hike down to the Vilcanota River to enjoy lunch. We then continue hiking along the Vilcanota River toward the Inca Bridge and on to Ollantaytambo, where we will have time to take in the sites of this bustling, historic town. This small town is the last of its kind, considered to be a living Inca town due to the working infrastructure, historic lived-in homes, and practiced traditions dating back to their Inca ancestors.
Hiking distance / time: ~7.5 miles / 6 hours (peak altitude ~9,515 feet) Approximate peak altitude – 9515 ft
Dinner is on your own and the options around the energetic town of Ollantaytambo won’t disappoint. (B, L)
Thursday: Pumamarca Terraces to Ollantaytambo
Today begins with a drive to Pumamarca for a hike to the local Inca ruins. Pumamarca is home to a fortress on a steep slope, which was built to control the entrance to the Sacred Valley via the nearby jungle. The steep climb will be rewarded with a beautiful panorama view from high above the Sacred Valley and the knowledge that few tourists visit this special place. We’ll have time to explore the area’s terraces, water canals, and amazing architecture.
We then continue our hike to Ollantaytambo, crossing Inca terraces and the wide-open, rolling spaces of the local agricultural fields until we arrive in town a couple of hours later. Once there, we’ll have lunch at a restaurant.
This afternoon, you can choose from one of two options in and around town, or simply relax at the hotel.
OPTION 1: Ollantaytambo archaeological site (2 hours):
The archaeological site, or fortress, is located on the western side of the area known as Aracma Ayllu and is made up of a series of imposing terraces, temples, platforms, paths, and walls. The site offers excellent views of the surrounding countryside, the town of Ollantaytambo itself, and the Incan storehouses, or Qollqa, built on Pinkuylluna Mountain opposite the site.
OPTION 2: Walking Ollantaytambo town (1 hour to 2 hours):
Exploring the town is one of the nicest things to do in Ollantaytambo. The narrow, cobbled streets are full of charm and character and you’ll find both Inca-era buildings and modern buildings built over original Inca construction.
You will see remnants of the Inca’s work, such as the cascading water irrigation channels that flow down the side of the streets and perhaps visit the market at the foot of the ruins. The market is an excellent place to buy souvenirs and you’ll often see Peruvians dressed in traditional clothing going about their daily business.
This evening is yours to enjoy dinner on your own at one of the many fine restaurants Ollantaytambo has to offer. (B, L)
Hiking distance / time: ~3.8 miles / 4 hours (peak altitude ~10,990 ft)
Friday: The Inca Trail (KM 104) to Wiñay Wayna and Machu Picchu Sanctuary
This morning, we’ll take a short walk to the train station and board the Vistadome car which will transport us to KM 104, one of the trailhead access points for the famous Inca Trail. After checking our entrance tickets and passports with the Machu Picchu Park rangers, we will start our trek up to the well-preserved remains of Wiñay Wayna (~8,800 ft), which will take us a couple of hours. On the way, we will see beautiful waterfalls, native flora, and mountain birds. The site consists of upper and lower house complexes connected by a staircase and fountain structures. Above and below the houses, the Inca built agricultural terraces. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch before continuing on toward our final destination—Machu Picchu.
The trail clings to the steep hillside before turning up a steep, almost vertical incline of stone steps. The ascent seems almost surreal as we reach, and upon reaching the top, we’re greeted by a sign that reads, Inti Punku, or as we know it in English, the Sun Gate. The view of Machu Picchu from here is excellent.
After taking it all in, we slowly descend through the intricate stonework of the Inca Empire. We’ll make our way to the exit, where we’ll meet a shuttle bus that will take us to Aguas Calientes and our hotel. (B, L, D)
Hiking distance /time: ~8 miles / 6 hours (peak altitude ~11,515 ft.)
Saturday: Machu Picchu and Return to Cusco
We’ll get an early start this morning to make the most of our time at Machu Picchu. Here, high above the Urubamba River, our guide will lead us on a tour of the extraordinary ‘Lost City of the Incas.’
For an additional cost, you may choose to climb Huayna Picchu—a steep, vertical hike that takes about 2 hours and affords great views of the sanctuary. Be sure to request this well in advance, as tickets are limited.
After our guided exploration of the sanctuary, we’ll return to Aguas Calientes for lunch. You’re free to dine at the restaurant of your choice before we meet for the train back to Ollantaytambo, where our private vehicle awaits to return us to Cusco and your hotel. (B)
Accommodations this evening and return airport transfer are not included. OARS can arrange extra nights of lodging in Cusco, airport transfers, and additional tours of the region for before and/or after your Machu Picchu hiking adventure. Contact your Adventure Consultant for more details.
Meeting Time & Place
The morning of Day 1
Approximately 7:30 PM the evening of Day 7
Dates & Prices
|September 24||$2,599 – $2,999|
|October 1, 8, 15, 2, 29||$2,599 – $2,999|
|November 5, 12, 19, 26||$2,599 – $2,999|
|December 3, 10, 17, 24, 31||$2,599 – $2,999|
|April 14, 28||$2,900 – $3,490|
|May 12, 26||$2,900 – $3,490|
|June 9, 23||$2,900 – $3,490|
|July 7, 21||$2,900 – $3,490|
|August 4, 18||$2,900 – $3,490|
|September 1, 15, 29||$2,900 – $3,490|
|October 13, 27||$2,900 – $3,490|
Price per person based on double occupancy and group size.
• Travel Insurance
• Optional hike to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain – $78
• Mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
2023 – $784
2024 – $980
The Need-to-Know Info
Included in Your Trip Cost
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Flights to and from Cusco, Peru
- Accommodation in Cusco on day 7*
- Departing airport transfer*
- Single supplement fee
- Ticket to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain on day 7*
- Additional beverages at meals, such as soda and alcohol
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan or mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
*OARS can arrange per request
Our hikes in and around the Sacred Valley and along the Inca Trail bring us to one fascinating location after another, with ancient ruins spanning centuries of stonework, waterways, agriculture, and pathways that have stood the test of time. We’ll ascend and descend thousands of vertical feet, reach high ridge lines above the valley, and immerse ourselves in culture – all while enjoying the comforts of our lodges. By the time we return to Cusco, we will have traveled by foot over thousands of Incan steps, carved out of stone and individually placed. This trip is perfect for explorers who enjoy challenging hikes and are eager for sites and stories of the history and mystery surrounding ancient Peruvian civilizations.
Important Machu Picchu Hiking Information
This trip includes time spent at high altitudes. Cusco is 11,200 feet above sea level and the Sacred Valley is from 7,000-9,000 feet above sea level. We design each of our trips for adequate altitude conditioning in the early part of the journey. However, be forewarned that there are no guarantees that your body will acclimatize properly. It is a good idea to come prepared with proper elevation sickness medicine, which can be prescribed by your local doctor before your trip. This trip is not recommended for people who have a fear of heights or children under the age of 10 years.
Our Machu Picchu hiking adventure visits a number of towns and cultural sites as we travel through the Sacred Valley. To provide us ample time in each location, we will move to a new hotel every day of the trip with the exception of itinerary days 4 and 5 when we spend two nights in Ollantaytambo.
Meals are provided as outlined in the itinerary. Most breakfasts and lunches and some dinners are included. However, there are several opportunities to enjoy dinner on your own at a local restaurant in town or at the hotel where we’re staying.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we must consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or necessary restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
Peru is known worldwide for its unique and varied cuisine. You will be able to experience a great variety of regional foods during your adventure. Peru’s variety in cuisines is based on the ancient cultural traditions of the Incas and their predecessors, the diversity of its ecosystems, and the more recent influence of European and Asian culinary traditions. In the markets, you will discover a great festival of colors, aromas, and flavors.
The mountainous region is noted for a great variety of corn dishes. There are also countless offerings of potatoes due to Peru‘s vast variety of the tuber. Researchers believe that Peru is host to over 4,000 varieties of potatoes. Other flavorful offerings of this region include alpaca and guinea pig seasoned with Andean products such as chili peppers, goosefoot, black mint, or pampa savory. Regardless of where you are—urban or rural—you will be delighted by the incredible variety of traditional foods served.
The highlands of the Andes—the locale of Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and the Urubamba River—usually have very little rain from May to September and a rainy season that lasts from November to March, with heaviest rains in January and February. Temperatures remain fairly constant year-round with daytime averages in the upper 60s, and nighttime lows to the mid-30s. Please note that there are sudden temperature drops after sunset. Cusco is 11,200 feet above sea level and the Sacred Valley area is from 7,000-9,000 feet above sea level.
Average High/Low Temperature & Rainfall for Cusco:
|Temp. °F||Rainfall||Temp. °F||Rainfall|
Average High/Low Temperature & Rainfall for Aguas Calientes:
|Temp. °F||Rainfall||Temp. °F||Rainfall|
Before booking your trip with OARS, there are a few important considerations we’d like you to know about.
Reservations and Deposit
A $500/person deposit is required at the time of reservation. Deposits may be made by check, money order, or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). Prices are in US Dollars, and all payments must be made in US Dollars. Payment of the deposit establishes your acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency.
Canceling your trip after your deposit is processed will incur cancellation fees because OARS has absorbed costs on your behalf and will turn others away who would like to book the spaces we’re holding for you. Final payment is due 90 days before departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 80 days prior to the departure date will be canceled without exception.
Cancellations and Refunds
Your deposit is fully refundable, less a 3% processing fee, for 7 days after you book when you submit a deposit 7 days or more before the final payment due date.
If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below. We regret we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including foul weather, poor air quality, wildfire activity, acts of terrorism, civil unrest, or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan.
|Date of Cancellation||Cancellation Fee|
|90 or more days prior to your trip||Deposit|
|89 to 30 days prior||50% of the trip price/person|
|29 to 0 days prior to your trip||100% of the trip price/person|
Requests to transfer a date will be treated as a cancellation, per the terms above.
OARS International and the outfitter Apumayo Expediciones reserve the right to cancel any trip due to insufficient registration or other factors that make the trip impractical to operate. Do not make nonrefundable travel arrangements unless you have spoken to your Adventure Consultant regarding the status of your trip.
If a trip must be canceled or postponed due to force majeure (factors outside the control of OARS), OARS will provide full credit for payments made toward future travel, or a refund less a 5% service fee plus any nonrefundable payments made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers. OARS will make good faith efforts to recover deposits made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers, however, we can’t guarantee recovery of any or all of the advance payments made. OARS is not responsible for expenses incurred by participants in preparation for a canceled trip.
Our Machu Picchu Hiker trip is run by an affiliate company and arranged through O.A.R.S. International, Inc.
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