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Discover the Inca heartland of Peru on foot, going off the beaten path to see the storied valleys of the high Andes from a unique perspective. Explore the hidden corners of the celebrated Sacred Valley while hiking between ancient ruins and secluded farming villages, and then venture through the lesser-known Lares Valley—framed by sweeping slopes and punctuated with pristine alpine lakes and rushing waterfalls. Walk the famed Inca Trail to the towering fortress at Ollantaytambo, and then cap off your trip at the majestic Machu Picchu.
Go off the beaten path to explore the lesser-known villages and Inca ruins of the Lares Valley.
Experience the wonder of Machu Picchu, and opt to climb Huayna Picchu—the iconic peak that presides over the citadel.
Enjoy a traditional pachamanca lunch in the remote Sacred Valley farming village of Viacha.
Take an afterhours tour of the Pisac ruins, and hike the famed Inca Trail to the towering Ollantaytambo fortress.
Itinerary - 10 Days
Days 1 & 2 — Cusco
Arrive in Cusco for an afternoon at leisure, followed by a welcome dinner. The next morning, discover the many layers of this storied city on a guided tour of its historical and archaeological sites, including the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuamán and the Spanish colonial Church of Santo Domingo. After lunch, visit the Museo Machu Picchu, home to the world’s largest collection of artifacts excavated from the Machu Picchu ruins. Later, attend a talk on the intersection of Inca architecture and astronomy. Hotel Palacio del Inka (D; B,L)
Day 3 — Chinchero/ Urquillos/Sacred Valley of the Inca
Journey outside Cusco to the traditional Andean village of Chinchero, home to a charming colonial church built atop an Inca archaeological site. Enjoy a picnic lunch amid the ruins before setting out on a leisurely downhill hike to the quaint village of Urquillos. Drive to our lodge, nestled in the heart of the stunning Sacred Valley. Spend an afternoon at leisure, or take an optional walk through the surrounding Andean foothills. (Altitude 12,343’, 3 hours hiking) Lamay Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Sacred Valley of the Inca
This morning, opt to tackle an invigorating hike between two Sacred Valley communities, or choose to browse the colorful stalls at Pisac’s famous handicrafts market. We’ll regroup in the remote town of Viacha to learn about potato farming and enjoy a pachamanca—a traditional meal cooked under hot stones. This afternoon, take an afterhours tour of the Pisac archaeological site, notable for its curved agricultural terraces that cascade down the valley’s steep slopes. From here, we’ll take in a spectacular sunset over the surrounding Andean peaks. (Altitude 14,200’, 2-3 hours optional hiking) Lamay Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Lares Valley
A short and scenic drive brings us to the heart of the Lares Valley, a lesser-known section of Peru’s high Andes. Explore the Inca ruins at Ancasmarca, an impressive site of circular dwellings that spill dramatically across a mountain slope. Enjoy lunch in the town of Lares, and then choose between visiting the weaving village of Choquecancha or hiking amidst turquoise lakes and towering peaks to the remote community of Huacahuasi. (Altitude 12,585’, 2-3 hours optional hiking) Huacahuasi Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Lares Valley/Cuncai
Choose to embark on an easy trek from the village of Cuncani back to Huacahuasi this morning, or opt to take a walk to a nearby waterfall. We’ll regroup in the afternoon at our lodge, run in partnership with the local community with the goal of protecting the region’s natural and cultural heritage. Join the chef at a cooking class, where you’ll prepare traditional dishes with a modern twist. (Altitude 14,322’, 3 hours optional hiking) Huacahuasi Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Lares Valley/Inca Trail/ Ollantaytambo
On our final day in Huacahuasi, spend some time with villagers, learning about their day-to-day lives. Then set out on a trek through varied terrain, climbing a high mountain pass for spectacular views over the Lares and Sacred Valleys. Descend into the Sacred Valley, where we’ll join up with the Inca Trail. Hike along this storied path to the ancient Inca town of Ollantaytambo—home an impressive Inca fortress. (Altitude 14,650’, 5-6 hours hiking) Tambo del Inka (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Ollantaytambo
Explore Ollantaytambo this morning, making the short hike up to Inca storage structures to take in expansive views of the main fortress that towers above town. Alternatively, stroll the historic town center at your leisure, following winding cobbled lanes built according to the Inca street grid. Take a tour of the main Inca temples here before traveling by train to the town of Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes). Settle into your room at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World nestled in a lush rain forest below the renowned Inca citadel. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 9 — Machu Picchu
Rise early this morning for the bus ride to Machu Picchu, and experience the morning light over this iconic site. After a guided tour of the ruins, opt to climb the iconic Huayna Picchu peak that presides over the citadel and the surrounding valleys. Spend the afternoon exploring Machu Picchu at your leisure. (Altitude 8,924’, 2-3 hours optional hiking) Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 10 — Lima
Board our train back to Cusco this morning, arriving in time for our noon flight to Lima. This afternoon we explore the pre-Columbian art at Lima’s Larco Museum and enjoy a final dinner together. Transfer back to the Lima airport this evening for homeward flights. (B,D)
National Geographic Adventures are unique, active itineraries for intrepid travelers that combine spectacular places, cultural interaction, and physical challenge. You'll explore fascinating, off-the-beaten-path places with top guides, and wherever possible, meet National Geographic experts in the field.
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,300 in 2017. International airfare to/from Lima and airfare within Peru is not included in the cost. The group flight within Peru is $400 (subject to change).
Most days we will be hiking 3 to 6 hours per day on moderate grades at elevations ranging from 6,200 feet to a maximum of 14,700 feet. Some days offer the opportunity for more or less hiking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
What To Expect
We will stay 5 nights in remote mountain lodges and 4 nights in deluxe hotels.
Climbing permits for Huayna Picchu are included in your trip cost and are subject to availability. In the unlikely event that Huayna Picchu permits are not available for your departure date, our group will climb Machu Picchu Mountain instead.
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