Grand Andean Trek - 10 days
The Grand Andean Trek to Machu Picchu is a 10-day journey through ancient history, living culture and the magnificent landscape of Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This once-in-a-lifetime exploration into the sacred havens of the Incas is equal parts physical, cultural and spiritual journey, a journey of knowledge and transformation gathered while trekking, biking, sightseeing and enjoying the plush comfort of warm, welcoming lodges. Enjoy the uncrowded paths, authentic encounters with local people and the silence and mysticism of the Andes.
It is a combination of the Salkantay Trek and the Lares Trek in lodges.
DAY 0 | EVENING BRIEFING IN CUSCO
Meet your guide and fellow travelers for a general trip briefing and Q&A.
Location: El Mercado
Address: Calle 7 Cuartones 306, Centro Histórico de Cusco, Cusco
Duration: Approximately 45 minutes*
*We recommend that you stay for dinner at ‘La Taberna’ in El Mercado, which offers Peruvian and other international cuisine in a cozy, elegant setting
DAY 1 | EXPLORING PISAQ
After an early breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up from your hotel in Cusco to begin your journey from the busy streets of Cusco to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, full of lush green fields surrounded by striking mountain peaks. Start your day with either an invigorating hike from the village of Amaru to the community of Viacha, or a visit to the Awanakancha textile center followed by an exploration of the lively town and colorful artisan marketplace of Pisaq. Mid-day, both cultural explorers and hikers will reunite in the village of Viacha to learn about traditional Andean farming before a hike or drive to the Pisaq archaeological site for a guided tour, followed by a traditional Pachamanca dinner back at Lamay Lodge.
Day 1 Activity Options:
Overnight: Lamay Lodge (9,705’ / 2,958m)
DAY 2 | INTO THE HEART OF LARES
The day begins with a visit to the small town of Lamay followed by a scenic drive into the heart of the Lares Valley. Your first stop will be Ancasmarca for a guided tour of this seldom-visited archeological site. Afterwards, choose a visit with the expert textile weavers in the remote village of Choquecancha or a hike amidst turquoise blue lakes and towering peaks to the remote village of Huacahuasi, where both groups meet again to spend the night.
Day 2 Activity Options:
Overnight: Huacahuasi Lodge (12,585’ / 3,835m)
DAY 3 | THE ROAD TO OLLANTAYTAMBO
Begin the day with a scenic drive to the community of Huilloc. From there, choose a morning hike from the village of Huilloc to the historic ruins of Pumamarka, or an extended visit to Huilloc and the nearby archaeological site of Marcacocha before regrouping for lunch and a midday exploration of the Pumamarka ruins. After lunch, choose to hike from Pumamarka to Ollantaytambo or drive and spend the afternoon exploring Ollantaytambo town’s maze-like alleys and passageways.
Note: Afternoon hikers will meet the rest of the group at the hotel upon arrival in the Sacred Valley.
DAY 3 | THE ROAD TO OLLANTAYTAMBO (cont.)
Day 3 Activity Options:
Overnight: Hotel in the Sacred Valley of the Incas (9,284’ / 2,830m)
DAY 4 | ON THE WAY TO SOYRAPAMPA
On this day, the first stop is a visit to the Quillarumiyoc archaeological site en route to the mountain village of Mollepata. Enjoy lunch at El Pedregal, a beautiful farmhouse in the village, where you will also have the opportunity to learn about local agriculture and livestock. After lunch comes a scenic ride on the winding mountain road to Challacancha. Here you will begin your hike to our flagship Salkantay Lodge at Soraypampa along a picturesque path called the “Camino Real” (Royal Path). *
*Note: Although we highly recommend participating in the hike as part of your continued altitude acclimatization, guests may opt out and continue by transport to Salkantay Lodge.
Overnight: Salkantay Lodge (2,690’ / 3,869m)
DAY 5 | HIKE TO HUMANTAY LAKE
After breakfast, you begin an ascent up the slopes that border the plateau behind Salkantay Lodge*. An hour and a half later, your hard work will be rewarded with a first glimpse of the lake’s glistening turquoise waters and the Humantay glacier looming overhead. Upon arrival, you will have a chance to relax, enjoy a snack, meditate in the tranquility of this magical spot, and participate in a traditional ceremony to honor “Pachamama” (Mother Earth). After your descent back to the lodge, the Salkantay staff will be waiting with a hot lunch. Afternoon at leisure to relax, enjoy a massage, or soak in the outdoor hot tub for a spectacular view of the Salkantay Peak at sunset.
*Note: While the morning hike to Lake Humantay is optional, we strongly recommend your participation in preparation for the strenuous hike the next day.
Overnight: Salkantay Lodge (12,690’ / 3,869m)
DAY 6 | CROSSING THE SALKANTAY PASS
After an early start, the ascent toward the Salkantay Pass begins. You will circle Humantay Peak, gradually making your way along expansive plateaus connected by enormous boulders, remnants of the Rio Blanco Valley that was once bisected by a fast-flowing river. The last and most challenging part of the ascent is conquering the mountain switchbacks that lead you to the pass, the highest point on the trek (15,213’ / 4,636m). The journey continues with a dramatic descent through fields of large boulders and natural stone formations often shrouded in fog, followed by a very welcome hot picnic lunch. After lunch, you will have some time to rest before the final hike through the area’s bucolic countryside; its rolling hills will eventually lead you through marsh-like plateaus to the Wayra Lodge at Wayraccmachay.
Overnight: Wayra Lodge (12,812’ / 3,906m)
DAY 7 | DESCENDING INTO THE CLOUD FOREST
After a leisurely breakfast at Wayra Lodge, you will continue the descent toward the cloud forest along the banks of the Salkantay River through increasingly verdant scenery. The warm air will begin to rise from the edge of the jungle, accompanied by colorful butterflies and striking orchids. Today you will see more local Andean people as the trail takes you past their simple homes and makeshift fences. At approximately midday, you will arrive at Colpa Lodge, located on a high promontory at the confluence of three rivers. The Colpa staff will greet you with a Pachamanca lunch, a traditional Peruvian meal cooked below ground with hot stones that create a natural oven. After lunch, spend the afternoon lounging in the sun or relaxing in the outdoor hot tub while you take in the panoramic views of the lush green mountains that surround you.
Overnight: Colpa Lodge (9,414’ / 2,870m)
DAY 8 | FOLLOWING THE SANTA TERESA RIVER VALLEY
Today you will hike through the Santa Teresa River Valley along a rolling trail that crosses fertile fruit orchards and bisects streams originating from glacier-fed waterfalls. After a hot picnic lunch by the river and some time to relax, the group will continue for one more hour before you are met by an MLP transport vehicle for the short drive to the bottom of the Llactapata Inca Trail steps that lead to Lucma Lodge. On the way to the lodge you will visit an organic coffee plantation, one of many in the area that produce some of the best organic coffees in the world. You will also begin to notice another shift in the climate; in Lucmabamba, the hot air and increased humidity signal that you are even closer to the edge of the Amazon Jungle.
Overnight: Lucma Lodge (7,003’ / 2,135m)
DAY 9 | LUCMABAMBA / FIRST VIEWS OF MACHU PICCHU
After breakfast, depart from Lucma Lodge and embark on a 2-3 hour climb through the cloud forest up a path mostly comprised of original Inca steps. A lush tree line creates green canopies overhead and the constant sound of rushing water suggests that the river is nearby. Your first milestone today will be the top of the peak, the last one before you descend to the Aobamaba River Valley that connects you to Machu Picchu. Upon arrival at the Llactapata Pass (8,974’ / 2,736m), you will delight in a southeast view of Machu Picchu, a sight few travelers get the chance to admire. After exploring Llactapata, the Inca tambo (fort) that marks the pass, enjoy a picnic lunch at a mountain lookout point with panoramic views. The final descent along a trail that zigzags down to the roaring Aobamba River will take you through lush bamboo forests, varied fruit orchards, and more coffee plantations. Celebrate as you cross the bridge over the river and take your final steps of the trek en route to the Hidroelectrica train station for a scenic one-hour train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes, on the banks of the Urubamba River at the base of Machu Picchu.
Overnight: Inkaterra Pueblo Hotel (6,693’/2,040m)
DAY 10 | THE CITADEL OF MACHU PICCHU
Your journey to Machu Picchu begins with an early morning rollicking uphill bus ride. As you enter the ‘sanctuary’ (as locals refer to it), prepare to be awed by the imposing, skillful architecture of the Watchtower, the Temple of the Sun, and the royal Inca residences, among others. After a two-hour guided tour, you will have free time to explore on your own, including a hike up Huayna Picchu*, the iconic mountain that looms over the citadel, for dramatic views that stretch from the Urubamba River Valley to the edge of the Amazon Jungle. At some point, be sure to take a moment and sit quietly–listen to the wind, meditate, and absorb the mystical energy that envelops you. After the visit you will have lunch in Aguas Calientes before a scenic Vistadome train ride to Ollantaytambo (approximately 1.5 hours) and vehicle transfer to your hotel in Cusco (approximately 1.5 hours). As night falls and you arrive amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, you will be touched by a feeling of peace and rejuvenation that will linger long after your journey home.
*Entrance time - Huayna Picchu: 10am
Note: Tickets for Huayna Picchu are subject to availability. Please consult with us when you confirm your reservation. In the event that Huayna Picchu permits are not available for your desired date, Mount Machu Picchu (the second peak within the sanctuary) permits will be secured instead.
Meals: B and L (at hotel)
2023-2024 prices per person in US$:
March 1 - 31 & November 1 -December 14 = US $ 4,500 per person based on shared accommodations
April 1 -October 31 & December 15 - 31 = US $ 5,500 per person based on shared accommodations
WHAT IS INCLUDED?
NOT INCLUDED ⁄
Terms & Conditions
Requested Single Room: subject to a 50% supplement in addition to the standard cost/per person.
Single traveler willing to share: no additional charge at mountain Lodges. A supplementary charge will apply at our affiliate hotels in the Sacred Valley and Aguas Calientes.
Due to the high altitude in the Cusco region and the physically demanding (nature of the hikes, we highly recommend an age restriction of 12+. This adventure is not appropriate for younger children.
Depending on group size, the operator schedules two or more guides for the duration of the itinerary. Private English-speaking guides can be arranged at an additional cost (per guide) for the standard itinerary (regardless of the number of guests). The private guide would join the group on Day 1 and also be present at the pre-trip briefing. Please inquire for guiding in other languages.
ADDITIONAL DAY AT MACHU PICCHU
Although guests will have enough time to see the main parts of Machu Picchu during the regular guided tour, some may want to expand their exploration to include climbing Machu Picchu Mountain and hiking to the Sun Gate, Inca Bridge, and more. Please ask for detailed information and extension rates.
DEPOSIT AND FINAL PAYMENT:
In the event of a guest’s cancellation, we require notification in writing, by email. The following cancellation fees apply:
TRANSFER FEE—TRANSFERRING FROM ONE DEPARTURE TO ANOTHER
Free transfers through 2021 up to 30 days prior departure date. ADDITIONAL NOTES ON TRANSFERS :
It is not necessary to specify a future departure date upon requesting a transfer. Any planning fees paid in 2020 will be completely transferrable to future bookings within 12 months of the initial date of departure. If you are not sure if you will travel within a year, we will send you a credit voucher that can be used against any similar trip in the next two years - This credit is transferrable and cannot be exchanged for cash. Price of the trips remains the same - no additional charges for season change or increase in other travel services included (train, entry permits to archeological sites, etc.). If you book your trip but decide to postpone for up to one year, we'll maintain the same prices we quoted you when you first confirmed your journey. That means, if prices rise in the subsequent period before you travel, we will make up the difference.
The Grand Andean Trek is an adventure travel activity in remote areas and thus, comes with inherent risks. In order to provide a safe experience for everyone, we kindly request that each guest present valid proof of medical insurance. Please take care when assessing and/or purchasing your insurance policy to ensure that it includes, at minimum, coverage for emergency medical treatment and evacuation during adventure travel activities.
The following information is REQUIRED at least 60 days prior to trip start date:
While general good health and an active lifestyle are important, we do recommend some additional preparation due to the high altitude of the Cusco region.
ADJUSTING TO HIGH ALTITUDE
Altitude sickness is most common at elevations above 6,500’/1,900m and results from the body adjusting to a decreased amount of oxygen. Symptoms can include lightheadedness, nausea, headaches, and dehydration.
The weather in Cusco is defined by two seasons: green (rainy) and dry. Green season typically runs from November through March, with the heaviest rains occurring in January and February (average daytime temperature 56*F/13.3*C). Dry season daytime average temperature is 62-68*F/17-20*C. Expect lower temperatures in the early morning and evening—always be prepared by dressing in layers.
Note: Cusco is located in a high mountain environment where variable weather is expected. Rain can occur in the middle of July just as sun may appear in January, so it is better to be prepared for mixed conditions.
WHAT TO PACK
The official currency of Peru is the Sol (S/.). However, US dollars are also widely accepted. If you are carrying cash, make sure to bring crisp, undamaged bills since they will not be accepted with marks, folds, or rips.
CASH AND CREDIT
ATM machines that dispense both Soles and USD are widely available in Cusco. Credit cards (Visa and Master Card) are widely accepted in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Please note that very few establishments accept American Express.
Note: During your trip, you will want to have some cash on hand for souvenirs, minor personal expenses, and optional gratuities for trip leaders and guides. We also recommend having small denominations (including coins) for purchases and bathroom facilities en route. Additional expenses at the lodges, like massages, alcoholic beverages, and laundry service can be charged to your credit card or paid in cash on site.
Gratuities are included in the trip cost for all lodge and logistical personnel; those for guides are optional and at your discretion. In general, we suggest $10-$20 USD/day (per person) for lead guides and $5-$15 USD/day (per person) for assistant guides.
Wi-Fi is readily available throughout Cusco at hotels and some restaurants and cafés. You will also have access to Wi-Fi at the lodges; however, we urge you to limit your use in order to truly disconnect and enjoy your journey. Cell phone coverage is available, but rates can be expensive. We suggest looking into international plans offered by your wireless carrier. Alternately, calling cards can be purchased in Cusco and used at the lodges.