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This family adventure takes in the footsteps of the Inca people and one of the world's most incredible sites - Machu Picchu. We raft, bike and walk with the emphasis also on exploring and understanding the country, we visit the ancient capital of Cusco, learn how to weave traditional clothing, make local dishes, experience colourful markets and stay in an Andean village where the Inca Trail porters are from.
- Included meals: 12 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches and 4 Dinners
- All transport & airport transfers
- Award-winning Explore leaders
- Local guides and drivers
Day 1: Join trip in Cusco
Arrive in Cusco, the old heart of the Inca Empire and the archaeological capital of the Americas. The Spanish-style city of today, with its attractive pink tiled roofs, arcaded plazas and steep winding alleyways, stands upon tremendous Inca foundation stones, its links with the Inca Empire are everywhere to be seen, from the stone walls that line the city streets, to the museums filled with artefacts and relics of a long dead civilization.
Later today, you might choose to relax and acclimatise to the altitude at the hotel or take a gentle stroll to the Plaza de Armas.
Day 2: Cusco walking tour including Qoricancha temple and an indigenous market, free afternoon
Today is a leisurely day to enjoy the sights of Cusco. After breakfast head out on foot to explore the Inca temples at Qoricanch; a short distance from the city centre. Qoricanch (also known as Koricancha) is one of the best preserved and most important Inca temples. The inner sanctum of the temple is ornately decorated with silver and gold leaf and was reserved for the highest authorities in the Inca kingdom.
The rest of the day is free to enjoy optional activities in and around Cusco exploring the winding streets and alleys of the city.
Day 3: Visit to the colourful and vibrant Pisac markets, a llama farm and the temple-citadel Sacsayhuaman
In the morning we leave Cusco and head for the stunningly beautiful setting of the Sacred Valley to visit the market town of Pisac, strategically located at the head of the Urubamba Valley perhaps the most famous indigenous market in Peru. We spend time at the famous market before making our way back to Cusco stopping at Awanacancha, a llamas farm.
On the northern outskirts of Cusco we stop at the temple-citadel Sacsayhuaman which broods high above the town with fine views looking back down to Cusco below. Sacsayhuaman was built to impress, with a huge zigzagging stone wall broken into 66 sharply projecting angles to catch attackers in a withering crossfire. 20,000 conscripted workers toiled for 90 years to finish this remarkable historic capital of the Inca Empire, the sheer size of the stones making up citadel are a testament to the ingenuity of the Inca craftsmen.
Day 4: Drive from Cusco to Misminay, Sacred Valley. Trek to Misminay village, homestay visit
Leaving Cusco this morning we drive through the Andes to arrive at Chequerec Community, a typical Andean village where we will start to trek through narrow paths traditionally used by the locals. During this hike, we will see small indigenous villages, cultivated fields, peasants working, curious children and a variety of animals as well as a varied flora. This is a great opportunity to discover different lifestyles and be in contact with the natural atmosphere of the Andes and its people. After a few hours of walking, we will arrive at the community of Misminay. Located at 3,700m, its location is spectacular as a natural balcony from where we can look at the splendid landscape and snow - capped mountains that surround the Sacred Valley; this view certainly astounds and leaves a deep impression on all those who visit this place.
We will be received by the people of the village, and welcomed with a typical sweet spearmint tea; this agreeable herb is edible and medicinal for this people. Families live together in tiny, one or two-room adobe homes raising guinea pigs, cows and sheep. Fathers work as porters for hikers during the dry season and tend crops of potatoes, corn beans and quinoa during the wet months, while mothers watch the herds, take care of the household and raise their children. Women also weave, producing the family's colorful ponchos, chullos, skirts, shawls and other items, on their backstrap looms.
After lunch we will have a demonstration of weavings made by the women of the community who will show us traditional and ancestral techniques. There will be also the opportunity to learn more about the local agriculture, they will show us instruments used by the Incas and still used today, especially in the highlands. Tonight we will take dinner at the community meeting room before overnighting at a local house.
Day 5: Mountain bike to Moray and Maras, on to Ollantaytambo
After breakfast, we leave Misminay for some easy downhill biking lasting for a few hours. We will drive from Misminay to Cruzpata in the pampas of Chinchero. Here we will practice with the bikes before beginning our route along a hilly track (single track , dirty road and down hill, helmets are provided). We pass the Huaypo Lagoon to reach the experimental Agricultural Site of Moray a very unique archaeological site which consists of enormous natural depressions or hollows in the ground surface that the Inkas used for constructing irrigated farming terraces around them. This place was an important center of domestication, acclimatization and hybridization of wild vegetable species that were modified or adapted for human consumption. After a short visit at this site, we continue by bike toward the town of Maras. After visiting the Salineras of Maras (Salt mines), we have a 30-40 minute descent walking to Pichingoto in the Sacred Valley, crossing the Urubamba River where our private bus waits to transfer us to Ollantaytambo town.
Day 6: In the Sacred Valley; free for optional activities including white water rafting
Our base at Ollantaytambo makes the perfect place from which to discover the sites and activities around the Sacred Valley. Today there is the option for a full day's rafting of the white waters (grade 2-3) of the Urubamba River before returning to our comfortable accommodation in Ollantaytambo to prepare for the forthcoming Inca Trail.
Day 7: Start the Inca Trail trek with overnight camping in Llaqtapata (2700m)
This morning we drive to Ollantaytambo, an original Inca town. Here we have a short walking tour to stretch our legs, visiting a traditional house and our first view of Inca terracing. We continue by bus for another hour to reach KM82, the starting point for the classic Inca Trail. The trail was first explored by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and opened for walkers in 1970. The famous ruins of Machu Picchu are not the only historical remains within the area: many other interesting sites are hidden in places which can only be reached on foot, and have scarcely been explored.
We meet our porters and support staff, beginning our trek after lunch. The route crosses the Urubamba river, following a wide dirt trail alongside the riverbank. The undulating path takes us into the Sacred Valley of the Incas to Llaqtapata (2,700m). Here we camp opposite the ruins of Llaqtapata, a spectacular spot with amazing night skies.
Todays six kilometre walk is expected to take around two-and-a-half hours with an ascent of 100 metres.
Day 8: Trek to Llulluchapampa (3800m) with stunning views of the snowy peaks
After a hearty breakfast we cross the river to visit the Llaqtapata Inca ruins before continuing with the trek. Today we follow the course of the Kusichaca river past small communities, crossing it to reach Wayllabamba, a quiet village of Inca origins and the last settlement on the route. After lunch we gradually ascend through the start of the cloud forest to Llulluchapampa (3,800m) which affords stunning views of the snowy peaks of Veronica (5,750m). Here we set up camp for the night; there is a well maintained toilet black at this site.
Todays nine kilometre walk is expected to take around six hours with 1,080 metres ascent.
Day 9: Trek over the Warmiwanusca (Dead Woman) Pass (4200m), to our third camp at 3600m
Today is an earlier start as we trek over the Warmiwanusca (Dead Woman's) Pass to 4,200 metres. The two hour ascent is one of the more challenging sections of the trek, we take is slow and steady with many stops to admire the view and sunrise. After a rest and photo opportunity we descend along a stepped path to the valley of the Pacamayo river with its tropical vegetation. Here we break for brunch before beginning the ascent (mainly on steps) to the second pass of the day. We visit the ruins of Runkuraqay and then it's the final ascent to cross the Runkuraqay Pass (3,950m).
After the pass it was a long gradual descent passing into the start of the main cloud forest to reach the bottom of the valley. The Sayacmarca ruins are visible on a rocky outcrop, they command an imposing view and have only one means of access, a narrow granite stairway. We cross the valley to reach the Sayacmarca campsite for a late lunch. From here the trail goes through cloud forest with vines, exotic flowers (among them orchids) and luxuriant trees, with views (if we are lucky) of the snowcapped peaks of Salkantay. We walk through an Inca tunnel and along a ridge above the Urubamba River to our campsite above the Phuyupatamarca ruins (3,579m). The campsite has amazing panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and down the valley towards Machu Picchu mountain.
Todays 10 kilometre walk is expected to take around eight hours with 1,000 metres ascent and 630 metres descent.
Day 10: Travel through the Inti Punku - the Gate of the Sun to discover Machu Picchu
Today is our final day walking along the Inca Trail. We say thanks and goodbye to our porters and begin our trek into Machu Picchu. We pass the Puyupatamarca ruins and spend the majority of the morning going down following stone paths and stairways, 80% of which are original Inca architecture. Coming out of the cloud forest we are greeted by the spectacular views down the valley, walking through the impressive Inca terraces at Intipata we reach our lunch stop at Winay-Wayna (2,591m). Those who wish can visit the ruins here, this Inca site is built into the steep hillside and like Machu Picchu, was abandoned for unknown reasons.
Winding our way along the edge of the mountain we follow a wide path adorned with wild flowers and orchids to we take the final steps up to reach Inti Punku - the Gate of the Sun. passing through there is a sudden and fantastic view of the Lost City itself, Machu Picchu, set in a grandiose landscape that amazes all spectators. We walk down through the site and then take the pubic bus down the mountainside to our hotel in the town of Aguas Calientes situated on the valley floor below Machu Picchu.
Todays eight kilometre walk is expected to take around six hours with 1,000 metres descent.
Day 11: Optional climb the Huayna Picchu to look down on Machu Picchu before returning to Cusco by train and bus
Our final morning is spent at Machu Picchu, probably the most astounding feat of engineering in all of ancient America. Temples, stairways, palaces and gabled stone dwellings are scattered everywhere, testifying to the energy and ingenuity of the builders. We have a guided tour with our Explore Leader then have some free time to explore the site further for as long as you wish before taking the bus back down to Aquas Calientes.
It is also possible to climb the steep peaks of either Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu Mountain to look down on the citadel. Machu Picchu Mountain is a 700m climb from the top of the citadel. There are cobbled stairs all the way up with a few eye-opening drops in some parts, and the round-trip takes about tow and half to three hours. Huayna Picchu Mountain is only 350m, half the size of Machu Picchu Mountain, but much steeper. There are many more sheer drops, and it is definitely not suitable for someone with a fear of heights. For those who fancy doing the one hour climb, you'll be rewarded with world-beating views of Machu Picchu, and the feeling that you're standing on a precipice at the top of the world.
These climbs must be pre-paid at time of booking. If you change your passport between your time of booking and prior to travel please take your original passport with you. Those doing one of the optional climbs will take the first bus back up the Machu Picchu to begin the climb at 7am after which you will meet up with the rest of the group to take the guided tour.
In the afternoon we get the train to Ollantaytambo, located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and then return to the historic town of Cusco by bus. Depending on the time of the train, you may have a free afternoon in Aquas Calientes, where there are many restaurants and cafes and a large covered market.
Day 12: Free day in Cusco
Today has been left free for some rest and relaxation in Cusco after your trek. It will also be the perfect time to visit the markets and shops in the old City to take back some lovely souvenirs before your flight home tomorrow.
Day 13: Trip ends in Cusco
Lima and Cusco - Discover some of Peru's spectacular Spanish and Inca highlights
Inca villages - Visit colourful markets and Inca villages and learn how to weave.
Machu Picchu - Visit the stunning 'Lost City' of Machu Picchu.
The Sacred Valley - Raft through the magnificent landscapes of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Cooking and chocolate - Learn to cook Peruvian cuisine and visit Cusco's famous Choco Museum.
Please note, prices listed are guide prices only and are based on 2 people sharing and don't include any additional supplements. Holiday prices are fluid and dynamic and may be changed at a moment's notice, prior to booking, at which point they are confirmed. Please call the team free on 0800 707 6229 for more departure dates available and a quote.
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