Machu Picchu Itinerary for the Inca Trail and Cusco Cultural Tour
The Machu Picchu Itinerary will lay out all of the events and activities for this nine day tour including statistics for the trek along the Inca Trail.
Day 1 Welcome to Cusco
Upon arrival in Cusco, we are greeted by our lead guide. Private transportation will take us to our Hotel located in the historic center of the city. Breakfast will be served for those arriving before 10 am.
A group meeting will be held at noon before departing to have Lunch with all the flavors of Peruvian cuisine. We will then depart on a walking guided tour of the city’s most interesting sites including the Plaza de Armas, the Santo Domingo Church (built atop the great Inca temple Koricancha), San blas market, and the imposing twelve angle rock wall. We will finish the tour at the Qosqo Native art center for a live show of the traditional dances of the region. Dinner would be soon after the show and a deserved rest back at the Hotel.
Day 2 Touring Cusco
On the second day of this adventure, we will continue our process of acclimatization and expanding our knowledge of the Inca culture. Breakfast will be served at around 7.30 am. Our private transportation will meet us with our local guide to take us to see the ‘magic of Cusco’. Our first stop will be in the cathedral of the city, where we can appreciate paintings of the famous Cusco school and precious pieces of gold and silver.
Continuing with our tour, we will visit one of the most popular places in Cusco, the Qoricancha or Temple of the Sun. This was the religious center of Cusco during the time of the Inca Empire. We will see some of the original temples that have survived even though they have been integrated with the architecture during the colonial period.
Afterwards, we head to the upper part of Cusco with views of the city and visit the archaeological complex of Sacsayhuaman to explore the remains of an Inca sacred site and fortress. We will continue towards Qenqo where we will be able to explore a semi-closed cave with figures sculpted on the stone. After the guided tour, we travel to Puca Pucara, the Red Fortress. It is believed that it served to control the entrance into the city of Cusco. Our last visit will be to the Inca baths of Tambomachay, with its different channels and small fountains.
We will return to the city of Cusco at 4.30 p.m. You will have one hour to take rest before heading to the Workshop of Chocolate to learn about the origin of chocolate and its history. We will also witness the chocolate making process from its starting point at the cacao tree in the jungle. After this workshop, you will make your own chocolates (120 g) with milk or dark chocolate and more than 15 different flavorings.
Dinner will follow the work shop around 8 pm.
Day 3 Sacred Valley
We will have a early start for an amazing day exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Breakfast will be served around 6.30 am. We will be transported on a road that winds around the mountains north of Cusco. On the way, we will stop at a famous point known as El Mirador (Lookout Point). From there, we will be able to see the Sacred Valley and gain some insight into the Inca history. The Sacred Valley was one of the main areas the Incas settled. There is an unusual abundance of fertile plains in this high area of the Andes. You will also witness vast contour terracing and irrigation channels left behind by the Incas.
Later on, we will drive towards the ruins of Pisac. Here, you will witness and learn about Inca culture. You will see amazing works of stone art and impressive agricultural terraces. After exploring, we will drive back to the lower town of Pisac to stop at a bustling handicraft market. After you spend some time walking around the market bargain hunting, we will meet for lunch at a local restaurant.
After lunch, we will drive along the Urubamba River towards the town of Ollantaytambo. Once we reach Ollantaytambo, we will visit the ruins, an important area of Inca construction. This is an extraordinary Inca site because you can find rock formations representing the Inca god, Wiracocha and massive stones of around 30 tons perfectly shape. We will return in the late afternoon with plenty of time to get ready for a nice dinner.
Day 4 Inca Culture
Breakfast will be served at 6.30 am, and we will be picked up at 8 am at the Hotel. On this day we will be introduced to some of Cusco’s most interesting Inca sites. The tour starts with a visit to the Colonial town of Maras and its church. From Maras we continue to the nearby Inca site of Moray, a magnificent series of terrace circles set into the ground that were once used by the Incas for experimentation with crops. Our final destination are the salt mines which have been in use since Pre-Inca times. Water from a subterranean stream is channelled through pools where it evaporates and leaves behind pure salt crystals. With thousands of stark white pools stretching down the valley, the views are stunning. We expect to be back at the Hotel with enough time to pack for the Inca Trail before heading to the Planetarium of Cusco. This is probably the most original planetarium in the world. We will have an early dinner and go to bed as early as possible before the big adventure on the next day.
Day 5 Machu Picchu
We will be picked up at 4:30 am at our Hotel. We will then drive 82 km arriving at 7:00 am. After a delicious breakfast prepared by your cook, we’ll go through the first Inca Trail checkpoint to begin our trek (please make sure you have your original passport with you to enter the Inca Trail).
The first two hours of the trek are relatively easy as we make our way to our first Inca site, Patallacta. This is an ancient Inca checkpoint for the approach to Machupichu. From Patallacta, it’s another two hour hike to our lunch stop. After lunch we will hike for another two and a half hours until we reach the first night’s campsite at Ayapata (3300 meters). On this last stretch we pass through two small communities. If you want to buy any energy drinks or snacks you can do so here, you can also buy any essential items such as batteries that you may have forgotten. We’ll arrive to our campsite by 5:00 pm and after settling in for a bit you can relax and have a hot drink and snack with your team of porters, chef, and guide. By 7:30 pm your dinner will be ready. Afterwards, you can get some well-deserved rest.
Day 6 Dead Woman’s Pass
Today is our longest day so we will start early. We’ll hike for roughly four hours to the highest pass of the trek, Dead Woman’s Pass (4215 meters/13829 feet). On reaching the pass, we’ll stop for a short break to enjoy the views before setting off again to descend to the next valley (Pacaymayu Valley – Hidden River). It’s another hour and a half down the side of the valley to our lunch spot and a chance to refill our water bottles.
After lunch we begin ascending again to the second pass of the trek. It’s two hours to the pass. Along the way we’ll stop at a small Inca site (Runcu Raccay) and see two huge waterfalls cascading down the opposite side of the valley. After the second pass, it’s another hour downhill hike to reach the magnificent Inca site, Sayacmarca (an otherwise inaccessible village).
We’ll stop here for a rest and have a quick tour of the site and then watch the sunset over the Vilcabamba mountain range. It’s then just another twenty minutes until we stop for the night at our second campsite Chaquicocha (Dry Lake, 3600 meters). After dinner, if you’re not too exhausted, we can do some star gazing and we’ll point out the fascinating Inca constellations in the magnificent Southern Hemisphere sky. Away from artificial lighting, this sky is something to behold!
Day 7 Wiñay Wayna
We begin early again, waking up at 6:30 am to begin what is commonly felt to be the most beautiful day of the whole Inca Trail. We hike for two hours along what we like to call “Inca flat” (gradual inclines) and begin to enter the jungle, known as the Cloud Forest. As we walk, we will have the opportunity to see the majesty of Salkantay, the second highest snow-capped mountain in the Sacred Valley. There is a fantastic panoramic view of the Vilcabamba mountain range. Towards the end of the Inca flats we begin to make our way up to the last peak at Phuyupatamarka (3600 meters) where we’ll have great views overlooking the Urubamba River. Down the valley, we get our first views of Machu Picchu Mountain, but the site itself is still hidden from view. From Phuyupatamarka it´s a three hour walk down a flight of steps to our last campsite, close to Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young). Wiñay Wayna is the most spectacular Inca site on the trail after Machu Picchu and is the most popular campsite because of its proximity to Machu Picchu.
During the descent we visit two Inca ruins, Phuyupatamarka (Town in the Clouds) and Intipata (Terraces of the Sun). We arrive at our campsite around 1:00 pm to have lunch and then relax for the entire afternoon so that you’re relaxed and ready for your final day at Machu Picchu. At around 4:30 pm, your guide will give you a short orientation and you will visit the Inca ruins of Wiñay Wayna. We will spend about an hour and a half there. We will explain the significance of the site and combine all the information given during the trek so you’re fully prepared for your visit to Machu Picchu the following day.
Day 8 Machu Picchu
Wake up time is at 3:30 am. We’ll eat breakfast at 4:00 am and wait at the checkpoint to be one of the first to start trekking when they open the gates at 5:30 am. We’ll wave goodbye to our team of porters and chef and then it’s “Forward On” to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku). From here we have spectacular views of the mountains and Machu Picchu in all its glory. We reach the Sun Gate by 6:30 am and then it’s just an hour trek downstairs to reach the Lost City of the Incas. As we approach Machu Picchu the views of the city just get better and better! At about 7:40 am we’ll reach the final checkpoint and enter Machu Picchu to begin our two hour private guided tour. After the tour you’ll be given your bus tickets to make your way down to Aguas Calientes.
We will enjoy a delicious celebration lunch in Aguas Calientes in the company of our trail guide. We will take The Expedition class train departing from Aguas Calientes at 4:20 pm. This train will be two hours to Ollantaytambo where a driver will meet us and drive us back to the Hotel. We will continue to celebrate that night with an amazing dinner at one of the best restaurants of Cusco.
Day 9 Farewell Cusco and Airport
We will have different options for this day that will depend on your flight schedule. We will begin by having a breakfast meeting. We also hope to share some of the best moments on a quick presentation of photos. If you still have time in the afternoon, we can go check out local markets for souvenirs and a few local museums. Lunch would be included for those traveling in the afternoon. Transportation to the airport will be at your convenience.