DAY 1: Welcome to Peru
Arrival in Lima
Get ready to trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu! We’ll be waiting for you as soon as you arrive Lima. Just head for arrivals and look for a smiling Kuoda representative, who will be holding a sign with your name. We’ll take you to your hotel and help you with anything you may need to get settled. Then we’ll leave you to enjoy a good night’s sleep – the perfect remedy for a long flight.
DAY 2: Over the Andes to the Sacred Valley
Flight from Lima to Cusco – Private Car to the Sacred Valley
After a restful night, you will wake up feeling refreshed. Tuck into the complimentary buffet breakfast in the hotel and, as soon as you’re done eating, we’ll take you to the airport for your morning flight to Cusco.
A Kuoda representative will be waiting for you. There’ll be time for a tasty lunch before you’re whisked off to the Sacred Valley – the perfect place to acclimatize during your customized tour of Peru before you head on up to higher altitudes.
The Sacred Valley is just a short drive (less than an hour) from Cusco. Watch the changing scenery out the window during the trip: the urban landscapes of Cusco will soon yield to verdant valley scenes, with hills and fields dotted with cows and sheep. Along the way, we’ll stop at Awana Kancha Living Museum, which provides fascinating insight into Peruvian traditions. Here, you can see traditional weavers at work and take pictures of Peru’s adorable camelids.
Remember, this isn’t your typical group tour – you don’t have to adhere to a strict timetable. Should you want to stop to take a photograph or two, just say the word; your private Kuoda guide and driver are at your disposal.
DAY 3: Delving into past and present inthe Sacred Valley
Private Tour – Ollantaytambo, Pisac Ruins and an artisan market
Today, you’ll get a sense of the wonderful combination of old and new that makes Peru so compelling as you travel around the enchanting Sacred Valley.
First stop on our agenda will be the ancient hillside town of Ollantaytambo, where the influence of its old Inca inhabitants is still writ large on the town’s streets. The traditional Inca urban planning remains in place here, and is evident in the street canals, the multi-family stone residences and the solid trapezoidal doors – a shape frequently used in Inca doors and windows.
Your customized tour of Peru’s Sacred Valley continues at Ollantaytambo’s Inca ruins, which are located higher up on the hillside overlooking the town. Wander around the site and ponder the incredible engineering skills of the ancient people who created it as your guide reveals more about the Incas and their culture.
From there, it’s on to the charming valley town of Pisac, best known for its market – a vibrant, crowded and colorful spectacle that attracts visitors and residences from all over the country. Pick up some patterned textiles or artful ceramics for friends and families back home, or inspect the fresh vegetables – among them many unusual types and varieties that simply aren’t available on US shelves. After, we’ll head up to see Pisac’s mountainside Inca ruins. Get a close-up look at the impeccably fitted stonework on the site and peer down at the views of the agricultural terraces, which sweep around the slopes.
Later, your guide and driver will bring you back to your hotel for a quiet evening in preparation for the Inca Trail adventure that awaits!
DAY 4: Over the hills to Machu Picchu!
Your firts day trekking the renowned Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is consistently rated among the best trekking trips in the world and you’ll soon see why. This hiking route traverses several different ecological areas, from the high deserts to tropical rainforest, and the natural surroundings are seriously beautiful. Then there are its mysterious archaeological sites, whose covering of jungle overgrowth gives the impression that you are discovering them for the first time. Of course, the Inca Trail saves its greatest reward for last, culminating at the lost city of the Incas: Machu Picchu.
With Kuoda, you can rest assured that your Inca Trail experience will be a safe one. You’ll be accompanied by experienced guides and aided by support staff, who will ensure your trek is comfortable and pleasant. Native Quechua porters will help you with your luggage and you’ll be provided with delicious, hearty meals to help you keep your energy levels up. Portable hot showers and a massage services – a godsend for weary trekkers – are also included.
From the hotel, we will transfer you to the start of the trek (point km 82) where we meet our porters with the necessary equipment. You’ll set off on the first section of the trail, which weaves through semi-arid terrain along the rushing Urubamba River, providing magnificent views of the looming snowcapped mountains. We will leave the Urubamba Valley and set off up the Kusichaca River to our first camp site in Huayllabamba, at 9,842 feet above sea level.
DAY 5: Conquering “Dead Woman’s Pass”
Your second day on the Inca Trail
Fortify yourself with a hearty breakfast before beginning the ascent up the Warmihuañusca pass, which has an elevation of 13,860 feet above sea level. From the top of the pass, it is possible to see the trail on the other side of the valley, which leads all the way down to a small Inca complex known as the Runkurakay ruins. Once we reach the end of the gorge, we will stop and settle into our second camp site, Pacaymayo, which is located at 11,181 feet.
After two days of hiking, your leg muscles may be starting to feel the effects. Now would be a good time to make use of that hot shower and elicit the services of the massage therapist who can rub away the tension in your tired muscles.
DAY 6: Inca Ruins and Inca Roads
Your third day on the Inca Trail
Your private tour of Machu Picchu continues today as we depart from Pacaymayo. Climb up a short, zig-zagging path that leads up to the Runkurakay circular ruins, which you will have seen from a distance earlier on the trail. With no signs of human life here – and only the age-old forests and towering hills watching on – it’s a place where hikers feel especially close to nature. After a rest here, we’ll hit the road again heading toward the best-preserved section of the Inca Trail.
Just a short climb up a flight of steps and we’ll arrive at another set of Inca ruins. The Sayacmarca ruins, at an elevation of 11,946 feet, are a wonder to behold. How the Incas managed to build this complex in such an isolated and breathtakingly scenic setting, is a mystery. From Sayacmarca, we follow the stone road down into the jungle and we continue our trek through the canopied ‘tunnel’ toward the Phuyupatamarca campsite.
Having completed the bulk of this challenging trail, we think it’s time for a little reward. Toast the success of your intrepid adventure before dinner then kick back and relax. Tomorrow will be the final leg of your quest!
DAY 7: Through the Sun Gate and triumphant arrival in Machu Picchu
Your final day on the Inca Trail and a private tour of Machu Picchu
Today will be the final leg of your Inca Trail journey and the day you finally get to see Machu Picchu.
First, you’ll drop down past the frequently cloud-shrouded Phuyupatamarca ruins, which sit at 12,045 feet. After a further three hours’ worth of walking, you’ll reach yet another reminder of the Incas who originally carved out this mountain pass. The romantically named Wiñay Wayna – the name means ‘forever young’ in Quechuan – is the penultimate Inca site on the trail, and features picture-perfect terraces that cascade down the mountainside like steps. We’ll spend some time exploring here before continuing on toward the Inti Punku, or Sun Gate, at Machu Picchu.
You’ll be elated at having made it to this cherished site, but you’ll also be hungry. So before you head in to search every last nook and cranny of the ancient Inca kingdom, we’ll stop to eat lunch – soaking up the sensational views over Machu Picchu from the table. It’s hard to not be affected by the scene; the passing clouds and lighting lend the citadel almost otherworldly appearance. Once you’ve eaten, you’ll enter the site proper with your private guide. After an afternoon of exploring, you’re bound to be tired. Luckily, you won’t have far to go to reach your bed for the night. You’ll be experiencing a luxury Machu Picchu travel experience, staying in the Belmond’s Sanctuary Lodge, which is literally next door to the New World Wonder.
DAY 8: Machu Picchu on your terms
A free day to explore the ancient city at your own pace
Having completed the legendary Inca trail, it’s only fair you have ample time to relax and thoroughly explore as much of Machu Picchu and its surrounds as you want to. If you’ve still got energy to burn, you might want to scramble up Machu Picchu’s neighboring peak, Huayna Picchu. The climb up isn’t for the faint of heart, though the views of Machu Picchu from the top are worth breaking a sweat for. If you want to slow things down, you can head back into the ancient citadel for another round of exploring – having already covered the must-sees yesterday, you can amble around to the quiet far reaches at your leisure, and perhaps even find a quiet spot to sit down and process all that you’ve seen.
After lunch back in the comfortable Sanctuary Lodge, you’ll travel back to Cusco in comfort and style on the first-class train. A Kuoda representative will meet you at the station upon arrival and show you to your hotel.
DAY 9: Exploring the imperial City of Cusco
Private walking tour of Cusco
You’ll spend day nine getting to know Cusco, a city that seems to straddle the divide between the past and the future. On the one hand, it wears its history on its sleeve with Inca stonework, traditionally dressed locals and grand colonial churches. On the other hand, it is thoroughly cosmopolitan with trendy bars, world-class restaurants and familiar multinational names. The contradiction of old and new is a curious, but winning mix. You’ll tour the city with a private guide, who will show you the extent of Cusco’s contrasts and help explain how it ended up as it is today. You’ll see the Santo Domingo monastery, which sits atop what was once the most opulent Inca temple in the region, as well as the treasure-laden Pre-Columbian Art Museum, the famous 12-point stone (which you may recognize from the label of Cusqueña beer) and the cooler, more alternative city quarters, such as the trendy San Blas district.
Once you’ve gotten your bearings with the help of your guide, you’ll be free to spend the afternoon exploring on your own or simply relaxing back at the hotel. At a loss for what to do next? Ask your guide for suggestions; they can point you in the direction of some more of Cusco’s must-see sights or suggest a good spot to grab a drink or an early dinner.
DAY 10: Return to Lima
Fly from Cusco to Lima and explore Miraflores before heading home
You’ll be transferred to Cusco airport in the morning for your return flight to Lima. In Lima, you’ll be met by your Kuoda host who’ll take you to Miraflores, where there are tons of places to while away your few remaining hours. Shop in the markets and fashionable boutiques, go for one last Peruvian supper or simply people-watch from the Pacific-facing parks.
As your personalized trip to Peru draws to a close, we will meet you and bring you to Lima airport so you can catch your flight home.
If you’ve ever dreamed of trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, get in touch – Kouda can help you plot your personalized tour of Peru.