Follow in the Footsteps of the Incas to Machu Picchu

From exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas, to sleeping in a transparent capsule off the side of a mountain, this 10D9N journey is the perfect introduction to the region of Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Midway through your trip, a 4D3N hike on the famous Inca Trail – the ancient route laid by the Incas – will bring you to the exquisite ruins of Machu Picchu. A thrilling, enriching adventure that will prove to you that in Peru, it’s not just about the destination, but the journey too. Just ask our fellow escapist, Henna.

This journey outline is by no means fixed. As the traveller takes centre stage in our planning – from the type of lodging to daily activities – your journey will be crafted to suit you.

Day by Day Highlights

Day 1
Cusco (3,400m)

Arrive in Cusco. Our welcome representative will greet you at the airport and arrange for a hotel transfer. After check-in, venture out for lunch before stopping by the San Pedro market, where you can observe how residents live outside the city’s tourist zones, sample local produce, and shop textiles and trinkets.

You’ll then visit the Sacsayhuamán fortress, the largest and most impressive of four archaeological ruins on the outskirts of Cusco. Next up is a visit to the legendary Koricancha, which was the most important temple in the Inca Empire devoted to worshiping the sun deity. End the day at the Plaza de Armas where you can go into the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption – the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cusco.

Day 2
Cusco (3,400m) – Sacred Valley (2,900m) – Ollantaytambo (2,792m)

Your first full day in Peru begins today. After breakfast, travel 20km to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with an accompanying visit to the Písac archaeological site. Take your time to explore the ruins, including the ceremonial bath and temple complex areas.

Continue to Písac market – where people from remote communities used to barter their products – and pick up souvenirs while sampling empanada pastries. After, immerse yourself in a charming Andean community to discover their culture and traditions, like learning about how they dye and weave textiles.

After lunch, we’ll visit Ollantaytambo, a still-thriving Inca village located below an ancient fortress and temple.

Day 3
Sacred Valley (2,900m)

Day three begins with a free and easy morning. At 2pm, a private transport will bring you to a hanging lodge in Calca, where you’ll experience the rare opportunity of sleeping in a transparent luxury capsule dangling from the mountain top. Don’t worry, it’s completely safe! However, to get there, you’ll need to climb 400m of Via Ferrata and traverse an intrepid trail using ziplines, which will take 1.5 to 2-hours.

Day 4
Sacred Valley (2,900m) – Moray (3,500m) – Maras (3,380m) – Cusco (3,400m)

If you haven’t woken up yet after breakfast this morning, you’ll be sure to when you abseil or zipline down from your hanging pod. A 30-minute drive will bring you to a local restaurant for lunch before you visit the circular terraces of Moray, where Incan agricultural “research laboratories” were once located. Now that you’re on the other side of the Sacred Valley, take in views of the dramatic Vilcabamba and Urubamba mountain ranges.

Visit the town of Maras next and cross the extensive Maras Pampas by van or a gentle hike, where locals farm the land and rear animals. You’ll also get to learn about the façades of the ancient houses before returning to Cusco. Be sure to go to bed early as there is a very early wake-up call on day five.

Day 5
Cusco (3,400m) – Inca Trail (2,700m-4,200m) – Wayllabamba (3,000m)

Your long-awaited Inca Trail experience is finally here. You’ll trek for 12km today over 5 to 6-hours. A private transport and crew will pick you up from your hotel at 4 to 4:30am. Drive to Piskacuchu (2,700m), the starting point of the trail. There, we’ll provide you with some snacks to keep your sugar levels high and ease any altitude sickness.

We’ll begin the hike with a bridge crossing over the Urubamba River, followed by a walk along its left shore to Miskay village (2,800m). Ascend to the highest point of an overlook and witness the full glory of the Inca city of Llactapata (2,650m). Continue trekking for about five more hours until we reach the Wayllabamba camp, where you’ll sleep in a tent for the first time on the journey. Along the way, admire the Vilcanota range where the impressive Mount Veronica (5,832m) sits.

Day 6
Wayllabamba (3,000m) – Pacaymayo (3,600m)

Begin with another early start to your second day of your Inca Trail experience at 6am. After breakfast, you’ll begin the most difficult part of the trek with an abrupt and steep ascent that stretches for 9km. Along this climb, observe the changing scenery from sierra to puna (a dry and high area with little vegetation).

On the way to the first mountain pass – the Abra Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman’s Pass, 4,215m) – you may catch glimpses of llamas and alpacas grazing on ichu, one of the few plants that grow at high altitudes. You’ll also cross a cloud forest – the habitat for hummingbirds, sparrows and spectacled bears.

After crossing the pass, we’ll descend into Pacaymayo valley (3,600m) and set up camp. You will have hiked for about 7-hours today over 11km.

Day 7
Pacaymayo (3,600m) – Wiñaywayna (2,650m)

Day three of the Inca Trail commences with a 4am wake-up call. Today will be a long day as you’ll travel 16km over 8-hours.

From Pacaymayo, you’ll climb to the second pass known as Abra Runkurakay (3,970m). Halfway up, stop by the archaeological complex with the same name. After reaching the pass, descend to Yanacocha (Black Lagoon) and enter a cloud forest to arrive at the Sayacmarca (3,624m) ruins.

Following an easy climb, you’ll arrive at the third Abra Phuyupatamarca (meaning “town over the clouds”) pass (3,700m). En route, marvel at how the Incas built pathways semi-detached from the mountainsides. You’ll also enter a tunnel to arrive at another temple complex with the same name as the pass. From here, admire the Urubamba River valley.

Continue the hike down stone steps to the Wiñaywayna complex, close to your campsite. After a temple visit, rest and relax and tuck in to a sumptuous dinner. You’ve earned it!

Day 8
Wiñaywayna (2,650m) – Machu Picchu (2,430m)

On your fourth and last day, you’ll finally reach the world wonder that is Machu Picchu. Rise at 4am and depart from Wiñaywayna at 5am. Begin an hour’s hike to Intipunku (Sun Gate) just in time to see the sunrise over the sacred citadel. Expect not to be just one of a few taking in the sight before you, but be sure to revel in the moment and take lots of photos as this is a memory you’ll want to cherish. Descend into the ancient city and enter the fortress from the highest point through the “House of the Guardians”.

Take a 2-hour guided tour, followed by free time to explore the ruins further. You can visit the ceremonial Temple of the Moon or the Inca Bridge, which was built by the Incas as a secret entrance for their army. You will hike for 4km over approximately 2-hours.

Take a 30-minute bus ride to Aguas Calientes for lunch and take the day off to do whatever you like. Dinner will be at your hotel.

Day 9
Machu Picchu (2,430m) – Cusco (3,400m)

Have a break from early wake-up calls this morning before choosing from a range of activities offered by your hotel. Just before 5pm, you’ll board the Vistadome train to take you back to Cusco. Arrive at Poroy station just after 10pm where our representative will take you to your hotel.

Day 10
Cusco (3,400m) – Lima (1,550m)

A hotel pickup will take you to Jorge Chávez International Airport, and onward to Lima. There, you’ll catch your international flight out. Adiós!

Let’s plan your perfect escape. To start the conversation, contact us via our interactive form or drop us an email at ask@blueskyescapes.co.

Practical Information

Lima, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Moray, Maras, Wayllabamba, Pacaymayo, Wiñaywayna and Machu Picchu.

May to September (The Inca Trail is closed in February).

1,550m-4,200m.

Moderate to Hard. Some parts of this journey can be quite challenging, such as the Via Ferrata climb to the hanging lodge on Day 3, or the second day of the Inca Trail where you’ll be trekking steadily uphill over 9km.

From US$3,950/person for a group of 2 on a private basis, including double-sharing rooms/tents. Excludes international flights.

As we’ll customise your journey based on your preferences and needs, please note that this indicative price is just a rough estimate. Prices can fluctuate depending on season, type of accommodation and activities/experiences chosen (private vs. shared) etc.

Please note that campsites are subject to change according to the designation of the governmental institution regulating the use of the Inca Trail, as well as to our guide’s criteria and the group’s progress.

On Day 8, your guide will return to Cusco and leave you with instructions for the next day. Should you decide to visit Machu Picchu again, do inform your guide in advance so that he can assist you with purchasing the entrance tickets.

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