Sample Itinerary: 7 days Heavy Adventure Trekking
Type of trip: Heavy Adventure with a Trekking emphasis
Highlights: This itinerary includes the usual, highly recommended excursions (a visit to Machu Picchu, the fortress of Ollantaytambo, city tour in Cusco, etc) but also includes a 2 or 3 day trip of moderate to strenuous trekking.
Arrive Cusco (let us know when and we’ll have a known and trusted driver there waiting) and then take the beautiful 2 hour drive through the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo. The drive is one of the most scenic you will ever experience, and is hopefully all you ever imagined Peru would be. You definitely will see local people living their farming lifestyle as they have for centuries; you will see very large mountains and if it is not raining you will see the glaciers above them. Arrive to Ollantaytambo and check into your comfortable room at KB Tambo and perhaps a hot shower to refresh yourself, or even a nap. Spend the afternoon just relaxing and wandering this ancient Incan town – there is always something to see !
Wake up and smell the coffee (or tea if you prefer – try the coca tea) and after breakfast make an early visit to the famous Ollantaytambo fortress. This incredible structure was still being built when the Spanish conquest arrived, and is the location of the only significant battle that the Incas ever won against the Spaniards. (Hurray Ollantaytambo !) It’s centerpiece is the un-finished Temple of the Sun, made of huge monoliths of pink granite carried from a nearby mountain side. It features some of the best Incan stonework in all of Peru, not to mention great views of town and the surrounding mountains. Get a guide at the front entrance (price varies, but is reasonable and negociable) in order to really see all the hidden secrets of this Inca site, which is one of the most important in all of Peru. It is best seen in the morning when there are no crowds, this visit takes between 2 to 3 hours.
* Inside tip: when descending the Incan staircase down to the valley floor and site exit after your visit, be sure to go left at the bottom of the steps (away from the exit). In just a few minutes, you will arrive at some of the best Incan stonework to be found anywhere in the world, including Machu Picchu. There are unique and finely shaped stones of all sizes laying everywhere, and there is a section of vertical cliff where perfect cubes of solid granite were extracted from the cliff face using a method that it is still not known (picture on the right)
In the afternoon, you could either relax and have a beer on our terrace or take a walk about town, or if you prefer something more active you could take one of a number of free, short side hikes from the hotel. One of them is Pinkylluna which is a very short walk from the central plaza yet affords a commanding view of town and the main Incan fortress after a sthort but steep climb up. As always, remember by 5pm year round it is beginning to arrive at dusk so the days are a bit short.
After a leisurely morning and breakfast, head to the fantastic Incan sites of Salt Mines of Maras and the circular ruins of Moray. This trip is one that we recommend over almost any other, as it has a little bit of everything: breathtaking scenery, local people living their agricultural lifestyle virtually unaffected by tourism in any way. You will also see these 2 Incan sites that are different than any other and are really a must to see. They can be seen via hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding, but for this itinerary we will recommend going up to the sites via taxi, which is much more pleasant than it sounds as the drive is scenic. Once having begun at Moray, it is quite feasible to spend most or all of the rest of the day walking between sites. It is nine kilometers of mostly flat hiking, with a few short but steep up and down climbs, between Moray and the town of Maras.
After reaching the colonial town of Maras, known for its role in the ancient commerce of salt and also for its assortment of several hundred year old stone doorway mantels, there is a trail that leads down to the Salt Mines. It is approximately 40 minutes down to the mines on a beautiful trail that is all downhill and with great views. There is a s/5 sole entrance fee to see the actual mines, and from there it is about another 40 minute downhill hike to the Urubamba river and out to the main highway, where you can either have a taxi waiting or else wait for public transport back to either Ollantaytambo or Cusco. It takes about 5-6 hours to see both sites using first a taxi and then hiking, this includes one hour at each site.The views of the Andes mountains on the way to, and between, the Salt Mines and Moray are some of the best in the valley !
For a more productive (rushed?) schedule, in the afternoon after returning from the Salt Mines and Moray you could do a half day hike around Ollantaytambo, such as Pumamarca. Or you could allow yourself a more relaxed morning and more time at the Salt Mines and Moray, and just come back to Ollantaytambo in mid afternoon after the tour and just relax or do some of the short hikes around town.
Day 4 and Day 5 – A Two Day Trek to Soccma, Naupa Iglesia, y Inca Raccay
This is a very good trek given the short amount of time it takes to do it. We recommend it very highly. It visits at least 3 Incan sites, all of them more or less deserted yet spectacular and very different from most of the more popular sites. You will leave Ollantaytambo around 9 am in the morning of Day 4, and return later afternoon on Day 5. After a bigi celebratory dinner in town and spending the night in Ollantaytambo, it will be the big day: Here is the link to that trip: http://kbperu.com/tours/trekking/multi-day-treks/2-day/inca-raccay/.
Day 6 Time to go to Machu Picchu !
First, get your Machu Picchu entrance ticket at www.MachuPicchu.gob.pe For more information on this process see www.MachuPicchuInformation.com If you want to get an entrance ticket for Huayna Picchu, you must get them well in advance ! After you have your MP ticket, get your train ticket at www.PeruRail.com or www.IncaRail.com
Visit Machu Picchu, which is one of the 7th Wonders of the World! Enjoy, and if you are spending the night in Aguas Calientes later that evening, then by all means take your time. Bring a box lunch and snack (prohibited in the ruins but with discretion and neatness probably not a problem) and stay as late as you can. Machu Picchu gets magically empty in the hour before closing, when nearly all the travelers have headed down the mountain to Aguas Calientes. (or you can return to Ollantaytambo on the evening train.
Today would be a great day, after returning from Machu Picchu, to relax as you likely will be tired from the day before. Sleep in, and take a late breakfast up on our terrace, drinking coffee and watching the sun rays hit the Incan fortress of Ollantaytambo. After breakfast, depart for Cusco. Have the moring in Cusco for more wandering around. Try to book a flight around 1 or 2 pm so that you have the morning to relax here. We recommend, however, not booking the last flight or two out of the day. Always better to leave a few flights in case you have a problem with yours, particularily if you have a connecting flight that same evening in Lima. Be sure to ask for a seat on the right side of the plane when checking in- the mountain views are incredible !