Day 1: Arrive Lima
Welcome to Peru! You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel where you are free to relax or set out to wander around Miraflores, the area of Lima where our hotel is located. Some of Lima's best galleries, shops and restaurants can be found in this area. Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima is the oldest capital in South America, with a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture.
Day 2: To Puerto Maldonado
It's an early morning wake-up call for the short drive to the airport and flight to Puerto Maldonado, a jungle frontier town. Once we've dropped our main bags at the lodge office, we'll head to the wharf for a river journey to our lodge. Bird life here is abundant, and dependent on the weather and river height, you may see horned screamers, raptors, plovers, terns, macaws, parrots, kingfishers and toucans. In the afternoon, board a catamaran to explore the western side of the lake. Sleep will come easy tonight as you are serenaded by a chorus of jungle noises in the lodge's comfortable rooms.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 3: Puerto Maldonado
For those willing to rise early, the sunrise over the shore of the lake is an incredible sight. Lake Sandoval's ecosystem of calm waters makes it home to exuberant fauna, including giant otters, caiman and shansho, an exotic bird with a prehistoric appearance. After breakfast, set out through the jungle to see the wild chestnut trees, an important source of income for the local communities. Here we will learn the harvesting, packaging and trading process of the nuts. After lunch at the lodge, visit the lake to observe the various monkey species, including the cheeky capuchins. A nighttime tour will give you new perspective on the jungle as the nocturnal animals come to life, especially the caiman who you may see with their eyes above the water.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 4: To Cusco
An early morning departure takes us downriver to Puerto Maldonado and to the airport for a flight to Cusco (3400m), arriving midday. Acclimatisation is key, so it is essential to spend time in Cusco to prepare for the altitude of the Salcantay trek. After transferring to the hotel the rest of the day is free for you to spend at leisure.
Day 5: Cusco
Today is reserved for a tour of Cusco, where every alleyway entered and corner turned brings another surprise in the form of the superbly constructed Inca walls or the more architecturally extravagant colonial churches and palaces. The city, once capital of the extensive Inca Empire, has seen many changes since Francisco Pizarro's men took the city with such apparent ease in 1533. We'll visit the local market, selling everything from traditional Andean food to flowers, before visiting the Choco Museum to enjoy the chocolate workshop. Moving on to the monolithic walls of Sacsayhuaman, you will be amazed by the stunning masterpiece of Inca architecture where Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) is held on June 24th each year.
Day 6: Cusco and Urubamba
Departing Cusco we travel to Chinchero, one of the most important towns in Inca times and believed to be the mystical birthplace of the rainbow. The most striking remnant of this period is the massive stone wall in the main plaza which has ten trapezoidal niches. You will also find beautiful views overlooking the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with the Cordillera Vilcabamba and the snowcapped peak of Salcantay dominating the western horizon. It's then on to Moray and Maras, where the views are surreal the the salt-producing center, made up of over 3000 salt pools carved into the mountain side and dating back to to pre-Inca times, are sure to catch your attention.
Day 7: Urubamba
Today marks another beautiful day in the Sacred Valley, with plenty of time to visit the enthralling citadels, fortresses and temple ruins of Ollantaytambo. The village itself is a fascinating mixture of Inca and colonial architecture. In good weather we can enjoy some short walks through the valley - a good way to prepare for the coming days. We will also visit the Willoq community, a settlement that will give you insight into local traditions and culture.
Day 8: Start Salkantay trek, walk to Soraypampa
After breakfast, visit the Tarawasi Archaeological Site near the town of Limatambo. Passing through the mountain village of Mollepata, we'll stop for coffee before ascending the winding mountain road to Challacancha (3870m). Here, we will meet our team and begin the trek to Soraypampa (3900m). After lunch, continue climbing towards Humantay Lake (3869m), before heading back to Soraypampa to set up camp for the night. From here, we can enjoy magnificent views of Mt Salcantay (6270m), one of the most sacred peaks in Inca mythology.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 9: Trek to Andenes
Today's path is a highlight of the Salcantay trek, climbing up to Salcantay Pass (4638m), the highest point on the trail. The pass provides incredible views of the snowcapped Vilcabamba Mountain Range, with the glaciated south face of Salcantay towering above. From the pass we descend towards Wayracmachay for lunch and continue along the left bank of the Salcantay River. Here you will notice the landscape becoming increasingly green, changing from highland to jungle and cloud forest. As we arrive at the second campsite at Andenes (2890m), you will feel the warm air rising from the jungle accompanied by colourful butterflies and striking orchids.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 10: Trek to Lucmabamba
Today we will hike along the Santa Teresa River Valley, through more populated rural areas, passing through banana, granadilla, avocado and coffee plantations. A two hours walk after lunch takes us to a meeting point where we will travel via private vehicle (approx. 30 min) to the beginning of the Llactapata Inca Trail. From the head of the newly restored Inca Trail we make our way on foot to our last campsite at Lucmabamba. In the evening, enjoy coffee tasting with our host, a local family.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 11: Complete trek, transfer to Aguas Calientes
Begin the day with an uphill climb to Llactapata Pass (2,735m) before descending to the archaeological complex of the same name. Here, you can take in the distant but spectacular view of Machu Picchu Sanctuary from the southeast, a view few travelers get the chance to admire. Later we begin the final descent to the Aobamba River through lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations. Upon arrival at the Hydroelectric Power Station, we board the train to Aguas Calientes where we spend the night.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 12: Machu Picchu
After an early breakfast, we make our way to the bus station for the ride up to Machu Picchu. The guided tour of the sanctuary lasts two hours, leaving you with free time to explore the fascinating site at your leisure. For those interested in seeing Machu Picchu from another vantage point, permits to climb Huayna Picchu can be organised. After returning to Aguas Calientes by bus, board the train to Ollantaytambo where we will drive back to Cusco and transfer to the hotel.
Day 13: Trip ends Cusco
The trip ends after breakfast, leaving you free to head home or continue the journey on your own. For those travelling today, transfers to the airport can be arranged.