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Walking Vacation Peru: Machu Picchu & the Sacred Valley​

Activity Level: Moderate  |  Daily Mileage: 4 – 8 mi  |  Daily Walking: 2 – 5 hr
Air package plus
11 days from only
Price includes roundtrip airfare.
Land only
8 days from only
Pre-trip Extension:
Lima · 2 nights $445

Post-trip Extension:
Peruvian Amazon · 2 nights $595
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Detailed Itinerary

Please note: For those traveling in 2015, your itinerary may vary slightly from what is presented below. 

Day 1 - Depart U.S. / Fly overnight to Peru

Depart from the U.S. and travel to Peru. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.

Day 2 - Cusco

You will arrive in Peru via Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport early this morning. You will need to clear Peruvian immigrations and customs before you transfer to your connecting flight to Cusco. Upon arrival at Cusco airport, claim your luggage and look in the arrivals hall for your VBT representative, who will be holding a VBT sign. Make certain that your VBT luggage tags are affixed to your bag so your VBT representative can identify you. Your representative will make arrangements for the transfer to your hotel in Cusco.
Once you arrive in the Cusco (10,900-foot elevation), it will prove very helpful to rest and avoid strenuous activity as your body acclimates to the altitude. Also, beware of dehydration and drink plenty of water to help avoid altitude sickness. A couple of hours' rest now will go a long way in making you more comfortable later.

VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in Cusco. You have the rest of the day to relax or to begin your exploration of the town.

Cusco and its many dining options are at your doorstep tonight.

Day 3 - All guests meet in Cusco / Transfer to the Sacred Valley / Cuyuni Community

VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leaders at the Casa Andina PC Cusco at 8:00 am. The contact information for the Casa Andina PC Cusco will be confirmed with your final documents. Please contact the Casa Andina PC Cusco to advise them of any travel delays or changes so the staff can pass the message on to your VBT Trip Leaders. We will have a short orientation during our shuttle ride (approximately 1.5 hours) to the start of our warm-up walk in the Sacred Valley. Please be dressed in your walking attire for your warm-up walk this morning when you meet your Trip Leaders. 

VBT Pre-Trip Extension and Air Package guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leaders at your Cusco hotel at 8:00 am. We will have a short orientation during our shuttle ride (approximately 1.5 hours) to the start of our warm-up walk in the Sacred Valley. Please be dressed in your walking attire for your warm-up walk this morning when you meet your Trip Leaders. 

We descend to the Sacred Valley (7,841-foot elevation), where we start our morning walk which will give us the opportunity to experience local life as it unfolds in the peaceful Andean Highlands. We begin our walk along the ancient farming paths in this primarily agricultural community. We will make various stops throughout our walk today to learn about local farming, religious ceremonies and textile production in this region.

After an included lunch, we will continue to the town of Pisac. Here we’ll visit a local market where we can view the diverse fruits and vegetables, including some of the 4,000 varieties of potatoes grown in Peru. We’ll also get a chance to interact with the vendors as they barter their wares. If you didn't pack a smaller bag take with you to Machu Picchu, this is a wonderful place to pick up a bag to use.

Tonight, enjoy a special welcome reception and dinner at our acclaimed inn.

NOTE:  Due to the logistics of getting to Machu Picchu, there are restrictions on what luggage can travel with you. Please be sure to pack a lightweight, expandable bag that can be packed within your luggage. You will need to transfer only what you need for these two overnights from your large suitcase. Your large luggage will remain in secure storage during your stay in Machu Picchu. In addition to this duffel, you are able to carry your day pack with you. 

Day 4 - Maras Salt Mines

After breakfast, we shuttle into the Andean countryside where we will walk scenic footpaths downhill to Maras village and the Maras salt mines. The terraced Inca salt pans of Salineras are still mined for salt using methods unchanged over centuries. These mines are fed by underground saltwater springs. From here, we continue to walk downhill to the Urubamba River, where we meet our shuttle to the hotel.

We have the remainder of the afternoon to relax in our comfortable accommodations, built around a former monastery before we drive to a typical Andean chicheria for dinner and an opportunity to sample some of the region's more unusual (but commonly consumed) food and drink, including chicha (corn beer).

Day 5 - Ollantaytambo

Today we walk from our hotel to the ancient Inca town of Ollantaytambo. Called just “Ollanta” for short, it is best known for its fortress perched above the village, the site of an Incan victory over the Spanish. The village is one of the few in Peru that still maintains the Inca system of urban planning. You'll feel as though you've stepped back in time as you wander the cobblestoned streets. Homes and streets here have not changed dramatically since Incan times. Enjoy one of the typical village restaurants during your lunch at leisure before we shuttle back to our hotel.

Tonight, enjoy dinner on your own at the hotel or one of the restaurants in the nearby town of Urubamba.

Day 6 - The Inca Trail / Machu Picchu

We shuttle early this morning to Ollantaytambo to catch the narrow-gauge Vistadome train. Our train ride is down the narrowing valley, which offers breathtaking views of the river and surrounding peaks.

Those who have elected to hike the Inca Trail will disembark at the “Km 104” marker (7,183 feet) to start one of the world's most iconic walks. The walk offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, cloud forests and an unforgettable entry into the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. Expect to be on the legendary trail for five hours with a mostly continuous ascent. An elevation gain and loss of about 2,000 feet and some steep stair climbing will keep you on your toes. Note that a minibus support van will not be available on the Inca Trail. You will be required to walk the entire 8 miles. A picnic break is well deserved.

All your effort is rewarded when you arrive at Intipunku, the Sun Gate (8,954 feet), the most spectacular approach to Machu Picchu from above. This was the original entrance to the “Lost City.” Take some time to take it all in! Then, continue down to our hotel located below Machu Picchu. You'll have all of tomorrow to discover the wonder of Machu Picchu, both with your Trip Leaders and independently.

For those looking for a less strenuous option – and for those unable to obtain a permit for the Inca Trail – you'll stay on the train past Km 104, arriving in Aguas Calientes in the late morning. Check into the inn and have an included lunch. You may wish to take advantage of the spa services, or walk the incredible orchid gardens at the inn. You may also take the bus up to the main entrance of Machu Picchu and hike in to meet the rest of the group, or just walk the site at your own pace. 

Day 7 - Machu Picchu

Today is yours to explore at your own pace. Early morning options include birding on the hotel grounds and taking the shuttle up to explore Machu Picchu as the sun rises – and before the day trippers arrive from Cusco. Shuttle buses operate on a regular schedule from our hotel to the ruins and back. Trip Leaders will be leading a number of guided walks around Machu Picchu, as well as in the surrounding area, including a round trip walk to Inca Bridge (1.8 miles) and to Mandor Waterfalls (4.3 miles). A scurry up nearby Huayna Picchu (9,000 feet) provides another option for a spectacular viewpoint. 

Enjoy lunch at your leisure at the café near the entry gate, in one of the restaurants in Aguas Calientes or at your hotel. 

Return to the hotel whenever you like. You may wish to continue your exploration until dusk, or return to the hotel by shuttle bus or on foot (2,000-foot decent). Enjoy recounting the day over an included dinner tonight.

Day 8 - Cusco

Enjoy a relaxing breakfast. Several walking trails begin right at the hotel or you may wish to visit the tea plantation located within the hotel grounds. Later this morning we return to Cusco through the Sacred Valley by Vistadome train.

Upon our arrival in Cusco this afternoon, we will put on our walking shoes and discover this ancient Inca capitol with a walking tour. Evidence of both the original Inca city and the Spanish colonial city established in 1533 will be pointed out as we explore Koricancha (“Temple of the Sun”), Cusco Cathedral and the San Blas district. In Incan times, San Blas was a settlement for ancient craftsmen who saw “yachay” – Quechua for “teach and learn” – as their special calling. Today, the area is famous for the unusual Baroque-style pulpit in the San Blas Church and for its artists and artisans.

Cusco and its many dining options are at your doorstep tonight.

Day 9 - Tambomachay / Puka Pukara / Sacsayhuaman

After breakfast, we transfer six miles (25 minutes) north of Cusco to begin our day. We'll trace our way on foot back in the direction of the city, visiting the most important Incan monuments. This is a spectacular area for our walks, with Andean mountain views, colorful villages and impressive remains of the Inca Empire.

First we visit Tambomachay (the highest elevation of the day at 12,500 feet), which may have fulfilled an important religious function linked to water and the regeneration of the land. Walking down a gentle slope, we'll later stop to explore the complexes of Puka Pukara, Qenqo and Laqo. Our Trip Leaders can explain more about historic religious ceremonies held here.

We find a comfortable meadow overlook to enjoy a picnic lunch, and learn about the survival of some pre-Hispanic rituals and their impact on Andean life, too.

After lunch, saving the most impressive for last, we visit Sacsayhuaman. Though only a fraction of its original size and scope, the stonework of this fortress will astound and baffle. We take a moment to look back over the orange tile rooftops of Cusco before our short transfer into the city.

There is time to soak in some last bits of Andean culture in the colorful plazas of Cusco. Tonight, we're out on the town for a festive dinner.

Day 10 - VBT Tour ends / Peruvian Amazon Extension begins

VBT No-Air Package guests: Our tour finishes in the hotel after breakfast this morning. The hotel will help you book a taxi at your own expense to the Cusco airport.

VBT Air Package: There will be a mid-morning transfer to the airport in Cusco for the flight to Lima. Upon arrival, check in to comfortable rooms for day use. Tonight, dinner is at your leisure before returning to the airport for flights departing in the late evening.

VBT Post-Trip Extension guests: You will catch a mid-morning flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado. A VBT representative meets you when you land. Register at the Butterfly House and transfer to the boarding wharf. After a 45-minute boat ride, arrive at Reserva Amazonica. Lunch is included today, and you'll have time to enjoy the extensive trail system with an interpretive guide this afternoon. This evening, join an included “River by Night” excursion, or catch a nature presentation in the Eco Center. Dinner is in the lodge dining room tonight. Note: Due to the logistics of getting to Reserva Amazonica Lodge, there are restrictions on what luggage can travel with you. Please use the small bag you brought for Machu Picchu to transfer only what you need for these two overnights from your large suitcase. Your large luggage will remain in secure storage in Puerto Maldonado.

Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

Day 11 - Air Package Guests arrive home

Flights arrive in the U.S. this morning, depending on connections. 
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