Lares Cultural Trek to Machu Picchu
A trekking and cultural adventure in the mountains outside Cusco ending
at the Inca sanctuary of Machu Picchu
Lares Cultural Trek to Machu Picchu
10 days from £2,845
If you want to experience day-to-day life in the Andes, see amazing Inca sites and learn about culture past and present, this holiday is just what you’re looking for. It combines wonderful trekking in stunning landscapes, the Inca sanctuary of Machu Picchu, modern Cusco and some fine lodging in the Sacred Valley.
An in-depth exploration of the culture and the landscape of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the Lares region outside Cusco. You certainly don’t want to miss famous sights such as Cusco and Machu Picchu, but this trip also takes you to small Andean villages and into the vast, stunning mountain scenery.
You’ll walk along ancient routes through valleys and across lofty passes, pausing to admire the snow-capped Andean peaks and panoramic views. In the villages, life has changed little over the centuries, as men and women dressed in brightly-coloured hand-woven textiles work agricultural terraces, tend animal herds and trade at local markets. There are also Inca sites to explore along the way. With the help of a driver and vehicle you’ll be able to access more remote areas than would be possible by trekking alone. The guide will be able to offer alternative hikes and activities each day according to fitness levels and personal interests, but should you prefer not to trek on any particular day you can ride in the vehicle, still enjoying the scenery. Accommodation is in comfortable lodges near small traditional communities in gorgeous settings, with all creature comforts.
All this leads to Machu Picchu, the famous ‘lost city of the Incas’, which you’ll explore with your guide. That first tantalising sight, often through swirling early morning mist and cloud, is unforgettable. As the cloud lifts, you’ll become aware of the sheer scale of the sanctuary and the insights of your guide coupled with your own imagination will bring the scene vividly to life.
Before you head for the trails you will have two nights in Cusco to acclimatise and get to know the cultures of the Incas and their Spanish conquerors. Similarly, after the trip you can wind down in the city with a choice of activities.
Lares Cultural Trek to Machu Picchu Highlights
Guided tour of the historical sites of Cusco
Trek between traditional villages, lakes and mountain passes
Flexible amounts of trekking with easy alternative options
Stay in lovely lodges while on the trek
Enjoy nourishing, specially prepared food
Explore Machu Picchu with an experienced guide
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Why not extend this trip to include the rainforest, Lake Titicaca, or other areas of Peru before or after this itinerary. Or combine with other South American destinations such as Galapagos.
DAY 1: ARRIVE LIMA
Fly to Lima today, where you'll be met and transferred to the Wyndham Costa Del Sol Lima Airport hotel, which makes a convenient overnight stop. As well as comfortable accommodation, the hotel offers a restaurant, bar, indoor swimming pool, fitness centre and spa. Relax after your flight and enjoy a good night's sleep.
DAY 2: FLY TO CUSCO
This morning you'll return to the airport for your flight to Cusco. You'll be met at Cusco by our local representative and transferred to El Mercado Hotel, a short walk from the main Plaza. You will have the rest of the day to get used to the altitude and explore some of Cusco's sights, restaurants and bars on your own. Breakfast
DAY 3: CUSCO
Today you will have an in-depth guided tour of some of Cusco’s most important sites, starting above the city at the huge fortress of Sacsayhuaman. How the massive stones were transported here in the 15th century remains a mystery. Your tour returns to the city and the artisan neighbourhood of San Blas. Next stop is the cathedral, the most impressive Spanish monument on the Plaza de Armas. Finally you will see the Coricancha, the Inca’s Temple of the Sun, which the Spaniards converted into the convent of Santo Domingo. All the while you will see how the masterful Inca stonework has been incorporated into later structures. The afternoon is yours to explore at will. Breakfast
DAY 4: EXPLORING PISAC
After breakfast you will be collected from El Mercado and driven to the Sacred Valley for the start of the shared cultural trek. You will join other travellers (min 2 / max 16 people) and a guide for the next 4 days. The morning’s options are either a three-hour trek from Amaru to Viacha (highest point 4328m), or a visit to the textile centre at Awanakancha followed by the market at Pisac. Both groups will meet in Viacha to learn about potato cultivation and share a traditional lunch, after which you have the choice of trekking or being driven to Pisac’s magnificent archaeological site, high above the town. Spend the night at Lamay Lodge (2958m). Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
DAY 5: INTO THE HEART OF LARES
After exploring the town of Lamay, you will be driven to the Lares Valley where the first stop is the archaeological site of Ancasmarca. For the afternoon you can choose again between a cultural activity or, today, two different treks. The inhabitants of the remote village of Choquecancha are expert weavers and, if you take this option, they will show you their craft. Alternatively, you can choose between a two-and-a-half hour, or a more challenging four-hour trek, reaching 3839m and 4219m respectively. All groups join for the night at the Huacahuasi Lodge (3835m), a partnership between the local community and the tour operator. Breakfast, lunch (box lunch for trekkers), dinner
DAY 6: HUACAHUASI TO OLLANTAYTAMBO
From Huacahuasi we drive to the community Huilloc and visit an Andean trout farm. If you choose to trek, it’s three hours to Pumamarka and its archaeological site. If not trekking, from Huilloc you will have a guided tour of the nearby ruins at Marcacocha and will meet local shepherds, then drive to Pumamarka to join the others for a picnic lunch and a guided tour of the site. The afternoon’s alternatives are a three-hour hike to the town of Ollantaytambo, or take the vehicle to the town and explore the old quarter’s alleys and passages, laid out by the Incas. Dinner and lodging are at the Kuychi Rumi Lodge. Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner.
DAY 7: OLLANTAYTAMBO TO MACHU PICCHU
The energetic among you can take an early hike to the Inca storage [buildings] high above the town for stunning views of Ollantaytambo’s archaeological site and the valley below. Then the whole group will have a detailed guided tour of the ruins, with their ceremonial complex, baths and other features. At midday, you take the train to Aguas Calientes, eating lunch on board, before settling in at the Inkaterra Pueblo Hotel, below the Machu Picchu sanctuary. Breakfast, box lunch, dinner.
DAY 8: MACHU PICCHU TO CUSCO
After an early breakfast you'll take the bus up to Machu Picchu where your guide will give you a 2-hour walking tour of the citadel, telling you about its history and letting you soak up the special atmosphere of the ruins. If you want, and subject to permits, you'll have the chance to climb either the steep Inca staircase of Huayna Picchu, or the path up Machu Picchu mountain, in either case a tough 2-and-a-half-hour hike that is rewarded by magnificent views of the site and surrounding mountains. You'll return to the hotel in Aguas Calientes for lunch, later taking the train to Ollantaytambo. From here it's a 1-2 hour drive back to Cusco, arriving around 7-8pm, where you'll say goodbye to your small group, and be dropped off at El Mercado hotel. Breakfast, lunch
DAY 9: ACTIVITIES IN CUSCO
There are a couple of choices today depending on your interests. Both choices can be done as a morning or afternoon activity.
Option 1 is a culinary experience with a market visit and a rooftop kitchen. You will be picked up from the hotel for either a lunch or dinner experience. First you head for the traditional San Pedro market where ingredients will be purchased. Then it’s on to the 11th floor at Rooftop Kitchen. This modern kitchen overlooks the city and here you are shown how typical Peruvian dishes are prepared. You’ll have great fun preparing 3 courses and of course get to eat them, served with a glass of wine.
Option 2 is an art trail and ceramic workshop. This is also a half day activity and can be done in the morning or afternoon. The Art Trail is a project to preserve Cusco’s traditional arts and workshops. You’ll learn the stories behind traditional Andean elements such as the ´Torito de Pucará´; a figure charged with symbolism in the Andean world and that is usually placed on the roofs of houses in the mountain region. You get to take part in the Cusco Colonial Glazed Ceramics workshop, a traditional technique that involves the making ceramic plates, vessels, cups and other shapes that are painted and finely finished with a layer of enamel. Art Trail also offers Painting and Colonial Gold Leaf application workshops. Here you would paint traditional figures such as the horses or the Torito de Pucará, with the characteristic regional colours and finish decorating it with gold leaf, an old technique that Art Trail has revived; the result is a beautiful personalised piece of art. Both workshops are guided by renowned Cusco artists and last two hours each, in the morning or afternoon hours.
Let us know at the time of booking which option appeals to you. The rest of the day will be free for you to enjoy Cusco at your own pace.
Overnight El Mercado
Breakfast, and lunch or dinner if you choose the culinary option.
DAY 10: CUSCO TO LIMA, FLIGHT HOME
You will be taken to Cusco airport today for the flight back to Lima where you’ll connect with your flight home. Breakfast
Guide price from (pp sharing): 2019 prices from £2,845 based on travel throughout 2019.
Includes: 9 nights accommodation in the properties mentioned; private transfers; private sightseeing tours with an English-speaking guide in Cusco; entrance fees in Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu; return train ticket to Machu Picchu; fully-supported shared trekking/cultural adventure itinerary from day 4 to 8 with shared guiding services; meals as indicated in the itinerary.
Excludes: International and domestic flight (we would normally book these for you and add this to the package); visas (not currently required by British passport holders); insurance; Huayna Picchu entrance; meals not mentioned as included; drinks; tips; personal expenses such as laundry.
The climate in the Andes varies according to the altitude. In general though, the rainy season is from December to March, but it varies in intensity from area to area and from year to year. For most people the best time to come to the Andes is between June and September. Days are mostly dry and sunny, but it can be cold at night. April and May, after the rains, and October and November are also good months to visit the Andes. Being at high altitude you will need to pack for variable weather at any time of year.
Note that June is the busiest months for festivals in Cusco, including the Inca festival of Inti Raymi, so there will be high tourist occupancy then.
Our lodge treks can be taken from March to December.
On the Pacific coast of Peru, the climate is sub-tropical and dry. Temperatures are warmest in the summer from December to March, when they can reach up to 30°c. The winter lasts from June to September, when temperatures can drop to 15°c and days are usually misty (locally called garúa) and damp. You are more likely to experience some rain in these months.
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Call: 01473 599008