Welcome to Cusco, capital of the Inca Empire and one of the most beautiful cities on Earth! We’ll greet you at the Cusco airport, and head straight to our hotel to freshen up, before heading out for a traditional Peruvian meal at a local favourite restaurant at 1pm. In the afternoon your guide will lead a relaxed walking tour around Cusco’s stunning historic centre – it’s important to take it easy if you’ve arrived from sea level today, as you need to acclimatise to Cusco’s 11,200 feet altitude. We’ll have a light dinner and an early night. Get plenty of rest – tomorrow’s a big day!
We’re up and at ‘em early this morning to make our way to the rural community of Patabamba. Today we’ll be not only helping the villagers install clean stoves in their homes, but also sharing their daily life with them. Along with building the stoves, and sharing meals with the locals, you can also help the men with whatever they’re up to in the fields. At this time of year they’ll most likely be digging by hand and driving ploughs (with cattle) to prepare the earth for the next growing season.
Some background about the Clean Stove Project: In rural communities cooking is done over a basic wood-fired oven made from mud and bricks. There’s no chimney (just a small hole in the roof), so over time the walls become blackened with smoke. Worse, families end up with respiratory illnesses, cataracts and other health problems and infant mortality rates are directly affected.
Our Clean Stove Project allows you to work in the homes of rural Quechua families, installing stoves and smoke-free chimneys. In addition to creating a healthier living environment for the members of the community, this saves the families money on wood and help the environment at the same time.
What we love about this project is that it’s real work that has real benefit to the people. The Clean Stove Project creates true value, positive change, and the communities are very grateful for the efforts to help them. It’s a project we’re proud to be involved with, and our guests feel a great sense of satisfaction and achievement from having been involved with it as well.
The sunny, incredibly scenic floodplain between Pisac and Ollantaytambo in the valley of the Urubamba River is known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Pisac is a tiny, cobbled Inca village which is home to the largest handicraft market in the region and a huge Inca fortress. We’ll explore both, then set off into the Sacred Valley. We’ll need frequent photo stops as we pass still-working Inca terracing, irrigation canals, and awesome mountain vistas. Our destination is Ollantaytambo, perhaps the most perfectly preserved of all Inca towns, a maze of cobbled alleyways and sun-drenched plazas presided over by a spectacular, llama-shaped ruin.
This is our call for best all round day trip in the region, combining the breathtaking sight that is Salineras with a truly wonderful bike ride suitable for all ability levels, all with continuous views of the stunning central cordillera of the Andes.
We’ll warm up with a ride through farmland and rolling hills (Andean flat!) from near Chinchero to Maras – three deep, terraced amphitheatres where the Incas tried out different crops at different altitudes and angles to the sun. Salineras is even better – a still-working ancient salt factory that’s as beautiful as it is fascinating, with a patchwork of colored pools twinkling under the sun. In between the two is an intermediate level ride (or you can walk it) with great range of terrain, consistent downhill, and the impressive array of options that led our bike guru Ronald to name it ‘the Classroom’.
We’ll get up very early this morning to take the bus to Kilometre 82, the start of the Inca Trail. The hike begins in the Sacred Valley as we follow the Urubamba River, climbing ever higher and eventually heading off up the Cusicacha Valley, through semi-arid forest and farming villages, to Wayllabamba, where we’ll camp for the night.
Most of our walking time today is taken up by a stiff 3,940 foot hike up to Warmiwayñusca (Dead Woman’s Pass), the highest point of the Inca Trail. From here if it’s clear we’ll enjoy incredible views back the way we came, and onwards towards the distant, snowcapped Vilcabamba Range. Then we descend steeply into Pacaymayo, our campsite for the night with one of the best views in the Andes.
Today’s hike takes us through some of the most stunning scenery in Peru, with cloud forest, orchids, hummingbirds and mountains on all sides, and to three gorgeous little ruins – Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, and Wiñaywayna, next to the evening’s campsite. Along the way we cross the watershed of the Andes – this is one of the best days trekking in the world.
An early start rewards us with sunrise at Machu Picchu – a peak moment for anyone. A spectacular stone city surrounded by incredibly steep, incredibly green mountains, Machu Picchu needs no introduction and is deservedly one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Your trip leader will take you on a guided tour – a necessary start to orient you in this massive site – then you’ll have plenty of time to explore the site and some of the surrounding peaks on your own before we catch the train back to Cusco for the night.
Your morning is free to sleep in or get a massage after your four-day hike. Use your rest time wisely because at 11am sharp we’ll meet in the hotel foyer for a pre-planned team-building activity, The Aspiring Inca! You will immediately be assigned to your predetermined team, instructions given, and the event will begin. If you're a fan of The Amazing Race, this will be just your cuppa tea! Get ready for an adrenaline pumping good time as you dash around Cusco, getting clues and completing tasks with your group while learning about Inca culture, in a race against time!
In the evening we'll have our final dinner together before heading out for a big night on the town!
Your dedicated guides are on hand this morning to help with shopping, last minute missions and hangovers! They'l wave you off at the airport as you each depart. Thank you and hasta pronto!