On this exclusive journey with National Geographic we'll explore the Andean town of Cusco, follow the Urubamba River to Ollantaytambo and undertake arguably the best short trek alternative to the classic Inca Trail. Our Salcantay Trek follows an ancient Inca trail located in the same region as the Inca Trail where dramatic mountain scenery is complemented with lush sub tropical jungle. There are also two very interesting Inca sites on this route one on the drive to the trailhead and another on the last day of the trail. These add a further dimension to this trek which also includes spectacular close up views of Mount Salcantay regarded by the locals as sacred and certainly one of the most stunning snowpeaks in the Peruvian Andes. The highest point on this alternative trek is the Salcantay Pass at 4,638m which is slightly higher than the highest point on the classic Inca Trail at Warmihuañusca Pass at 4,200m. After spending a night at the stunning Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, we'll discover the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu before returning to Cusco.
On arrival into Lima you will be met and transferred to Miraflores, Lima's exclusive residential and upscale shopping districts of Lima. Overnight Casa Andina Premium
Today you will enjoy a city tour of Lima as well as visit the incredible and beautiful Larco Museum. The Larco Museum, housed in an 18th-century vice-royal building built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid, is a privately owned collection that showcases chronological galleries that provide a thorough overview of 4,000 years of Peruvian pre-Columbian history. It also houses one of the largest, best-presented displays of ceramics in Lima. We'll enjoy a private Curator led tour before taking our lunch in the Larco Museum restaurant, set amongst the beautiful grounds of the Museum. Overnight Casa Andina Premium, Lima
This morning we will take an early flight to Cusco at 11,200' (3,400m). You'll be met on arrival and will head down into the Sacred Valley. The valley actually follows the course of the famous Urubamba River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River. During our time in the valley we visit its enthralling citadels, fortresses and temple ruins including the site at Ollantaytambo. The village itself is a fascinating mixture of Inca and colonial architecture. Our accommodation is in the beatutiful El Albergue Hotel, situated at the railway station! After some time at lesiure and perhaps having had an opportunity to wander around the town, dinner will be served at our hotel. Overnight El Albergue.
Today we will have a guided tour of the village, fortress and citadel of Ollantaytambo. We'll enjoy a specially prepared traditional lunch (Pachamanca) and in the later afternoon visit the Destileria Andina where you will taste and learn about the Andean spirits. Overnight at El Albergue.
We'll return to Cusco today visiting the Pisac Ruins and Pisac market en-route. WE'll stope for lunch at the beuatiful Sonesta Posada Yucay and on arrival into Cusco will visit the Inkary Museum which showcases the important pre-Columbian cultures of Peru. Overnight Casa Andina Premium.
Every alleyway we enter or corner we turn brings another surprise or enigma 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 November 1533. We also take a short drive to visit the monolithic walls of Sacsayhuaman, spectacularly set above the city. In the afternoon you may have time to explore some of the central parts of the city and a chance to look at some of the great varieties of local craft work on sale in open air stalls and shops. In the late afternoon we'll prepare for our trek, commencing tomorrow. Overnight Casa Andina Premium.
After an early breakfast we head out of Cusco towards the mountain village of Mollepata, where we stop for coffee before ascending a winding mountain road to Challacancha (3,870m). Here we will meet our mule driver and begin our trek to Soraypampa (3,900m) where we have lunch. Continue the climb towards Humantay Lake (3,869m). Return back to Soraypampa, which will be the first campsite, and from where we enjoy magnificent views of Salcantay Mountain (6,270m). One of the most sacred peaks in Inca mythology. Overnight: camp
This is the main day! After an early breakfast, we hike up to the highest point on the trek which is the Salcantay Pass (4,638m). There we will stop to enjoy the amazing views of snowcapped peaks of the Vilcabamba Mountain Range in every direction, and the glaciated south face of Salcantay towering above us, where Andean condors can be seen. From the pass we descend towards Wayracmachay to lunch and then continue our descent along the left bank of the Salcantay River. Observe the landscape become increasingly green, changing from highland to jungle or cloud forest. Feel the warm air rising from the jungle, accompanied by colourful butterflies and striking orchids, while arriving to the second camp at Andenes (2,890m), a beautiful spot surrounded with vegetation. Overnight: camp
Today we will hike along the Santa Teresa River Valley, through more populated rural areas. We pass through banana, granadilla, avocado and coffee plantations. A hot picnic lunch is served along the way. After lunch, we hike for about 2 hours before a private vehicle meets us for a short drive to the beginning of the Llactapata Inca Trail (30min approx). From the head of the newly restored Inca Trail we easily make our way to the last campsite at Lucmabamba. In the evening we try some of the local coffee with our host, a local family. Dinner will be served and then spend the night in the camp. Overnight: camp
After breakfast, we will head uphill for 2-3 hours towards Llactapata Pass (2,735m) and descend to the archaeological complex of the same name. Enjoy a distant but spectacular view of Machu Picchu Sanctuary from the southeast, a view few travelers get the chance to admire. Lunch is served in a scenic viewpoint, looking out to Machu Picchu. Later we begin the final descent to the Aobamba River through lush bamboo forests, orchards and coffee plantations. Finally, we will get to the Hydroelectric Power Station, to board the train to Aguas Calientes where we spend the night. Overnight at the stunning Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
Visit Machu Picchu + Return to Cusco. Farewell dinner at Baco restaurant After an early breakfast, we make our way back up to Machu Picchu. The guided tour of the sanctuary lasts 2 hours and at the end, you will have another 2 hours in the company of the guide to explore this fascinating site. In the afternoon we depart from Machu Picchu for the train ride back to Ollantaytambo where we transfer to our vehicle for the drive back to Cusco. This evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner at Baco restaurant. Overnight Casa Andina Premium.
Our trip concludes after breakfast his morning. You will be transferred to teh airport for your onward arrangements.
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