For the discerning traveller who wants to get under the skin of this magical region of the world, we suggest the Mountain Lodges of Peru Sacred Valley & Lares Adventure. One of the most beautiful trails of the Cuzco region, this journey takes you through the Urubamba Valley, also known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Travelling through the remote passes of the less visited Lares region you will encounter traditional weavers in colourful Peruvian dress, local farmers and herds of alpacas and llamas. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about and meet the Andean highland communities, which have remarkably remained the same for centuries. Your expert guide will share with you the knowledge of natural history, culture and local traditions as they takes you to sites steeped in fascinating history. You'll visit the Inca sites of Pisac, home to the remarkable stone structures Ollantaytambo, where the rebel leader Manco Inca defeated the Spanish before arriving at Machu Picchu, the crowning glory of the Incas and the archaeological wonder of South America.
Those choosing the trekking options will come across beautiful scenes of cascading waterfalls, glittering snow peaks and crystal clear turquoise glaciers lakes; Peru's untouched wilderness at its absolute best. All of your mountain lodges are placed in the middle of this dramatic and dazzling nature, providing the ideal rest and relaxation sanctuary at the end of your long days.
Day 1 Depart the UK for your overnight flight to Cuzco, via Lima.
Day 2 Arrival to the Peruvian Highlands and Inca capital of Cuzco. Immerse yourself into this wonderful city and culture with a stay at Mountain Lodges of Peru's hotel El Mercado Tunqui located just a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas main square. A historic building and site of a former market the hotel exudes an aura of history with modern, warm touches. El Mercado Tunqui has its own restaurant serving typical Andean cuisine which can be enjoyed inside or al fresco in the courtyard with a pisco sour from the bar.
Day 3 A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cuzco is a labyrinthine of cobblestone streets. Explore the city with your local guide who will introduce you to the main sites, bringing them alive with Incan history. At the heart of the city is the Plaza de Armas, flanked with colonial buildings such as the imposing Cathedral and the beautiful Church of la Compania de Jesus. Koricancha Temple is an old Incan palace and the the main centre for the worship of the sun god, Inti. Overlooking the city is the majestic Sacsayhuaman Fortress, built of enormous stone blocks, all shaped and carved by the Incas.
Day 4 Delve deeper into the Inca history, at the historic sites of Qenko, Puca-Pucara and Tambomachy or at the Regional History Museum. Wander to the San Blas neighbourhood, atmospheric, picturesque and lined with artists' studios and artisans' workshops. Many of the streets are pedestrian only featuring typical cafes for a soothing cup of coca tea. Walk to the plaza at the highest point of the neighbourhood for fantastic views over the city. At the right of Cuesta San Blas is the little white Templo de San Blas, said to be the oldest in the city.
Day 5 Start your adventure departing Cuzco for the Sacred Valley of the Incas. As you leave the city, admire the lush green fields surrounded by the snow capped peaks of the Andes. Visit the authentic village of Chinchero where the main square is filled with pretty, faded floral frescoes and religious designs with a smart 17th century church. Explore the archeological site where the colonial building lie atop Inca foundations. In the afternoon, choose from a moderate to challenging hike from Taucca to Huchuyqosqo (approx 6 hours) or a visit to the Moray, an Inca agricultural site and the salt mines at Maras.
Day 6 Choose from a variety of activities in the morning all ending at the isolated local community of Viacha, near the town of Pisac . The journey can be done by bus, biking along the Urubamba River from Lamay or by moderate trek from the local community of Amaru. Trekking takes approx 3 hours, surrounded by amazing mountain views. A warm welcome awaits at Viacha where you will learn about their artisanal potato farming techniques and enjoy a traditional 'Pachamanca' meal cooked under hot stones. After your hearty Andean lunch visit the archaeological complex at Pisac.
Day 7 Venture deeper into the rich Andean tapestry with an exploration of the Lares Valley. A scenic drive through the mountains, know as the 'Inca Weavers Trail' takes you to the remote archaeological site of Ancasmarca. After lunch in the town of Lares choose your activity for the afternoon. For culture, visit the town of Choquecancha with the colourful local weavers and the historic church. Those feeling more active can choose from two hikes, varying in length, to the town of Huacahuasi.
Day 8 The tight knit community of Huacahuasi has a rich heritage. Choose to spend the day immersed in the daily life of the villagers from the traditional activities, listening to the expert weavers and farmers sharing their stories with an explanation info the traditional Incan symbols. Learn about traditional cooking methods as you prepare a typically Peruvian feast for lunch. The alternate option is a challenging all day hike through the remote mountains on the 'Trail of 1000 Lakes'. Trek over majestic mountain passes, wonder at the glistening lakes and enjoy the company of the local llamas and alpacas.
Day 9 For those not wishing to hike, spend some additional time in the village of Huacahuasi before driving to the Sacred Valley. En-route visit a traditional farmers market and a Pre Inca and Inca cultural museum. Lunch at a countryside restaurant before a short tour at Ollantaytambo. Admire the scenery by mountain bike arriving to the Sacred Valley for lunch. or get on your walking boots for a spectacular all day hike through the mountains. The highest mountain pass is 4464m, the view breathtaking with lunch at the Ipsaycocha Lake, almost enticing enough for a swim.
Day 10 Early risers can choose from an easy or moderate hike to Pinkuylluna Mountain and the Inca storage structures high above Ollantaytambo. There is a magnificent view of the town along with the meandering valley. With the group visit one of the Incas most important ceremonial centres at Ollantaytambo. Feel the mystical history of the site as you tour the temple and learn about the intricate architectural planning. Wind your way through the Andes by train journey along the Urubamba River to Aguas Calientes, the town closest to Machu Picchu.
Day 11 Early rise for the highlight of your trip, a visit to the magical citadel of Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. At the heart of Machu Picchu lies the Torreon (Sun Temple) the main ceremonial and astronomical centre of the site. There is the option of climbing Huayna Picchu Mountain for a different perspective of this wondrous city and on a clear day views as far as the edge of the Amazon basin. Afternoon scenic train journey through the majestic Andes, returning to Cuzco and the option of soothing your weary muscles with a massage at El Mercado Tunqui.
Day 12 Depart Cuzco for your journey back to the UK.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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