Gain an intimate understanding of centuries-old customs and traditions
Visit historic sites in lively Cusco during your stay at a boutique hotel
Sample Peruvian cuisine and better understand its cultural impact
Discover the rich artistry of the Lares region’s weavings
REI Women’s Adventure—designed for women, guided by women
For travelers and history buffs who want an active experience—and hikers who want an authentic experience of Peruvian history and culture—this trip begins in the ancient city of Cusco, with labyrinthine Inca stonework almost everywhere you turn. We step into the past, exploring the Sun Temple, the Plaza des Armas and the Inca Museum, while a bean-to-bar chocolate workshop gives us the flavor of contemporary Peru. Then we journey into the Andes and the heart of the fallen Inca Empire.
Hikes grant us heart-pounding views of two snow-capped giants, Ausangate and Salcantay, both with summits over 20,000 feet. Lodge stays and village visits connect us with the soul of the Lares region, legendary for the exquisite artistry of the local women’s weaving. We connect deeply with this little-known destination that typical tourists never see. Our journey reaches its zenith as we enter the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu. Time forgot this place, but you never will.
Our trip begins today in Cusco, Peru (11,250′). Upon arrival in Cusco, we will be met by our local guide at our centrally located hotel where we’ll have a brief orientation meeting. We have most of the morning to relax and acclimatize before setting out on a tour to the archaeological sites of Tipon and Pikillacta. Tipon has numerous impressive terraces that are still being used today. It is one of the most elaborate examples of agricultural terracing created by the Incas. Pikillacta provides an excellent blueprint of an ancient pre-Incan city that had a population estimated in the thousands. Dinner included.
After breakfast we make our way to the colorful town of Chinchero with its colonial buildings, cobbled streets and beautiful churches. Tonight we spend our first night at Lamay Lodge (9649′). All meals included.
Easy active option (Level 2): Extended visit in Chinchero, then a guided tour of Moray Inca Agricultural Site and the Maras Salt Mines. Optional hike to Pichingoto. Walking 2-3 hours.
Moderate option (Level 3): After passing impressive Inca walls, we hike downhill using an original Inca trail that eventually leads to the Rio Vilcanota in the Sacred Valley. Hiking: 3.5 hours, 5 miles, 2,725′ elevation loss.
Today’s special Pachamanca lunch will be enjoyed by all in the village of Viacha. Tonight we return back to our lodging. All meals included.
Easy active option (Level 2): Visit the town of Pisaq and market. Short drive to village of Viacha. Enjoy a traditional Pachamanca meal, cooked under hot stones. Walk down to Pisaq ruins. Drive to lodge. Afternoon free. Walking 1-2.5 hours.
Moderate option (Level 3): Hike from the village of Amaru high up in the Andes over Challwaccasa Pass (14,170′). Head downhill to the community of Viacha where we enjoy a well-deserved lunch and rest. Later, our hike leads us to a bird’s-eye view of the stunning archaeological site of Pisac. After a tour of the ruins, we transfer back to our lodging for the night. Hiking: 6 hours, 5.1 miles. 1,170′ elevation gain /2,740′ loss.
Today’s journey begins with an hour’s transfer to Ancasmarca, where we explore an old Inca site that features a variety of ancient food storages, dwellings and farming areas. After today’s activities, we end at Huacawasi Lodge. All meals included.
Easy active option (Level 2): Drive to archaeological site of Ancasmarca and tour the ruins. Continue on to Choquecancha and visit more Inca ruins. Lunch in town. Arrive at lodge. Walking 1-2 hours.
Moderate option (Level 3): Two-hour drive to Quelquena. Picnic lunch en route. Hike begins from the village of Quelquena. Hiking: 2-3 hours, 2 miles. 941’ elevation gain/278’ elevation loss.
Vigorous option (Level 4): Begin hike at Cucani. Hike for about two hours to Cruzccasa Pass (13,740′). From the pass, hike a one-hour descent to picnic lunch spot. Another hour’s hike brings us to Huacawasi. Hiking: 4 hours. 3.4 miles. 1,437′ elevation gain/1,240′ elevation loss
Today we immerse ourselves in this remote area. Lodging tonight is at Haucawasi. All meals included.
Easy active option (Level 2): Visit the community of Huacawasi and meet local people in their homes. Hike to a nearby waterfall. Afternoon free to enjoy personal hot tubs or curl up with a good book. Walking 1-2 hours.
Moderate option (Level 3): Hike from waterfall to alpine lake. 4.5 miles roundtrip, 1,450’ elevation gain/loss.
Vigorous option (Level 4): Hike over two mountain passes at an elevation of over 14,000’. Hiking: 7 hours, 5.4 miles, 1,978′ elevation gain/2601′ loss.
This morning prepare your luggage before heading out on your excursion. Tonight’s lodging is in Ollantaytambo. All meals included.
Easy active option (Level 2): Depart lodge for Sacred Valley. Visit the market of Calca. Afterwards walk through an informative cultural museum. Afternoon free time to explore Ollantaytambo. Walking 2-3 hours.
Moderate option (Level 3): Easygoing hike from Lares Pass through a beautiful canyon down to the local community of Totora. After a barbeque lunch, guests can opt to explore more of the Sacred Valley on a mountain bike. This activity has an additional cost that can be paid in-country. Hiking: 2-3 hours, 4 miles. 10’ elevation gain/1,810’ elevation loss. Biking 2 hours on mostly flat terrain.
Vigorous option (Level 4): Hike over a mountain pass at an elevation of 14,646’. End in Patacancha Village. Our vehicle will meet us here to take us to the town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. Hiking: 7.5 hours, 8 miles. 2,250′ elevation gain/2,211′ elevation loss
After breakfast we begin with a visit to the Inca ruins of Ollantaytambo, an impressive, well-preserved archaeological site dating from the late 15th century. In fact, it has some of the oldest continuously occupied dwellings in South America. Ollantaytambo was the estate of Emperor Pachacutec who conquered the region and who, most archaeologists now believe, is the reason Machu Picchu was built. Later this morning we board our train for a 1.5-hour ride to the small town of Aguas Calientes near Machu Picchu and enjoy a boxed lunch along the way. After checking into our hotel, we enjoy an afternoon visit to Machu Picchu Sanctuary. All meals included.
This morning we head back up to Machu Picchu for another full day of exploration. After more site visits, we have several options: a hike to the dramatic viewpoint of Intipunku (the Sun’s Gateway), an easy walk to an ancient Inca drawbridge, a more vigorous hike to the Temple of the Moon, or an ascent up Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, based on permit availability. The option to return to the hotel for a massage or souvenir shopping is possible too. Our lodging is at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel for a second night. All meals included.
Hiking: Optional Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain hike may be unguided and is steep with some exposure. Permits are limited. An alternative optional hike may be available if Huayna Picchu permits cannot be obtained.
We board the train back to Cusco, arriving in the afternoon. After checking into our hotel, the afternoon is free to explore the city of Cusco or shop for any last-minute souvenirs. Tonight we’ll toast to new friendships and exchange stories from our week of hiking in the beautiful Andes. Overnight in Cusco. All meals included.
After breakfast, we head to the airport for our departing flights. Trip members can opt to return to Lima for connecting flights home or extend their travels in Peru. Breakfast included.
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