Ride through the Andres to ancient Inca sites; Hike up to one of the Sacred Valley’s most epic and remote Inca sites with no one else around; Bike five thousand feet (all downhill :) on a paved road coming off the 14,500 foot high pass at the Continental Divide; mingle with the locals and children in high Andean villages; finish each day with local dinners, and of course a visit to one of the 7 Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu.
7 days, 6 nights starting in Cusco, Peru.
Arrive to Cusco airport where our private vehicle, driver, and English-speaking guide will all be waiting for you! Beautiful, two hour drive transfer to your hotel in Ollantaytambo with a few photo stops along the scenic drive. Check into your hotel, relax, and then go check out this incredible Incan town, one of the oldest in all of the Americas, either on your own or with your knowledgeable local guide.
After breakfast of local fresh fruit, coffee, breads and eggs, we will head out for a long and fun day of bicycling and exploring. We will begin by heading up in our van to the Continental Divide of South America, at over 14,000 feet above sea level, to the pass of Abra Malaga. After getting our selfies on at the top, we will bicycle down the paved road, It plunges down nearly 5,000 feet over approximately forty kilometers of gravity-fed goodness. We will pass by local Andean farmers and their herds of sheep and llamas, waterfalls, half-covered Inca sites, and more. After a tasty, locally sourced lunch in one of our favorite restaurants, we will head over to the Urubamba, Salt Mines of Maras, and Moray region.
Inti Punku means “Sun Gate” in Quechua, the language of the Incas, and that is where we are going today. It is located on a hilltop just outside of Ollantaytambo, with incredible views in all directions from the top. It is a fierce, three thousand foot climb up a trail about four miles long. There is also the option of renting a horse for the ascent if you prefer. Once we get to the top, you will be treated to an Incan archaeology site that very few tourists ever see. This is one of our favorite places to hike to anywhere in Peru!
It is time to head down into the high Amazon Jungle for our three day expedition to Machu Picchu! We will drive back up to the Abra Malaga and the Continental Divide only this time, we are going to bicycle down the other side, a massive descent of nearly 9000 feet on a paved road all the way down to the upper Amazon Jungle town of Santa Maria. This is one of the funnest bike rides to be found anywhere! We will then take a dramatic road and travel to our Eco Lodge in the jungle town of Santa Theresa for the night.
There are some wonderful, natural hot springs in the area, we will make the short drive down to the river to spend the morning soaking in them and resting up a bit after several days of hard adventure! After a local lunch, there is a lovely three-hour hike alongside the Urubamba River which will take us right to Aguas Calientes. This is the base of Machu Picchu. Catch your first glimpses of the Incan buildings high up on the mountainside as well as a few that are seen by only a few travelers a year compared to the masses that go to Machu Picchu via the traditional Inca Trail or bus route. The hike is beautiful and there is also an option to stop at a botanical garden along the way.
It's finally time to visit Machu Picchu, one of the 7 Wonders of the World!! By now you will be fully acclimated and settled into the rhythm of Peru culture, familiar with Inca stonework, and ready to fully appreciate its splendor. Make no mistake, no matter how many pictures you have seen or how crowded you might worry that it is, a visit to Machu Picchu remains one of the most spectacular days one can spend anywhere. The site is underrated as far as we are concerned, particularly when it comes to water management, architecture, civil engineering and planning, and the sheer and overwhelming beauty of its construction and integration into the mountains. We never get tired of it, it's INCREDIBLE. We will get up early and take the bus up to the site itself, visit as long as you want with your knowledgeable and licensed guide, then back down and train back through the jungle to Ollantaytambo.
After breakfast, we will make the two-hour drive to Cusco and mark the end of the trip. Some will need to head to Cusco early this morning to catch a flight out this afternoon, while others may have the time to stay in Ollantaytambo this evening (recommended) and head to Cusco the next day. In either case, your private shuttle to Cusco is included with your trip, at whatever time you request.
Six nights double occupancy in handpicked hotels
Breakfast, days 2 through 7
English speaking guide all week, door to door
Hot springs entrance ticket
Lunch, days 3, 4 and 5
Dinner, day 4
Airport transfer roundtrip between Cusco and Ollantaytambto
Private van transportation throughout the trip
Round trip bus ticket to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes
Train ticket Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
All necessary equipment for 3 bike rides (bike, bike helmets, etc)
Entrance fees to all sites including half day Machu Picchu ticket
1 three-hour hike to Machu Picchu
Is Airfare Included? What is the best way to get to the trip start location?
No, airfare is not included. This trip begins and ends at the Cusco, Peru airport (CUZ). You should aim to arrive between 8AM to 10AM on Day 1 (Sunday), and depart between 3PM - 5PM on Day 7 (Saturday). Our team will pick you up at the airport in Cusco and drop you off there at the end of the trip. Upon booking, we will send you a complete packet that goes into this and other aspects of your trip in great detail.
Do I need to be in good shape?
This is a very active trip, and fitness or adrenaline enthusiasts will get more than their fill. However, most of the biking is downhill and the steep hike up on Day 3 has a horse lift option. Thus, you do not need to be in great shape. Average or better is fine.
Will I have to be with the group the whole time?
Many people may be reluctant to take a "group tour". Trust us, we understand! We think that the combination of traveling with like-minded other folks, along with not being treated like a tourist at all, makes for a great time. Yes, you can always do a part of a day on your own schedule or go out on your own for dinner, etc, but you will need to arrange and pay for everything on your own.
What are the accommodations like?
All rooms are double or triple rooms, all of them with private in-room bathrooms and hot water 24/7. Your hotel in Ollantaytambo is very nice - bright, sunny, outdoor gardens and lots of space. Spend one night in a jungle ecolodge that everyone loves. And one night in Aguas Calientes, where the hotels are a bit more basic due to no road going to the town, but still nice, clean modern and private baths.
Do I need travel insurance?
While it is not required, we always recommend purchasing travel insurance for all trips. Travel insurance allows you to seek reimbursement if you are forced to cancel your trip for unforeseeable reasons, or if you need to cover medical help, emergency transport, and/or theft or accidental damage while traveling. We recommend World Nomads.
How much extra money should I budget?
Figure on $25 a day to eat lunch and dinner at the local restaurants, not including alcoholic beverages, which tend to greatly increase costs so factor that into your budget based on your preferences. Most people like to spend $50-100 on gifts for friends and family - textiles, ceramics, paintings, etc. And maybe a few hundred dollars for discretionary / emergency spending.