9. From Cusco : Hiking 8 Days Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
Day 1: Cusco Navel of the World to Museo Inka Y Koricancha. This morning will be reserved for resting or free time. In the afternoon, visit the Inka Museum, which is home of thousands of years of Andean culture. Here, become more familiar with the origins and beginnings of Andean civilizations. Continue the tour to the temple of Koricancha, the famous Sun Temple of Qosqo, which was, and still remains, the pinaccle of organization, architecture, and religion of Inka civilization. During its construction, they had already achieved the greatest advances of their time. This temple may have been the exact representation of the Navel of the World and therefore the center of the world, as dictated by the pre-hispanic Andean cosmovision. Stay at the 3-star Cusco Tandapata Boutique Hotel or similar. Day 2: Chinchero to Maras Salt Mines and Moray. Be collected around 8:00 AM and head to Moray. The drive is about 1 hour and 20 minutes and is absolutely beautiful. You will drive through the snow-capped peaks of the Andes and through lush yellow fields of wheat, past some villages. Finally, you will arrive at the fascinating display of terraces in Moray. Moray boasts three amphitheater-like terraces made by the Incas. These terraces, which are carved deep into the earth in a bowl shape, were thought to be used to determine the optimal conditions for growing crops. When you are done exploring Moray, you will head to the salt mines of Maras, which is about 2 miles away. This village is known as a former salt-producing center that is thought to date back to pre-Inca times. There are over 3,000 salt pools carved into the mountain side, which are filled daily by a little stream of water. The last place to visit will be Chinchero. Here, admire the well-preserved Inka walls of the main square as well as the many altars. Visit the beautiful colonial church, which is unique with its interior artwork and imagery. Moving on, participate in a wonderful introduction and learning experience of the art of Andean textiles. Throughout the afternoon, become acquainted with the wisdom of Andean weavings as maintained since long before Inka times. Once you are done, you will head back to the city in time to enjoy some lunch on your own. Stay at the 3-star Cusco Tandapata Boutique Hotel or similar. Day 3: Cusco to Molleptat to Soraypampa Trek. Leave from Cusco approximately between 4:30 AM and 5:00 AM. A bus will take you to the town of Mollepata at 2,900 meters above sea level for approximately 8:00 AM. Stop for last minute supplies, leg-stretching, and using the restrooms. Continue to the trek starting point, Sayapata. Meet the support staff, who will load the equipment onto horses and mules. Around 9:00 AM, begin the walk toward Soraypampa at 3,850 meters above sea level. During the trip, have panoramic views of the majestic Salkantay, other mountains covered with snow, and the Valley of Apurimac River. At about 1:00 PM, have a Peruvian lunch. Then, continue hiking toward Humantay Lake, which takes approximately 3 hours. This is a beautiful lake in the mountains. Return to the camp, where dinner and your tent will be ready for you. Day 4: SorayPampa to Challway. Today, nature will change drastically from dry sceneries to snowy peaks and tropical areas. After a nutritious breakfast, start the most difficult part of the trek. Being around 7:00 AM and hike to a place called Pampas Salkantay. Go toward the left side of the snowy peaks of Umantay, located next to the Apu Salkantay. At midday, you will reach the highest point at 4,600 meters above sea level. Appreciate spectacular views of the mountains and the imposing snowy peaks of the Salkantay at 6,264 meters above sea level, which is known as the second highest point of the Cusco region. At around 1:00 PM, have lunch in the area called Huayracmachay. After a trek of approximately 3 hours, arrive at your camp in Challway at 2,920 meters above sea level. At around 7:00 PM, recuperate from the trek and eat dinner. Day 5: Challway to La Playa to Lucmabamba. At around 7:00 AM, begin your trek and enjoy the beautiful sunrise. Walk for about 5 hours toward Playa Sahuayaco and during this period see a town called Collpabamba, which is also called the Forest Cloudy Brow where waterfalls, fruit-bearing trees, varied flora, and birds can be observed. If you are lucky, you will be able to observe the famous bird called the Cock of the Rocks, which is the national bird of Peru. Once at Playa Sahuayaco have lunch then continue hiking for a couple of hours to get to Lucmabamba, which is your last campsite and the beginning of the Inca Trail of Llacta Pata. Day 6: Lucmabamba to Llaptapata to Hydro-Electrical Power Plant to Aguas Calientes. At around 8:00 AM, begin the gradual hike up for about 2 hours. Reach Llapta Pata, a beautiful archeological site with connections to the Inca sites of Machupicchu and Sayacmarka. Have plenty of time to explore this Inca site. Then, start your descent to the hydro-electrical power plant, which takes about 1.5-hours. A pleasant 3-hour walk will bring you to Aguas Calientes, where you will stay in Aguas Calientes Hatun Samay Hotel or a similar hostel for the night. Go out and have dinner together in one of the many restaurants. Day 7: Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu to Cusco. Today, rise very early to catch the first bus to Machu Picchu and enter the site as it opens. There will be a 2-3 hour guided tour of the site to show you some of the most important locations, altars, and constructions. You will learn about the history of this amazing place and the people who once lived here. After, if you have the permit to climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain, you can do it now. In the afternoon, your train will depart Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo then you will carry on by bus to Cusco. Stay at the 3-star Cusco Tandapata Boutique Hotel or similar. Day 8: Free day and fly to Lima. You have the morning to relax and spend free time exploring Cusco. In the afternoon, take the transfer to the airport for your departure flight to Lima.