One of our favorite things at Ryder-Walker is when we get to run a trek with guests for the first time. April 15 to 25, 2019 we are taking a crew of trekkers on our hiking tour in Peru: The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. Our Peru trip includes visits to the world famous locations of Cusco, the Salkantay Pass and Machu Picchu with stays in comfortable mountain lodges along the way. Please contact us with questions, or to add your name on the guest list. This is a not be missed trip!
Fly into Cusco from Lima, Peru. Check into your hotel and relax. The elevation of Cusco is 11,152 ft/3,399 m. We’ll spend two nights in Cusco, giving the group a chance to adjust to the elevation. Meet the group and trip leaders in the hotel at 7:00pm for a welcome cocktail and brief orientation. Get to know your fellow hikers over a nice bottle of wine and dinner.
Have breakfast and then grab your daypack for a walking tour of Cusco. You’ll wander up the Inca road for a guided tour of Sacsayaman ruins, then head back to town for a tour of the Plaza de Armas, a historic central square in the old city. The plaza features colonial Spanish architecture with carved wooden balconies, long stone arcades and carved Inca walls. Celebrate the day with dinner at the hotel or a local restaurant.
We’ll get an early start today with a departure by private van to Mollepata village and our trailhead. Stop at the Inca ruins of Tarawasi along the way, and visit a local farm and traditional weaving co-op. Have lunch at the trailhead, then hike to Salkantay Lodge where a hot outdoor jacuzzi, select wines and a crackling fire in the hearth await.
There’s no need to rush this morning. You’ll enjoy a leisurely start after breakfast, then take it slow during a 3-4 hour acclimation hike to the glacial lake Lago Humantay. Snap photos of the lake’s turquoise waters, then return to the lodge for an afternoon of free time and relaxation. Guests can soak in the outdoor jacuzzi, enjoy a massage, or read a book and take an afternoon nap.
Rise early. Have breakfast and then start climbing on mountain trails through a remote landscape into the Rio Blanco valley. Today’s goal is the Salkantay Pass (15,213 ft/4,636 m). Steep mountain switchbacks will guide you over the pass, while rolling trails deliver the group through increasingly verdant terrain to the Wayra Lodge at Wayraccmachay.
Have breakfast at Wayra lodge, then descend along the banks of the Salkantay River to Colpa Lodge. The lodge sits on a high point overlooking three rivers. Guests can zip line across the canyon to the lodge, or walk. The lodge staff will greet our group with a Pachamanca lunch. Pachamanca is a traditional Peruvian meal cooked in the ground with hot stones. The stones act like an underground oven and are a very traditional method for preparing a delicious meal. Spend the afternoon soaking in the outdoor jacuzzi or simply lounging around the lodge.
You’ll hike in the Santa Teresa river valley today, a bucolic valley filled with waterfalls, glacial-fed streams and fruit orchards. Have lunch along the river, then hop in a van for a short transfer to the start of the “Llactapata Inca Trail” which leads to Lucma Lodge, our accommodation for the night. You’ll have an option to visit an organic coffee plantation in the afternoon.
Today’s hike offers the first glimpse of Machu Picchu, but not without a bit of effort. You’ll climb for 2-3 hours through rain forest on a path built mostly from ancient Inca steps. Hike to the Llactapata ruins on Llactapata Pass (8,974 ft/2,736 m), then descend a bit to an open meadow where you’ll have lunch at a small establishment and enjoy your first views of Machu Picchu across the Aobamaba River valley. After lunch, hike down to the Hidroelecrica train station for a one-hour scenic train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes and the Inkaterra Hotel, situated at the base of Machu Picchu. Don’t stay up late tonight because you’ll have an early morning departure by bus to Machu Picchu.
Get up bright and early and hop on a bus for a short climb to Machu Picchu. The group will take a 2-3 hour guided tour of the ruins, exploring the Temple of the Sun, the Watchtower and the royal Inca residences. Have lunch at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge which sits just outside the ruins, then spend the afternoon at your leisure. Guests can go back in and explore more of Machu Picchu, or take a bus down to Aguas Calientes for an afternoon of wandering around the town. Some guests might want to enjoy the spa and grounds of the hotel. Have dinner at the Inkaterra Hotel.
After breakfast, our group will take a train to Ollantaytambo, a town located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas and known for its massive Inca fortress ruins. Have lunch in Ollantaytambo or possibly Urubamba on the way back to Cusco. Tonight is your final dinner with the group. We’ll have a nice dinner and raise our glasses in honor of our successful hike in Peru.
Have breakfast and depart Cusco.
Photos by Dave Gruss.