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Peru: Salkantay Lodge-to-Lodge Trek (11 days)

Trekkers to Machu Picchu, Peru can now overnight at luxury Mountain Lodges enroute!

Discover an ancient Inca trail to Machu Picchu, voted by National Geographic to be one of twenty-five best trips in the world. Trek at high altitude and enjoy the amenities and cuisine of well-appointed, intimate lodges. Pass through Quechua communities and engage in cultural exchanges as you hike along the historic footpaths of the Peruvian Andes.  This is a sacred route in the Cordillera Vilcabamba with magnificent mountain passes where the range is marked by the erosive action of the Urubamba and the Apurimac rivers that have cut deep canyons. Mount Salkantay, meaning "Savage Mountain", rises to 20,574 feet (6,271 metres) and is one of Peru's highest and most mystical peaks. Salkantay Lodge (most sacred peak in Inca mythology), Wayra Lodge ("the place where the wind lives"), Collpa Lodge (resting in a cloud forest) and Lucma Lodge (set amidst an avocado orchard and built into the mountainside), have cozy reading rooms, fireplaces, outdoor jacuzzi, central heating and Peruvian/International cuisine. The water at all four lodges is of drinking quality.

Hike through nine different eco systems on this quieter, less trodden journey, where massive snow peaks collide with lush tropical rainforest as you move through amazing bio-diversity from the high mountain passes to bamboo forests, to avocado orchards and coffee plantations. Peru's biodiversity is unique in its offerings of nature, wildlife, archaeology and cultural heritage. Highland culture and the Incan archaeological treasure of Machu Picchu make this Andean lodge-to-lodge trek an extraordinary adventure. One not to be missed!

On completion of the trek, further explorations await you in the cloud forest of Manu or the rainforest at Tambopata, both easily accessed from Cusco. These pristine Amazon rain and cloud forests harbour bountiful natural beauty, abundant wildlife and unsurpassed diversity. A full range of other pre and post tours are available on an individual basis. The best time for the trek is in the dry season, April to November with cool/cold nights, dry weather and sunny days.  You may join a scheduled group departure date or if you have your own group of 6-10 fellow trekkers, you may want to schedule a private departure.

2018 Departure Dates & Costs

Weekly departures March 1 to November 30
Tour cost per person based on twin share from Lima including domestic flights. $ 4,225 USD
Single Supplement $ 1,695 USD
Share request can be made and if a share mate is unable to be found, then the rate for the un-matched single will be 1/2 the supplement

Maximum group size 12 persons

ItinerarySalkantay Lodge

Day 1: Arrive Lima
You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel on your arrival in Lima. Overnight Lima hotel.

Lima runs at a slower pace than many South American metropolises; its rhythm is more traditional, and its people reflect a steadier, calmer constitution. Lima's unusually amenable inhabitants give this city the feeling, at times, of a cluster of smaller towns. Lima's physical atmosphere is slightly dreamlike, mostly because of the garua, a mist that settles over the city between May and October. Under its blanket, Lima's inhabitants meet at the penas (bars offering folk and Creole music), shop at the open marketplaces, and dine at celebrated restaurants. Several museums display and preserve Peru's golden past, including most notably the internationally famed Museo Nacional de Antropologia y Arqueologia.

Day 2: Lima/Cusco (B)
You will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight to Cusco, which is at an elevation of 10,860 feet (3,310 metres). Day at leisure and rest to acclimate to the high altitude. Overnight Cusco hotel.

The powerful capital of the Inca Empire was Cusco, the Navel of the World. The city was built in the shape of a sacred Puma with the megalithic fortress of Sacsayhuaman at the head. Driven by a greed for gold, Francisco Pizarro led his Spanish conquistadors into Cusco in 1533 and found a stunning city of great stone buildings, lavish palaces and temples, and the humble homes of ordinary people.

Day 3: Cusco (B)
Morning city tour. Balance of day at leisure. Cusco, the archeological capital of Peru and the Americas is a city open to the world, welcoming visitors who marvel at its unusual aspect, which integrates in the same urban environment and with unique harmony pre-Colombian monuments such as the Korikancha (Temple of the Sun), the Ajlla Wasi, the Amaru Cancha (fence of the serpent), the Kiswar Kancha, etc. with gems of the mestizaje (mix of the Spanish and the native) such as the Cathedral, the Church and Convent of La Merced and the Temple of San Blas. Cusco is surrounded by impressive archeological remains such as the citadel of Machu Picchu, the Fortress of Sacsayhuaman, the Ollantaytambo compound and picturesque towns such as Pisaq, Calca and Yucay, which still preserve the traditions of their ancestors. Overnight Cusco hotel.

Day 4: Cusco/Sorayapampa/Salkantay Lodge (B,L,D)
Salkantay LodgeEarly breakfast and hotel pick up for a 3.5 hour drive to the Salkantay Lodge and Adventure Resort. Enroute, a short break to visit the Inca ruins of Tarawasi near the town of Limatambo. A coffee break at the village of Mollepata then travel a winding mountain road to the spectacular valley of Soryapampa. If you feel you have acclimated, you may choose to trek from Mollepata to Soraypampa on an old route called the Camino Real, a good chance to enjoy a mild 3-4 hour trek. Mount Salkantay, meaning Savage Mountain, rises to 20,574 feet (6,271 metres) and is one of Peru's highest and most mystical peaks. An evening briefing by the fireplace is followed by aperitifs and dinner. Overnight at Salkantay Lodge at Soraypampa.

Day 5: Salkantay Lodge at Sorayapampa (B,L,D)
A half-day hike to a glacial lake for a swim is a good test for your immersion into high mountain trekking. Enjoy a 12,000 ft soak in the outdoor jacuzzi on your return. This evening, the guide will brief you on gear and your itinerary for the following days.

Day 6: Sorayapampa/Huaryraccmachay-Wayra Lodge (B,L,D)
Today begins the four-day trek to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. With an early morning start we will begin our hike of 4-6 hours that will take us to 14,800 feet. A hot lunch is taken enroute. Amazing views of snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction will take your breath away. Andean condors may grace your view, adding to the excitement of your trail day. As you reach the top, you may want to leave a pebble among the growing stack from other trekkers who have come before you, to thank the Apus (mountain spirits) for a safe trip and good luck. With the face of Salkantay towering above, we will descend to the Wayra Lodge at 12,600 feet for dinner and overnight. Wayra means wind; the place where wind lives. This evening may be a perfect time to spend curled up by the fireplace.

Day 7: Huayraccmachay/Collpapampa-Collpa Lodge (B,L,D)
After a leisurely breakfast, we hike downhill, above the Salkantay River, through verdant scenery as the fauna and flora change to tropical cloud forest offering up wild orchids, bromilias and beautiful birds. As you enter bamboo groves, you will still have snow-capped peaks following behind you. A traditional Pachamanca style lunch (subject to availability) will be served at the lodge. This is traditional Peruvian undergound stone cooking. At 9,200 feet, the view from your outdoor jacuzzi is of lush green mountains and the tiny settlement of Collpapampa. Colpa Lodge is located in an open promontory at the confluence of three rivers. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.

Day 8: Collpapampa/Lucmabamba-Lucma Lodge (B,L,D)
After an early breakfast we will head down the Santa Teresa River Valley where we encounter more populated areas growing coffee, bananas and fruit orchards. After a picnic lunch we are picked up and we drive to the beginning of the Llactapata Inca Trail where we begin a short climb to the Lucma Lodge set amidst an avocado orchard and built into the mountainside. Time for a little cultural interchange with the residents of the local community of Lucmabamba before dinner and a quiet read by the fire.

Day 9: Lucmabamba/Aguas Calientes (B,L,D)Mountain Lodge
For the last day of our trek, we head uphill for two hours to Llactapata Pass at 8,900 ft. The reward for the well-won climb is a rare view of Machu Picchu from the southwest. You will be among the very few to have ever had this particular view of Incan heritage. Recently restored Llactapata Ruins provide an opportunity to explore more of an empire that once flourished. Lunch will be provided at the observatory, from where you can view Machu Picchu. A final 2-3 hour descent to the Aobamba River through bamboo, coffee plantations and more orchards. Aguas Calientes is a short 30 minute train ride away. Check into hotel and overnight in Aguas Calientes in preparation for the following day at Machu Picchu.

Day 10: Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu/Cusco (B,L)
An amazing day awaits you, as you will have a complete guided tour of Machu Picchu. A very early breakfast is followed by a 30-minute bus ride up to the legendary ruins. In Quechua, Machu Picchu means old peak and the ruins sit at 7,875 ft. This Lost City of the Incas was built around 1450 but abandoned about 100 years later, for hundreds of years until the 1911 discovery by Hiram Bingham. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, it is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

You will have time to tour the ruins here before returning by bus to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch. Time permitting you may wish to visit the market or stroll along the river edge. We will then take an afternoon train back to Cusco for an overnight prior to a return to Lima and home, or onward travel to Manu Cloudforest or Posada Amazonas.

Day 11: Fly Cusco/Lima for connection flight home.

Manu Cloud ForestOptional Extensions

(4 days/3 nights) $ 925 USD

Day 11: Cusco/Manu Cloud Forest Lodge (B,L,D)
The journey from Cusco takes visitors on a 8 - 10 hour trip over two Andean Mountain chains of 13,100 feet elevation through a habitat of wildlife such as the rare Huemal Deer, vizcachas, and Mountain Caracara. The lodge lies past patches of elfin forest on the eastern slopes of the Andes in the mist of the Cloud Forest. Troops of muscular-limbed Woolly Monkeys and comical Brown Capuchin Monkeys forage through the reserve. Rare sightings of the endangered Spectacled Bear, South America's only species of bear, have been recorded near the lodge. The small lodge is ideal for the avid wildlife photographer and nature lover. Some of the amenities of the lodge include private bathrooms with hot water, private verandas overlooking the pristine Union creek, and a sauna to relax after the daily activities. 3 nights

Day 12: Manu Cloud Forest Lodge (B,L,D)
Full day of wildlife viewing & birding.

Day 13: Manu Cloud Forest Lodge (B,L,D)
Full day of wildlife viewing & birding.

Day 14: Manu Cloud Forest Lodge/Cusco (B,L,D)
Morning birding & nature walk. Return to Cusco. Overnight Cusco.

(4 days/3 nights) $ 1,075 USD

Day 11: Fly from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado (B,L,D)

Puerto Maldonado is situated at the confluence of the mighty Madre de Dios and Tambopata Rivers and is a bustling, booming tropical frontier town. Its principal activities are gold mining, Brazil nut collecting, timber extraction, agriculture and ecotourism. We will board our motorized boats and travel up river to Posada Amazonas. During our voyage we may see bird species typical of the river or forest edge such as: Black Skimmer, Pied Lapwing, Capped Heron, Jabiru Stork, Roadside Hawk, and several species of kingfishers, swallows and flycatchers. On arrival at Posada Amazonas, a comfortable yet unobtrusive 30-room lodge, we will receive a short orientation and a complete briefing on the lodge and the Ecotourism Project before our afternoon activity: the canopy tower, a 35 meter scaffolding tower built so that you safely climb using the internal staircase. From the top you not only get spectacular views of the river and the surrounding forest but also excellent opportunities to observe birds from the canopy including parrots, toucans and macaws.

PeruDay 12: Posada Amazonas (B,L,D)
After an early breakfast we depart, fifteen minutes from Posada Amazonas by boat and a 30 minute walk take us to the lake shore. From here we take a long, easy canoe ride around it. We will look for giant river otters, turtles, hoatzin, and wading birds. The giant river otters that are seen in Tres Chimbadas belong to a resident family of nine. Several monkey species can often be found in the area. As we approach noon, animal activity decreases, and we will return to Posada Amazonas. In the afternoon, a wildlife hike.
NOTE: The program at Posada Amazonas might change depending on wildlife, weather and personal preferences.

Day 13: Posada Amazonas (B,L,D)
We will wake up at dawn visit the macaw clay lick where up to seven species of parrots & macaws can be seen. A full day of wildlife outings.

Day 14: Posada Amazonas/Lima/Depart (B)

Fly to Lima for your connection flight home