Depart from the U.S. and travel to Peru. The particulars of
your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline
Day 2 - All guests meet in Cusco/Transfer to the Sacred Valley/Walking tour of
VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leader at the
first inn at 12 noon. The contact information for the first inn will be
confirmed with your final documents. Please contact your first inn to advise
them of any travel delays or changes so the staff can pass the message on to
your VBT Trip Leaders.
VBT Air Package guests: You will arrive in Peru via Lima's
Jorge Chavez International Airport early this morning. You will need to clear
Peruvian and customs before you transfer to your connecting flight
to Cusco. Upon arrival at Cusco airport, claim your luggage and look in the
arrivals hall for your VBT representative, who will be holding a VBT sign. Make
certain that your VBT luggage tags are affixed to your bag so your VBT
representative can identify you. Your representative will make arrangements for
the transfer to your hotel in the Sacred Valley, approximately a 1-hour and 30-minute
VBT Pre-Trip Extension guests: This morning, transfer from
your hotel to Lima's Jorge Chaves International Airport for your flight to
Cusco. Please be waiting in the hotel reception area 15 minutes prior to your
transfer time; you will have received this time from your VBT representative on
your first day in Lima. Once you have arrived at the airport in Lima please
check in and proceed to the departure lounge. Upon arrival at Cusco airport,
claim your luggage and look in the arrivals hall for your VBT representative,
who will be holding a VBT sign. Make certain that your VBT luggage tags are
affixed to your bag so your VBT representative can identify you. Your
representative will make arrangements for the transfer to your hotel in the
Sacred Valley, approximately a 1-hour and 30-minute drive.
Once you arrive in the Sacred Valley (7,841-foot elevation),
it will prove very helpful to rest and avoid strenuous activity as your body
acclimates to the altitude. Also, beware of dehydration and drink plenty of
water to help avoid altitude sickness. A couple of hours' rest now will go a
long way in making you more comfortable later.
In the mid-afternoon, join your fellow travelers and VBT
Trip Leaders for a short drive and visit Ollantaytambo. Called just “Ollanta”
for short, it is best known for its fortress perched above the village, the
site of an Incan victory over the Spanish. The village is one of the few in
Peru that still maintains the Inca system of urban planning. You'll feel as
though you've stepped back in time as you wander the cobblestoned streets.
Homes and streets here have not changed dramatically since Incan times.
We have a chance to relax in our comfortable accommodations,
built around a former monastery, before we celebrate our visit to the Sacred
Valley over a special welcome reception and dinner.
NOTE: Due to the
logistics of getting to Machu Picchu, there are restrictions on what luggage
can travel with you. Please be sure to pack a lightweight, expandable bag that
can be packed within your luggage. You will need to transfer only what you need
for these two overnights from your large suitcase. Your large luggage will
remain in secure storage during your stay in Machu Picchu. In addition to this
duffel, you are able to carry your day pack with you.
Day 3 - Cuyuni Community
We start the day with a visit to a local Peruvian market where we have a chance to view the diverse fruits and vegetables, including some of the more than 4000 different types of potatoes grown in Peru, as well as interact with the vendors as they barter their wares. If you didn't pack a smaller bag take with you to Machu Picchu, this is a wonderful place to pick up a bag to use.
Later, we shuttle to the start of our morning walk where we will have the opportunity to experience local life as it unfolds in the peaceful Andean Highlands. We begin our walk along the ancient farming paths in this primarily agricultural community. We will make various stops along our walk today to learn about local farming, religious ceremonies and textile production in this region.
Tonight, enjoy dinner on your own at our acclaimed inn.
Day 4 - Pisac Ruins/Moray Terraces/Maras
After breakfast, we visit the mountaintop site of Pisac.
Despite the excellent condition of many of the structures, little is
conclusively known about the site's actual purpose. It appears to have been
part city, part ceremonial center and part military complex.
We then transfer to explore the ancient terraces at Moray.
Started before the time of the Inca, these enormous concentric circle terraces
are thought to have been part of an experimental agricultural complex that was
improved and enlarged upon by the Inca. We stop and picnic here, before
shuttling to the outskirts of Maras village.
We walk scenic footpaths downhill to Maras village and the
Maras salt mines. The terraced Inca salt pans of Salineras are still mined for
salt using methods unchanged over centuries. These mines are fed by underground
saltwater springs. From here, we continue to walk downhill to the Urubamba
River, where we meet our shuttle. On our way to our hotel in Yanahuara (9,373
feet), we stop at a typical Andean chicheria for an opportunity to sample some
of the region's more unusual (but commonly consumed) food and drink, including
chicha (corn beer).
Dinner is on your own tonight.
Day 5 - The Inca Trail/Machu Picchu
We shuttle early this morning to Ollantaytambo to catch the
narrow-gauge Vistadome train. Our train ride is down the narrowing valley,
which offers breathtaking views of the river and surrounding peaks.
Those who have elected to hike the Inca Trail will disembark
at the “Km 104” marker (7,183 feet) to start one of the world's most iconic
walks. The walk offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, cloud
forests and an unforgettable entry into the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. Expect to
be on the legendary trail for five hours with a mostly continuous ascent. An
elevation gain and loss of about 2,000 feet and some steep stair climbing will
keep you on your toes. Note that a minibus support van will not be available on
the Inca Trail. You will be required to walk the entire 8 miles. A picnic break
is well deserved.
All your effort is rewarded when you arrive at Intipunku,
the Sun Gate (8,954 feet), the most spectacular approach to Machu Picchu from
above. This was the original entrance to the “Lost City.” Take some time to
take it all in! Then, continue down to our hotel located below Machu Picchu.
You'll have all of tomorrow to discover the wonder of Machu Picchu, both with
your Trip Leaders and independently.
For those looking for a less strenuous option – and for
those unable to obtain a permit for the Inca Trail – you'll stay on the train
past Km 104, arriving in Aguas Calientes in the late morning. Check into the
inn and have lunch. You may wish to take advantage of the spa services, or walk
the incredible orchid gardens at the inn. You may also take the bus up to the
main entrance of Machu Picchu and hike in to meet the rest of the group, or
just walk the site at your own pace.
Day 6 - Machu Picchu
Today is yours to explore at your own pace. Early morning
options include birding on the hotel grounds and taking the shuttle up to
explore Machu Picchu as the sun rises – and before the day trippers arrive from
Cusco. Shuttle buses operate on a regular schedule from our hotel to the ruins
and back. Trip Leaders will be leading a number of guided walks around Machu
Picchu, as well as in the surrounding area, including a round trip walk to Inca
Bridge (1.8 miles) and to Mandor Waterfalls (4.3 miles).
Enjoy lunch at your leisure at the café near the entry gate,
in one of the restaurants in Aguas Calientes or at your hotel.
Return to the hotel whenever you like. You may wish to
continue your exploration until dusk, or return to the hotel by shuttle bus or
on foot (2,000-foot decent). Enjoy recounting the day over an included dinner
Day 7 - Cusco
Enjoy a relaxing breakfast.
Several walking trails begin right at the hotel or you may wish to visit
the tea plantation located within the hotel grounds. Later this morning we return to Cusco through
the Sacred Valley by Vistadome train.
Upon our arrival in Cusco this afternoon, we will put on our
walking shoes and discover this ancient Inca capitol with a walking tour.
Evidence of both the original Inca city and the Spanish colonial city
established in 1533 will be pointed out as we explore Koricancha (“Temple of
the Sun”), Cusco Cathedral and the San Blas district. In Incan times, San Blas was a settlement for
ancient craftsmen who saw “yachay” – Quechua for “teach and learn” – as their
special calling. Today, the area is famous for the unusual Baroque-style pulpit
in the San Blas Church and for its artists and artisans.
Cusco and its many dining options are at your doorstep
Day 8 - Tambomachay/Puka Pukara/Sacsayhuaman
After breakfast, we transfer six miles (25 minutes) north of
Cusco to begin our day. We'll trace our way on foot back in the direction of
the city, visiting the most important Incan monuments. This is a spectacular
area for our walks, with Andean mountain views, colorful villages and impressive
remains of the Inca Empire.
First we visit Tambomachay (the highest elevation of the day
at 12,500 feet), which may have fulfilled an important religious function
linked to water and the regeneration of the land. Walking down a gentle slope,
we'll later stop to explore the complexes of Puka Pukara, Qenqo and Laqo. Our
Trip Leaders can explain more about historic religious ceremonies held here.
We find a comfortable meadow overlook to enjoy a picnic
lunch, and learn about the survival of some pre-Hispanic rituals and their
impact on Andean life, too.
After lunch, saving the most impressive for last, we visit
Sacsayhuaman. Though only a fraction of its original size and scope, the
stonework of this fortress will astound and baffle. We take a moment to look
back over the orange tile rooftops of Cusco before our short transfer into the
There is time to soak in some last bits of Andean culture in
the colorful plazas of Cusco. Tonight, we're out on the town for a festive
Day 9 - VBT Tour ends/Peruvian Amazon Extension begins
VBT No-Air Package guests: Our tour finishes in the hotel
after breakfast this morning. The hotel will help you book a taxi at your own
expense to the Cusco airport.
VBT Air Package: There will be a mid-morning transfer to the
airport in Cusco for the flight to Lima. Upon arrival, check in to comfortable
rooms for day use. Tonight, dinner is at your leisure before returning to the airport
for flights departing in the late evening.
VBT Post-Trip Extension guests: You will catch a mid-morning
flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado. A VBT representative meets you when you
land. Register at the Butterfly House and transfer to the boarding wharf. After
a 45-minute boat ride, arrive at Reserva Amazonica. Lunch is included today,
and you'll have time to enjoy the extensive trail system with an interpretive
guide this afternoon. This evening, join an included “River by Night”
excursion, or catch a nature presentation in the Eco Center. Dinner is in the
lodge dining room tonight. Note: Due to the logistics of getting to Reserva
Amazonica Lodge, there are restrictions on what luggage can travel with you.
Please use the small bag you brought for Machu Picchu to transfer only what you
need for these two overnights from your large suitcase. Your large luggage will
remain in secure storage in Puerto Maldonado.
Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are
finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you
extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to
the airport will be at your own expense.
Day 10 - Air Package Guests Arrive Home
Flights arrive in the United States this morning, depending