Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Inca trail

Diana Korte writes this Peru travel plan with the highlight being Machu Picchu. I’ve made a few changes and summarized the travel plan below:

Days 1 and 2: Fly into Lima and check out the museums and cathedrals.

Days 3 and 4: fly to Cusco, Peru’s former Inca capital. Cusco (also Cuzco) is 11,000 feet high. The Monasterio Hotel there has piped-in oxygen in guest rooms to help travelers acclimate to the altitude. Cups of coca tea, an ancient herbal remedy, are more traditional than the piped-in oxygen. In Cusco, check out colonial churches, Inca monuments, and markets.

Day 5: The Orient-Express PeruRail train travels down to Machu Picchu at 8,000 feet. Enjoy the views on the way. The train sometimes stops where local women sell dolls, ponchos, alpaca blankets, rugs and other items to tourists who shop through open train windows.

The train arrives in Aguas Calientes, and then travelers walk 15 minutes through the marketplace and take a 30-minute bus ride to the entrance of the Machu Picchu Park.

Days 6 and 7: Enjoy Machu Picchu. The only hotel is Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, which accommodates 31 guests. Otherwise you go back to Cusco or stay in one of the lodges in the valley below.

If you have three extra days, hike the 26-mile Inca trail, considered one of the finest historical and cultural hikes in the world. Hikers can start at the beginning of the trail outside Cusco or take a train part of the way and then walk the rest.

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  1. Stuart McKenzie says:

    If you do decide to walk the Inca trail you should arrange in Cuzco. The trips include guides and camping gear. They either charge by the trip or by the number of days you take. If you want a leisurely walk; pay by the day. The guides really rush you if they think they can get you to Machu Picchu a day early!!

    Afterwards head down the hill to Aguas Calientes to the hot springs – you’ll need it.

  2. greg says:

    If at all possible you should walk the Inca Trail. You should arrainge your tour prior to your arrival in Cusco. We used BIG foot, Ruben was a very understanding and walked with the slowest hiker each day and didn’t rush anyone. They even baked a cake on a camp stove for a birthday. There are many good services and almost all are a three night 4 day trek. It is a walk of a life time, but make sure you have trained. You spend a lot of time in the 9,000-10,000 ft range climbing and decending. The going down is as hard as the going up. Also spring for a porter you share with one other person. Pack very light and take a lot of pictures. After the 3 1/2 day trek you have earned your visit to MP unlike the train tourist.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Also, while in Cusco take the Sacred Valley tour – about $30 for an all day tour outside the city of Cusco where you visit many ancient sites, curiosities and market where everything is at least half the price of what you would pay in Cusco. If you take this tour go on a Tuesday or Thursday since the markets are closed on M/W/F.

    You can get to many of these places by bus, but it will take longer. A must: take a day off and just sit at the PLAZA and you will meet the most amazing people from all over the wolrd. DONT BE SHY.

  4. James Trotta says:

    Thank you for the insightful comments everyone! From Ruben on the Inca Trail, to Tues. Thurs. tours around Cusco to Aguas Calientes and the hot springs… Fantastic advice – thanks!

  5. Vic Persico says:

    We’re hoping to go from Illinois, USA to Machu Picchu in April using the the Inca trail. We also wish to stay at the Sanctuary Lodge. Can anyone recommend a tour operator, or might it be better to book ourselves in Lima, Cuzco, etc?

    Thank you for any help you can provide.

    Also, I’m going to be 65 when we go but am in good shape. Should the trail be a problem for me?

  6. […] this morning, arrive in Lima and transfer to your hotel. After time to rest and eat breakfast, you will join a tour of Lima. […]

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