From: July 29 to August 8, 2015

Destination: Cuzco and Machu Picchu, Peru

  • Trekking to Machu Picchu

    One of the most magical and mysterious places on Earth, it is situated on the spine of a jungle-cloaked granite peak towering some 2,000 ft. above the roaring river below. And yet there is much more of Incan culture and history to explore than this one place. Staying in remote mountain lodges, we trek along an ancient Incan Trail (not "The" Incan Trail), over high passes and below towering peaks, beyond the crowded guidebook trails and in the authentic heart of the Incan empire. At the end we visit Machu Picchu, the crowning glory of the Incas.
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  • Tuesday, July 28: If you aren't coming early, this is the day you need to leave the U.S.

    Wednesday, July 29: If you are flying in to Cusco this morning, you will need to leave the day before in order to arrive this morning. We'll meet you at the airport and take you to our hotel. After time to rest and recover from your travel, we will spend the afternoon touring the main sights of Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incas. This three to four hour tour will help us start to acclimatize to the altitude (Cusco's altitude is 11,000 feet). Walking along ancient streets, we'll visit the most important places such as the Main Square and the cathedral that was built over the Inca palace of Suntur Wasi; Qoricancha, the temple of the sun, the most important temple for Inca Culture; and the ruins of Sacsayhuaman. We'll have dinner at a local restaurant tonight and undoubtedly go to bed early. Overnight Cuzco. D

    Thursday, July 30:  Following a delicious breakfast at our hotel we'll take a tour of The Sacred Valley of the Incas. The tour includes a visit to the Chinchero textile coop. A woman named Nilda Callanaupa has set up a weaving cooperative in Chinchero that does demonstrations of traditional weaving, and there are very well crafted textiles available for sale. We'll also visit the fantastic Inca complex of Pisaq and the village of Ollantaytambo where we have a guided tour of the fortress of Ollantaytambo. That night we'll meet with our trekking guide to discuss the itinerary and have a chance to ask last minute questions and make sure we're completely prepared for the trek. B, L, D

    Friday, July 31: After a very early breakfast, we will be picked up at 7:00 am for the drive to the starting point of our trek. Along the way we will take a short break to visit the Inca ruins of Tarawasi near the town of Limatambo. After leaving Limatambo, we pass through the mountain village of Mollepata where we stop for a short coffee break before a half hour drive up a winding mountain road to a place called Marcoccasa. Here, we begin our trek on an old route called the "Camino Real" (Royal Path). On the way we'll stop to catch our breath: you'll have to decide if it's because of the spectacular views of the mountains or because of the altitude. In any case we'll also stop to eat our box lunch. Our destination is the Salkantay Lodge and Adventure Resort, located in the high Andean Valley of Soraypampa at an elevation of 11,800 ft. Although we could drive there, this beautiful trek will help further our acclimatization and get us used to hiking at altitude.

    The lodge has spectacular views of, and takes its name from, the majestic peak at the head of the valley - the "Salkantay", the second most sacred peak in Inca mythology and, at 20,600 ft, the highest in the region. After having some time to get settled in our rooms, we'll have time to relax before an evening briefing by the fireplace followed by appetizers and a hearty dinner. After dinner we might relax in the hot tub or, on a clear night, gaze at the achingly beautiful star-studded sky.  Our hiking time is 3-4 hours, 7.4 miles, and 1950 feet elevation gain B, L, D

    Saturday, August 1: We've built in an extra day, partly so that you have one more day to acclimatize before we start and partly to give you a chance to explore this stunning area. Of course the lodge is also a delightful place to relax. If you're up for it, we highly recommend joining us for a hike to a glacial lake at the base of Humantay Mountain. If you like cold water plunges, you could even go for a (very) short dip! The hike takes about 3 or 4 hours and is an excellent activity for acclimatization and a first experience of high-mountain trekking. We have free time in the afternoon, and you might opt for a relaxing soak in the outdoor jacuzzi or curling up in the comfortable reading room with a book. That evening, after another delicious dinner. we'll make our final preparations for our trek. Our hiking time is 3-4 hours, 3.7 miles, and 1450 feet elevation gain and loss B, L, D

    Sunday, August 2: Today is undoubtedly our most challenging day! After an early start, we will hike up the Rio Blanco valley, circling Humantay Peak across from Salkantay Peak. The highest point today, and indeed the whole trek,  is a pass at 15,213 ft. We gain 2500 feet in 3 miles and reaching the top of the pass is very welcome! And it is amply rewarded, as we stop to take in views of snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in every direction, with the south face of Salkantay towering above us. We will keep our eyes out for the Andean condors that are often visible in this area. Our spirits are further lifted and our body rejuvenated by a hot lunch along the trail. From the pass we descend toward the Wayra Lodge ("Wayra": wind; 'the place where the wind lives') our destination for the evening. After hiking between 6 and 8 hours, we are delighted to reach the lodge where hot showers and hot dinners are most welcome. Our hiking time is 6 - 8 hours, 7.4 miles, and 2575 feet elevation gain, 2410 ft elevation loss  B, L, D

    Monday, August 3: Today we leave the land of snow-capped peaks and begin descending to the valley. This an easier day and we can enjoy a leisurely morning and breakfast at Wayra Lodge. After breakfast we begin our trek by hiking downhill above the Salkantay River, through increasingly verdant scenery as we enter a cloud forest. Cloud forests are both fascinating and endangered, with dramatically different flora and fauna than we've just seen.

    Our destination for today, the Colpa Lodge, is located in an open promontory at the confluence of three rivers that are all fed by snow melt. The outdoor hot tub in this lodge has prominent views of lush green mountains and a small, far-away, local town. Dinner and overnight at the lodge Our hiking time is 3- 4 hours, 5.5 miles, and 150 feet elevation gain, 3550 ft elevation loss  B, L, D

    Tuesday, August 4:  Today's trek is longer so we'll depart early this morning and head down the Santa Teresa River Valley, through more populated rural areas. Our trail rises and falls before descending to the river. We'll stop along the river to relax and enjoy a hot picnic lunch. We'll cross the river on a bridge and then continue up along the side of the mountain. This area is known for banana, granadilla, and avocado orchards, and coffee plantations that are said to produce some of the best organic coffees in the world. After another hour of trekking we'll be picked up by a private vehicle for a 30-minute drive to the beginning of the "Llactapata Inca Trail", a restored ancient Incan trail. From the head of the trail it's a short climb (30 min.) to the Lucma Lodge, set among coffee plants and avocado and banana trees. We may arrive in time to explore the small village of Lucmabamba. Our hiking time is 6 - 8 hours, 8 miles, and 1160 feet elevation gain, 2510 ft elevation loss  B, L, D.

    Wednesday, August 5:  After a hearty breakfast and an early start, we tackle the last day of our trek. We head uphill for about 3 hours and 1900 feet towards Llactapata pass (8,974ft). Here we have a distant but amazing view of Machu Picchu, including both Machu and Huayna Pichhu (or "old" and "young" peaks) from the southwest. This is a vista few tourists ever glimpse. An added value are the Llactapata Ruins, which have recently been restored. There couldn't be a better place to enjoy our lunch.

    We then begin our final steep descent of 2 - 3 hours to the rushing Aobamba River, through lush bamboo forests and more orchards and coffee plantations. At the end of the trail we hop on a train for a short (45 minutes) scenic train ride to Aguas Calientes. We'll celebrate the end of the hike with dinner in Aguas Calientes, where an early bed time will re-energize us fror the following day's trip to Machu Picchu. Our hiking time is 4 - 6 hours, 6.8 miles, and 2150 feet elevation gain, 3300 ft elevation loss  B, L, D

    Thursday, August 6: Today is a full day at Machu Picchu, the "Lost City of the Incas". More recent research has shown that it wasn't actually a city; rather it was a retreat for the Incan wealthy. It is truly as stunning as the pictures show, with the sheer rock face called Huayna Pichu towering in the background. We'll start with a guided tour of about three hours. Our guide will explain how the city is divided into three sections- the Sacred District, the Popular District, and District of the Priests and Nobility and help us understand the significance of the various temples and parks.  The stonework has been painstakingly restored and the temples in particular are as amazing as you've heard. The rest of the day, 3 to 4 hours,  is yours to explore as you want; the guide is always there to answer any questions. After a full day we'll return to our comfortable hotel in Aguas Calientes for dinner and the night.  B, L, D

    Friday, August 7: The morning is free to do as you choose.  Aguas Calientes is a safe and interesting town and a great place for those last minute souvenirs. We'll take a late afternoon train to Ollaytambo, enjoying one final ride through the beauty of the Sacred Valley. We'll arrive back in Cusco to share a final farewell dinner. B, L, D

    Saturday, August 8: We'll provide a group transfer to the airport this morning in time to catch the flights to Lima. If you're staying on we'll be glad to put you in touch with people who can help you plan the rest of your time. Peru is a fascinating place and a trip to Lake Titicaca, the Nasca Lines, or into the jungle would all be amazing additions.  B
  • $4495 (see this page for travel discounts) Deposit $400. If the trip is full, there will not be any single accommodation.  Please make sure you understand our cancellation policies.

    Trip Includes

    • Experienced bilingual local guides and an Adventures in Good Company guide
    • Ten nights lodging in hotels and lodges
    • All meals from dinner the first day through breakfast the last
    • All transport once you arrive in Cusco including airport transfers
    • All activities on the itinerary
    • Entrance fees to Machu Picchu and the Salkantay Trail
    • Luggage transport by mules on the trek
    Not included: airfare to Cusco, travel insurance, guide gratuities, alcoholic beverages, items of a personal nature

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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Exploring Machu Picchu, one of those destinations whose magic and mystery lives up to its hype
  • Challenging yourself on an ancient Incan trail that traverses fifteen different bio-zones, under towering Andean peaks
  • Relaxing in comfortable and small environmentally sustainable remote lodges at the end of the day
  • Learning the culture and customs of local Andean families
  • Supporting local businesses that believe in sustainability

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