Trekking to Machu Picchu

Destination: Cusco and Machu Picchu, Peru

| Activities: Hiking and Culture

While visiting Machu Picchu is definitely one of the highlights of this trip, there is so much more of Incan culture and history to explore. We start our immersion with a half-day of exploring Cusco, followed by a full day in the Sacred Valley with extremely knowledgeable local guides. Then we start our trek on the Salkantay Trail, an ancient Incan Trail (a more remote off shoot of THE Inca Trail). Trekking through constantly changing ecosystems, our trail traverses high passes and follows rivers, on paths through rocky plains and thick forest, as we go beyond the crowded guidebook trails and into the authentic heart of the Incan empire. At night we rest in remote and beautiful mountain ecolodges, enjoying delicious and expertly prepared cuisine. At the end we visit Machu Picchu, situated on the spine of a jungle-cloaked granite peak towering some 2,000 ft. above a roaring river, the crowning glory of the Incas. Maximum group size: 12.

NOTE: DUE TO THE NATURE OF PERMITS FOR MACHU PICCHU, DEPOSITS AND PAYMENTS ARE NON TRANSFERABLE AND NON REFUNDABLE 6 MONTHS PRIOR TO DEPARTURE OR LESS. Also, because the backcountry lodges where we stay run on generators and shut off their electricity at night, we are unable to accommodate anyone traveling with a CPAP machine on this trip.


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

Departures and Prices

June 15 to June 24, 2024
$6495.00 - FULL
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  • Experienced bilingual local guides and an Adventures in Good Company guide
  • Nine nights double occupancy lodging in hotels and lodges (no single supplements available on this trip)
  • All meals from dinner the first day through breakfast the last
  • All transport once you arrive in Cusco including airport transfers
  • Entrance fees to Machu Picchu and the Salkantay Trail
  • Gratuities for staff and drivers and luggage transport by mules on the trek
Not included: Airfare to Cusco, travel insurance, guide gratuities, alcoholic beverages, items of a personal nature

Trip Info

This trip is appropriate for women in very good physical condition with previous hiking experience, who can hike 6 to 8 hours a day on rocky and sometimes steep mountain paths. The most challenging day includes hiking over a 15,000 foot pass with a 2500 foot elevation gain in 3 miles. This trip is rated 4 because on most days we hike 3 to 5 hours and there are a couple of 6 - 8 hour days. Prior to beginning the trip, participants should be engaged in aerobic conditioning for at least 40-50 minutes 4-5 times a week. Additional endurance exercise (e.g. going for a 2 hour hike once a week) and strength training for your legs is strongly recommended. Rating: 1 2 3 [4] 5.

Combining cultural exploration with first rate hiking in the Andes, you will experience Andean culture, both past and present, as you hike over high mountains. (Those with a history of adverse reactions to high altitude activity should consult their physicians before registering). The breadth and vitality of Incan culture is seen not only at Machu Picchu, but also in Cusco, Ollantaytambo and the small villages we pass through. The vibrancy of that culture continues today in the Quechuan people who we meet on our trek.

We stay two nights in a boutique hotel in Cusco (Andenes); and 2 nights at a 5-star hotel in Aguascalientes (InkaTerra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel). On the Salkantay Trail we stay in small remote mountain lodges where, with the exception of the first lodge, we are the only ones there. They are known for exceptional comfort and hospitality, and offer comfortable rooms and beds with glorious views, hot tubs, and excellent food. We can accommodate most dietary restrictions on this trip.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Fly into Cusco airport where you will be met by our Peruvian partners and transported to our boutique hotel in Cusco. Located a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas or main town square, this charming hotel is a perfect jumping off point to explore the impressive architecture and complex history of the city. Located at a lofty altitude of 11,200 ft, Cusco was the capital and geographic center of the Inca Empire which is why the city’s name is Quechuan for “navel of the world.” We'll meet in the lobby of our hotel at 4pm for introductions and orientation and then we'll walk to our first delicious dinner together.

Overnight: Andenes Hotel or similar (D)
Today we start our full day by exploring the Koricancha Sun Temple. Koricancha was one of the most important and sacred temples of the Inca empire and roughly translates to “gold building”. When the Spanish arrived in Cusco, they were mesmerized by the grandeur of the gold covered walls and ornate figures made of precious metals. Devastatingly, the conquistadors destroyed most of the temple and built the Santo Domingo church on its foundations, preserving only small pieces of indigenous beauty. We will see the intersection of the Spanish conquest and Incan architectural feats first hand. After Koricancha we will tour the Cusco Cathedral and the bustling San Pedro market, where you can find everything from exotic fruits to hand woven tapestries. Try delicious fresh cheese and figs or the unfamiliar lucuma and chirimoya. We end our Cusco tour with an exploration of Sacsayhuaman, the “house of the sun” located a few miles outside the city. The walls of Sacsayhuaman are made from more than 200 tons of limestone rock blocks, chiseled into perfect alignment that stretches over 1,000 feet in length.

Overnight: Andenes Hotel or similar (B, L, D)
After an 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 boxed 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 the majestic Salkantay peak at the head of the valley. It's 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.

Hiking: 3-4 hours, 3.7 miles, and 1,076 feet elevation gain, 499 feet elevation loss. Overnight: Salkantay Lodge (B, L, D)
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 quick 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.

Hiking: 4-5 hours, 3.1 miles, and 1,430 feet elevation gain and loss. Overnight: Salkantay Lodge (B, L, D)
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. We traverse the highest point of the trek today at 15,213 ft. We gain 2,500 feet in 3 miles. 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 bodies rejuvenated by a hot lunch along the trail. From the pass we descend toward the Wayra Lodge (Wayra means wind) our destination for the evening. After hiking between 6 and 8 hours, we are delighted to reach the lodge where hot showers and hearty dinners are most welcome.

Hiking: 7 - 8 hours, 7.2 miles, and 2,632 feet elevation gain, 2,477 feet elevation loss. Overnight: Wayra Lodge (B, L, D)
Today we leave the land of snow-capped peaks and begin descending to the valley. This is 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 headland 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.

Hiking: 4-5 hours, 5.2 miles, and 0 feet elevation gain, 3488 feet elevation loss. Overnight: Colpa Lodge. (B, L, D)
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 inviting and cozy Lucma Lodge. If time allows, we may explore the small nearby village of Lucmabamba.

Hiking: 6 - 8 hours, 10 miles, and 935 feet elevation gain, 3,350 feet elevation loss. Overnight: Lucma Lodge (B, L, D)
After a hearty breakfast and an early start, we tackle the last day of our trek. We head uphill for about 3 hours and 1,900 feet towards Llactapata pass (8,974ft). Here we have a distant but amazing view of the Incan fortress, including both Machu and Huayna Picchu (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 ("hot springs"), where an early bed time will re-energize us for the following day's trip to Machu Picchu.

Hiking: 4 - 6 hours, 6.3 miles, and 2,359 feet elevation gain, 3,455 feet elevation loss. Overnight: Inkaterra. (B, L, D)
Today we visit Machu Picchu, the "Lost City of the Incas". Recent research has shown that it wasn't actually a true city but rather a retreat for the Incan elite. It is absolutely as stunning as the pictures indicate, with the sheer rock face of Huayna Picchu towering in the background. We'll start with a guided tour of this world wonder for about three hours. Our guide will explain how the area is divided into distinct sections and help us understand the significance of each temple and park. The stonework has been painstakingly restored and the temples are exquisite. You may choose to return to our lodge to relax at this point or you may continue on exploring different aspects of the park like the Sun Gate. Regardless of which you choose, we'll gather again in our comfortable hotel in Aguas Calientes for dinner and the night.

Overnight: Inkaterra or similar (B, L, D)
DAY 10
This morning after breakfast we'll return by train, enjoying one final ride through the beauty of the Sacred Valley, and then by private vehicle to Cusco. If you're returning today, we'll have you back to the Cusco airport by 3pm and you can plan for flights out after 5pm. Alternatively you can be dropped off at your hotel if you want some more time in Cusco. If you're staying on for more time in Peru, 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 to your adventure.



(7 reviews)
4.9 Food
5 Lodging
5 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Jennifer P.
1 year ago

The landscape of Peru was breathtaking, most people in the group got along well, and our guides were exceptional

Catherine B.
1 year ago

This trip to Peru exceeded all of my expectations. The country is gorgeous, and being able to see it intimately, from places less visited by tourists made it special. And Lixayda, our in-country tour guide, shared with us her love of her country, providing a context for what we were seeing, whether it be anthropological sites, changes in flora and fauna, explanations of natural phenomena... And all of us, regardless of hiking ability, were supported and encouraged by staff as we trekked along.

Melba W.
1 year ago

All the leaders were great and made every single participant feel special. The entire trip was well coordinated. The places we went to were very special and well planned for. I loved Peru, the culture and the people we interacted with. The Mountain Lodge staff worked perfectly with our US leader, Brenda Porter.

Peggy C.
1 year ago

This was an amazing trip. Brenda Porter is an excellent AGC guide and our Peruvian guides, Lecayda and Saul were amazing. The hike was very challenging but with such a great, encouraging group of women, and such beautiful scenery it was well worth the challenge! I would love to return to Peru and do another hike in a different area!

Glenna C.
5 years ago

I honestly enjoyed just about every thing on this trip. It was all new and interesting and out of my world. The people of Peru are lovely. Our guide was outstanding because he loves his country and communicated that in his knowledge and the "heartfelt" way he spoke.

Emily S.
5 years ago

It was an amazing trip and thanks to our excellent Peruvian guide we learned so much about the country and the areas we hiked.

Mary C.
5 years ago

Guides passion about his culture

  1. Where do we eat?

    All the breakfasts and dinners will be served at the lodges where you're staying. Sometimes you may have lunch on the trail. In Cusco you will have dinner at a restaurant where you can order off the menu.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    Vegetarian options for this trip are available but may be more limited than you are used to. If you are concerned about having enough protein during your trip, plan to bring some plant-based protein sources such as nut butter, instant dried hummus, or high-protein energy bars. If you cannot eat gluten or if you have other dietary restrictions i.e. vegan, you will need to bring some supplemental food with you.
  3. Do I need a visa to travel in Peru from the USA?

    No visa required for US citizens to travel in Peru but you will need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the last day of your stay in Peru and with at least 2 blank pages.
  4. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    No, all rooms are shared on this trip with the exception of: If there is an odd number of guests. In that case, there will be a charge for the participant who would like her own room. We’ll pair you up with someone and then change roommates every time we switch lodging.