SEPTEMBER 6-15, 2018

STARTING IN: CUZCO, PERU
ENDING IN: SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA, CHILE

TREK COST: $2,600

Includes: most meals, internal travel, regional airfare, accommodation, guides and entrance fees.

Does not include: international airfare, visa fees, insurance, some meals, and personal spending.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore the ancient Incan city at Machu Picchu.
  • Travel across the Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia.
  • Hike the Lares Trail through the Peruvian Andes, visiting villages and observing wildlife on the way.
  • Homestays with Quechua families.
  • Explore Bolivia's Capital city-- La Paz. 
  • Check out the Mars-like scenery of the Atacama Desert in Chile, the driest region on earth.
 

 

ITINERARY

 

DAY 1. THURS, SEP 6, 2018. CUZCO

The group will meet today in Cuzo, Peru. For those who arrive by noon, we will have a city tour in the afternoon where we’ll visit the impressive Temple of the Sun (Qoricancha), the hilltop fortress Sacsayhuaman, and the local market san pedro, but it will remain flexible to the interests of the group (art, culture, architecture, history, etc). Juan will share the history of each site, and you will have the opportunity to walk and explore Cusco’s main streets to appreciate its unique charm.In the evening we will enjoy a welcome dinner full of traditional Andean food in Cuzco.
 


DAY 2. FRI, SEP 7, 2018. SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS

After breakfast, Juan will pick us up from our hotel for our tour in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We will visit Chinchero, a colonial town where we can find impressive Inca farming terraces and temples nestled in a small valley. The town itself is visited because local families maintain a traditional weaving culture-- opening their doors to visitors and demonstrating how they still use all-natural dyes made from plants, seeds, flowers, roots and cactus parasites to colour their wool.  We will have lunch in the town of Chinchero. In the afternoon, we head down to Maras and Moray. Moray is a site of impressive circular terraces and considered the best Incan agricultural laboratory. The Maras salt mines are where the Incas obtained pure and natural salt. Today the salt mine is locally owned by community members from the nearby town of Maras. After a great day in the sacred valley we return to Cusco for dinner and rest.
 


DAY 3. SAT, SEP 8, 2018. LARES

Juan will pick us up after breakfast in our private transport from the hotel.  We will drive up to the trailhead outside Ollantaytambo to begin our 3-hour hike northeast towards Lares to the highest point of our trek called Qéuña lake (4,400 mt / 14,435 ft). These first three hours will be strenuous, so be prepared to take it slowly and be patient. Once we arrive at the pass, we can pat ourselves on the back and embrace the feeling of total exhilaration and self achievement having reached the summit. Compensating for the tough trek are the views of rigid glaciers, llamas, rugged valleys and undulating farmlands. After taking some time to enjoy the 360º views, we will have a picnic lunch by the mirrored glacial lake, with picturesque views of the Lares Valley with plenty of llamas and alpacas. After a brief siesta, we descend for 2 more hours until we reach our homestays located by the Huilloc Alto community (3,800 mt / 12,467ft). Llama herders are readily seen on the trail and the local indigenous people will happily chat with us along with way in the Quechua language. After enjoying stunning views of the high Andes, we will spend the night and have dinner in homestays in the small community.

Trekking Distance: 9 km/ 5.6 miles
Sleeping Altitude: 3,800 meters / 12,460 ft.
Weather: Cold (esp night)
Hiking Time: 4 hours

 


DAY 4. SUN, SEP 9, 2018. OLLANTAYTAMBO

Early in the norming we will wake up to enjoy the amazing sunrise with lots of local people, alpacas and llamas. We will have breakfast in the village, and then meet more local craftspeople who will show us how they create their artwork. We will depart Huilloc Alto at 10:00 am to walk through a fertile valley back down towards the Sacred Valley. Along the trail we will see native flowers such as begonias and wild orchids, as well as local farming villages. After a walk of about 3 hours we will arrive in Ollantaytambo (2,800m / 9,186 ft), the capital of the district of the same name, a large town whose main attraction is inca ruins. After lunch, we will have time to explore this living museum of a town and the ruins. In the evening we will board a local train to Aguas Calientes at 7:04 pm, at the base of Machu Picchu. We will spend the night in a hotel there.

Trekking Distance: 8km/ 5 miles
Sleeping Altitude: 2000 meters / 6561 ft.
Weather: Cool
Hiking Time: 3 hours

 


DAY 5. MON, SEP 10, 2018. MACHU PICCHU

We will wake up well before sunrise to catch the first bus up to Machu Picchu to be able to see sunrise from the top (expect to wake up around 3:30am). The tour of Machu Picchu will allow us to understand the high level of development the Andean civilization achieved under the Incas. A supreme religious site, Machu Picchu demonstrates the superior knowledge achieved in astronomy and astrology. This knowledge is indispensable for measuring weather cycles (rainy and dry seasons) through the solstices and for the development of agricultural activity, the primary means of survival in the Andes. We will spend as long as possible in the archaeological complex and for those climbing Wayna Picchu, we have 2 hours to hike up and down starting between 7:00 and 8:00am. In the afternoon we will transfer back to Aguas Calientes on time for our train to Ollantaytambo (1:50 min); from there we drive to Cuzco for the night.
 


DAY 6. TUES, SEP 11, 2018. CUZCO - LA PAZ

We will wake up early to catch our flight from Cuzco to La Paz, Bolivia’s second capital and largest city. Once we arrive, we will spend the say on an exciting day trip, taking cable cars across the urban landscape to explore the city’s local culinary scene, street food, and main sights. La Paz is the world’s highest capital city, standing between 4,200 and 3,800 metres above sea level. We’ll spend all day getting a feel for the city with Maya Sagarnaga, local expert. In the evening we will take a Todo Turismo bed bus (full recline seating and wifi) to the small town of Uyuni, at the edge of Bolivia’s famous salt flats.
 


DAY 7. WED, SEP 12, 2018. UYUNI

Today we will start early from Uyuni bus station, first stopping for breakfast in Uyuni town and then visiting the Train Graveyard. We will proceed to spend the day exploring the vast Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats. We will visit the flats, the mountains of salt, the “eyes of the flats” and Incahuasi island. We will spend the night camping out on the Salt Flats to be able to enjoy morning sunrise over its immense vastness. It’s epic.
 


DAY 8. THURS, SEP 13, 2018. UYUNI

Today we will enjoy sunrise over the vast salt flats in Uyuni, watching the first rays of sun stretch across the flatness that seems to stretch towards infinity. It’s like stepping onto another planet. We’ll spend the morning exploring the salt flats before taking the jeeps off-roading through the high andes to the Laguna Negra and beyond along the Chilean border, reaching altitudes of over 4,800 metres. We will sleep in a small local guest house at the edge of the Eduardo Avaroa National Park.
 


DAY 9. FRI, SEP 14, 2018. UYUNI - SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA

After breakfast we will head south into Bolivia’s Eduardo Avaroa National Park, visiting the Pink Lagoon (Laguna Colorada) with thousands of pink flamingos, the Green Lagoon, and natural geysers. In the early afternoon, we continue our jeep trip south across the volcano speckled deserts of the Atacama between Bolivia and Chile-- one of the driest locations on Earth. There, we cross one of the world’s most inhospitable high altitude border crossings into Chile to cruise around the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth and home to incredible snow capped volcanoes, wildlife, rock formations and pre-columbian fortresses. We arrive in San Pedro de Atacama in the evening for our concluding dinner and a good night’s rest at a local desert resort.
 


DAY 10. SAT, SEP 15, 2018. DEPART SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA

Participants depart throughout the day from San Pedro de Atacama-- the closest airport is Calama El Loa Airport (CJC) and it has regular and affordable flight connections to Santiago. We will help those needing to get to the airport arrange transportation from the hotel.

For those interested in spending an extra day exploring this extremely unique corner of the world, we will organize an optional day trip around the Atacama Desert (additional cost). If you have the time, we highly suggest you spend an extra day with us to check this place out, it’s pretty incredible.