A Week-long Adventure to Machu Picchu, Peru

Embark on a 1-week adventure to Machu Picchu, exploring the historic Cusco, Sacred Valley, and Rainbow Mountain. Experience Peruvian culture, ancient Inca ruins, and breathtaking Andean landscapes.

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Day 1: Arrival in Cusco:

09:00 - Explore the historic center of Cusco and visit the Plaza de Armas: Start your adventure in the heart of Cusco, at the Plaza de Armas. This bustling square is surrounded by beautiful colonial architecture and is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the local culture. Take a moment to admire the stunning Cusco Cathedral and the Church of La Compañía, both located on the plaza. Did you know? The Plaza de Armas was once the capital of the Inca Empire, known as Tawantinsuyu.
11:00 - Take a stroll through the San Blas neighborhood and visit the Iglesia de San Blas: After exploring the Plaza de Armas, head to the San Blas neighborhood. This charming area is known for its narrow, steep streets and its vibrant arts scene. Visit the San Blas Church, one of the oldest in Cusco, known for its impressive carved wooden pulpit. Did you know? The San Blas neighborhood is often referred to as the "bohemian quarter" of Cusco due to its abundance of artists' studios and workshops.
13:00 - Lunch: Enjoy a traditional Peruvian lunch at a local restaurant. Try dishes like ceviche, lomo saltado, or aji de gallina. Peruvian cuisine is a fusion of traditional Incan cooking methods and influences from Europe, Africa, and Asia, making it one of the most diverse and delicious cuisines in the world.
14:30 - Continue exploring San Blas: Spend the afternoon wandering through the cobblestone streets of San Blas. Visit local art galleries, shop for handmade crafts, and enjoy the stunning views of Cusco from this hilltop neighborhood.
19:00 - Enjoy a traditional Peruvian dinner at a local restaurant: End your day with a delicious dinner at a local restaurant. Try traditional dishes like alpaca steak, quinoa soup, or rocoto relleno (stuffed spicy peppers). Don't forget to try a glass of chicha morada, a sweet drink made from purple corn, or a Pisco Sour, Peru's national cocktail.
21:00 - Rest: After a day full of exploration, return to your hotel and rest up for the adventures ahead. Cusco offers a range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels.

Day 2: Sacred Valley Tour:

08:00 - Full-day tour of the Sacred Valley: Start your day with a full-day tour of the Sacred Valley, a region in Peru's Andean highlands. The valley is renowned for its stunning landscapes, traditional Quechua villages, and ancient Inca ruins. The tour will take you through the heart of the valley, offering breathtaking views of the Andean mountains and the Urubamba River.
09:30 - Visit Ruinas de Pisac: Your first stop is the Pisac Ruins, an ancient Inca archaeological site located on a hill at the entrance to the valley. The ruins include temples, homes, altars, water channels, and a central public square. The site offers a fascinating glimpse into the Inca civilization and its architectural prowess. Did you know? The Pisac Ruins are known for their impressive agricultural terraces, which are still in use today!
11:00 - Visit Mercado de Pisac: After exploring the ruins, head to the Pisac Market, a vibrant local market known for its colorful textiles, traditional crafts, and fresh produce. This is a great place to pick up souvenirs and sample local delicacies.
13:00 - Lunch in Pisac: Enjoy a traditional Peruvian lunch in one of Pisac's local restaurants. Try dishes like Cuy (guinea pig), Lomo Saltado (stir-fried beef), or Quinoa Soup, all staples of the Peruvian cuisine.
14:30 - Visit Ruinas de Ollantaytambo: After lunch, continue your tour to the Ollantaytambo Ruins, another important Inca archaeological site. The ruins feature a massive Inca fortress with large stone terraces built into the hillside. Did you know? Ollantaytambo is one of the few places where the Inca defeated the Spanish in a major battle!
16:00 - Explore Ollantaytambo: Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the town of Ollantaytambo, a charming village that has preserved its Inca urban planning. Walk through its narrow cobblestone streets, visit its small local shops, and soak in the rich history and culture of the place.
18:00 - Check-in at hotel in Ollantaytambo: After a day full of exploration, check into your hotel in Ollantaytambo. The town offers a range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses. Take some time to relax and refresh before dinner.
20:00 - Dinner in Ollantaytambo: End your day with a delicious dinner in one of Ollantaytambo's local restaurants. Try dishes like Alpaca Steak or Trout Ceviche, both popular in the region. Reflect on the day's adventures and look forward to the journey ahead.

Day 3: Journey to Machu Picchu:

06:00 - Departure from Estación de Tren Ollantaytambo: Start your day early with a scenic train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. The journey offers stunning views of the Urubamba River and the surrounding Andean mountains. The train ride is not just a means of transportation, but an experience in itself, with panoramic windows allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscape.
08:30 - Exploration of Machu Picchu: Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes, take a short bus ride up to the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. Spend the morning exploring the iconic ruins, marveling at the intricate stonework and the ingenious architecture of the Incas. Don't miss the chance to hike up to the Sun Gate for a panoramic view of the entire site. Did you know? Machu Picchu, which means "Old Mountain" in Quechua, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007!
13:00 - Lunch in Aguas Calientes: After your exploration, head back down to Aguas Calientes for lunch. The town offers a variety of dining options, from traditional Peruvian cuisine to international fare. Be sure to try the local specialty, trout ceviche, a fresh and tangy dish that is sure to delight your taste buds.
14:30 - Free time in Aguas Calientes: Spend the afternoon at your leisure in Aguas Calientes. You can visit the local market for some souvenir shopping, take a dip in the hot springs, or simply relax and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of this charming mountain town.
18:00 - Check-in at hotel in Aguas Calientes: After a day full of adventure, check into your hotel in Aguas Calientes. The town offers a range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels with spa facilities to budget-friendly hostels. Take some time to rest and rejuvenate before your next day of exploration.
20:00 - Dinner in Aguas Calientes: End your day with a delicious dinner in one of Aguas Calientes' many restaurants. Whether you're in the mood for traditional Peruvian dishes like lomo saltado (stir-fried beef) and cuy (guinea pig), or you prefer international cuisine, you're sure to find something to satisfy your appetite. As you enjoy your meal, reflect on the day's adventures and look forward to the journey ahead.

Day 4: Maras and Moray:

08:00 - Visit Salineras de Maras: Start your day with a visit to the Maras Salt Mines, a fascinating site where traditional salt production has been carried out for centuries. The sight of thousands of shallow pools filled with crystallizing salt against the backdrop of the Andean mountains is truly a sight to behold. The salt mines are owned by the local community and each family owns a few of these pools. The salt is harvested by hand using traditional methods and then sold in local markets. Did you know? The salt from Maras is pink in color and has a unique flavor due to the rich minerals in the local spring water!
10:30 - Explore Moray: After the salt mines, head to Moray, an archaeological site featuring a series of concentric terraces carved into a natural basin. These terraces were used by the Incas for agricultural experiments and to study the effects of different climatic conditions on crops. The temperature difference between the top and bottom terraces can be as much as 15 degrees Celsius, creating a range of micro-climates that could mimic different parts of the Inca Empire. Walking around these terraces, you can't help but marvel at the advanced agricultural knowledge of the Incas.
13:00 - Lunch: Enjoy a packed lunch while soaking in the beautiful Andean landscape. The region is known for its fresh produce, so expect a delicious meal featuring local ingredients.
14:30 - Continue exploring Moray: Spend the afternoon delving deeper into the history and significance of Moray. You can also take a leisurely walk around the site, enjoying the stunning views of the Sacred Valley and the surrounding mountains.
18:00 - Return to Cusco: After a day of exploration, return to Cusco. The drive back is a great opportunity to reflect on the day's experiences and the incredible ingenuity of the Inca civilization.
20:00 - Dinner: End your day with a hearty Peruvian dinner at a local restaurant in Cusco. Try dishes like Cuy (guinea pig), Alpaca steak, or Rocoto Relleno (stuffed spicy peppers). After dinner, take a leisurely stroll around the city or head back to your hotel to rest and recharge for the next day's adventures.

Day 5: Cusco City Tour:

08:00 - Guided tour of Catedral de Cusco: Start your day with a guided tour of the Cusco Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the heart of the city. This stunning cathedral is a testament to the city's rich history, blending Inca and Spanish architectural styles. Inside, you'll find an impressive collection of colonial art, including the famous Last Supper painting featuring a guinea pig, a traditional Peruvian delicacy. Did you know? The construction of the cathedral took almost 100 years, beginning in 1560 and ending in 1654.
10:00 - Visit Qorikancha: Next, head to Qorikancha, also known as the Temple of the Sun. This was the most important temple in the Inca Empire, dedicated primarily to Inti, the Sun God. The temple was once covered in gold, but was plundered by the Spanish who built the Church of Santo Domingo on its foundations. Today, you can still see the original Inca stonework, a testament to their advanced masonry skills. Did you know? Qorikancha means 'Golden Courtyard' in Quechua, the language of the Incas.
12:00 - Explore Sacsayhuaman: After lunch, make your way to Sacsayhuaman, an ancient Inca fortress located on the outskirts of Cusco. This archaeological site offers stunning views of the city and is a prime example of Inca military architecture. The massive stones used in its construction, some weighing as much as 200 tons, are fitted together with such precision that not even a blade of grass can fit between them. Did you know? Sacsayhuaman is believed to represent the head of a puma, with Cusco forming the body.
15:00 - Stroll through San Blas: Spend the afternoon exploring the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas, known for its narrow, winding streets and vibrant arts scene. Visit local art galleries, watch artisans at work, and shop for unique souvenirs. This neighborhood is also home to some of the best views in Cusco, so don't forget your camera! Did you know? San Blas is also known as the 'Balcony of Cusco' due to its hilltop location.
19:00 - Traditional Peruvian dinner: End your day with a traditional Peruvian dinner at a local restaurant. Try dishes like ceviche, lomo saltado, or aji de gallina, and wash it down with a glass of pisco sour, Peru's national cocktail. Cusco offers a wide range of dining options, from high-end restaurants to local eateries, so you're sure to find something to suit your taste and budget.

Day 6: Rainbow Mountain:

06:00 - Full-day tour to Montaña de Siete Colores: Rise and shine early for a full-day tour to the Rainbow Mountain, also known as Montaña de Siete Colores. This natural wonder is a must-see for any adventure lover. The mountain gets its name from the colorful stripes that cover its slopes, caused by mineral deposits over millions of years. The journey to the mountain is as breathtaking as the destination itself, with stunning views of the Andean landscape, dotted with alpacas and llamas. The hike to the summit is challenging but rewarding, with panoramic views of the vibrant mountain and the surrounding snow-capped peaks. Remember to take it slow and steady due to the high altitude. Did you know? The Rainbow Mountain was only discovered in 2015 due to the snow melting and revealing its vibrant colors!
14:00 - Enjoy breathtaking views of the Andean landscape: After reaching the summit, take some time to soak in the breathtaking views of the Andean landscape. The vibrant colors of the Rainbow Mountain contrast beautifully with the surrounding green valleys and blue skies, making it a photographer's paradise. Don't forget to take plenty of photos to remember this unique experience.
16:00 - Return to Cusco: After a day of adventure and exploration, return to the city of Cusco. The drive back is a great opportunity to reflect on the day's experiences and enjoy the beautiful Andean scenery.
19:00 - Overnight in Cusco: After an exhilarating day, check into your hotel in Cusco and take some time to relax and rejuvenate. Cusco offers a range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses. Enjoy a good night's sleep to prepare for the final day of your week-long adventure to Machu Picchu, Peru.

Day 7: Departure:

Morning - Flight back home or continue your journey: As the sun rises on your final day in Peru, it's time to say goodbye to the enchanting city of Cusco and the unforgettable memories you've made during your week-long adventure to Machu Picchu. Whether you're catching a morning flight back home or continuing your journey to other destinations in Peru, the experiences you've had and the people you've met will surely stay with you for a lifetime.
Did you know? Peru is home to 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, the Historic Centre of Lima, and the Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana. So, if you're continuing your journey in Peru, there's plenty more to explore!
Optional - Visit other destinations in Peru: If you've decided to extend your stay in Peru, there are numerous other destinations that are worth exploring. From the bustling city of Lima with its world-class gastronomy scene to the mysterious Nazca Lines in the southern desert, Peru is a country that never ceases to amaze. You could also venture into the Amazon Rainforest, visit the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, or explore the white city of Arequipa.
Remember: No matter where your travels take you, always respect the local culture and environment. Travel is a privilege that comes with responsibility. So, leave no trace, respect wildlife, and always strive to make a positive impact on the places you visit.
Final thoughts: As you embark on your journey home or to your next destination, take a moment to reflect on your week-long adventure to Machu Picchu. From the ancient ruins of the Sacred Valley to the colorful summit of Rainbow Mountain, you've experienced the best of what Peru has to offer. And remember, the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page. So, keep exploring, keep learning, and keep making unforgettable memories. Safe travels!

Tips & Recommendations

  1. Cusco: High Altitude Adjustment: Given Cusco's high altitude, it's recommended to take it easy on your first day to acclimatize. Hydrate well and try some coca tea, a local remedy for altitude sickness. Don't miss out on visiting Plaza de Armas and Iglesia de San Blas.
  2. Cusco: Peruvian Cuisine: While in Cusco, make sure to try traditional Peruvian dishes such as Ceviche and Lomo Saltado. The San Blas neighborhood is known for its culinary scene.
  3. Sacred Valley: Inca Heritage: The Sacred Valley is a treasure trove of Inca heritage. Be sure to explore Ruinas de Pisac and Ruinas de Ollantaytambo.
  4. Machu Picchu: Early Morning Visit: To avoid crowds and enjoy the best light for photos, plan to visit Machu Picchu early in the morning. The hike to the Sun Gate is a must for panoramic views of the ancient city.
  5. Maras and Moray: Agricultural Wonders: Don't miss the opportunity to visit Salineras de Maras and Moray, two unique agricultural sites that showcase the ingenuity of the ancient Incas.
  6. Rainbow Mountain: Hiking Essentials: The hike to Montaña de Siete Colores can be challenging due to the altitude. Make sure to wear appropriate hiking gear, bring plenty of water, and take your time to enjoy the stunning Andean landscape.
  7. General Tip: Local Currency: While in Peru, it's advisable to keep some local currency (Peruvian Sol) on hand, as not all places accept credit cards, especially in smaller towns and markets.

Climate & Weather

  • Cusco: Cusco, a city in the Peruvian Andes, is known for its mild, subtropical highland climate. The city experiences two distinct seasons: a wet season from November to March and a dry season from April to October. If you're planning to visit Plaza de Armas or Iglesia de San Blas, make sure to carry a raincoat or umbrella during the wet season.
  • Pisac: Pisac, located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, experiences a similar climate to Cusco with a wet and a dry season. When visiting Ruinas de Pisac or Mercado de Pisac, it's advisable to carry a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Ollantaytambo: Ollantaytambo, another town in the Sacred Valley, also experiences a subtropical highland climate. If you're planning to explore Ruinas de Ollantaytambo or Ollantaytambo, make sure to carry a water bottle to stay hydrated.
  • Aguas Calientes: Aguas Calientes, the gateway to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, experiences a warm and temperate climate. The town receives significant rainfall throughout the year, so it's advisable to carry a raincoat or umbrella when you visit Machu Picchu.
  • Maras: Maras, known for its salt mines, experiences a cold semi-arid climate with a wet and a dry season. If you're planning to visit Salineras de Maras or Moray, make sure to carry a jacket or sweater, especially during the cooler months.

What Locals Love

Cusco, Peru:

  • San Pedro Market: A bustling local market where you can sample traditional Peruvian food and buy handmade crafts.
  • Inka Grill: A popular restaurant among locals, known for its delicious Peruvian cuisine.
  • Museo de Arte Precolombino: A museum showcasing the rich pre-Columbian art of Peru.

Ollantaytambo, Peru:

  • Puka Pukara: A red fortress with stunning views of the Sacred Valley.

Aguas Calientes, Peru:

  • Indio Feliz: A quirky restaurant with a unique decor, serving a fusion of French and Peruvian cuisine.

Maras, Peru:

    Remember, the best way to experience a place is often to step off the beaten path. Engage with locals, try the street food, and let the rhythm of the cities guide you.