It's easy to grasp the ancient Inca mindset—once your lungs adjust to the rarefied Andean air. From your 15,200-foot vantage point atop Salkantay Pass, it's clear why these majestic pinnacles inspired awe among the native inhabitants. And at the apex of this trek, Machu Picchu. You're breathless. Is it the altitude or the views? A little of both.
1 Savor stunning vistas of the Cusco Valley as you trek to the Inca sites of Q'enko, Temple of the Moon and fortress-temple Sacsayhuamán (Stonehenge of the Andes) with a local expert Visit the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art to view unique artifacts from ancient Peruvian civilizations.
2-3 Our high-altitude lodge invites a soak in its outdoor hot tub While you're getting acclimated, walk up to a glacial lake or opt for a horseback ride—either way, get lost in views of towering white-capped Salkantay, Inca mythology's most sacred mountain Taste pisco sours, the country's national drink, before our dinner of organic regional cuisine.
4-6 Hike from lodge to lodge, with mules and porters transporting your luggage, and sleep in style Condors soar overhead as you travel up the Río Blanco Valley, circling Humantay Peak Descend through a lush subtropical landscape above the Salkantay River before passing a patchwork of orchards and coffee plantations Feeling adventurous? Try cuy (guinea pig) at a traditional Andean Pachamanca feast.
7-9 Gaze upon magical Machu Picchu from the seldom-traveled Llactapata trail Head downhill through bamboo forests to the Vilcanota River Take a full day to deeply explore the ruins of Machu Picchu: hike to the Gate of the Sun for an impressive overview, then get up close as our local guide reveals secrets of the "Lost City's" astrological designs and provides insight into the stonework at this sacred site Learn about local orchids, birds and tea plantations with a Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel naturalist.