This is a great way to see a little bit of the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu for those who are short of time. We travel by car to Ollantaytambo, stopping at Chinchero along the way, with time to enjoy both of these lovely villages. We then take the train to Aguas Calientes where we’ll spend the night, enjoying an early morning visit to Machu Picchu the next day.
Machu Picchu, that famous Inca citadel located in the heart of the Peruvian Andes, is one of the world’s most well known archaeological sites. “Machu Picchu” is a compound Quechua word that means “old peak” or “old mountain”. The famous mountain that faces Machu Picchu, the one that appears in most of the classic views of the site, is Huayna Picchu, which means “young peak”.
On this trip, you will need to bring very little other than what your personal preferences dictate. For our comprehensive recommendations on what to pack during an Andean trek, see What to Bring. For more great suggestions, check out our blog about How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru.
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After getting picked up at your Cusco hotel around 8am, we head to the Sacred Valley. Our first stop is Chinchero, a small village famous for its ancient weaving tradition. After a short visit, we continue to Ollantaytambo where, after purchasing a boleto turistico, we can have a tour of its interesting ruins followed by some free time to explore this lovely living Inca village, with its cobblestone streets and stone buildings. Do a little shopping, wander or enjoy coffee and a treat at one of the town’s cute cafes. We recommend Hearts Café, a social enterprise run by the NGO Living Hearts. Proceeds from the café support children in the villages surrounding Ollantaytambo. Lunch is on your own today.
In the afternoon we will take the train to Aguas Calientes, a stunning 1.5h journey through the magnificent Vilcanota Canyon. Arriving at Aguas Calientes, we will check into our accommodations. Time permitting, you can explore this village to do some souvenir shopping or check out the town’s namesake hot springs! We will have dinner together before tucking in for an early night, in preparation for tomorrow’s pre-dawn start!
Rise and shine! After our pre-dawn wake-up call we take one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu in order to appreciate this World Heritage Site and one of the Modern Wonders of the World in the early morning light. We will enjoy a 2-3h guided tour of Machu Picchu with our guide before having some free time to explore on our own. For some tips on what to see, check out our recommended Machu Picchu highlights. You may want to climb Huayna Picchu to cap off your Machu Picchu experience, but remember that permits are limited and must be reserved at the time of booking! There is an additional cost to hike Huayna Picchu not included in the price of this trek.
After visiting Machu Picchu, you can take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes (or walk down!). From there, we return to Cusco in the afternoon by the Expedition (tourist class) train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, where we will be met by our driver who will transfer you directly back to your hotel in Cusco. Total travel time is about 4 hours from Aguas Calientes to Cusco.