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”.
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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 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. Your 4h visit to Machu Picchu can be spent exploring some of the alternative routes, like the Inca Bridge, after which your guide will give you a 2-3h walking tour of the historic citadel.
If you’re feeling adventurous you may wish to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain, but take note: this requires an extra permit, and they can sell out well in advance! Be sure to tell us at booking if you would like to add one of these hikes. For more tips on what to see, check out our Visiting Machu Picchu page.
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.