Trip Number: 13575A
Staff: Aurora Roberts
- Trek between luxurious lodges through the Cordillera Vilcabamba
- Tour the Inca sites of Machu Picchu and Cusco
- Enjoy hot tubs, fine cuisine, and amazing scenery
- Five-day guided trek to Machu Picchu
- Private, guided tours of Machu Picchu, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley
- All accommodations, meals, guide services, on-trip transportation, and
Photo: Jim Balsitis
Craving the challenge of a Machu Picchu trek, but aren't keen on sleeping in
a tent? At last, there is a more comfortable alternative! We will hike between
four small new eco-lodges on a less-visited alternative to the overcrowded Inca
Trail. Hot showers, delicious meals, and comfortable beds will seem like the
ultimate indulgence after high-altitude hiking days.
After meeting in the city of Cusco, we'll start with a day of touring the city
and another in the nearby Sacred Valley. Then we'll transfer to our first lodge,
where we'll spend another day and a half catching our breath -- literally --
as we get used to the altitude with some easy hikes.
Once acclimatized, we'll spend four days trekking through the spectacular Cordillera
Vilcabamba, passing glistening, snow-capped 20,000-footers, including majestic
Salcantay. Each evening will find us in cozy, eco-friendly lodges, eating gourmet
dishes, soaking in the hot tub under the stars, and snuggling into down comforters.
Pack animals will carry our gear.
At the end of our trek, we'll reward ourselves with a full day exploring the
mysterious ruins of Machu Picchu.
Photo: Jim Balsitis
Day 1: Arrive in Cusco (11,000 feet) by lunchtime, gather
for a group orientation meeting, then take a guided tour of the city and surrounding
Inca ruins. Overnight: Cusco.
Day 2: Today, we'll take a tour of the beautiful Sacred Valley,
visiting colorful Pisac market and the fascinating Olleytaytambo Inca ruins,
and learning about local agriculture. Overnight: Sacred Valley.
Day 3: After an early breakfast, we'll set off for our first
lodge. We will be transported by van for the first part of the route, then have
the option of a moderate four-hour acclimation hike on the "Camino Real"
to arrive at the lodge by foot. A soak in the hot tub, under the stars and mountain
tops, ends a perfect day! Overnight: lodge (12,800 feet).
Day 4: Today will be an opportunity to acclimate to elevation
while staying at this gorgeous location. You'll have the option of a half-day
hike to a glacial lake, exploring the grounds around the lodge, or just relaxing
and admiring the scenery. Overnight: same lodge.
Day 5: We will start the day early and cross the highest pass
on the trek (15,000 feet) by lunchtime. Views of snow-capped mountains will
surround us and we'll look for Andean Condors, circling above us. We will reach
our new lodge by mid-afternoon. Hiking time: six hours, challenging. Overnight:
second lodge (12,600 feet).
Day 6: Today, our hike will be mostly downhill, following
high above the Salkantay River and into increasingly verdant scenery. We'll
plan to arrive at the lodge by the river by lunchtime. Hiking time: four hours,
easy. Overnight: third lodge (9,350 feet).
Photo: Jim Balsitis
Day 7: We'll walk through the river valley all day, past
coffee and banana plantations and many orchards. A van will take us for a 30-minute
ride after lunch to the trailhead where we can hike to our fourth and last lodge.
From here it will be a 30-minute walk uphill where we find our lodge in an avocado
orchard. Hiking time: six hours, moderate. Overnight: fourth lodge (6,890 feet).
Day 8: This will be the last day of our trek. We'll hike uphill
for a couple of hours to get a spectacular view of Machu Picchu in the distance
and to access the Llactapata Ruins. We'll have lunch here then descend through
forests of bamboo and farmland to the Aobamba River and take a short train ride
to Aguas Calientes. Hiking time: six hours, moderate. Overnight: Aguas Calientes.
Day 9: A day in Machu Picchu! We will get up early and get
the bus up the mountain to the ruins. After a guided tour there, you will have
the rest of the day free to explore on your own -- maybe hiking to the Gate
of the Sun or returning to Aguas Calientes to visit the market and local baths.
Overnight: Aguas Calientes.
Day 10: We will take a morning train to Ollentaytambo in the
Sacred Valley where a bus will meet us. From here we'll go back to Cusco by
lunchtime and a free afternoon. Overnight: Cusco.
Day 11: Our trip ends after breakfast. You'll have the options
of flying home, staying longer in Cusco, or visiting other places in beautiful
This trip begins and ends in Cusco. The leader will send additional information
to registered participants.
Accommodations and Food
The on-trek accommodations are a highlight of this trip. While most treks in
this area involve camping, we will be staying in cozy, 6- to 12-room eco-lodges
-- some even come with outdoor hot tubs. There is nothing quite so indulgent
as sleeping in a warm, cozy bed in a roadless area where everything must be
carried in by mules. Meals at each of the lodges are prepared by a high-end
chef and local kitchen staff. Accommodations in Lima, Cusco, and Aguas Calientes
can be considered "upscale tourist class" (3+ to 4 stars). The food
on-trek is delicious and plentiful, with vegetarian options at every meal. Meals
outside of the trek will be in local restaurants, with vegetarian options available.
Photo: Jim Balsitis
Although our gear will be carried by pack animals and we will spend nights
in comfortable lodges, this is a strenuous, high-altitude trek and should not
be underestimated. Altitudes on the trek range from 6,200 feet to nearly 16,000
feet, and we will hike up to seven hours per day. Some days require ascents
or descents of several thousand feet. You must be in excellent physical condition
for this trip. Previous high-altitude hiking experience is preferred. The leader
is happy to answer any questions you may have and to help you plan your pre-trip
Equipment and Clothing
April is generally a great time to visit Peru! Weather is typically nice with
cooler temperatures ranging from 35-70 degrees F. On many days Cusco is partly
cloudy, but Machu Picchu is usually sunny! We must still be prepared for occasional
rain. A pair of well broken-in, sturdy hiking boots is essential, as is a full
set of raingear and some warm layers. The leader will send a complete packing
list to registered participants and is available to answer any questions you
may have about gear.
For photos and trip resources of the area, you can reference this website:
The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about
conservation and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our
work is accomplished by volunteers, aided by a salaried staff, encouraging grassroots
involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants toward environmentally
understanding parallel concerns at home and abroad.
Tourism in this area of Peru has been a mixed blessing, especially with the
increase in popularity of Machu Picchu. On one hand, it accounts for much of
the economy and provides jobs for many of the local people. However, it has
also led to widespread exploitation of labor and the environment, including
a troublesome trash disposal problem on popular trekking routes and damage to
the Machu Picchu ruins. We will discuss how tourism can be used as a source
for economic and community development, and the steps that some organizations
are taking to promote more ecologically friendly tourism. Although the lodges
we stay in have an impact on the environment, the owners have employed many
innovative building and maintenance techniques that reduce their footprint.
They have also gone to great lengths to hire and train local employees and to
help local support staff organize for higher wages and better working conditions
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Aurora Roberts is an avid hiker who enjoys hiking and exploring the outdoors. As she became conscientious of the destruction of forests and pollution of the environment, she saw the need to preserve them, which naturally led her to join the Sierra Club. Aurora became an Outings leader after participating in National and International Outings. She leads international trips to destinations including Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, England, Ireland, Peru, Viet Nam, and Scotland as well as National Outings in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She spends a lot of her time reading, preparing gourmet meals, and writing. Her attention to detail, patience, and flexibility will ensure that you have a wonderful experience.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips