Expedition Overview

Expedition Overview


Free Trekking Poles

Free trekking poles when you book your active expedition

Book your Active Expedition by November 30, 2018 to receive your trekking poles! To redeem this offer:

  • Call 888-689-2557 and reference the code TREK2018 to your travel specialist at the time of booking; or
  • Visit natgeoexpeditions.com/active, select your trip, and enter TREK2018 in the Promo Code field of the reservation form at the time of booking.

Offer Details:

  • Offer is valid for National Geographic Active Expeditions for new bookings made by November 30, 2018 for trips departing prior to October 20, 2019.
  • One pair of trekking poles/person on a booking, valid for up to two people traveling together.
  • Not valid on previously booked trips.
  • Valid for one-time use. Not redeemable for cash or cash equivalent.
  • The offer applies to bookings for active expeditions only.
  • Offer code may only be used at the time of booking.
  • Hike the Cordillera de Vilcabamba from one beautiful mountain lodge to the next, and cap off the trip at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.
  • Delve into the enchanting world of the Inca during an evening with archaeologist and National Geographic grantee Peter Frost or one of his colleagues.
  • Spend a full day exploring the magnificent citadel of Machu Picchu, and make the optional climb up to one of two iconic peaks, Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu.
  • Go off the beaten path to explore less visited Inca ruins, including Tarawasi and Llactapata.



Wind your way from lodge to lodge through the luxuriant forests and snowcapped peaks of Peru’s stunning Cordillera Vilcabamba. Trek among glaciers and alpine lakes to local villages and lesser known Inca sites tucked into the slopes. At the end of each day, settle into a picturesque mountain lodge to enjoy a soak in the hot tub, a cozy fire, and a delicious meal. Then venture deep into the mysteries of the Inca as we explore the breathtaking sanctuary of Machu Picchu.

Day 1: Cusco, Peru

Arrive in Cusco and head out on a guided walk through this ancient city, once the capital of the vast Inca Empire. Venture into ornate cathedrals, stroll the central square where artisans display fine Quechuan handicrafts, and soak up the charm of hidden courtyards and cobbled streets. Later, meet up with your fellow hikers for a welcome dinner and hear a talk by archaeologist and National Geographic grantee Peter Frost, or another prominent local archaeologist.

Meals Included:Dinner
Accommodations:Palacio del Inka Hotel
Day 2: Soraypampa

Drive to our first lodge, stopping along the way to visit the ruins of Tarawasi, an Inca ceremonial center built from precisely carved blocks of granite. Continue to Marcoccasa and set out on an optional hike along the Camino Real, or Royal Path, pausing for a picnic lunch on the trail. This afternoon, arrive at Salkantay Lodge, nestled in the valley with a breathtaking view of the 20,574-foot Salkantay, the highest peak in the Cordillera de Vilcabamba. After free time this afternoon, gather for a hearty meal. (11 miles hiking, 4-6 hours)

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Salkantay Lodge
Day 3: Soraypampa

We’ll spend today acclimating to the altitude. You may opt to go on a half-day hike to a stunning glacial lake where—if you feel adventurous—you can jump in for a quick and refreshing swim. Or relax in a cozy lounge or a hot tub at the lodge. (4 miles hiking, 3-4 hours)

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Salkantay Lodge
Day 4: Huaraqmachay

Rise early and set out on our four-day trek to the legendary citadel of Machu Picchu. Follow the Río Blanco valley, hiking the girth of Humantay, a snowy peak across from Salkantay. We’ll reach the highest point of our trip at 15,213 feet, and pause a moment to admire a vista of snowcapped peaks. From here, descend to Wayra Lodge (12,812') where showers and a hot tub await. (8 miles hiking, 5-7 hours)

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Wayra Lodge
Day 5: Collpapampa

Enjoy a leisurely morning at Wayra Lodge. Today’s hike takes us out of the stark high-alpine region and into increasingly lush vegetation, as we head down into the Collpapampa Valley. Our home for the night is perched on an open promontory at the confluence of three rivers. The surrounding cloud forest harbors wild orchids and butterflies as well as remarkable birdlife. Upon arrival, sit down to a pachamanca, a traditional underground stone barbecue. (6 miles hiking, 4 hours)

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Collpa Lodge
Day 6: Lucmabamba

Continue downhill through the Santa Teresa River Valley, a verdant area home to local farms and villages. Hike past coffee plantations and tropical fruit orchards, as well as dazzling wildflowers of all colors. Stop alongside the river for a picnic lunch. From here it is a short climb to Lucma Lodge, hidden among avocado trees. We’ll arrive in time to explore the village and meet some local residents. (9 miles hiking, 5-6 hours)

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Lucma Lodge
Day 7: Aguas Calientes

Our trail winds uphill toward Llactapata Pass at 8,974 feet, where we’ll catch our first glimpse of Machu Picchu far in the distance. Explore the ruins of Llactapata, a sacred Inca site that has been recently restored. Like Machu Picchu, the ruins here were rediscovered by explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911 and excavated with support from National Geographic. After lunch at an observation point overlooking Machu Picchu, follow the path down to the Urubamba River, hiking through thick bamboo stands, orchards, and coffee plantations. A short, scenic train ride brings us to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. Settle into our hotel, Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World nestled in the cloud forest amid orchids and colorful birds. (7 miles hiking, 5-6 hours)

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:This night includes a stay at a National Geographic Unique Lodge.
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel is a haven of Andean charm tucked into the tropical forests just beneath the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
Day 8: Machu Picchu

Stacked up a hillside amid soaring Andean peaks, the 15th-century Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is considered one of the new seven wonders of the world. A short bus ride brings us to the sanctuary, where we'll spend an entire day exploring its breathtaking labyrinth of stone temples, sanctuaries, and homes. Delve into the site with our guides, learning about the Inca’s sophisticated culture and technology, and discovering the secrets of this royal city lost to the wider world for some 500 years. Opt to climb the steep peak of Huayna Picchu for a rewarding view of the entire sanctuary and the surrounding peaks. In the unlikely event that Huayna Picchu permits are not available for your departure date, we will climb Machu Picchu Mountain instead. (3-4 optional miles hiking, 3-4 hours)

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
Day 9: Cusco

This morning, opt to relax or explore the trails surrounding our lodge. Then take the train from Aguas Calientes to the Sacred Valley, where lunch awaits at a charming restaurant. Continue by private van to Cusco, stopping along the way at the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco, a weaving cooperative founded by National Geographic grantee Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez. Learn about the center's work preserving and reviving this ancient Peruvian art form. Tonight, toast our Andean trek during a farewell dinner at a Cusco restaurant.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:Palacio del Inka Hotel
Day 10: Cusco

Explore charming Cusco on your own this morning. Later, transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast