An exploration of our planet’s most mystical historical site high in the Peruvian Andes
High in the Andes resides a destination so mysterious that it lay in hiding for hundreds of years. Machu Picchu – the Lost City of the Incas – originated in the 15th century, built as a massive stone citadel. Now partially uncovered, those who delve into its history are provided a spiritual encounter like none other on the planet. On our Peru journey, we’ll explore the historic colonial city of Cusco then head into the Sacred Valley, walking the traditional trails that line the slopes of some of South America’s most impressive mountains. Morning yoga and mindfulness complement our local activities, and evening reflection meetings build the all-important recovery community that accompanies us on our journey.
Activities: Hiking, site-seeing, ruins visitation, cultural immersion, daily meditation, yoga, mindfulness workshops, recovery reflection meetings
Group Size: 12-16 travelers
Cost: $3,995 per person double occupancy (single room charge: $795 - roommate matches available at no additional fee)
Day 1: Arrive Cusco, Peru
Arrive in Cusco after flying through Lima. The high Andean city of Cusco maintains much of its original design from the Incan city built by ruler Pachacutec in the 1400s. The influence of the Spanish can also be felt as churches and palaces were constructed beginning with their rule in the 16th century. The result is a lively historic city of cobbled streets and stone buildings surrounded by imposing mountain vistas. Our deluxe accommodations, Hotel Abittare, is constructed from a renovated colonial mansion, and located in Cusco's historical center, just in front of the archaeological temple of Qorikancha, giving us an inspiring feel for the city’s rich history. After lunch, we head out on a short walking tour of the old city before enjoying dinner at a local restaurant. In the evening we will gather for our first meeting.
Day 2: Andean Trail Chinchero to Urquillos
We awaken in Cusco and gather for a brief morning meditation. After breakfast and a short time to walk the cobblestone streets, we depart Cusco and journey into the Sacred Valley, home to Peru’s major archeological sites, verdant green valleys, picturesque villages, and bustling markets.
No Peruvian adventure would be complete without the chance to experience the local trail system, and today we set off by foot on a 6-mile casual hike starting at the archaeological complex of Chinchero and continuing through the Sacred Valley to the tiny village of Urquillos. The trail is not terribly difficult – we take it sloping in a downhill direction – and the views and the adventure are constant throughout the day. As we have selected a remote route, the only people we are likely to encounter are locals tending to their livestock. We have lunch along the trail, adding to the authenticity of our Andean experience. In the evening we journey back to the comfort of the Hotel La Casona de Yucay, where we enjoy a well-earned meal of local fare, and have a meeting under the stars within the hotel grounds.
Our destination this afternoon is the charming Hotel la Casona de Yucay, a serene hacienda retreat surrounded by a magnificent mountain vista. Located on ancient land chosen by the Incas as a peaceful resting place, the hotel is in the picturesque village of Yucay in the heart of the Sacred Valley. Built in 1810 and recently refurbished, the hotel offers authenticity and modernity in equal measure. The sprawling grounds and many open outdoor spaces give guests a sense of privacy and an important connection with the region. It also gives us a perfect platform for yoga, meditation and evening meetings.
Day 3: Pisac Ruins & Market
After a morning mindfulness and yoga session, we enjoy a breakfast of local fruits and fare before heading out on a cultural excursion. Today our destination is Pisac, nestled in the Urubamba Mountains outside of Cusco en route to Machu Picchu. A visit to the traditional market gives us a chance to interact with people of the indigenous Quechua communities who arrive from the nearby hillsides to sell produce. We’ll also have an opportunity to find local weavings, ponchos, hats, jewelry, ceramics, and Andean musical instruments. We’ll enjoy a lunch with the people of the village of Huayllafara, a traditional community that farms corn, potatoes, beans, and quinoa. We return to Hotel la Casona de Yucay for an evening meeting among the property’s tranquil grounds.
Day 4: Piutay Lake / Camping
After a morning meditation and an opportunity for yoga on the hotel’s lush property, we bid farewell to our luxury villa and depart for Piuray Lake, a lagoon in the valley that was once a source of water for the Incas. With the setting of snow peaks in the backdrop, we spend our day kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and taking in the remarkable Andean scene. In the evening, our guides arrange a pachamanca – an authentic meal prepared in an in-ground oven with the aid of hot stones – giving us yet another opportunity to connect with the sense of place. Tonight, we experience a special camping adventure in the remote Sacred Valley, enjoying unusual privacy in the mountains for our evening meeting amidst extraordinary scenery.
Day 5: Machu Picchu Sun Gate by Foot & by Rail
We awaken on the shores of the lake for a meditation and yoga session before enjoying a fresh breakfast in the outdoors. We then transfer by road to the station to board our train heading towards the famed Lost City of the Incas – Machu Picchu. We travel through the valley in comfort to kilometer 104, where we begin a journey by foot along the trail to the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu (if you wish to skip this hike, arrangements can be made to continue straight to Aguas Calientes). The walkers’ route will wind alongside the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley; we’ll see a noticeable change in our surroundings as we enter the verdant and misty cloud forest of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. Crossing a hanging bridge that spans the mighty river, we’ll visit the ruins of Chachabamba, which is believed to have been a spiritual center dedicated to water deities. From there, it’s a 3-hour ascent to a second important spiritual center, Wiñay Wayna. These ruins are built into a steep slope on the way up to the Sun Gate. After we explore for a bit, we’ll cut across the ridge above Machu Picchu to reach Inti Punku, Gate of the Sun. This is a dramatic moment, as we look down on the magnificent Machu Picchu ruins spread out far below, gaining a glimpse into a mystical, forgotten world.
In the evening, we’ll retire to the comfort of our hotel, Casa Andina, located in Aguas Calientes on the shores of the Vilacanota River with views of the surrounding mountains. We’ll gather for a meeting and some shared stories of the day’s adventure.
Day 6: Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu
We return by bus today to Machu Picchu to explore the central elements of these fascinating ruins. Our guides are experts in Inca history, and at their side you will gain insight into this remarkable site that is unavailable to the casual tourist. By special permit, we also have an option to hike Huayna Picchu, taking us along a stone pathway that rises nearly 1,000 feet above Machu Picchu. Steel cables provide support during the one-hour climb. For hikers and trekkers, a climb up this special trail represents the ultimate in Peruvian experiences, as the views of the Citadel and Sacred Valley below are exceptional from the unique perspective of the top of the mountain.
In the afternoon we return to Aguas Calientes and after a free afternoon to explore the eateries and shops in the town center, we will convene for a meal at a local restaurant and a meeting.
Day 7: Temple of the Moon / Temple of the Monkeys
This morning we bid farewell to Aguas Calientes and the Machu Picchu region and board a Vistadome glass-ceiling train to Ollanta, giving us relaxing views during our exit from the valley. We continue by bus to Cusco where we enjoy an evening meal at a local restaurant and a meeting in the stone courtyard of Hotel Abittare. Today we explore a lesser visited route outside of Cusco that brings us from highland wetlands with abundant birdlife on a downhill journey of around 3 miles to the Cara del Inca (Inca´s face), a tranquil spot for reflection. Then we continue to the Temple of the Moon, an ancient Huaca, or ceremonial site, consisting of two caves cut into the side of a hill. Inside the cave are altars and mysterious carvings of animals and unidentified objects. The openings to the caves allow moonlight to touch the altar on certain nights. Hiking down a grassy path, we’ll continue until we reach Cusilluchayoc, the Temple of the Monkeys, with ancient stone carvings in the form of monkeys and other animals. We continue descending until arriving at the main plaza of the artist’s district of San Blas, where a vehicle will be waiting for us to bring us to a local Cusco restaurant for our final dinner together in the Andes.
Day 8: Cusco / Home
We gather this morning one final time for a short meditation and yoga session before breakfast and a transfer to the airport for flights homeward.
The accommodations selected for this sober adventure were chosen for a combination of privacy, convenience, and authenticity. In Cusco, we stay in an historic colonial hotel located in the center of town. Once in the Sacred Valley, our accommodations range from one night in a remote comfortable camp with cots and bedding to several nights at a private luxury lodge with its own fruit trees and lovely grounds. All accommodations are of the deluxe or luxury category (except the tented camp) and have private bathroom facilities.