Arrive in Cusco after flying through Lima. You will be met by a Choose Life guide after collecting any checked luggage. You will be brought to the Hotel Abittare where we will enjoy lunch together and then explore as a group.
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 accommodation 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.
We awaken in Cusco and gather for a brief morning meditation and yoga. After breakfast and a short time to walk the cobblestone streets, we embark on a nice bus ride outside Cusco toward the highland farming communities of Pongobamba and Qoricancha where its inhabitants grow potatoes and other tubers, legumes, and grain at high elevation. We enjoy a short walk through its Incan complex and town.
We travel on to the village of Chinchero, where traditional Quechua weavers, in the 1970s, realized that Cusquenan textile traditions were beginning to disappear. Weavers preferred the convenience of cheap chemical dyes and synthetic yarns. The more intricate patterns and techniques were at risk of extinction as younger generations failed to learn from the elders. Worried that their textile tradition was in danger of disappearing forever, this group of Chinchero weavers realized that the fate of their ancestral knowledge was in their own hands. They came together to try and recover traditional designs, relearn ancient techniques, and to demonstrate their methods and sell their textiles to visitors to support themselves. We immerse ourselves in a fascinating visit with these weavers at the textile center, learning about their artistry, before finding a picnic spot in front of the stunning Urubamba Mountain range.
In the afternoon, we drive to the unusual Incan concentric terraces of Moray before continuing our drive down to Yucay, a lovely farming village at the bottom of the valley where our hotel is located.
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. After optional yoga, and our well-earned dinner of local fare, we review our day and set intentions for the next day during our meeting in a lovely casita on the hotel grounds.
After a morning mindfulness and yoga session, we enjoy a breakfast of local fruits and food before heading out on a cultural excursion. Today our destination is nestled in the Urubamba Mountains outside of Cusco en route to Machu Picchu. We’ll enjoy visiting, learning about their lives, and sharing 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 yoga, a wonderful dinner in town, and an evening meeting amidst the property’s tranquil grounds.
After breakfast, we depart for Piuray Lake, a lagoon in the valley that was once a source of water for the Incas. Amidst the setting of snow peaks in the backdrop, we spend our day kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and taking in the remarkable Andean scene. For lunch, 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. Within this serene setting, those who wish can participate in an afternoon meditation/yoga session. In the late afternoon, we will head back to our hotel for dinner, a meeting, and to rest up for our excursion to Machu Picchu tomorrow.
After breakfast, we bid farewell to our luxury villa. We transfer by road to the station to board our train heading towards the famed Lost City of the Incas – Machu Picchu. We travel in comfort through the picturesque valley 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 by train straight to Aguas Calientes). After the initial river crossing on a sturdy hanging bridge, the walkers’ route will wind alongside the mighty 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.
Along the way we 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 spectacular, very lightly visited 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.
While the hike today is long, and much is uphill, we take it very slowly and stop often. However, the views, experience, and sense of accomplishment are worth it and will stay with you forever!
In the evening, we’ll retire to the comfort of our hotel, Casa Andina, located in Aguas Calientes on the shores of the Vilcanota River, with views of the surrounding mountains. After dinner, we’ll gather for a meeting and some shared stories of the day’s adventure.
We return by bus today to the ancient site of 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 Wayna Picchu Mountain, 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. Those that wish to skip this experience can continue a guided exploration of Machu Picchu before the group meets together again for lunch.
After our Machu Picchu explorations, we board a Vistadome glass-ceiling train to Ollanta, giving us relaxing views during our exit from the valley. We return to Cusco where we reflect about our amazing day over dinner and settle back into Hotel Abittare for our exciting day tomorrow.
Today we explore closer to Cusco. We start the day at Saqsaywaman, the fortress-temple complex of interlocking huge granite blocks, showcasing the remarkable engineering knowledge of the Incas. Together with the city of Cusco, this monumental complex is considered the first of the new seven wonders of the world. The Incas called it the House of the Sun and the Spaniards called it a fortress because of its zig-zag shape and the 1536 revolution. The construction, which is made up of three platforms one on top of the other, was one of the most important religious complexes of its time.
From there we continue on a short drive to meet with a traditional shaman. In the heart of Peru, shamans continue to practice healing methods, passed down through generations over thousands of years. These native healers are the wisdom keepers of the ancient Incan traditions of the Andes and the jungle of Peru, with deep knowledge of the mystical, natural medicines of Pachamama (Mother Earth) and a Cosmic understanding of the nature of all of reality. We will participate in an authentic ceremony where we can offer up our own hopes for balance and healing.
After lunch nearby, we return to Cusco to enjoy some free time to explore on our last afternoon. That evening, during our final meeting and farewell dinner at a lovely Cusco restaurant, we share all we’ve experienced together during this magical week. Overnight at Hotel Abittare.
You are free to depart at any time on this day and airport transfers from the hotel will be scheduled for you.
The accommodations selected for this sober adventure were chosen for a combination of authenticity and convenience. In Cusco, we stay in an historic colonial hotel located in the center of town. Once in the Sacred Valley, our accommodation is at a private luxury lodge with its own fruit trees and lovely grounds. In Aguas Calientes, the town serving Machu Picchu, our hotel in town sits on the shores of the Vilcanota River, with views of the surrounding mountains. All accommodations are of the deluxe or luxury category and have private bathroom facilities.
High in the Andes, our lodgings enhance the experience, providing peace, authenticity and a sense of place.
Our trips are specifically designed for sober travelers. In addition to the local guide who leads the group throughout the journey, the trips include the services of a CLSA Facilitator who leads meditation and yoga activities, and daily recovery topic meetings. All activities are optional, but they are designed to create community amongst like-minded people.
Activities on our adventures are all optional, and often include opportunities for participants to spend down time on their own or hanging out with others. After all, we are all about community.
Most of the walks and hikes are considered moderate or easy, though they take place at altitude. The hike on the Inca Trail towards Machu Picchu is challenging, but optional. Those who wish to skip the hike that day can take the train all the way to Aguas Calientes, where we’ll meet up as a group again.
Our Machu Picchu adventure begins on Day 1 with a noon-time lunch in Cusco, followed by an afternoon walking tour of the old town. Please plan your flights accordingly. We highly recommend arriving a day early to avoid airline delays, and to acclimate. For those arriving a day early, we can book the extra night at our accommodations in Cusco, the Hotel Abittare. You are free to depart at noon or later on the final day.
Most travelers arrive in Cusco, Peru, a day before the trip begins so they can rest from their travels and to ensure airline delays do not impact their arrival. We have arranged a Pre-Trip Extra Hotel Night in Cusco at Hotel Abittare where we stay on Day 1 of our trip. The cost of this extra day is $95 per person in double occupancy. The single room fee is $145. The price includes airport transfer, hotel night, breakfast, and taxes. Since travelers arrive at different times, we will attempt to provide a roommate match for those requesting it but cannot guarantee that we can do so. Click here to book your extension.
If your flights require an overnight stay in Lima, we recommend booking a room at the at Costa del Sol Lima Airport hotel. It’s very convenient, with a walkway linking it to the airport. Please book directly with the hotel. You can then fly from Lima to Cusco in the morning. Again, please be sure to arrive in time for a noontime lunch and afternoon walking tour in Cusco on Day 1.
Accommodations, services of local guides and lodge staff, services of the group facilitator, all meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on the final day, airport transfers on Day 1 and final day, all activities and entrance fees, all taxes, permits, and service fees.
Travel to the starting point of your trip, gratuities, passport and visa fees (if any), optional activities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, laundry, and internet, etc.), airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes (if any), optional travel protection insurance.