Day 1: Welcome To Peru
Today you arrive in the ancient capital of the Incan Empire, Cusco. Enjoy private transportation to our hotel and a delicious Welcome Dinner with the group. Cusco was the religious and administrative capital of the Incan Empire which flourished in ancient Peru. The city was laid out in the form of a Puma to represent the Power and Authority of this central hub of civilization. Today it is a blend of cobblestone streets, colonial period architecture, bustling markets, and unmistakable Peruvian charm. Cusco is infamous for its bright, bohemian markets where you can sample fresh juices, chocolates, shop for authentic alpaca clothing, or just settle in and people watch with the quintessential Spirit, the Pisco Sour. If you are a chocolate fan, remember that Peru is globally celebrated for the quality of its cacao beans and chocolate, and samples are everywhere!
Day 2: Sacred Valley Tour
Today we head out of the city and explore two incredible sites and an Andean village. You will have the opportunity to learn how the Incas thrived in the high Andes by using the natural resources found in the Sacred Valley. Around 8AM, you will start the beautiful drive out to the terraces of Moray. This site is home to one of the largest and best preserved examples of the famous Inca terracing farm technique, which allowed the Incas to grow a variety of different plants all year long. Next we will head to Maras, which is a collection over 3,000 salt pools that are over 1,000 years old! Finally we will journey to the town of Chinchero, tour of the Rainbow Temple, learn why the Incas worshiped the rainbow, and visit a Women’s Weaving Cooperative.
You will enjoy a demonstration of local weavers who still use traditional Inca patterns and techniques for dyeing fabric. For lunch, you will enjoy a cooking lesson, where a local family will teach you how to make quinoa soup, a staple of their diet. We will arrive back in Cusco around 3-4pm to rest, relax, and see more of the city.
Day 3: Day Hike
Today we visit the stunning Humantay Lake and warm our legs up for our Inca Trail hike. Enjoy an early morning drive through the Sacred Valley to Soraypampa (12,460ft.) where you will enjoy a delicious hot organic breakfast. After breakfast, we will hike uphill through an incredible landscape full of local plants and animals, and snow-capped mountains. Once you reach the top of your hike, your efforts will be seriously rewarded, as you see the stunning turquoise waters of Humantay Lake. This. Place. Is. Gorgeous!
Shamans have used the crystal clear waters of Hamantay Lake for centuries as a vortex to blessing, prayer, and deep listening to the ancestor spirits. After our own private Pachamama Prayer ceremony, you are welcome to relax, soak up the pristine surroundings, and for the brave souls who crave energetic cleansing, you can even take a frigid dip! Between 12–1PM we will begin our decent down the same path where a delicious, warm lunch will be waiting to nourish our bellies. We head back to Cusco for a free night, and perhaps, a pisco sour!
Day 4: Free Day
Tomorrow we will start our hike up the Inca Trail. This day is for you to explore the city, rest, and prepare for our journey into the high Andes. But, if you are craving more adventure (and are doing okay with altitude) there is the option to explore Rainbow Mountain (Altitude 17,000ft!). This stunning stretch of land is a geological wonder and home to various minerals that combined to turn the soil of this mountain into a masterpiece of colors. You will be picked up early from your hotel, around 4AM and trek your way up the mountains for approximately 4 hours. During the hike, you will enjoy amazing views of the surrounding Andes, glacial peaks, red mountains, rocky hills, and traditional llamas and alpacas that graze in this valley.
As you reach the summit of the mountain, you will be able to spot more Andean wildlife. It is one of the few places in the world where you can see wild Vicuñas (the Andean camel). Vicuñas are in the same family as llamas, although they are much smaller. Their wool is the most expensive wool in the world. Once you arrive at the top of Rainbow Mountain, you will see amazing views of the valleys and Ausangate Glacier Peak in front of you. Ausangate is part of the Cordillera Vilcanota Range and is the tallest mountain of the Cusco region (just under 21,000 feet elevation). Enjoy the sites while soaking up a welcome hot tea or hot chocolate before descending downhill and enjoy a delicious, freshly prepared hot lunch. After lunch you will relax and watch the majestic valley on the return trip back back to Cusco. Drop off at our hotel will be around 7 – 8 p.m.
** Prices for a full tour of Rainbow Mountain start at $180USD. You can choose to hire a horse and horse-handler to take you up Rainbow Mountain for and additional ($80 USD). This is NOT recommended if you are having trouble adjusting to the altitude or want to conserve your energy for the Inca Trail.
Day 5: Inca Trail
TREK DAY 1: The Journey Begins!
Today’s Archetypal theme is the Snake in Peruvian Shamanism. Snake helps us stay grounded and find our power on the Earth Plane. She is a symbol of great healing and allows us to ground our fears instead of being ruled by them. She is the animal who resides closest to the earth and represents the root chakra. Working with snake energy helps us understand our relationship with fear and how we can cultivate safety and security without disrespecting the Earth, or each other. She helps us shed limitations of the past as the serpent sheds its skin.
The adventure begins early with a 5:00AM pick-up at our hotel! The drive from Cusco to Piscacucho takes 3 hours and includes beautiful views of the Sacred Valley, the Urubamba River, and Andean towns, including the Inca town of Ollantaytambo.
Max Altitude: 9,843 ft.
Min Altitude: 8,438ft.
Distance Traveled: 7.5 miles
Walking Time: 6-7 hours
Half-way to the trail head we will stop for a small breakfast before continuing on to Piscacucho 8,438ft. where we will start a life-changing journey. Together we will clear the official Inca Trail check point, cross a suspension footbridge across the Urubamba River, and begin the trek with a gentle climb. Today’s hike starts with three hours of relatively level terrain (called the “Inca Flat”) as the trail follows the watery flow of the river. You can enjoy marvelous views of Mount Veronica (18,865ft) in the distance as you pass through a forest of giant cacti and native bushes. At Miskay we gradually ascend to Willkaraccay, high above the mouth of the Kusichaka River, and across from the Inca town of Llactapata (Terrace Town). You will take a break on a flat bluff high above this extensive site, which was built as a fort, as it commands the entrance to the Kusichaka Valley. In the Afternoon, we will encounter the unique terracing system that the Incas used to irrigate maize (corn) in the high mountain climate. We will spend some time exploring these incredible ruins before heading down to today’s lunch site at Tayaroc. This lunch will be your first time eating the amazing food prepared by our private chef! After lunch, we will have another 3-4 hours of hiking to reach a our campsite in the village of Wayllabamba (9,843ft).
At the end of each day, we will share a “ family tea time” while we wait for dinner to be prepared. Together we will enjoy hot chocolate, a variety of teas (including the traditional Matcha Tea), delicious finger foods and watch the Full Moon (Sagittarius) rise up as we go inward for our daily dharma sharing and guided meditation. Meanwhile, an exquisite dinner will be prepared by our professional chef and served buffet style. After dinner our Tour Guides will go over the plans for the next great day.
Day 6: Challenge Day
Today’s archetypal theme is the Puma. The energy of Puma symbolizes our courage and inner strength. She teaches us to walk with wisdom and protect our medicine space within the heart. She represents the material world and rules the emotional sacral chakra. She also helps us cultivate freedom and occupy the present moment with Peace.
Max Altitude: 13,780ft
Min Altitude: 9,840ft
Distance Traveled: 7.4 miles
Walking Time: 7-8 hours
Today is our Challenge Day and we will need all our inner Puma Energy! Rise and shine at 5:30am for a fresh cup of hot tea and prepare for the day. The crew will pack up camp as we gather our belongings and eat a nutritious, warm breakfast. After breakfast we will hike for about an hour to the Ayapata valley. After arriving to the valley, there will be a soft, uphill climb through the forest and along a scenic stream. At this point, you will be walking at an elevation of 10,824ft. Today will be the most challenging day of hiking, and you will be able to take your time and enjoy breathtaking scenery along the way. After a short break in Ayapata Valley, you will start the most strenuous climb of the trek, with an ascent of 3,937ft up 400 year old Inca stone steps. Our efforts will be rewarded with spectacular views, as this stretch of the trail is surrounded by majestic snow-capped mountain peaks (Apu Huayanay Mountains). Don’t worry, we will stop several times to catch our breath and enjoy the views. Our lunch stop will be in Llulluchapampa Valley, which has absolutely stunning views. To reach it, you will ascend steeply uphill through the Corralpunku Valley to the Llulluchayoc Zone where you will see hundreds of species of birds that inhabit this area; including hummingbirds, falcons, and the Condor, also known as the king of the Andean Mountains.
Next we will wander though a beautiful cloud forest, also known as the Polylepis woodlands, or the treeless grasslands of the Puna Región, home to the tarucas (Peruvian deer) and pumas. From here, you can see the highest pass of our trek: Dead Woman’s Pass. Upon reaching Llulluchapampa, our crew will be waiting with a delicious Peruvian lunch, set against a stunning visual backdrop. After lunch we will have time to rest and recoup before continuing onto the second stage of the climb for another 2-3 hours. The trail continues with large, stone steps, some of them newly laid to protect the mountain from erosion. In the afternoon, we will gain another 1,968ft in elevation to reach the top of Warmiwañusca Mountain (Dead Woman’s Pass), which marks the highest elevation of our journey at 13,780ft.
Here you will experience an unforgettable moment, as the top of this mountain is a sacred place for the ancient Inca’s, or maybe the lack of oxygen is finally catching up with your brain! Either way you’ve made it through the hardest part of your journey! After everyone summits Dead Woman’s Pass, there will be a 2-3 hour descent (yay!) into the Pacaymayo Valley to reach camp for tonight. This campsite is home to one of the most incredible vistas of the entire trek, as it stretches over a valley, with views of nearby waterfalls and snow-covered peaks. Once you arrive, we will enjoy our “Family Tea Time” and another incredible and rejuvenating dinner. After dinner our guide will show you the amazing Inca constellations and cosmology that stretch out overhead in a classic storytime.
Day 7: Majestic Views
Today’s Archetypal theme is Condor. Condor is one of the most powerful symbols in Peruvian Shamanism and represents Heaven, the upper worlds, and the third eye center. She teaches us to see visions, unlimited possibilities, and reach unconditional Love, instead of separation. She helps us fly high on the wings of Great Spirit, balance our humanness with the Divine, and float through life as the Great Observer - not simply the mind.
Max Altitude: 12,300ft
Min Altitude: 8,856ft
Distance Traveled: 9.9 miles
Walking Time: 7-8 hours
Another early morning with hot tea and a smile arriving to your tent around 5:30AM. You will have breakfast and prepare for the most visually stunning day of the hike. After breakfast we will go into a short guided meditation where you will have the choice to ‘be in silence’ for the day while hiking. This meditation practice is extremely rewarding if you are working through any stuck emotions or energy blockages…or, if you simply want to honor Pachamama by receiving the sounds of Nature without human words. Around 7:00AM, we will pick back up on the Inca Trail, which starts with a steep, but short climb (about 1-hour), to the Runkuraqay Ruins.
After a short tour of the ruins, we will continue uphill for another hour to reach our second pass: Abra de Runcuracay (12,956ft). The hike continues as the path winds between two mountains where Andean gulls will sometimes gather. You will approach a third pass, boasting exceptional views. In clear weather, you can look back to the Dead Woman’s Pass and look forward to a breath-taking sweep of snow-capped peaks, which includes the Pumasillo Mountain (Puma’s Claw) (19,685ft). From here, most of the trail is downhill and will lead you through a short tunnel. You will then encounter a series of tight switchbacks, dropping elevation quickly until you reach a small viewpoint atop a promontory. To the right of the trail lies a large, algae-covered lake, and up ahead you will see Sayaqmarka, an ancient Inca town. The group will stop here to explore and listen to our guide who will provide interesting historic facts as well as local legends passed down through the ages. Once rested, your trek will continue its descent until reaching Chaquicocha (11,000ft), where we will enjoy another expertly prepared lunch. After lunch the hike becomes exceptionally beautiful. You will pass the Phuyupatamarca ruins and descend to Intipata, all while enjoying dramatic vistas of the Aobamba Valley. This stretch of the trail is made of well-preserved paved stone and is still in great condition considering the many decades of trekkers that have crossed its path. The trail will eventually lead to Phuyupatamarca (the Town of the Clouds), but first, you will pass through a short, natural tunnel in the mountain.
After visiting this site, you will descend 2,000 stone steps to Wiñay Wayna, known as Baby Machu Picchu. Wiñay Wayna is another important Inca site, located just north of our camp. It is one of the best preserved and largest Inca sites along the Inca Trail and has one of the most breathtaking views of the entire trek. Our evening will settle in with another delicious dinner, Condor Meditation, and dharma sharing.
Day 8: Machu Picchu
Hummingbird: Even though the hummingbird is not directly included in The Shamanic Trilogy; it is often pictured with the Condor because it belongs to the upper world and is linked to Machu Picchu. Hummingbird helps us ground our Divine Wisdom of the Condor into the Heart and use it to guide humanity forward into the New Consciousness. She beckons us to receive guidance and follow the call of our heart in everything we say or do. She represents the delight that comes from ‘drinking the nectar of life’ and being able to receive all of life’s blessings. Her energy stands outside time and space, and opens our Crown Chakra through play. She reminds us that childlike enthusiasm is the ultimate expression of the Divine.
Max Altitude: 8,856ft
Min Altitude: 7,972ft (Machu Picchu)
Distance Traveled: 5 miles, plus exploration of Machu Picchu
Walking Time: 6-7 hours (1-2 hours of Dark Hiking)
This is the day we have been waiting for! It will be the earliest day of our hike, starting with a wake-up call at 4:00AM in order to get to the Inti Punku (the Sun Gate) ahead of the crowds. This ancient entry-way overlooks Machu Picchu, and you will reach it as the first rays of the sun strike one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The hike from camp to the Sun Gate will take 1-2 hours, with significant uphill stretches in the last half. You will be hiking in the dark for about an hour, so bring a head lamp and listen to your guides.
From the Sun Gate, we will have a leisurely 50-minute walk downhill to the south sector of Machu Picchu (The Guardian houses). The trail ends at a series of terraces, which provide the classic vantage point of the entire city. After enjoying a panoramic view and our group picture, we will walk straight down to the entrance of Machu Picchu Park where we will enjoy a professional, unique guided tour from our Lead Guide. The formal tour will end in the late morning. If your legs and lungs still have energy after four days of hiking, you have the option to climb to the peak of Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, which offer incredibly unique perspectives of Machu Picchu.
After touring Machu Picchu, your guide will take you to the bus stop just outside the gates of Machu Picchu Park. You will take this bus to Aguas Calientes. Here you are on your own to try many fantastic restaurants in Aguas Calientes (not included). After lunch, we will gather for the relaxing train ride back to Cusco arriving around 7pm and transfer back to our hotel for some R&R.
Day 9: Free Day in Cusco
Today is your last day in the Capital and a great time to gather souvenirs, jewelry, alpaca clothing, enjoy the Pisco Sour, or even get a massage to renew your body and refresh. This is a great day to spend some time reflecting on your inner journey. Sometimes the greatest insights don’t surface until the experience is a memory. While still being immersed in local culture, perhaps you may decide on some major life changes going forward or even just let yourself be in total acceptance of ‘what is.’ Cusco is the perfect backdrop for you to rest, relax, honor the inner journey, and solidify ‘next steps’ in your human experience. How did the Sacred Archetypes speak to you while on the Inca Trail? Are you needing more Puma, Condor, Hummingbird, or Snake energy in your life?
Day 10: Sun Route to Puno & Lake Titicaca
Our private van will pick us up directly from the hotel at 6:30AM and transfer us to the bus station where we will board the Inka Express VIP Bus from Cusco to Puno (6-hour ride). On our way we will explore three different sites called: Andahaylillas, Raqchi and Puka Pukara. In the afternoon, we will enjoy an amazing buffet lunch in the town of Sicuani. After lunch we will jump back on the bus and continue to Puno. We will arrive to the bus station in Puno around 5PM where our private transfer will take us to the hotel. The night is free to explore Puno and mingle with locals.
DAY 11: THE UROS & TAQUILE ISLANDS
Our private van will pick us up at 6:45AM and take us to the port at Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is the highest mountain lake in South America (12,500ft) and straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia. Together we will board a private boat and travel to the Uros Islands, a series of floating islands made of vines and reeds. Here we dive into local culture, learn about local customs, rituals, and practices of how the local inhabitants thrive on these floating reed islands. Next we will visit The Taquile Island, tour several sets of ruins, and visit local villages. Lunch is spent with the locals as we learn about the intricate weaving techniques that create these awe-inspiring floating islands. After lunch you’ll take the boat back to Puno, where you will be picked up from the port and returned to the hotel. Tonight we celebrate the journey in our Farewell Dinner.
Day 12: Farewell Friends
You will enjoy one last breakfast before being transferred to Juliana Airport (Puno) for flights back to Lima. If you want to spend a couple days in Lima, please book your departure flights accordingly.
Prior to our journey together we will be offering group meditation nights and hikes in Colorado. Furthermore, if you are interested in participating in the Munay-Ki Rites, we will also be offering those in Denver starting in April. More details to come.
Flights: Please book your flights into Lima, Peru arriving on June 1. We will handle your transfer to Cusco on June 1st. You DO NOT need a Visa to enter Peru. Travelers are welcome to visit for 6 months. DO NOT lose your little white immigration slip, keep it with your passport, tape it to your chest, or tattoo it to your forehead, just don’t lose it! (Or else you will have to pay a fine when you leave).
*If you are participating in the Ayahuasca Retreat, please arrive on May 27th and have your Physician’s Note printed.
Final Payments: A non-refundable $750 is required to reserve your retreat. The remainder of your balance is due 90 days prior to commencement of retreat on March 1, 2020. Payments can me made via PayPal or Venmo. Please note that all PayPal transactions will incur a 3% handling fee.
Altitude: Altitude affects each traveler differently and until you have visited an area with high altitude, it is impossible to predict how your body will react. Travelers commonly report mild altitude sickness symptoms such as fatigue, headache, or light-headedness during their first day or two at Cusco’s elevation. Many Cusco hotels have oxygen available for travelers feeling the effects of the elevation.
We will try and prevent altitude sickness by arriving to Cusco four full days before the trek. You are encouraged to drink plenty of water, take it easy (it’s vacation after all), eat lots of carbohydrates and chug coca tea (It’s a local remedy and it’s amazing). 2-3 cups/day for the first couple of days is plenty. Nutritionally, drinking plenty of Cracked Cell Chlorella will help your blood carry more oxygen. Also, adding more healthy fats to your diet, such as coconut oil, ghee, and full fat milk products will help your brain deal with the lack of oxygen. Typically, a severe case of altitude sickness is the result of a pre-existing condition that is aggravated by the altitude. If you are concerned, please ask your doctor whether traveling to high altitude is advised, especially if you have a pre-existing heart or lung condition such as high blood pressure, asthma, angina, etc.
Drinking Water: The tap water is not safe to drink in Peru. Bottled water is readily available at tourist sites, hotels, and restaurants. Don’t forget to use bottled water when brushing your teeth as well. Ice is not always made with boiled/bottled water. Order your beverages without ice (“sin hielo”) or ask your tour leader if the ice is safe in a particular restaurant. During our Trek, we will enjoy boiled filtered water. You will need to bring water containers for the trek. We recommend bringing a 2-3L bladder, similar to a CamelBak along with permanent metal or plastic bottles. We strongly discourage the use of cheap plastic, one-use, water bottles.
Time Zone: April - October Peru is on Central standard time (CST). So no jet lag from the U.S.
Accommodation: All accommodations for the trip are double occupancy…even camping. You will be able to request a roommate for the trip. If you are a solo traveler, you will be paired up with the same gender for accommodation, unless you specify otherwise.
Gear: On the Inca trail, you will be provided a tent, sleeping pad, all food, and water. If you would like to bring your own sleeping bag and hiking poles, that’s a great idea…or you can rent these items from our tour company for an additional $45 for the trek. Sunscreen, a CamelBak, head lamp, rain gear, lots of socks, broken-in hiking boots, and other essential items will be sent to you in a Packing List Email closer to departure.
Hiking Huayna Picchu: Special permits are required to do this “hike,” and they are issued in limited quantities, so if you are interested you will need let us know when you reserve your retreat ($75). A bucket list item for sure!
Exploring Machu Picchu: Due to new regulations (effective Jan 1. 2019), the paths that lead through Machu Picchu are all “one-way,” meaning you are not able to backtrack during your visit to Machu Picchu. Without a permit to climb Huayna Picchu, we will have 4 hours to spend inside the park. Those with permits to climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain will have 6 total hours to spend inside the park (including the 2-hour climb).