Tour Company Recommendation:
For exploring the Sacred Valley and visiting Machu Picchu, I recommend booking through American Inca Trail. I got connected with them through my best friend who’s living abroad in Peru, and this travel company is affiliated with the school she taught at. They’re reputable and dependable, therefore, your money will be well spent.
American Inca Trail offers a 2 day, 1 night tour of the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.
Everything was seamless, nothing felt rushed, and we got to see a TON of amazing sights over the span of two days. I highly recommend- they are priced reasonably (and cheaper than many I’ve seen) and did a phenomenal job in my opinion. We had an English speaking tour guide (who was Peruvian) and our group was fairly small which made it easy to move from site to site.
Cusco – Pisac – Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes:
Meet at the office in Cusco at 8am. Private transportation will arrive for your group and you’ll head to the first Inca ruins of the tour. Transportation is a nice shuttle/van, comfortable with plenty of room. You’ll arrive at Pisac in no time.
Pisac and the ancient architecture will leave you awe-struck, and that only continues and heightens throughout the tour.
From there you’ll head to a colorful market where you’ll get an opportunity to shop if wanted. I recommend saving your shopping for areas that don’t bring shuttle buses of tourists- you’ll get more for your money and find a lot of the same items you see there. We did most of our shopping in the heart of Cusco, wandering the streets and shopping locally to our Cusco Airbnb.
After the market you’ll head along the beautiful Sacred Valley and stop at Urubamba, then Ollantaytambo (Inca Palace), which was one of my absolute favorites. Enjoy witnessing and learning about one of the biggest rocks from the Inca’s time -(90 tons)- that was used as part of the Temple of the Sun. Its awe-inspiring.
Enjoy this day and soak in every moment. You get to see, touch and feel the magnificence of these ancient and sacred ruins.
At the end of the day, the train will depart around 5 pm and take you on a 2-hour ride to Aguas Calientes where you will spend the night in the provided accommodations. Again, the quality here was absolutely acceptable and more than enough for what’s needed on this short overnight stay. No frills, but nothing lacking either. Get to bed early so you’re ready for the early rise heading to Machu Picchu the next morning.
Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco:
I recommend taking the earliest bus to Machu Picchu, this way you can catch the sunrise. It’s a must in my opinion!
Heres a description from the www.americanincatrail.com site:
“Upon arrival, we offer you a historical guided tour to discover more about the site, life and culture of its inhabitants.
After the guided tour, you will have plenty of time to explore Machu Picchu on your own. For those who are looking for the best pictures of the site, we offer the option of climbing up Waynapicchu Mountain or Machu Picchu Mountain (when available). “
This tour was definitely a Bucket List experience for me. The entire time feels like a journey through sacred history, leaving you with wonder, vivid imaginations, and a sense of calm that reminds you life is so much bigger than the self, and bigger than we can fathom.
I recommend this experience to anyone who visits Peru!
For our entire stay in Peru, we chose to stay in an adorable, welcoming and high-vibe airbnb in Cusco. Our host was amazing and made us feel at home instantly. The airbnb is walking distance to Maximo Nivel, where the American Inca Office is located. This makes for a super easy “home base” when traveling Peru and the areas surrounding Cusco.
Heres our Airbnb, hosted by Alejandro. Check it out below, but book through this link to get a discount! https://www.airbnb.com/c/sarac643?currency=USD