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Machu Picchu Express

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 18-04-2022

Peru is a unique mixture of cultural and archaeological destinations, most of which are surrounded by stunning scenery and natural beauty. A vacation to Peru will surely surpass your expectations. With an excellent tourism infra structure and spectacular cuisine, not to mention of course the masterpiece of Machu Picchu. The ideal holiday in Peru will have you visit for around 1 month, if you are lucky enough to have the time. Machu Picchu is on everyone’s list when it comes to a vacation in Peru so if you are short on time, but want to experience Peru in all its glory and get a taster of what this magical country has to offer, check out the impressive 7 day Machu Picchu Express Tour, which will impress, delight and inspire you to make the next trip a little longer!

Quechuan weavers in the Plaza de Armas, Cusco

Trip Planning 

One of the most important things to bear in mind on this 7 day trip is the altitude gain from Lima to Cusco. Altitude sickness is no joke and should not be taken lightly so on arrival to Cusco, drink a lot of water, get plenty of rest and consider an altitude medication such as Diamox if you are planning a short trip. Visit you travel clinic or Doctor before you travel. You can also consume coca tea which is widely available in Cusco.  Another good tip is to eat lightly and smaller amounts as your digestion will slow down, so avoid, heavy greasy meals and definitely avoid alcohol for a few days. Drinking a cup of coca or muña tea in the morning and after a big meal is one of the local remedies for altitude related stomach issues.
Packing for your trip to Machu Picchu, pack light and comfortable clothing, a waterproof jacket (Machu Picchu is in a cloud forest!) Sunblock is very important, particularly in high-altitude destinations such as Cusco where you are a lot closer to the sun. a sun hat is also essential.

Cyclists in the Sacred Valley

Day 1 and 2 - Lima

Most Peru vacations start and finish in the capital, Lima. Lima, like any other capital city, is large and sprawling and you need to have your wits about you in certain areas, especially busy markets and on public transport. Most travellers head to Miraflores, Barranco, San Isidro and La Molina for the safer areas of Lima. Miraflores is the most touristic region with high security, all categories of hotels, amazing restaurants and all the facilities of any South American City. For a more bohemian, artsy kind of experience, head to Barranco. With art exhibitions, live music and great restaurants also. There is no better place to try Peruvian food than Lima. The incredible array of national dishes, fusion dishes and international plates is incredible; however, when in Rome…you have to try the national dish of Ceviche and the other seafood dishes available. The main attractions in Lima are The Gold Museum, The Pachacamac ruins, the Water Park, Huaca Pucllana, ruins, The Plaza de Armas, The catacombs and the National Museum.

Plaza de Armas, Lima

Day 3 – Cusco

The Imperial City of Cusco was the centre of the Inca empire and known as the “bellybutton of the world”. It’s rich and complex history dates back thousands of years and to this day the city remains an eclectic mix of the traditional and the modern, full of history with a million and one stories to tell. The city is built on Inca foundations which are still visible today and are the base of many more modern buildings in the centre. The historical centre is the Plaza de Armas which is home to the cathedral, the Jesuit church and a thousand street sellers, selling tours, shoeshines, massages and handicrafts. The surrounding ruins of Saqsaywaman, Quenqo, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay are a great day trip and Cusco is the launching spot for the Sacred Valley and of course Machu Picchu. End your walking tour with a visit to the cathedral, where you can find painter Marcos Zapata’s famous painting of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, with guinea pig as part of the feast.

Plaza de Armas , Cusco

Day 4 – The Sacred Valley

The Sacred valley apart from its stunning scenery is an incredibly fertile valley and such named by the Inca’s for this exact reason. The Vilcanota River brings to life to otherwise barren land, making this region more fertile than you would expect at this elevation. Chinchero, Ollantaytambo and Pisac are the highlights of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Pisac is a peaceful little town where you can visit a magnificent Inca fortress that sits in the hills above. The view of the Sacred Valley from the site is spectacular. Located only an hour away from Cusco and also home to a busy daily market, Pisac is one of the best day trips from Cusco.
From Pisac in the Sacred Valley, you continue downriver to Ollantaytambo, another picturesque town home of an impressive archaeological sites, as well as horseback riding, rafting and hiking tours.


Pisaq Archaeological site

Day 5 – Aguas Calientes

Bright and early, you will take the train to Aguas Calientes, a small town at the base of Machu Picchu and which is filled with bars, restaurants, and markets. We will head back to the town of Ollantaytambo for the picturesque train ride from Ollantaytambo, which is a one and a half hours trip through rolling countryside and Inca andenes. On arrival in Aguas Calientes you can choose relaxing in your hotel, soaking in the thermal springs that give this town its name, or even check out a local butterfly sanctuary.

Aguas calientes

Day 6- Machu Picchu

The next day, bright and early we will take the earliest bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu – at 5:30 am. By doing this, you can expect to one of the first to arrive at the site, for an unforgettable experience. There is nothing quite like enjoying your first view of the ruins accompanied by little else than the sound of birdsong. For the best weather – and for a clear, unobstructed view of the site’s magnificent stones and temples.

Be aware when planning your trip to Machu Picchu that you must book tickets well in advance as there is a limit on the number of people who can enter the site per day. Your ticket gives you four hours within the grounds, and it generally takes around two hours to explore Machu Picchu. Note that it is mandatory to visit with a guide and the trails are now one-way circuits. It’s another couple of hours to your visit if you plan to hike up Huayna Picchu, too. Please note you’ll need to buy another entrance ticket to visit Huayna Picchu in order to do this. This hike is strenuous, but the views across the entire citadel are the highlight of any trip to Machu Picchu. Return to Cusco in the evening by train.

Machu Picchu

Day 7: Lima

Head back via plane to the capital city, Lima. Depending on the times of your flights, you can visit the bohemian Barranco neighbourhood, home of chic cafes and bars in restored mansions, just a few steps away from the beach. This marks the end of this Peru express tour which will leave you simply wanting more, for your next visit to Peru!