A spectacular journey travelling the historical Inca Road in the footsteps of the great Chasquis and on to the stunning wildlife haven of Galapagos.
Our journey is one of historical and spiritual significance, as we traverse along one of the most spectacular lengths of the Inca Road, between the great city of Choquequirao and the citadel of Machu Picchu. Our final leg through Galapagos celebrates life of all forms, as we witness the incredible natural triumphs of our planet.
We begin our journey in Santiago, Chile, where you have a chance to explore this fascinating city that rarely sleeps. Buzzing with the life and energy on every South American street corner, we make our way on Day 2 to the captivating history and grandeur of Cusco, Peru, where you will uncover its past with a tour of the city’s historical precincts. We will enjoy a good rest in a luxury hotel and a free day to explore the city and rest before your Inca Trail journey begins in earnest on Day 3.
We begin our journey on the path between Cusco and Chiquisca, following in the footsteps of the heroic Chasquis. They were known as some of the greatest runners in history, capable of relaying messages at speeds of over 320km per day at altitudes above 13,000 feet. While these great athletes were endowed with incredible strength and stamina, they also had wisdom and a way of connecting with the land and its inhabitants that helped propel them along the steep mountainous terrain. For our journey, we will be supported by porters and mules, camping for 7 nights in four-season tents in established campsites, the first of which is in the ancient setting of Chiquisca.
Waking up to spectacular views, we continue on Day 5 towards Choquequirao, with our route traversing one of the most stunning sections of the Inca Road between the great city of Choquequirao and the citadel of Machu Picchu. Choquequirao is considered one of the most remote ancient ruins in the world and is currently visited by fewer than 70 people per day, which the Peruvian Government plans to change, with plans to build a road and tram system to the site. Currently the site is only accessible by a two-day walk across a 5,000-foot deep canyon.
Situated at 10,000 feet, Choquequirao is located in pristine cloud forest and features extensive waterways, temples and agriculture terracing as impressive as Machu Picchu. While the site is only 30% excavated, the energy of the site is profound and there are ample opportunities to find solitude as we explore the origins of this remote lost city. While at the site we will work with local shaman and participate in a traditional Despacho ceremony, giving gratitude to the spirit of Pachamama.
Day 7 and we leave Choquequirao to travel towards Maizal. As we explore the rich history of the Andean people, we also discover the diversity of the land. Peru boasts the highest concentration of microclimates in the world and our journey takes us through five climate zones, including a rare cloud forest, which is home to one third of Peru’s birds, mammals and frogs. Here we will see an incredible diversity of flora and fauna, including bromeliads, orchids, butterflies, giant hummingbirds and the Andean condor.
As we venture deeper into the Andean highlands, the landscape opens into high alpine Cordillera, as we pass near permanent glaciers and high villages. The mountains here are sacred to the Andean people and we honour these great spirits as we pass within view of the Apus Kiswar, Quriwayrachina and Pintuyu. Here we begin to appreciate the greatness of the Chasqui runners as we climb elaborate stone paths constructed centuries ago and still in use by local people today as they pass these steep mountains.
Day 8 and we descend Victoria Pass at 14,000 feet to discover the small village of Yanama where we will connect with the local people through the practice of Ayni as we participate in a service project to improve the local school. Day 9 takes us up through a majestic valley surrounded by high peaks, climbing to our highest point at 15,272 feet as we cross Yanama Pass. From here we get our first glimpses of Salkantay, the second most dominant peak in Peru, known as the Savage Mountain and the ruler of weather and fertility, and on to Collipaoampa.
The climate changes quickly as we descend 7,000 feet from high alpine landscapes into lush tropical vegetation passing fruit groves and coffee plantations that have been present since Incan times. On Day 10 we have the opportunity to visit the hot springs near Salkantay before descending the Santa Teresa river valley, passing many small villages. We then venture back up into cloud forest to the ancient site of Llactapata. Here we will enjoy a beautiful moss covered forest and explore the ancient observatory which is perfectly aligned with Machu Picchu across the valley. Day 11 and we are now within site of our final destination as we make our way down to Aguas Caliente, travelling through abundant forests filled with parrots and orchids. Upon arrival we will have opportunity for a soak in the hot spring and enjoy a fine meal as we explore this quaint village and relax in preparation for our visit to Machu Picchu the next day.
Day 12 is our chance to fully explore the magic of Machu Picchu. In the morning we travel up to the citadel and spend the day exploring this expansive site, connecting to its energy and learning the role this ancient ruin played in the Andean cosmology. While here we will have the chance to climb Huayna Picchu, the steep prominent mountain that defines the site, and hike to the more remote Temple of the Moon which few visitors experience. Here we will hold our final Andean ceremony. After a special overnight camp at one of the world’s most historic sites, we board our train back to Cusco to enjoy a comfortable hotel stay and final celebratory group dinner at one of the finer restaurants in Historic San Blas, before beginning our journey home.
Day 13 is a day of transition as we fly to Guayaquil Ecuador and the following day, take a 2 . hour flight to Baltra Island, to arrive in the Galapagos and board our stunning floating home for the coming days. First stop is the Charles Darwin Research Station & Fausto Llerena Breeding Center to witness the incredible successes of the Galapagos giant tortoises and land iguanas breeding programme.
Today we travel from Baltra to North Seymour Island to visit a large colony of sealions living amongst herons and lava gulls and thriving on the isolation and richness of their natural habitat. In the afternoon we have more incredible up-close wildlife encounters, with a two-hour walk amidst large nesting colonies of blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigatebirds and swallow-tailed gulls. You will also meet sea lions, land iguanas, and on a lucky day, you might even come across a Galapagos Snake. There is the option to snorkel on both encounters.
A ‘wet’ boat landing on Santa Fe Island makes it a perfect day for a deep water snorkel. Surrounded by sea lion colonies on landing, we will head ashore to venture through endemic cactus forest – home to the Santa Fe land iguanas, Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snakes, finches and mockingbirds. A climb to the highest point above South Plaza Islet will take us through impressive cactus forest and more iguanas, to discover tropicbirds, a Nazca and blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls. Day 17 will be a relaxing walk around Kicker Rock – home to many Galapagos sea animals – followed by a visit to the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve on San Cristobal Island, to learn about the National Park’s conservation programs, before the return flight to Guayaquil.
Day 18 and it is time to leave one of the planet’s most extraordinary wildlife destinations for home, with a happier and more courageous heart, a fulfilled mind and soul and an enriched view on this incredible planet we call home.
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Dream It founder Michael Davis began with a vision to help everyday people achieve goals and aspirations they never dreamed possible. Along the way, he and his team have discovered they are also redefining ‘fitness and travel adventure’ for the average Kiwi. “I take people who think they’ve seen it all, and those who think they have it all, and I give them more and show them more than they ever thought possible.” Michael (better known as Mavis) has many years’ experience in business and event management within the New Zealand’s fitness industry. He has created authentic and successful events and journeys by bringing together the country’s leading fitness experts and outstanding partners who collectively help everyday people achieve their dreams. In the last five years, Mavis has led clients through months of training and support, and then run alongside them to complete outstanding personal fitness goals, including an epic 10-day trail running adventure following the Great Inca Road, the New York Marathon, The Great Wall of China Marathon and the legendary trails and Amalfi Coast Crossing Ultra Trail Run in Italy. He’s your typical hard-working father of twins, who walks the talk and believes in making a difference in people’s lives. Mavis is currently Event Manager with Total Sport’s annual Wild Kiwi event in Northland and has been actively involved in the sporting industry for many years, including managing Twinlab NZ Sports Nutrition in association with Les Mills, where he met a wide range of inspirational athletes and sporting mentors. He added to that list through the pioneering of a high-altitude training system in New Zealand, which he then took to the Middle East and Japan, and helped to launch in the UK. In doing all this, Michael has worked with a large number of top New Zealand endurance athletes and sportspeople, including the Olympic swim team, David Tua, top rugby teams here and in Japan, individual All Blacks, Olympic and Americas Cup sailors, rowing teams and the All Whites. Along the way Mavis has also achieved countless personal fitness goals, inspired by the incredible guidance and mentorship of Roger Levie, who coached him from being a social club rugby player to competing in and successfully completing four ironman events: three in New Zealand as well as Ironman Nîce (France). Today Mavis’ passion and driver is to pass that coaching gift on to others with his vision of Mission Possibility – supporting and watching everyday people achieve amazing things. Mavis’ focus is to get anyone – anyone at all, who wants to challenge themselves with an epic fitness adventure – out there and loving it. His goal is to provide a package of services for everyday people like him, wanting to achieve the fitness highpoint of a lifetime. “For me, Dream It is all about the emotion – the courage, the excitement, the fear, the nerves, the pride, the laughs, the love, the absolute sense of victory and accomplishment and the insatiable appetite for more. And together, we’re doing it!”