Although, perhaps, a clichè trip, a long hike up from Cusco to Machu Pichu is a must.
Since the government needed to greatly restrict the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trail is the sure way to the ruins. Fifty miles Northwest of Cusco stands, majestically, Mt. Salkantay, the snow-capped 'Savage Mountain.'
Open and unrestricted, this trail allows the quiet solitude fitting of a hike considered sacred for generations. A definite challenge with thinning oxygen, the reward for losing one's breath is the breath-taking reality of the stones, still standing.
By day two, the scenery drastically changes from dusty, dry city to glacier covered peaks and again tropical forests. Villages, like Collpabamba, are nestled amidst this proverbial paradise, bustling, in their own rite, with truly 'free-ranged' livestock, playful youth, and new, spicy aromas wafting up from random chimneas.