Photo: Renate Eder, Germany
Photo: Christian Lemay, Canada
Photo: Rob Culp, USA
Photo: Alexander Yates, USA
Photo: Silvio Pereira Costa, Brazil
DAY 1: CUSCO
Arrive in Cusco (we recommend flights in the morning) and we meet you at the airport to transfer you to the Hotel located near downtown within close reach of the main plaza. A warm Coca tea will ease up your adaptation to the high altitude (Cusco is at 11,200 feet above sea level) before you settle in your room to rest for what is left of the morning (highly recommended). Lunch is on your own (we recommend a light meal) and we meet at 2 p.m. for a guided City tour and nearby ruins of Cusco (not included entrance fee to touristic sites):
Santo Domingo. - This church is built over what once was the most magnificent temple in the Americas, Koricancha or Temple of the Sun. Its courtyards were filled with life-sized gold and silver representations of all the flora and fauna of the Empire. Pizarro’s men looted the temple as part of Inca Atahualpa royal ransom who was held prisoner in Cajamarca by the Spaniards and later killed. An earthquake destroyed the Santo Domingo church in 1950 revealing the Inca walls that were hidden or plastered over. These walls of the Temple of the Sun are the finest example of Inca stonework in existence. The Cathedral. - The church is located in the northeast side of the Plaza de Armas, built in 1550. It contains over four hundred XII century paintings done by the members of the renowned Cusco School. The Lord of the Earthquakes altar weights over 52 pounds and is made of solid gold and studded with precious stones. The main altar is covered with sheets of silver. Sacsayhuaman. - Complex shows immense walls made up of huge stones distributed in a zigzag pattern in three platforms with an average of 1,181ft in length. These platforms are connected by flights of stairs and doorways also in stone; one of these is 29ft tall and 15ft wide and weighs more than 100 tons. The largest stone block found in Sacsayhuaman stands 27.88ft high and weighs 361 tons. Inca Pachacuti employed 20,000 men for the construction of the complex and it took approximately 50 years to complete. Puca Pucara. - Fortress overlooking the entrance from the east to Cusco area. Q’enko: An intricate possible ceremonial center inside a large rock with carved figures, seats and passages that give you a feeling of being a mysterious place filled with symbolism. Tambo Machay: A fascinating water fountain surrounded by high quality stone walls with continuously running water since the Inca times. A short walk from Tambo Machay will take us to the strategically located. Overnight at hotel in Cusco.
DAY 2: SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS
Early in the morning we’ll pick you by private vehicle from your hotel for a comprehensive Sacred Valley tour the day before you enter the Inca Trail. This is the natural and most efficient way to get close to the trail head while getting acclimatized and familiar with Inca trails. We will drive over the “Ccorao” pass above Cusco to descend on a winding road to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here we will hike on Inca trails trough the magnificent Inca citadel of PISAC considered as one of the outstanding Inca remains because of the quality of the stone work and breathtaking location on a mountain saddle overlooking the Sacred Valley. After a 1 1/2hour visit and hike we will drive down the mountain for a short visit to the colonial town of the same name with a quick stop at their famous Indian handicraft market. Afterwards we will drive following the Urubamba River downstream to Urubamba city; here we will visit the local food market and have lunch at a local restaurant nearby. Afterwards we’ll visit Ollantaytambo, considered the most authentic living Inca town. This town has been continuously inhabited since Inca times until the present, conserving its original urban layout and stone walled homes. A guided walking tour through the extensive ruins and cobblestone paved narrow streets will make you feel like you are travelling back in time. From here we’ll travel for 40 minutes on a mostly unpaved road to our beautifully situated permanent campsite “Camp Km. 82” set on the banks of the Urubamba River, very close to the entrance to the trail at Km. 82. Located at 2700 meters above sea level (8,900 feet), it offers indoor plumbing, hot showers and a firewood sauna. From the camp we also enjoy panoramic views of the snow-capped Mt. Veronica (20,275'). This private campsite is the resting point before all our Inca Trail treks and is a wonderful place to relax and prepare for the challenge ahead. …B, L, D.
Day 3: KM.82 TO PAUCARCANCHA
This morning, after a delicious buffet breakfast, we meet our porters and go through the entrance control station to begin our trek following the left bank of the Urubamba River. After a couple of hours of gentle hiking we reach and visit the extensive Inca ruins of Llactapata. We continue hiking, this time away from the Urubamba River ascending and following the Cusichaca River towards the village of Huayllabamba, we have a picnic lunch nearby and continue ascending to a 40 min. detour from the main trail that will take us to “Paucarcancha” a magnificent archaeological site. We find our camp set up right next to the ruins on a locally owned private campsite (with toilets and hot showers). We’ll have time to visit this well kept site that is estimated to be a “Tambo” or resting and control place where two valleys and rivers meet...B, L, and D.
Total distance: 12 km (7,47 miles)
Estimated walking time: 5-6 hours
Maximum altitude point: 3,000 m (9,840 ft)
Campsite altitude: 3,000 m (9,840 ft)
Day 4: PAUCARCANCHA TO PACAYMAYU
After enjoying the beauty of this special campsite and a nutritious breakfast we begin hiking on a shortcut trail above the village of Huayllabamba. We register at the Park’s 2nd control station (now in the protected area) to continue on an ascending trail with increasingly rewarding views. Later, we hike through an interesting cloud forest of native trees before we reach our lunch spot at “Llullucchapampa”. We have lunch enjoying views of the far away Huayllanay Glacier and, on the opposite side, our next high pass known as “Warmiwañusta” or Dead Woman’s Pass (4,200 meters above sea level). After lunch we slowly ascend towards the high pass, our rest moments are rewarded with spectacular views. We reach the pass, take time for the classical pictures and begin to descend to our campsite at Pacaymayu…B, L, D.
Total distance: 11 km (6,84 miles)
Estimated walking time: 6-7 hours
Maximum altitude point: 4,200 m (13,776 ft)
Campsite altitude: 3,500 m (11,480 ft)
Day 5: PACAYMAYU TO PHUYUPATAMARCA
An early nourishing breakfast bolsters our energy for a day’s hike, this time on the original cobblestone paved trail left by the Incas. We can appreciate the lovely changes in vegetation and geology as we pass through different ecological zones. We climb up and over the second high pass at 3,950 Mts. On a clear day, our efforts are rewarded with unparalleled views of the snow covered peaks of the Cordillera Vilcabamba and the lush valley vegetation. Masterful Inca engineering is today’s highlight along the trail as we discover the Inca remains of Sayajmarca at 3,640 Mts., explore them, have a picnic lunch and continue to the incomparable site of Phuyupatamarca, THE PLACE ABOVE THE CLOUDS at 3,680 Mts. We camp and have enough time to soak up some of the magical charm of this marvelous campsite...B, L, D.
Total distance: 10 km (6,12 miles)
Estimated walking time: 6 hours
Maximum altitude point: 4,200 m (13,776 ft)
Campsite altitude: 3,600 m (12,033 ft)
Day 6: PHUYUPATAMARCA TO MACHU PICCHU
The view of Sacred Salkantay Mountain and sunrise in “Phuyupatamarca” are considered some of the highlights of the trek. Early rise to watch the sun come up and with the idea in mind that today we will reach Machu Picchu, the lost City of the Incas. After breakfast, we say good bye to our crew and porters and we have a chance to voluntarily tip them. Most of them will take a detour from the main trail and head to the town of Aguas Calientes where they catch the train to go home. After breakfast, we hike on lush high jungle terrain for a couple of hours. We go down a clear stone paved trail with numerous incredible stairways, a small tunnel and several viewing terraces. We will come to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna (FOREVER YOUNG) to visit this outstanding Inca site and have lunch nearby. We continue on to Inti Punku (THE GATE TO THE SUN). From here we first see the spectacular city of Machu Picchu below us. A quick descent along the wide royal Inca road and we enter the mysterious citadel to have a tour in detail and spend some time wandering and wondering in the midst of its eternal beauty. Stay at the hotel Andina Luxury or similar in the town of Aguas Calientes down bellow by the Urubamba River or catch the train back to Cusco…B, L.
Total distance: 11 km (6,84 miles)
Estimated walking time: 5 hours
Maximum altitude point: 3,600 m (11,772 ft)
Machupicchu altitude: 2,400 m (7,872 ft)
DAY 7: MACHU PICCHU AND HUAYNAPICCHU on your own
You have a full day to savor or appreciate Macchu Picchu on your own. To hike up to Wayna Picchu you need an extra ticket that costs US$11.00. In the afternoon you board the train to return to Cusco. We Pick you up at Poroy Train Station, a few minutes before Cusco City and transfer you to your hotel in Cusco by bus…B. Lunch and Dinner on your own.
OPTIONAL FOR DAY 7: GUIDED VISIT TO MACHU PICCHU (SEE BELLOW)
DAY 8: CUSCO
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight from Cusco. End of our services...B.