Start: Cuzco / Finish: Cuzco
A spectacularly rich experience in the Andean Mountains awaits you! Immerse yourself in the Inca culture as you hike 45 kilometers through the heart of the beautiful Andes. This 4-day trek is the only one to take you along the original Inca Trail; an authentic hand-built stone footpath where you will walk in the footsteps of ancient Inca royalty. Climb from 2,380 meters to 4,210 meters at Dead Woman's Pass, then pass through unforgettably beautiful jungle scenery and hidden labyrinth-style ruins, until you reach the Inti Punku (Sun Gate) in the early morning light. Get ready for awe-inspiring views over Machu Picchu; the most spectacular Inca archaeological site in South America!
Day by Day Itinerary:
Trek Briefings: All travelers are required to visit the Cuzco office for a mandatory briefing on your trek one day prior to departure at 6pm. At this meeting you will receive detailed information on the route, a list of what to bring, confirm your hostel pick-up for the morning of the trek and be able to ask questions.
Day 1: Cuzco to Ollantaytambo to KM 82 & Trek to Wayllabamba Camp (2,980m) (L/D)
Hostel Pick-Up between 5:00-6:00 am. Please make all of the necessary preparations one day prior to the trek. You will be taken by bus to the town of Ollantaytambo where you will have an hour to eat breakfast on your own and purchase last minute snacks, water and walking sticks. Then you will hop back on the bus to Piscacucho (KM 82) where the famous Inca Trail journey will begin. Bring your original passport, student card (if applicable) for the first Inca Trail check point. Your guide will have your tickets for you. Hike along rolling hills in the Vilcanota River Valley passing by several small archaeological sites along the way. Lunch will be prepared half-way and you will have time to relax before reaching Wayllabamba camp (2,980m).
(11 kms ; 6 hours)
Today is the most challenging day along the trail with a vertical hike of 6 km (approximately 5 hours) to reach Dead Woman's Pass at 4,215m followed by a 3 km hike down stone steps to reach Pacaymayo camp at 3,600m (approximately 2 hours). After an early breakfast around 6:00 am you will start off for the big hike. Take your time and rest as much as you feel necessary as you ascend more than 1,200 meters over the course of the morning. Don't miss awe-inspiring views of the valley as you reach the pass and remember to take your photograph at the top! Just after you cross Dead Woman's Pass you will be rewarded with spectacular views of nearby snow-capped mountain peaks and roaring waterfalls. Stroll slowly down to Pacaymayo Camp (3,600m) to enjoy the scenery. Arrive in time for lunch and a well-deserved nap to the sounds of the nearby waterfalls and nature. Then you will have the rest of the afternoon to enjoy the camp before dinner and an early bedtime.
(10 kms ; 7 hours)
An unforgettable journey along ancient Inca stairways, mountain lakes, intriguing archaeological sites and humid jungle scenery awaits you. Start with a one-hour hike uphill to visit the oval-shaped Pacaymayo archaeological site believed to have been either a crop-storage structure or an Inca military fortress overlooking the valley to control the region. Continue one hour to Runquracay Pass (3,950m) where you can climb to the tip-top of the mountain for incredible views of surrounding peaks. Visit 2 more archaeological sites called Sayacmarca & Phuyupatamarca with your guide and have lunch along the way. By late afternoon you will reach Wiñayhuayna High Jungle camp (2,650m) set above a river valley in a high jungle / rain forest climate. After dinner, say a big THANK YOU to your porters and guides.
(15 kms ; 9 hours)
A unique and magnificent experience is in the cards for you today. Wake up between 3:30 and 4:30am and have breakfast. Get on the trail early and head to the Wiñaywayna checkpoint, joining the lineup to wait for the gate to open at 5:30am. Once the gate opens, hike about an hour to reach the Sun Gate. Catch the first glimpses of light over the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu (fingers crossed for a clear day) - a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. Then continue down the final length of the trail for 40 minutes to reach the Machu Picchu archaeological complex perched delicately on the top of the sacred Machu Picchu mountain. You will have time to check your backpacks (bring water, sunblock, sunglasses, hat and sweater or rain poncho with you), grab a quick bite at the snackbar and use the restrooms before re-entering the site with your guide. Visit this magical site with your guide and have time to wander around on your own or hike optional Huayna Picchu (156 soles in advance).
Around lunchtime, take the bus to Aguas Calientes at your leisure and if time allows, visit the hot springs to soak your sore body in the rejuvenating waters (Entrance fee 10 soles). You can also visit the local marketplace right next to the train tracks, where you can shop until the train whistle blows signaling your return to Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo, you will take a bus for the last section of highway to Cuzco, arriving back around 10:30pm. You will be dropped off at the Plaza San Francisco. Please make your own way back to the hostel of your choice.
(7 kms ; 2 hours)
Typical Meals on the Trek
On all of our Inca Trail Treks and Alternative Treks to Machu Picchu we search for the best cooks who put forth their best effort to provide you with the best tasting meals on the mountain.
All of our cooks pride themselves on their delicious specialty menus with the freshest local ingredients available. Every meal is prepared fresh with plenty of variety and an abundant quantity of food including a vegetarian option for every meal (please advise prior to departure). Here is an idea of what you will be eating during your trek.
Vegetarian Option Available Upon Request (please advise at least 2 days in advance).
Hot porridge, quinoa or oats, fried eggs, egg omelet or pancakes with fresh bread, fried bananas and boiled water for hot tea, coca, coffee, chocolate and milk.
LUNCH & DINNER:
First Course: Quinoa, corn, noodle, asparagus, mushroom or vegetable soup, stuffed avocado or potatoes
Second Course: Chicken breast, beef stew, quinoa, fried rice, hamburgers, fried chicken, spaghetti bolognese, typical dishes: aji de gallina (chilli pepper chicken), escabeche de pollo (marinated chicken) or ajiaco de olluco (spicy potato stew).
Deserts: Fried plantains, chocolate pudding, chocolate or vanilla cake and boiled water for hot tea, coca, coffee, chocolate and milk.
Boiled water for hot tea, coca, coffee, chocolate and milk with popcorn, cookies, crackers.
Brief History of Machu Picchu & Advice:
Machu Picchu was (relatively recently) "discovered" by American historian, Hiram Bingham, in 1911 while searching for the legendary "lost city of the Incas". Hiram Bingham and his local guides stumbled across the site which was then covered in thick vegetation which was later cleared revealing the magical mountain-top archaeological site and opening up the possibility for archaeologists to conduct research on the site by 1915. Whether arriving via Inca Trail or entering from Aguas Calientes don't miss the excellent photo opportunities from the following spots: Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock (a restored building with a thatched roof), Sacred Plaza with views of the Cordillera Vilcabamba in the distance and Rio Urubamba below. Take a short walk out to the Inca Drawbridge (30 minutes) and Inti Punku (45 - 60 minutes) for great views of the site.
SUPERIOR SERVICE UPGRADE (IF BOOKED): Includes these additional items: Day 4 Lunch in Aguas Calientes, Thermal Sleeping Bag, Inflatable Sleeping Mattress, Professional Trekking Poles, Extra Porters & Duffel Bags to carry a total of 5 kilos for each trekker. (This includes 2.5 kilos for your sleeping bag & mattress plus 2.5 kilos of personal items.)
ACCOMMODATON OPTIONS: During the trek single travelers will share a tent with another traveler of the same sex & couples will have a tent to themselves.
PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS: This hike is demanding, it’s important to be in good physical condition. The Inca Trail elevation changes make the hike strenuous as there are three passes during the hike and you will have 1950 meters of uphill and 2250 meters of descent.
SUGGESTED PACKING LIST: Bring or Rent in Cuzco: hiking poles, rain pants, rain poncho, trekking boots, sandals, warm socks, sweater, thermals, hat, gloves, sun hat, sun block, sun glasses, flashlight/torch, camera, extra batteries and memory card (there is limited to no electricity available during the trek), waterproof bags for your camera, hand sanitizer, personal first aid kit, water bottle. Bring extra cash for snacks, water, gatorade which doubles or triples in price along the trail. Bathing suit for hot springs in Aguas Calientes town (this activity is available at an additional price).
DON'T FORGET THE ESSENTIALS: Original passport, visa (if applicable), insurance card, personal medications.
Departure dates for trek
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday (Daily departures with a group of 4 or more)
* No departures in February due to unfavorable climatic conditions *
Include accommodation in Cuzco before your trip:
You are a traveler, not a tourist. We want you to be able to explore the world exactly as you have always dreamed it. You are free to travel at your own pace with no tour leaders or set schedules.
Depart any day you want, 365 days a year whether you are traveling on your own or in a group.
UNLIMITED SCHEDULE CHANGES
We make it easy for you to be spontaneous! Enjoy the freedom of making an unlimited amount of changes to your schedule before and during your trip. Your pass is valid for 12 months so you can take all the time you need to enjoy your journey!
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