The Inca trail is a journey, waymarked with natural and cultural rewards, consisting of mainly paved stone trail and winding throughout the Andean scenery and into the humid cloud forest. Its completion is a well-earned prize for those who follow these ancient paths. Another is the hidden ruins, inaccessible by any other means, which build up to the final destination of Machu Picchu. Your reward is the chance to spend days immersed in this lost world, in traditional Inca and Quechua villages. Here you can experience the sensation of being a true explorer. Due to the nature of the trek you need a few days to acclimatize to the altitude before you begin.
We spend these days on treks where you're not in a hurry to get to your campsite and therefore can pace yourself and enjoy your time spent in each place
Our first day begins with an early morning departure and bus ride from Cusco through the scenic Sacred Valley to the trailhead at Piscacucho, commonly known as Km 82. Here we'll meet our amazing porters and begin the Classic Inca Trail. We'll hike along the Urubamba River beneath the staggering snowcapped Nevada Veronica, passing through cactus gardens, corn fields, and our porter's favorite: a local bar that serves the traditional and slightly alcoholic beverage called chicha, made from fermented corn. After a refreshing glass of chicha, we head up to the Wilkaracay fortress above the ruins of Llactapata and from there to our campsite at Huayllabamba.Lunch and dinner included.
This will be one of our most memorable days of the trek, but you'll have to power through the ultimate Inca Stairmaster challenge in order to arrive at the amazing views. The morning begins with a zigzagging staircase up to Lluluchupata, passing through unique cloud forest vegetation on the way. From Lluluchupata we head out on the heels of the most sought-after woman on the trail. The Sleeping Woman Pass is no joke. Sitting at 13,800 ft./4,215 m above sea level she is also known as Dead Woman's Pass. From here we manage a tricky decent into the beautiful valley of Pacaymayu.Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.
The beginning of our third day hiking starts with a much-welcomed and gentle climb up to the egg shaped ruins of Runkuraqay, situated halfway to the second pass. From there it's up to the Runkuraqay pass at 13,000 ft./3,963 m where we will experience some of the most stunning mountain scenery of the entire trek. A lovely decent brings us to the ruins of Sayacmarca, a fortress or way station for pilgrims or priests that marks the southern trail into Machu Picchu. Built at a strategic location, Sayacmarca is known for blending a number of different Incan architectural styles. In the afternoon we'll hike along a mountain ridge that begins at the 20,000-foot peak of Salcantay and runs all the way to the town of clouds, Puyupatamarca. As we trek along this ridge we'll have stunning views of the cloud forest.Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.
A wild descent through one of the most spiritual sites on the classic Inka trail, the ruins of Puyupatamarca will leave you breathless. Passing through a cloud forest full of orchids, ferns, bromeliads, and colorful birds that cloak white granite cliffs, we'll follow an Incan staircase down to the farming terraces of Intipata. From there it's off to the incredible ruins of Wiñay Wayna and the Sun Gate Pass at 9,000 ft./2,750 m. This is one of the world's most thrilling viewpoints and the only way to take in all of Machu Picchu in its full glory.Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included .
On this day we will take a shuttle bus to the Inca citadel for a guided tour of the site before the day trippers arrive from the city of Cusco. After the tour you'll have free time to explore the ruins. Machu Picchu is the only major Incan site to escape 400 years of looting and destruction by the Spanish conquistadors. To be sure, it is not an ordinary Incan settlement; it sits on a nearly inaccessible location high above the Urubamba gorge and contains exquisite engineering and architecture. Was it a spiritual destination and pilgrimage center located within a sacred geography? Or perhaps a royal retreat for the king, Inka Pachacutec? Or maybe the biggest or the first agricultural research center built by the Incans? Whatever its purpose may have been, you will have a chance to explore every corner of the majestic Machu Picchu.
In the afternoon we'll return by train through the beautiful Urubamba River Valley back to Ollantaytambo (approx. 1 and 1/2 hours). From there we'll continue to Cusco by car (approx. 2 hours).