The Inca Trail is by far the most famous trek in South America and is rated by
many to be in the top 5 treks in the world. In just 26 miles (43km) it manages to combine
beautiful mountain scenery, lush cloud-forest, subtropical jungle and, of
course, a stunning mix of Inca paving stones, ruins and tunnels. The final
destination of the trail just cannot be beaten: Machu Picchu, the mysterious
“Lost City of the Incas”
Between 04.00 – 04.30am our private transport and staff will pick you up from your hotel. We drive to Piskacuchu (2700m/8856ft), a community located on the 82nd kilometer of the Cusco –Machupicchu railroad, which is the starting point of the Inca Trail. We begin our hike by crossing the bridge over the Urubamba River and walking along its left shore as it flows northwest along the Sacred Valley. Following the trail along a flat terrain, we arrive in Miskay (2800m/9184ft), to then ascend and finally see, from the tallest part of an overlook, the impressive Inca city of Llactapata (2650m/8692ft). We continue trekking along the valley created by the Kusichaca River, gradually climbing for about five hours until we reach the community of Wayllabamba (3000m/9840ft), where we set our first camp. All along the way we enjoy spectacular views of the Vilcanota ridge on the opposite side of the Urubamba River, where the impressive Veronica peak reigns at 5832 meters above sea level. Not to mention the diversity of wild flora and fauna that can be found all along the valley. -Walking distance: 8.7 miles/14 km (6-7 hours)
-Campsite altitude: 3300 meters (high) above sea level
-Considered: Moderate day (getting used to the Inca Trail)
-Weather: Warm and windy
We wake up at around 6:00 am and after breakfast, we begin the most difficult part of the trek, which consists of an abrupt and steep ascent that stretches for 9 km. Along this climb, the landscape changes from sierra to puna (a dry and high area with little vegetation). On the way to the first mountain pass, the Abra Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman´s Pass – 4200m/13776ft), we may see domesticated llamas and alpacas grazing on ichu, one of the few plants that grow at high altitude. We also cross an area of the so called cloud forest, which is the habitat for many different kinds of birds like hummingbirds and sparrows, and the Andean bear, which is also called the Spectacled Bear (Tremarctus Ornatus). We advise that on this day specially, your daypack is well stocked with candies, chocolates and coca leaves that will keep your sugar level high, and help with altitude sickness. Immediately after the pass, we descend into the Pacaymayo valley (3600m/11808ft), where we camp after approximately 7h of hiking.
-Walking distance: 9.94 miles/16 km (7-8 hours)
-Campsite altitude: 3600 meters (high) above sea level (chilly weather)
-Considered: Top day (you will have survived the two highest passes)
-Area: Andes and Cloud Forest
-Weather: Cold and rainy
This day is the longest but also the most impressive and the most interesting, due the number of archaeological sites and the lush cloud forest area that we cross, so rich in Andean flora and fauna. From Pacaymayo we climb to the second pass, the Abra Runkurakay (3970m/13022ft). Halfway up, we stop to visit the archaeological complex with the same name. This site, located at 3800m/12464ft, consists of a small oval structure that is believed to have served the purpose of a watchtower. After going over the pass, we descend towards Yanacocha (Black Lagoon) and enter the cloud forest to finally arrive at Sayacmarca (3624m/11887ft). This is a beautiful complex made up of a semicircular construction, enclosures at different levels, narrow streets, liturgical fountains, patios and irrigation canals. Continuing up an easy climb, we arrive at the third pass, the Abra Phuyupatamarca (3700m/12136ft). Along this climb we can appreciate the magnitude of the Incas´ ancient craft, by walking along paths semi-detached from the mountain, and seeing rocks that fill up ravines in perfect order, saving the trail from the multileveled Andean geography. We go through an Inca tunnel to later arrive at the aforementioned pass and down to the complex of the same name. This is one of the most complete and best-preserved archaeological complexes along the Inca Trail to Machupicchu, and is located on the highest point of a mountain. Curiously, Phuyupatamarca means ¨town over the clouds¨. From above, one can observe a sophisticated sacred complex made up of water fountains with solid foundations, and also impressive views of the Urubamba River valley. We continue our trek down the long descending stone steps that lead us to Wiñaywayna (2650m/8692ft), an impressive Inca complex made up of an agricultural center with numerous terraces, a religious sector and an urban sector, close to which our camp is located. After visiting the impressive archaeological site, we enjoy our farewell dinner at our camp.
-Walking distance: 6.2 miles/10km (5 hours)
-Campsite altitude: 2.600 meters (high) above sea level (chilly weather)
-Considered: Easy day – all downhill!
-Area: High Cloud Forest
-Weather: Warm and very humid
Today is the highlight of the trek. Waking up early you head straight to the checkpoint to enter Machu Picchu and once the site opens can carry on to the Sun Gate where you’ll get your first fantastic views of Machu Picchu.
On arrival to Machu Picchu you’ll have a 2 hour guided tour of the site during which you’ll learn about the Incas and visit all the most important areas of the citadel. After your tour you’ll have free time to explore the site by yourslef and if you have permits to climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain. In the afternoon you will take the train back to Ollantaytambo from where you will carry on by bus back to Cusco.
-Considered: The most exciting and magical day (early wake up 3.30AM)
-Area: High Cloud and Subtropical Forest
-Weather: Hot and very humid (bring lots of water)