Cosmopolitan, scenic and steeped in Incan heritage, Cusco is a dream to walk around. Marvel at the cathedral, explore colonial art and architecture or explore the incredible ruins nearby. Cusco’s central market is a great chance to meet Quechua-speaking descendants of the Incas and browse for weird and wonderful Andean specialties. Hike to the mother of all Incan cities, magical Machu Picchu. Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins, plus free time to explore at your leisure. Be treated to incredible sunrise views over misty Machu Picchu – just cross your fingers for clear skies!
Retrace the steps of the ancient Inca civilisation on the Inca Quarry Trail hike. Explore Cusco’s maze of ruins and cobblestone streets, and discover the fascinating colonial and Inca histories that have visually impacted this fascinating town. Rise early to join our expert local guides and porters for a challenging hike along the far-less-travelled Inca Quarry Trail. On the fourth day, transfer from Kachiqata to Aguas Calientes via train before traveling on to Machu Picchu. Watch the sun rise over the enigmatic ruins and get lost exploring these crumbling structures, an experience that is sure to take your breath away. This tour is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will challenge and reward.
Breakfast Included: 5 Lunches Included: 3 Dinner Included: 3
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Cusco, the heart and soul of Peru.
Today is free for you to explore Cusco until 6pm when you meet your Intrepid representative at the lobby of your hotel. As this tour is a Short Break Adventure, you are not accompanied by an Intrepid group leader but, our local representative fills this role. On this trip you will join other Intrepid travellers who are hiking this trek as part of longer Intrepid Group trips and may have been travelling together for a few days before you meet them.
If you have time, check out the beautiful cathedral or perhaps the nearby ruins of Saqsayhuaman, Qenqo or Tambomachay. A Boleto Turistico (tourist ticket) will grant you access into these sites. For a change of pace, head to the central market, or perhaps enjoy a meal at Yanapay at 415 Ruinas Street. This restaurant uses all its profit to support children in Cusco through Aldea Yanapay and its social projects.
Notes: This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.
CAFÉ MANOS UNIDAS:
In your free time in Cusco why not stop & check out Café Manos Unidas? This café & pizzeria which opened in its now permanent home in the tourist area of Cusco city in April 2018, is Cusco’s first vocational training site for young adults with special needs. Manos Unidas core purpose to improve the quality of life for people with developmental & intellectual disabilities though vocational training, education and parent advocacy, leading to successful inclusion within a society in which they had traditionally been ostracised from.
The food is all natural and is prepared and baked by the students on site and students are trained across all aspects of hospitality so this is a great way for our travellers to interact with locals and in doing so, give a young adult who would normally be isolated from society the opportunity to meet people from all over the World and hone their skills.
Inca Quarry Trail
While you're away from Cusco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. The evening before you leave Cusco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (5 kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Keep in mind that you won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group.
Make a very early start (5.30am) and drive to Choquequilla. As breakfast is not available at your hotel this early in the morning, you will be given a "box breakfast" later in the morning. This box breakfast will consist of cereal bars, seasonal fruit, boxed juice, chocolate bars and a ham and cheese sandwich. Once in Choquequilla, visit a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon. Drive to the starting point of the trek, Rafq'a, and meet the horsemen who join us on the hike. After an hour’s walk, reach the small community of Socma. Carry on to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout, an opportunity to stop for photos and a food break. Continue to the campsite (3700 m above sea level). You should reach the campsite around lunchtime. After lunch, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint to the Incas.
Notes: The Inca Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. The hike is 26 km long in total and its highest pass is at 4450 m above sea level. Throughout the trek, horses will carry your gear and camping equipment. The first two nights are spent camping, and on the third night you'll stay at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and inflatable camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.
Inca Quarry Trail
This is the most challenging and rewarding day of the hike. Your walk (approximately 3 hours) takes you to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (4370 m). After enjoying picturesque views of the valley, it’s a short walk before stopping for lunch. Afterwards, hike to Kuychicassa (approximately 2 hours), the highest pass of the trek (4450 m). From here, descend to the sacred site the Incas called Intipunku (Sun Gate), with views of the Nevado Veronica mountain. Head to the campsite which is only a stone’s throw away at Choquetacarpo.
Inca Quarry Trail
Today’s hike is all downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Incas were intercepted by the Spanish. Around midday, your trek comes to an end. Explore the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. Spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.
Inca Quarry Trail and Machu Picchu
Today you will explore the incredible Machu Picchu ruins with a local guide. Your tour lasts approximately two hours, and there will be plenty of free time afterwards to explore on your own. When it's all over, return to Cusco for a well-earned shower and perhaps a Pisco sour.
Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5.30 am along the winding road to Machu Picchu (approximately 30 minutes). If the skies are clear, take in spectacular views over the ancient city from the Sun Gate, before going on a guided walk around the ruins.
Notes: Due to Intrepid's internal safety policy, our leaders are prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking trips to the mountaintop ruins of Wayna Picchu.
Visiting Machu Picchu:
According to Machu Picchu visiting regulations, all visitors must follow a pre-determined route within the site. This route must be followed in one direction only and once the guided visit commences exiting and re-entering the site is not permitted. Once the guided visit concludes, visitors must exit the site and personal exploration of Machu Picchu is not permitted.
Farewell your new friends as your adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. Check-out time is 9 am. Luggage storage can be arranged at the hotel if you're departing later.