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. Whether it’s the classic Inca Trail* or the quieter Quarry Trail you hike, you’ll be treated to incredible sunrise views over misty Machu Picchu – just cross your fingers for clear skies!
Spend a week retracing the steps of the ancient Inca civilisation on the historical Inca 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 Inca Trail 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 week-long 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 6 pm 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 will answer any questions you may have. 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.
Inca Trail (3100m)* or Quarry Trail (3700m)
Depending on the travel arrangements you made before the trip, during the next four days you’ll be doing one of the following: hiking the Inca Trail (Route 1)*, or hiking the Quarry Trail (Route 2). Both routes visit Machu Picchu.
While away from Cusco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. If you’re hiking the Inca Trail* or the Quarry Trail, the evening before you leave Cusco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (5kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Please note 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.
Route 1 Inca Trail*:
Today travel by minivan to the 82 kilometre marker and meet your crew of local porters, cook and guide. The first day includes uphill trekking to the campsite, which is at 3100m above sea level. On the way you’ll see the Inca sites of Ollantaytambo, Huillca Raccay and Llactapata, as well as incredible views of snow-capped Veronica Peak. In the evening, unwind at the campsite with a nourishing meal.
The Inca Trail* is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 45 kilometres long and often steep. Each day's journey generally consists of seven hours of walking (uphill and downhill), with stops for snacks and lunch. Trekking usually begins at 7 am (except on the fourth morning) and you reach the campsite around 5 pm. Accommodation on the trek is camping (three nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.
Route 2 Quarry Trail:
Make an early start today and drive to Choquequilla, 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, which is 3700 metres 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.
The Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. The hike is 26 kilometres long in total and its highest pass is at 4450 metres above sea level. Throughout the trek, horses will carry your gear and camping equipment. The first two nights are spent camping and the third night you will stay at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.
Inca Trail (3650m)* or Quarry Trail (3600m)
Route 1 Inca Trail*:
This is the most challenging day of the trek as you ascend a long steep path (approximately five hours) to reach the highest point of the trail. Colloquially known as 'Dead Woman's Pass', Warmiwanusca sits at a height of 4200 metres above sea level, providing amazing views of the valley below. The group will then descend to the campsite in the Pacaymayo Valley at 3650 metres.
Route 2 Quarry Trail:
This is the most challenging and rewarding day of the hike. A three-hour walk takes us to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (approximately 4370 metres high). After enjoying picturesque views of the valley, it’s a short walk before stopping for lunch. Afterwards, make the two-hour hike to Kuychicassa, the highest pass of the trek at 4450 metres. From here, descend to the sacred site the Incas called Intipunku (Sun Gate), with views of the Nevado Veronica mountain. Head to the campsite, only a stone’s throw away and at 3600 metr
Inca Trail (2650m)* or Aguas Calientes (2040m)
Route 1 Inca Trail*:
Start the day with a climb through the Pacaymayo Valley to Runkuracay pass (3980 metres). Enjoy views of the snow-capped mountain of Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending for around two to three hours to the ruins of Sayacmarca. Continue over the trail’s third pass to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca (3850 metres), also known as 'Town Above the Clouds'. Start the two-hour descent down the Inca steps to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site.
Route 2 Quarry Trail to Aguas Calientes:
Today’s hike will all be downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Incas were intercepted by the Spanish. Around midday, come to the end of the trek. Explore the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. This is where you’ll meet up with the travellers in your group who didn't hike. Visiting the natural hot springs in town is a soothing way to spend the late afternoon. Spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu (2430) - Cusco
Route 1 Inca Trail*:
This is the final and most spectacular leg of the trek to Machu Picchu. The day starts before dawn with breakfast at 4 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and then begin hiking by 4.30 am. Once the final checkpoint opens at 5 am, begin the final leg of the trek. The walk to Intipunku (the Sun Gate) takes around two-and-a-half hours. Weather permitting, enjoy unforgettable views over the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ as you enter Machu Picchu through the Sungate.
Route 2 Inca Quarry Trail:
Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5.30 am this morning along the winding road to Machu Picchu. The journey takes around 30 minutes. At Machu Picchu, join up with the travellers in your group who hiked the Inca Trail. If skies are clear, enjoy a spectacular views over the ancient city from the Sun Gate, before going on a guided walk around the ruins.
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.
For all routes after taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to return to Cusco for a Pisco sour. Your evening is then free for the last night of your adventure.
VISITING MACHU PICCHU:
- Tickets are only valid only for one entry, that means that travellers cannot leave the site and re-enter as in the past.
- Once travellers begin on a chosen circuit (out of 3) they cannot walk backwards and once they finish the circuit they must leave the site. They cannot explore afterwards.
- The two allotted times to visit are 6am-12pm and 12-4.30pm
- It will be mandatory to have a guide (official Machu Picchu guide, not our leaders) to visit the site. However, this rule cannot always be applied as there are not enough official guides to cover the large amount of people visiting so authorities are being flexible.
There may be an option for travellers to explore the upper part of Machu Picchu (Sun Gate and Inka Bridge) before their guided tour starts (so about 2 hours before meeting the guide). Your leader will provide more information on what the group options are at the welcome meeting.
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.