** Meals included on the Tour Cost are indicated B, L, D
So that you have sufficient time to acclimate prior to starting the trek, we strongly recommend that you arrive in Cuzco or similar elevation a minimum of two days prior to the trek. This is a 45-km/28-mile trek with a maximum elevation close to 4,200m/14,000 feet. Let us know if you would like us to make Cuzco hotel reservations for you.
At noon on the day prior to the trek, there is an important orientation meeting with your guide and other participants at our office in Cuzco. We review trek arrangements, trail gear and packing strategies, health and dietary matters, tipping and other cash needs, and trail documentation requirements. We collect the park fee from you at this time, in travelers’ checks or cash. If you pay in cash, bills must be in good condition – no rips, missing corners, or writing on the bills, please. We also distribute your trail duffel and sleeping pad. If you’ve rented a sleeping bag from us, we give it to you now so you can pack your duffel, ready for the departure early next morning.
Passengers who have not contacted the office by noon on the day prior to trek departure to reconfirm their arrangements will be considered no-shows and deleted from the roster. In these situations your tour prepayment is non-refundable.
Day 1 – Huayllabamba
We pick you up at your Cuzco hotel and transfer by van 3 hours west, to our trailhead at Piscacucho, on the Vilcanota River (km. 82 on the train route to Machu Picchu). Here we meet our porters, pass through the trailhead control point, and cross the river on a suspension bridge to enter the park. We hike along the left bank of the powerful Vilcanota River, beneath the impressive snowcapped Nevado Veronica. The valley is dry, with Opuntia and Cholla cactus common; where irrigation is possible, we walk adjacent to fields of corn. In the rapids below the trail, you can spot Torrent ducks swimming in the eddies as they graze the algae growing on the riverbed. We explore the enormous Inca ruins of Llactapata, then turn south and begin to gain altitude, climbing up the narrow side valley of the Cusichaca River. We camp on a quiet terrace belonging to a local family in the hamlet of Huayllabamba (2,954 m/9,690 ft). Distance 11.4 km/7.2 miles, elevation gain 300 m/984 ft. (L,D)
Day 2 – Pacaymayo
We climb steeply through fields and and intriguing forest of indigenous queuñal and chachacomo trees, then emerge above the treeline and reach Warmiwañusqa Pass (4,234 m/13,887’). Enjoy magnificent views from the pass to the Huaynay Range snowpeaks and distant Inca ruins. Descend to our camp at Pacaymayo in the valley bottom (3,613 m/11,850 ft. Distance 7.7 km/4.83 miles, elevation gain 1,280 m./4,200 ft (B,L,D)
Day 3 – Phuyopatamarka
We climb steeply to reach a second pass (3,975 m/13,038’), and follow a fine Inca highway down to the exquisite ridge-top ruins of Sayaqmarka. Further on, we pass through a tunnel amid luxuriant cloud forest vegetation. Camp at the superb Phuyopatamarka ruins (3,679m/12,067 ft) overlooking the Vilcanota River far below. Phuyopatamarka is Quechua for “City above the Clouds”. The views from our campsite toward the sacred peak of Salcantay are sublime. Distance 7 km/4.5 miles, elevation gain 362 m/1,190 feet (B,L,D)
Day 4 – Machu Picchu
We descend steeply, following the Royal Highway through orchid-rich cloud forest to Winya Wayna ruins. The final part of the trail on the east side of Machu Picchu Mountain is a stunningly beautiful traverse on finest Inca stonework through cloud forest, leading to the Gate of the Sun overlooking Machu Picchu. We reach this highlight in the golden sunshine of late afternoon, and descend into the Inca city when it is nearly empty of visitors. We board a shuttle bus to descend a switchbacking road to Puente Ruinas and our camp by the river beneath the ruins (2,000 m/6,560 ft). For an additional cost you can choose optional hotel accommodation in Aguas Calientes. Distance 9 km/5.8 miles, elevation drop 1,150 m/3,772 ft (to Machu Picchu. (B,L,D)
Day 5 – Machu Picchu/Cuzco
We return to the site by shuttle bus. Those wishing to view sunrise over Machu Picchu can take the pre-dawn shuttle bus, which delivers you to the main gate of Machu Picchu at 6.00AM when the gates are opened to the public. An early start gives you more options to hike some of the peripheral trails, such as Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain. We include an in-depth guided tour of the ridge-top city. We descend to the nearby village of Aguas Calientes for return in late afternoon by train, arriving into Cuzco around 9.30PM. Transfer to your hotel. (B)
Under current park regulations, trek permits are sold on a first come/first served basis, and are limited to 500 persons per day, including passengers, guides, cooks and porters. Book early! Permits sell out on popular dates. In order to include you in the trek roster, we must receive from you: your full name as it appears on your passport, your nationality, passport number, age, occupation and gender. Permits are sold on a non-refundable, non-transferable basis. If you are unable to secure a place on our Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, please ask about our excellent alternative trekking programs in the Andes.