11 Day Inca Trail Experience
- Trek the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with 3 hearty meals a day on the trail, prepared by our chef.
- Take in the splendor of Cuzco with its plazas, markets and cultural wonders.
- Acclimatize to the altitude while strolling through the alleyways and temple ruins of Ollantaytambo before your Inca Trail trek.
- Experience Machu Picchu in the early morning light.
- Enjoy the memorable and scenic tourist train from Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail is a superb introduction to trekking in the Andes and the classic hike along the historic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is considered by many to be one of the great short treks of the world. Importantly, our itinerary spends ample time in Cuzco and the Sacred Valley whilst acclimatizing to the altitude before heading out onto the Inca Trail. We ascend the jungle trails and cloud forest to appreciate the panorama of Andean peaks that inspired the Inca people, as we make our way to Machu Picchu. Words cannot describe the exhilaration of the first sighting of the enigmatic ruins of Machu Picchu. Rather than heading back to Cuzco we spend a night in Aguas Calientes, and this gives us the vital opportunity to visit the majestic ruin at its best, early the following morning.
You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel where you are free to rest in the hotel or just wander around Miraflores, the area of Lima where our hotel is located. Some of Lima’s best galleries and shops and restaurants are located in this area. Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima is the oldest capital in South America, with a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture. If you have time to visit a museum we recommend the Museo de La Nacion or the Larco Herrera Museum.
On arrival in Cuzco you’ll be met by your guide and transferred from Cuzco airport to our hotel located in the historic center for a short initial briefing and then a few hours of rest, essential for successful acclimatization before your hike along the Inca Trail. In the evening you’ll have a longer briefing to discuss aspects of the itinerary and, in particular, the trek.
Every alleyway we enter or corner we turn brings another surprise in the form of the superbly constructed Inca walls or the more architecturally extravagant colonial churches and palaces, such as the Cathedral and Koricancha. Cuzco, the capital of the extensive Inca Empire, has seen many changes since Francisco Pizarro’s men took the city with such apparent ease in November 1533. We also take a short drive to visit the monolithic walls of Sacsayhuaman, spectacularly set above the city. In the afternoon you may have time to explore some of the central parts of the city and a chance to look at some of the great varieties of local craft work on sale in open air stalls and shops.
We leave Cuzco and head to the Chinchero Plateau to explore Chinchero, an important town in Inca times. The most striking remnant of this period is the massive stone wall in the main plaza which has ten trapezoidal niches. There are beautiful views overlooking the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with the Cordillera Urubamba and the snow-capped peak of Salkantay dominating the western horizon. Chinchero is believed to be the mythical birthplace of the rainbow. Visit Maras, a salt-producing center that dates back all the way to pre-Inca times, with over 3000 salt pools all carved into the mountain side. Discover Moray’s mysterious concentric circular terraces which, according to some scholars, was an agricultural research center. After lunch in a local restaurant, we will go to the hotel to relax and enjoy the beauty of this famous sacred valley.
Meals: B, L, D
Another day in this beautiful place. The valley actually follows the course of the famous Urubamba River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River. During our time in here, we will visit some of the enthralling citadels, fortresses and temple ruins that are found along the valley including the site at Ollantaytambo. The village itself is a fascinating mixture of Inca and Colonial architecture. If the weather is good and we have time we can enjoy some short walks in the valley – a good way to prepare for the trek ahead. The evening is spent preparing for the Inca Trail at our hotel.
Meals: B, L, D
You will be picked up early from your hotel in the Sacred Valley for the drive to Chilca or Piscacucho where we start our first day of trekking. At this point we meet our trekking guide plus our cooks, porters and camp staff before setting off on this famous ‘Royal Highway of the Incas’, built more than 500 years ago. The first day involves approximately five to six hours of walking. During the first few hours, we follow the course of the famous Urubamba River before stopping to admire the archaeological site of Patallacta (2750m / 9,020ft) – an ancient Inca city built on a series of terraces below the trail. From here we continue to follow the narrow valley of the Cusichaca River to camp at one of two sites near the village of Huayllabamba – this means we actually avoid the very crowded camp sites within the village used by most of the trekkers on the Inca Trail. Camp.
*Important: Please be aware that, because of the Peruvian authorities’ new rules on the Inca Trail, there may be changes in the actual trek itinerary and the campsites we use.
Meals: B, L, D
Next morning we continue up this narrow valley on the left bank of the river – whose source is one of the great glacier mountains, Salkantay. We then start a relatively steep climb up this classic trail towards the first pass – Warmihuañusca (4,200m / 13,700ft). After a rest at the pass and time to take in the spectacular views we descend steeply into the Pacamayo Valley where we spend our second night camping on the Inca Trail.
Meals: B, L, D
Today is the longest day of the trek. After breakfast in our campsite in the verdant Pacamayo Valley we start ascending towards the small but impressively set ruins at Runkuraqay and on to Cochapata set just below the second pass at 3,900m (12,800ft). From here we walk the short distance to the pass and then descend past a mysterious small green lake to the large ruins of Sayacmarca and on to the last pass at 3,800m (12,450ft), which is more like a low ridge-line than a true pass. From here we get a great view down into the forested gorge of the Urubamba River set more than 1700 meters below us. A short hike from here takes us over the Phuyupatamarca Pass at 3,700m (12,140ft), aptly named the ‘City in the Clouds’. We walk down along an incredibly well preserved section of the Inca Trail with great white granite slab walls and staircases all impressively set in high jungle to our final campsite at Wiñay Wayna (2,679m / 8,790ft).
Meals: B, L, D
After breakfast we walk the last few kilometers to finally reach Inti Punku (The Gateway to the Sun), awe-inspiringly set above the ‘lost city’ of Machu Picchu (2,400m / 7,900ft). Your first view of the ruins really does take your breath away! We will enjoy a guided tour of the sanctuary followed by time to explore this fascinating site at your own pace (with the accompaniment of the guide). Then we will have lunch at Sanctuary Lodge, before returning by bus down to Aguas Calientes and checking in to our hotel.
*Important: Peruvian authorities have implemented entry restrictions to protect Machu Picchu from the impact of its immense popularity. As of 1st July 2017 there are two time slots in which patrons can enter Machu Picchu for a maximum of four hours and must follow one of three predetermined routes. Additionally, all visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times. These changes have been made to improve the visitor experience and in an effort to deal with overcrowding. PAD endeavor to ensure you get the most of your Machu Picchu experience regardless of these restrictions.
Meals: B, L, D
Today we will take the bus back to Machu Picchu. This is one for your bucket list. Uncover the mystical secrets of Machu Picchu during a guided private tour of this Incan citadel. You’ll have the opportunity to visit the most important parts of the ruins to wonder at how they were constructed. After the tour, you’ll have free time to further explore the ruins or just sit back and appreciate the majesty of Machu Picchu. You can also hike to the top of Huayna Picchu for a bird’s eye view of the ruins and valley beneath you. The steep path takes about an hour and a half to ascend. (Please note that only 400 hikers are allowed to climb Huayna Picchu each day and that tickets will need to be purchased in advance along with your Machu Picchu entrance.)
After a day you’ll remember for the rest of your life, you’ll depart from Aguas Calientes by train for Ollantaytambo. Upon arrival at the train station you will be met and transferred to your Cuzco hotel.
Meals: B, L
You will be transferred to the airport for your flight where your trip concludes.
- 10 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 9 dinners.
- Expert bilingual guide for each section.
- Comfortable and central hotels.
- Private ground transportation.
- Group camping equipment.
- Porters to carry personal gear.
- Sightseeing and site entrance fees as listed (including Machu Picchu entrance fee)
- All necessary adventure and trekking equipment will be provided so all you need bring is yourself.
- International and domestic flights and taxes.
- Travel Insurance (compulsory)