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Food

  • Breakfast: hotel breakfasts are normally buffet-style; on trek they are more substantial and include a cooked dish. Lunch: while trekking, lunches are usually three courses, but may be a picnic, with hot drinks where possible. Dinner or Evening meal: dinners on trek are always cooked, and usually consist of soup or starter, a main course and dessert. Water: drinking water (boiled and filtered) is provided in the mornings and at lunch during the trek so that you can refill your bottles.
  • Breakfast: hotel breakfasts are normally buffet-style; on trek they are more substantial and include a cooked dish. Lunch: while trekking, lunches are usually three courses, but may be a picnic, with hot drinks where possible. Dinner or Evening meal: dinners on trek are always cooked, and usually consist of soup or starter, a main course and dessert. Water: drinking water (boiled and filtered) is provided in the mornings and at lunch during the trek so that you can refill your bottles.

Activities

  • Accom: camping
  • Accom: hotel/lodge
  • Adult group
  • Culture & Discovery
  • Solo departures
  • History
  • Trek: point-to-point
  • Walking & Trekking
  • Guided Group
  • Small Adult Group
  • 1

    Start Cuzco (3400m); afternoon walking tour of the Inca capital.

    The trip starts in Cuzco (3400m) today. The group flights usually arrive in the mid-afternoon. The Inca capital - though small enough to be easily manageable - is among the most attractive cities in South America, with much of the centre comprising colonial-era buildings with Inca foundations, and it is full of interesting museums, churches and pre-Columbian sites. We will have a short walking tour of the city including a visit to the Qoricancha Sun Temple.

  • 2

    Full-day walking tour of nearby ruins including Tambomachay and Sacsayhuaman.

    The hills above Cuzco city are dotted with some of the most interesting Inca ruins. We drive to the highest, Tambomachay, and return on foot to Cuzco via Puca Pucara, Qenco and Sacsayhuaman: an easy acclimatisation walk to get used to the altitude. An open-air picnic lunch is included during the hike near the spectacular ruins.

  • 3

    Free day in Cuzco to relax and acclimatise before trek.

    Free day in Cuzco to relax and further acclimatise before starting the tour. A range of optional activities and sightseeing excursions can be arranged, including visits to Inca and pre-Inca sites south of Cuzco, or walks in the hills surrounding the city but we recommend taking it relatively easy in order to adjust to the altitude in preparation for the start of the trek tomorrow.

  • 4

    Drive to trek start point at Mollepata; walk to camp at Marcocasa.

    A few hours drive via the interesting Inca remains of Tarawasi takes us high to the hill town of Mollepata. We start by walking from Mollepata to our campsite near Marcocasa where we spend our first night under canvas. The total driving time is approx. 3 hours, and the walk will take around 3-4 hours of steady climbing along well-made tracks. From the campsite we have excellent views of the Apurimac Valley.

  • 5

    Follow Inca canal to Soraypampa and climb up to base of Salcantay.

    Our trek today begins on the southwest facing slopes of the Andes where moderate precipitation generates coarse bushes and gnarly trees, and small parrots can be heard, if not seen. We climb gradually northwards, following an Inca canal, still in use today, towards the broad snowy peak of Humantay (5917m). We stop for lunch at the small hamlet of Soraypampa, and continue our ascent towards the massive bulk of Salcantay (6271m) which soon dominates our view. We camp at around 4200m in the high grassy meadow of Ichu Pata, below the south face and glaciers of the impressive peak.

  • 6

    Ascend Inca Chiriasqa Pass (4960m) and follow glaciated valley to Pampa Cahuana.

    The high point of the trek and this morning's goal is the Inca Chiriasqa pass at almost 5000m. Climbing more steeply now we walk close to the spectacular glaciers and ice walls of Nevado Salcantay. Passing through Pampa Japonesa, base camp for a Japanese mountaineering expedition, we finally top the pass and gain some excellent 360° views. Inca Chiriasqa means 'the Inca fell ill from cold', and the exposed situation makes it easy to see why. Descending from the pass, we drop down into the upper reaches of a broad valley where Salcantay reappears in a new profile. After passing a huge ridge of terminal moraine, once the snout of the East Salcantay Glacier, the river suddenly becomes dead straight, canalised by the Incas centuries ago. We camp alongside the canal close to the hamlet of Pampa Cahuana.

  • 7

    Follow river to camp at Huayllabamba.

    Setting off from camp this morning, we follow the canal, which soon drops into a steep-sided valley. The path follows the side of this valley all the way to Paucarcancha, an Inca watchtower which guarded the Pampa Cahuana valley. We have time to explore this small site before continuing to the village of Huayllabamba where we camp for the night.

  • 8

    Join classic Inca Trail and cross Dead Woman's Pass (4200m).

    Today we join the main Inca Trail, the classic trek to Machu Picchu. From the village of Huayllabamba, a long and steady climb takes us first through an area of cloud forest to the meadows of Llulluchapampa, then over the Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman) Pass at 4,215m. After quite a long, steep descent we camp in the scenic Pacaymayo valley (3600m).

  • 9

    Over Runcuray Pass (3800m) to ruins of Sayajmarca and Phuyupatamarca.

    Another easier climb, past the small ruins of Runcuracay, takes us over the Runcuracay Pass, and from now on the Inca Trail becomes a clearly defined path made of flat boulders. We pass the ruins of Sayajmarca and suddenly enter cloud forest. At one point the trail passes through a short Inca tunnel before crossing onto the Amazon side of the continental divide. We normally camp on the ridge above the Inca site of Phuyupatamarca (3650m) to benefit from the views of sunset and sunrise, and to avoid the crowded Wiñay Wayna campsite.

  • 10

    Down Inca steps to Wiñay Wayna and Machu Picchu.

    From the ridge we embark on the infamous Inca steps: a two kilometre stone staircase taking us rapidly downhill amid a panorama of overwhelming immensity, the peaks of the Vilcabamba range above, and the river thousands of metres below. After visiting the attractive ruins of Wiñay Wayna, we have an undulating walk through cloud forest high above the river to Inti Punku, the Inca Gate of the Sun. From here we get our sudden first full sight of Machu Picchu itself. A short downhill section takes us to the edge of the Inca citadel where we board a bus and descend to Aguas Calientes, a busy riverside village with thermal springs. We stay in a hotel tonight, so there is a chance to take a shower and recharge camera batteries ready for our visit to Machu Picchu tomorrow.

  • 11

    Visit the ruins of Machu Picchu, then by train to Sacred Valley.

    We return to Machu Picchu early for a guided tour, having the site almost to ourselves until the trains from Cuzco start arriving around mid-morning. There will be free time to explore the ruins further before we board the afternoon train to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, where we stay for the night.

  • 12

    Explore Sacred Valley ruins of Ollantaytambo and Pisac; return to Cuzco.

    A day exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas, visiting the famous Inca fortress ruins of Ollantaytambo and Pisac which tower over the villages below them of the same name. We will also have time to look around Pisac Market, famous for its handicrafts, before returning by road to Cuzco.

  • 13

    Free time in Cuzco (various optional activities and excursions available).

    Today has been left free to relax or explore Cuzco further. There are a number of optional excursions available which your tour leader can arrange for you. If you still have the energy you could chose to mountain bike in the Sacred Valley taking in a 30-35km ride through Moray, Maras and the small village of Pichingoto. Alternatively you could try your hand at paddle boarding on Lake Piuray near the town of Chinchero. Or, if feeling more subdued, you could spend the day taking it easy and watching the world go by in Cuzco’s Plaza de Armas.

  • 14

    End Cuzco.

    The trip ends in Cuzco after breakfast today.

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