INCA TRAIL

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY : Intermediate
KILOMETRES OF TRAIL : 41.6 km
ALTITUDE : Start 2800m Maximum 4205m Finish 2010m 
SEASON :This trek is available all year except for February, but is ideal from April to November.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION

The Inca trail is open for anyone who is active and healthy who simply wants to discover, at their own pace, one of the finest trails in the world, carved into the stone of the mountain, on which you’ll discover many sites of the majestic Inca civilization. The constantly surreal landscape includes a mix of jungle, snowy peaks, and hilltop temples. At the end of the trek, or pilgrimage, hikers arrive at the mysterious forgotten city of Machu Picchu, illuminated by the first sunbeams of the day…. simply magical.

ITINERARY

Day Km by day Itinerary Description Level of difficulty Lodging

1

11,8

Ollantaytambo - Huayllabamba

Relatively easy walking day, gently sloping upward. Visit to the Inca site of Llactapata.

Moderate

Tent

2

15,2

Huayllabamba - Pacaymayu

The most difficult day. Climb to the mountain pass of Warmyhuanusca at 4200m. Passing several small Inca sites. Spectacular view.

Difficult

Tent

3

10

Pacaymayu - Winayhuayna

All day downhill. Visits to three major Inca sites: Runkurakay,  Puyupatamarca and Winayhuayna, all very impressive.

Intermediate

Tent

4

4,6

Winayhuayna - Cusco

Short easy walk. Passage to the Sun Gate. Visit to the lost city of Machu Picchu. Train back to Cusco.

Easy

3 star hotel

 

Group: We can arrange private groups with a local english speaking guide for 4 or more people. For a group of 10 or more, we can provide a local guide and a Canadian guide.

Individual: We can arrange an individual private journey (1 to 3 people) with a private english speaking guide, or we can integrate you into a mixed international group of 6 to 12 people with an english speaking guide. (Economical version)

Our Inca Trail package includes:

  • Private transportation from Cusco to the starting point of the trek.
  • 10 meals (all meals during the trek to Machu Picchu)
  • Local guide(s), in English or French.
  • All entrances fees to all sites, including Machu Picchu
  • Cook and porters for the communal items
  • Tent, kitchen equipment, kitchen tent with a common bench, oxygen bottles, first aid kits and tools.
  • Bus between Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes.
  • Backpacker train service to Cusco
  • Transfer from Cusco train station to your hotel.

NOTE: Your sleeping bag and your personal items are not carried by porters; you must carry them or hire a private porter.

The package doesn’t include lunch at the Machu Picchu site (there is a snackbar) nor your sleeping bag.

 

DETAILED ITINERARY

 

Day 1: Cusco – Huayllabamba

The area is also known as km 82 of the railway from Cusco to Quillabamba. The beginning of the hike is easy. After a few minutes, you cross the suspended bridge Cusichaca (built with steel cables) over the Urubamba River. On the left side of the road you will follow the river in a eucalyptus forest before reaching the archeological remains of Llactapata. 

Llactapata, or the “village of the hills”, is an archeological complex located at the foot of a mountain on the left bank of the river Cusichaca, a tributary of the Urubamba River. This place has many Andean terraces, which were probably used to feed the inhabitants of other cities and “Tambos” (storehouses) of the Inca trail. This urban area has more than one hundred structures and an Incan altar called “Pulpituyoq”.

The weather is generally warm and the landscape colored by the magnificent broom flowers. Broom is a plant native to North Africa, the sticky seeds of which adhered to the shoes of the Berbers’ horses, which were then sent to North America. We will camp in Huayllabamba. Huayllabamba, or “green field”, is a small indigenous village located on the slopes of a mountain and surrounded by corn and potatoes. Many groups camp here on their first night, and the area has public restrooms and water. The first day may be cloudy with light rain. The nearly flat hike is fairly easy and the trail is absolutely beautiful.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included.

Day 2: Huayllambamba - Chakicocha

This is the hardest day of the trek, since it involves a steep climb to the Abra de Warmihuañusca (literal translation into Quechua: "place where the woman died) at 4200 meters. The constant climb up the steep slope leading up to the Abra (the pass) makes walking difficult. Along the way, the natural environment changes with the altitude gain. You’ll pass from temperate valleys to pasture devoid of trees in the cold Puna highlands.

Before reaching the abra, you will find a camp called "Llulluchapampa”, located in a valley surrounded by two crystal-clear streams. Here you can rest a while before continuing on to Paso de Warmihuañusca. This part of the road was known during the 18th and 19th centuries as the smuggling road. Here you may begin to feel the soroche or altitude sickness, characterized by dizziness and shortness of breath.
The area is known for its strong, cold winds. After crossing the Abra, we’ll rest before descending to the valley of the Pacaymayu River. You will find a small waterfall, a camp and public toilets, perfect for lunch. You will cross a second pass or abra, where you will observe the archaeological remains of Runkurakay, at 3800 meters. Runkurakay takes its name from its semicircular shape that shields it from the area’s powerful winds. The complex has a single entrance, with seven accesses to a seven different rooms. Then you go down to Laguna Yanacocha (the Black Lagoon), and arrive at Sayaqmarca or "dominant village”. At this interesting Inca ruin located on a cliff top, you can enjoy the panoramic view over the valley of Acobamba and the snowy peak of Pumasillo. 

This structure is a maze of narrow passageways, some of which have an outlet while others do not. The only access road to this building is a steep staircase of solid rock at the edge of the mountain. A thick layer of exotic plants (orchids and lichens) is on one side. Overnight in Chakicocha camp.
The path on the first day’s trek is barely visible because it has been gradually erased. On the second day, the path is as well defined as a paved road and has steep stairs with near-vertical steps. 
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 3: Chakicocha – Wiñayhuayna

The trail climbs again. You will discover the path’s first sloping tunnel measuring 20 meters in length, with steps carved into the rock. The climb continues to the third and final abra (pass) of the road leading to the citadel of Puyupatamarca. Puyupatamarca, or "City of the Clouds", is one of the most original citadels of the Inca Trail. It is surrounded by cloud forest (Yungas) and situated on a cliff overlooking the Urubamba River. This town is characterized by numerous Andean ceremonial terraces and sources of fresh water.

On sunny days we enjoy the scenery of the Urubamba Valley and adjacent glaciers. The lower part is composed of circular structures that follow the shape of the land. Near Puyupatamarca pass, the road plunges downward on massive snail-shaped steps, leading through a second tunnel. Then the road opens up onto relatively flat ledges that follow the path of the Urubamba River to Wiñayhuayna.
Wiñayhuayna, or "forever young", is located at 2644 meters above sea level. Its name comes from its typical red, yellow and violet orchids that bloom all year round. It is probably the most attractive citadel of the Inca Trail, the last town before Machu Picchu.

This place was built on the steep flank of the mountain on the left bank of Urubamba.
The Citadel is comprised of 4 main sectors: the urban sector (at the bottom) includes more than 20 buildings, the ritual springs sector, the culture terraces and the tower sector. The architecture of this building is the finest in the complex. It is believed that it was probably a religious center. 
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 4: Winayhuayna – Machu Picchu – Cusco

It is important to take the time to visit the archaeological remains and contemplate the environment. Travelers in a hurry to get to Machu Picchu who do not stop to explore the many ruins along the road truly miss something. The last day of hiking, either at a slow or fast pace, is a magical experience. The landscape changes from typical Andean to typical Amazon.

The Inca always built their fortresses in places where they could see without being seen, to attack without being attacked. The mysterious citadel of Machu Picchu, located on the edge of the jungle, is difficult to find. On this last section, you will see the Urubamba River. It runs from the high Andes to the deep jungle, forming a series of bends which line the high walls of ancient rocks covered with thick woods.

The road runs its course beside a deep chasm in the green slopes that descends to the roaring rapids of the river a thousand meters below. At each bend in the road you will discover a distinct species of flora and fauna and a new perspective on the stunning landscape.

After 3 hours of walking, you arrive at the Intipunku or Sun Gate. This small complex of buildings functioned as a sentry post or checkpoint. From here you can glimpse for the first time the splendor of the lost city of Machu Picchu. This place is ideal for taking perspective photos of Machu Picchu.
If you start walking very early you will arrive at dawn. Sunrise is the best time to contemplate the majesty and grandeur of Machu Picchu, the Sacred City of the Incas. After a visit with an explanation of the different areas of the site, if you're not too sore or too hungry, you can climb the Huayna Picchu, the column of stone overlooking the site, which was an Incan astronomical observatory. Then you will descend from Machu Picchu by bus (20 minutes) to the village of Aguas Calientes. Return to Cuzco by train (five hours). Arrival in Cusco at 9 in the evening. Private transfer from the train station to your hotel.

 

 

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