Travel to Peru and discover ancient civilizations on the Inca Trail
Travel to Peru to retrace the steps of the Inca, Peru’s fascinating ancient civilization. Travel from Cusco, through the fertile heartland of the Sacred Valley and to the magnificent Ollantaytambo ruins before the ultimate destination – reaching Machu Picchu. This action-filled express Peruvian tour gets you closer to the secrets of this elusive civilization on a breathtaking adventure along the Inca Trail.
Day 1: Cusco
Day 2: Sacred Valley - Ollantaytambo
Day 3: Inca Trail
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, hiking the Quarry Trail or staying in Cusco for another two days before taking the train to Aguas Calientes.
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. If you’re travelling to Aguas Calientes by train, you'll be able to leave most of your luggage at the hotel in Cusco and travel with only a small bag for the excursion by train.
Day 4: Inca Trail or Quarry Trail or Cusco
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 metres.
Route 3 Cusco:
Today, take a taxi to Tambomachay, an archaeological site just outside of Cusco. From here you’ll take a short downhill walk (between one and three hours) back to Cusco. On the way, stop to admire some of the archaeological sites, including Puka Pukara, Qinqu Quenqo and Saksaywaman. Arrive back in Cusco in the afternoon and enjoy some free time to go shopping, or perhaps visit Merida, Mendivil and Olave art galleries and workshops. Your tour leader will be able to give you some suggestions or point you in the right direction.
Day 5: Inca Trail or Aguas Calientes
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.
Route 3 Train to Aguas Calientes:
After a drive to Ollantaytambo (about one and a half hours), catch a train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (another one and a half hours). The city is nestled in the cloud forest at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want a sneak peak, there is time to visit Machu Picchu independently before a guided tour the following day. Otherwise, you can while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs at Aguas Calientes.
Day 6: Machu Picchu - 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.
Route 3 Train:
Take an early bus up to Machu Picchu at 5.30 am. The city was built around 1440 AD as a country retreat for Incan nobility, but there’s evidence that the land had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Take a guided tour around the ruins of temples, palaces and living quarters, and enjoy free time afterwards to wander around on your own before the group returns to Cusco.
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.
Day 7: Cusco
Your tour comes to an end today and there are no activities planned. As there was little time spent in Cusco at the start of the trip, you may like to stay on for a few extra days to make the most of your visit here. We’ll be happy to assist in booking accommodation (subject to availability). If you decide to stay on, visit some of the sites you didn’t cover during your orientation tour at the beginning of the trip. These may include the Inca ruins of Coricancha, Saqsaywaman, Q'enqo, Pica Pakara, Pisac and Ollantaytambo.