The Peruvian landscape is unparalleled in its extremes: from the Amazon’s dense rainforest, to the high altiplano grasslands, to the lofty Andes. With an overlay of cultural relics from the sun-worshipping Incas and the Spanish conquistadors, Peru’s dramatic scenery and rich culture are unbeatable. Trekking along the Inca Trail to the mystical stone ruins of Machu Picchu is the pinnacle of any Peruvian adventure.
Inca Trail Classic – 4-Day Trek to Machu Picchu
Day 01: Our bi-lingual guides transport the group from the hotel in Cusco to Km. 82 along the railroad – the start of the Inca Trail (2,680m; 8,792ft). Here, we meet up with our porters and begin trekking through semi-arid terrain along the Urubamba River. Majestic peaks rise above. After a relatively easy 5 km, we reach the ruins at Llactapata where we leave the Urubamba Valley and follow the Kusichaca River to our first campsite in Huayllabamba at 3,000 meters (9,842ft).
Km 82 – Huayllabamba: 11 km/6 hours appx.
Day 02: A gradual ascent for 2 km is followed by a challenging 7 km uphill, partially upon stone steps, to the Inca Trail’s highest point at Warmihuañusca Pass (4,200m; 13,860ft). Spectacular snow-capped peaks offer fantastic views. We wind for 3 km down old Incan steps to our second campsite, Pacaymayo (3,600m; 11,181ft) at the end of a gorge.
Huayllabamba – Pacaymayo: 7 km/7 hours appx.
Day 03: Today’s trek leads us past several Inca ruins. Starting with a gradual 2 km uphill, we reach Runkurakay’s circular ruins before ascending its pass (3,950m). After enjoying the panoramic view, we descend for 6 km, with a stop to explore the ruins of Sayacmarca. Our trek then leads into a more lush landscape of ferns and moss, continuing across “The Tunnel” – a passageway dug by Incas through a primeval landslide. We reach a third high pass and ceremonial ruins at Phuyupatamarca (3,580m; 12,045ft). Our experienced guides will assess the needs of the group to determine whether to camp here, or descend 4 km further down Inca steps to the Wiñay Wayna ruins (2,650m; 8,694ft), our most “civilized” campground.
Pacaymayo – Phuyupatamarca: 7 km/6 hours appx.
or Pacaymayo – Wiñay Wayna: 11 km/9 hours appx.
Day 04: With some brief up-and-down sections, we continue to descend the final 6 km section of the Inca Trail. After 4 km, we reach the Gate of the Sun (2,745m; 9,005ft) where, some 350 meters below, lies Peru’s most famous icon of the Inca world: Machu Picchu. The final push to Machu Picchu’s maze of terraces and walled structures at 2,450 meters (8,038ft) is a short, but steep, 2 km down the ancient Inca staircase. Our bilingual guides lead us through this mystical city and give us time to explore on our own before boarding a bus from Macho Picchu down to Aguas Calientes, where we catch the train back to Cusco.
Wiñay Wayna – Machu Picchu: 6 km/ 3 hours appx.