Anywhere you go in the world, there tends to be a well trodden path created by many tourists who...
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The High Inca Trail
Transport - Internal flight, minibus, boat, on foot.
Accommodation - Hotels (7nts), camp (6nts).
Meals - 13 breakfasts, 7 lunches & 6 dinners.
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
Overnight flight to Lima
After your flight, you transfer to your first night’s accommodation (approx. 30 min) and check in. Discovered in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro, Lima was the principal city of Spanish South America for three hundred years until the wave of independence swept the continent. You stay in the pleasant coastal suburb of Miraflores where shady parks, bustling cafés and the South Pacific coastline all lie within easy reach.
Hotel - 1 night
This morning you will transfer back to the airport for the flight up to Juliaca, high in the Andes (approx. 2 hours). From here you’ll drive to the eerie ruins of Sillustani (approx 1 ¾ hours). Curious stone burial towers of the 15th century Colla tribe overlook the primeval landscape in brooding, sinister fashion. After exploring this site you continue to the town of Puno (3860m) on the shores of Lake Titicaca. At this altitude the sun is very hot in the daytime but temperatures at night can drop below freezing, especially in the winter months of June, July and August. If you are feeling the cold, it is possible to buy thick alpaca sweaters from the town’s market. Hotel - 2 nights (B)
Today you take a boat to the floating reed islands of the Uros Indians. The life of the Uros is based on the totora reed, which grows in the lake and is used to construct their houses and boats, thereby fostering the theory which led to Thor Heyerdahl’s Pacific journey with Ra. It is said that the Uros began their floating existence by constructing the islands to isolate themselves from the belligerent Collas and Incas. It is clear that they are no longer as secluded as they once were, but they are still a unique sight. Once back in Puno, you might be able to visit the old iron ship, the Yavari, often moored by the city. Built in Scotland in the 1870’s, it was shipped to Chile and then carried up into the Andes on mules and llamas, to be assembled in Puno. It was the first iron ship on Lake Titicaca and is now being restored to sail on the lake once more. (B)
An early start today as your bus takes you across the dusty altiplano, dotted with llama, alpaca and the simple adobe dwellings of local herders (NB: smaller groups may travel on a shared bus). Once over the pass at La Raya (4321m) the scenery changes. The fertile valleys are still worked by beast or groups of industrious villagers; their timeless methods prove the value of the knowledge of long ago. You have the opportunity to stop at several places of interest along the way including La Raya pass and the Inca ruins of Racchi and Pucara (approx. 6 hours drive). In the evening you arrive in Cusco (3360m), the seat of Inca rule for some 500 years. Hotel - 1 night (B)
Inca Trail: Marcopata (3500m)
Leaving Cusco early, you drive to the trailhead at the village of Mollepata (approx. 4 hours). The road follows a spectacular route descending towards the mighty Apurimac canyon; you’ll visit the Inca ruins at Tarawasi, before a steep dirt road climbs to Mollepata (2900m). In this small farming community you’ll meet the porters and mules who will help on the first half of the trek. This first day’s walk is a steady climb through a patchwork of fields and grassland to reach the camp at Marcopata (3500m). Looking back you will see the Apurimac Canyon and ahead are the daunting peaks of the Vilcabamba mountain range. You carry only a daypack containing personal items as a team of porters carries all your main luggage, camping equipment and supplies. You will be provided with a duffle bag in which to put items needed for the trek. Anything you don’t need is left behind in Cusco in your main bag. Dome tents for sleeping are supplied and meals are served in a mess tent with folding tables and stools. The camp sites have basic toilet and washing facilities. Your team of porters and cooks take care of all camp chores leaving you free to relax and enjoy the magnificent Andean scenery.
(About 4 hours moderate uphill walking). Camp – 1 night (BLD)
Inca Trail: Salkantaypampa (4200m)
Another day of steady climbing will take you to the base of some of the highest peaks in the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary. Leaving most of the fields and farmsteads behind, you walk through remote mountain grassland, flanked on all sides by great Andean peaks. Later in the day, you pass the snow peak of Soray (5440m); to the east is Mount Humantay (5910m), and as you reach camp, the great glaciated massif of Salkantay (6270m) dominates your view to the north. Your camp tonight is at Salkantaypampa (4200m), right at the base of Mount Salkantay, the tallest peak in the area and also the most important Apu or mountain spirit.
(About 5 hours demanding uphill walking). Camp – 1 night (BLD)
Inca Trail: Sisaypampa (3850m)
Today you must tackle the highest pass on the whole trek; the Salkantay or Incachiriasca pass located at almost 5000m above sea level – higher than Mont Blanc! The trail ascends steeply out of camp, skirting the eastern icefalls of Mount Salkantay. This mighty 6270m peak is venerated by the local farmers and is considered one of their principal deities; you might see your porters pay homage to the mountain in the form of small gifts left on the trail, in return for safe passage and good luck in your journey. As the trail climbs to the pass, you reach rocky terrain, home to the mountain viscacha, a hardy relative of the chinchilla which can often be seen hopping between the boulders along the trail. Once at the pass the air is thin, and the icy slopes of Salkantay seem close enough to touch. Now the trail descends steeply, hugging the glaciers until you reach the camp at Sisaypampa (3850m).
About 6 hours demanding uphill walking made strenuous by the altitude. Camp – 1 night (BLD)
Inca Trail: Paucarcancha (3150m)
After the strenuous previous days, today you have a well-earned rest. You can wake up late and enjoy the great views around camp before you start a half day’s walk (three hours) descending into the Pampacahuana Valley. The climate gets warmer and more hospitable, as you again meet farmers working their fields of potatoes, beans and grains. You’ll camp close to the small Inca ruins of Paucarcancha (3150m).
About 3 hours moderate, mostly downhill, walking. Camp – 1 night (BLD)
Inca Trail: Pacaymayo (3600m)
A short walk of one hour takes you to the village of Wayllabamba (‘Grassy Plain’ - 3000m), the last human habitation on the trail, and this is where you join the popular main Inca trail. After pausing to rest, you climb steadily and steeply through lush cloud forest to Llulluchapampa (3850m) - a beautiful flat area of pasture looking back on the distant Wayllanay mountain range. You’ll camp tonight at Llulluchapampa.
About 5 hours of walking. Camp – 1 night (BLD)
Inca Trail: Phuyupatamarca (3600m)
You rise early this morning in the valley and start with a steep climb to the highest point of this part of the trail at Warmiwañusca (Dead Woman’s Pass - 4200m); the views back along the valley certainly make the climb worthwhile. From here you descent to Pacamayo River, before getting ready for your second ascent to the Runkuray Pass. Before the pass you visit the ruins of Runkuracay (3998m), a small egg-shaped building complex. After the ruins you ascend further past two delightful black water lakes and then reach the top. There are great views back across to Dead Woman's Pass and you can also see where you will be headed for the next few kilometres. From here the trail is largely downhill and you encounter the first long stretches of original Inca paving which makes for easier going. You cross the Aobamba River below Sayacmarca ruins, high on a rocky spur. After a final easy ascent, with spectacular views over the Urubamba Valley far below, you emerge above Phuyupatamarca ruins.
About 7 hours moderate and demanding walking. Camp – 1 night (BLD)
You awake to a spectacular vista and set off this morning on one of the most beautiful parts of the trail. A steep downhill section of some 2000 Inca steps brings you to your lunch stop at the picturesque ruins of Winay Wayna – meaning ´forever young` - considered by many to be their favourite ruins. Excitement mounts as you conquer a steep flight of steps and arrive at Inti Punku, the Sun Gate. The toil of the day is forgotten at a stroke as you are treated to a spectacular view of Machu Picchu below. After lingering to admire the panorama, you walk through the site and catch a bus down the narrow access road to rejoin the Urubamba River in the village of Aguas Calientes where you check in to your accommodation and enjoy a well-earned long shower.
About 4/5 hours walking today, mostly downhill. Basic hotel – 1night (BL)
Machu Picchu & Cusco
Rising early this morning your group has the Machu Picchu ruins largely to itself before the train brings in day-visitors from Cusco. The magnificent lost city, discovered by American archaeologist Hiram Bingham in 1911, stands on a high saddle dominated by the jungle-clad peak of Wayna Picchu. You have time to make the vertiginous climb to its summit for dramatic views of the city spread out below or simply just wander the myriad of steps and stairways of the site, revealing as they do a vast complex of immense structural, historical and archaeological worth. Later in the day you catch the train back to Cusco. Hotel - 1 night (B)
Cusco, once the imperial capital was laid out in the rough shape of a puma. Today, its orderly streets bear witness to the extraordinary skill of Inca stonemasons. Many are still lined with precisely interlocked stonework which serves as the foundation for later buildings from the colonial era, creating an atmospheric pastiche of contrasting architectural styles. This morning you visit the fortress of Sacsayhuaman lying just outside Cusco city. The skilfully constructed outer walls consist of massive blocks of stone (the largest weighing over 350 tonnes) which must have been difficult to manoeuvre, let alone to cut and dress with such precision. The tour continues on foot in the city centre and reveals more of Cusco’s historical and archaeological treasures. The rest of the day is free to relax or further explore Cusco. Hotel - 1 night (B)
Lima / Fly Home
Today you transfer to the airport for your flight home via Lima. (B)
Save 5% on the Inca Trail
Save 5% off this trip when you book 6 months in advance.
* Prices shown on Dates/Prices page are before discount. Discount is applied in checkout (step 3).
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