This is one choice jewel of a hike: close proximity of high snowcapped peaks, Andean villages in hanging valleys, deep gorges and broad wide expanses of Andean highland plateau. We will trek a section of the original Inka Trail to Machu Picchu and have a chance to see the different ecosystems and archaelogical sites. Plus, the train rides to and from Machu Picchu along the Canyon of the Urubamba River, are thrilling and impressive treat unto themselves.
Day one: Cusco, Piscaycucho Tarayoc
We depart from Cusco at 8:30 am, driving northeast for about 2 hours until we reach the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here, we will see the archeological site of the once great city of Ollantaytambo. After this stop, we’ll continue driving for an hour until reaching the kilometer 82 marker (Piscaycucho,2,570 meters), where we’ll have lunch and prepare our kits. The local porters will be helping us carry the hiking gear, camping equipment, and commissary goods. Now we are all set and ready to enter the National Park. From this point onward, the Inca Trail is noted for having beautiful archeological sites and an abundance of orchids, bromeliads, and humming birds. The rich Andean vegetation is also home to the Chilca Bush(bacharis peruviana), Molle trees (Schinus molle), and Tara tree (Caesalpina spinosa) plants: frequent sources of many local medicines. After a three-hour hike, we will arrive at the beautiful site of Patallacta (alt.2,740 meters) where we will stop for snacks and a tour of the remains. Then, we will resume our hike by following the gorge of the Urubamba River(one of the main sources of the Amazon River). Overall, the hike will last about 4 hours and cover approximately 7 kilometers. Along the way, we’ll come across incredible views of the Urubamba mountain range and the surrounding valleys and the glacier called La Veronica at 5500mts. We’ll end our hike in Tarayoc (2,850 meters),where we’ll set up camp and settle in with a hot meal over the beautiful scenery.
Day two: Tarayoc, Llulluchapampa
Day two begins with a hot breakfast and the chance to watch the sunrise between 6:30 and 7:30 am. Because we are camping in the middle of the mountains, it does take the sun a bit longer to emerge from the surrounding peaks. Prepare for a breathtaking experience as this majestic landscape is brought back to life in the morning light.
Today, we’ll be hiking for about six hours and coveringnearly 8 kilometers of mostly uphill trails. As we make our ascent, keep an eye out for the changing ecosystems that surround you, for the interandean valley is known for its diverse ecological landscape. The first ecosystem you will notice is the Andean semidry forest with its unique scrub bush vegetation of asteraceas, bromeliads, and muss. Observe the rich birdlife as finches, seedeaters and hummingbirds flutter past you. After a few hourson the original Inca trail, we will break at Yuncaypata (3200meters) to take in the incredible view of the snow peaks of Huayanay (alt5,188meters).
Later on, we will encounter another ecosystem as we head into the Unca woodland (Myrcianthes oreophyla). This area marks the beginning of the cloud forest and is rich in ferns, orchest, bromeliads, and moss. After another two-hour hike, we will arrive at the Andean Páramo (alpine tundra) called LLulluchapampa (3,650meters), where we’ll be setting up camp for the night. Before dark, get in some bird watching with the abundant finch and hummingbird populations; they’re everywhere. Then, enjoy a hot dinner and a good night’s rest before another long day of hiking. (B,L,D)
Day three: Llulluchapampa to Phuyupatamarca
Today, we have an early start as it is our longest day. We’ll be traveling about 8 hours on 15 kilometers of trail that will take us through a succession of different valleys and ecosystems. Once we arrive at the Warmi Wañusta pass (alt 4,201meters), the highest point of the trek, we’ll begin our descent towards Phuypatamarca. On our way down, we’ll stop and visit several archaeological sites before reaching our second pass of the day at Runkurakay (alt 3,780meters).
Then, we’ll continue down to visit the remains of Sayacmarca( a former religious retreat) with the chance to see some beautiful orchest (odontuglosun myanthum) and Aya zapatillan(Calceolaria cypripediiflora).We’ll take a break for lunch and resume our hike on one of the most beautiful sections of the trail, well known for its incredible views of the surrounding snow peaks and the misty cloud forest that lies below. After about an hour, we’ll reach the ruins of Phuyupatamarca (“place above the clouds”) (alt 3,620meters), where we’ll be putting up camp.Enjoy spectacular views of the Urubamba mountain range, the Urubamba gorge, and the surrounding mountains of Machu Picchu as you settle in for the evening. (B, L, D)
Day four: Phuyupatamarca, Machu picchu
Today, we set out towards Machu Picchu on a 9 -kilometer hike that will take about 5 hours. Along the way, we’ll see more fascinating Inca remains and unique cloud forest species, such as the orchest and bromeliad plants, and tanager and wren birds.After an hour or so, we’ll arrive at what is probably known as the most beautiful archaeological site on the entire trail: Wiñay Wayna. Wiñay Wayna means “forever young” in Quechua and is also the name of the epiphytic orchid (Epidendrum secumdum) that is prevalent in the area. Take a minute to behold the bird population… it is undeniably impressive… and beautiful. We’ll stop for a picnic lunch shortly after we come to the Sun gate (Intipunku 2,950 meters) to give you a better chance to absorb the beauty around you. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take pictures of the city of Machu Picchu from above. After lunch, we’ll continue down with frequent stops for more opportunities to see Machu Picchu from above. Once we arrive atthe beginning of the Machu Picchu site, we’ll go exploring for some time before taking the bus down to the town of Aguas calientes, where we can enjoy a hot meal and relaxing evening in a local hotel. (B; L; D) Hotel.
Day five: Machu picchu
Wake up early for a sunrise tour of Machu Picchu that will last about two hours where we will explore the site in order to discover the purpose of the city. It was built by the Inca number nine during the times of Inca Pachacútec and it was his palace(John Rowe1990 during the expansion of the Inca Empire because the proximity to two different ecosistems and for the coca plantations.A Royal Inca city with Militar, astronomical and religuios retreats and with experiemntal fields. Gain an intimate perspective on what is often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas.” Afterwards, choose between climbing one of the nearby mountains, Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu (about a 2 to 3 hour hike), or exploring Machu Picchu on your own. Later in the afternoon, we will have one last lunch together before catching ourtrain back to the imperial city of Cusco.