When you begin the trek you will realize that the joy of trekking to the Inca Trail is not only in physical strength or in the landscape, the Inca ruins are also spirit and motivation. Cusco is Peru’s main tourist destination and one of the most important destinations in the Americas. Known by the Incas as the “Home of the Gods,” Cusco became the capital of one of the largest pre-Columbian empires: the Tawantinsuyo. Its name in Quechua means “Navel of the World”.
Day 01: Cusco – Wayllabamba
Between 07:00 a.m. and 07:30 a.m., we pick you up at your hotel in our own private bus. We then drive to Piskacuchu (2 700 m.a.s.l./8 858ft), a community located on the kilometer 82 of the Cusco – Machu Picchu railroad. Starting at this point, we cross the bridge and walk along the left shore of the Urubamba River as it flows north-west along the Sacred Valley.
Following the trail along a flat terrain, we arrive in Miskay (2800 msnm), to then ascend and finally see, from the tallest part of an overlook, the Inca city of Patallacta (2 750 m.a.s.l./9 022ft).
We continue trekking along the valley created by the Kusichaca River, gradually climbing for about five hours until we reach our first campsite in the Wayllabamba village (3 000 m.a.s.l./9 842ft).
All along the way we will see spectacular views of the Vilcanota ridge on the opposite side of the Urubamba River, where the impressive Veronica peak reigns at 5832 meters above sea level. Not to mention the diversity of wild flora and fauna that can be found all along the valley.
Day 02: Wayllabamba – Pacaymayo
We wake up at around 06:00 am, and after breakfast we leave Wayllabamba behind to begin the most difficult part of the trek, which consists of an abrupt and steep ascent that stretches for 9 km. Along this climb, the landscape changes from sierra to puna (a dry and high area with little vegetation).
On the way to the first mountain pass, the Abra Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman´s Pass), we see domesticated llamas and alpacas grazing on ichu, one of the few plants that grow at that altitude.
We also cross an area of the so called cloud forest, which is the habitat for many different kinds of birds like hummingbirds and sparrows and the Andean bear, which is also called the Spectacled Bear (Tremarctus Ornatus).
We advise that on this day specially, your day pack is well stocked with candies, chocolates and coca leaves that will keep your sugar level high, and help with altitude sickness. Immediately after the pass, we descend into the Pacaymayo valley (3 600 m.a.s.l./11 811ft), where we camp after approximately 6 hours of hiking.
Day 03: Pacaymayo – Wiñaywayna
This day is the longest but also the most impressive and the most interesting, due the number of archaeological sites that we visit and learn about from our guide. From Pacaymayo we climb to the second pass, the Abra de Runkurakay (3 970 m.a.s.l./13 024ft).
Half way up, we visit the archaeological complex with the same name. This site, located at 3 800 m.a.s.l./12 467ft, consists of a small oval structure that is believed to have served the purpose of a watchtower. After going over the pass, we descend towards Yanacocha (Black Lagoon) and enter the cloud-forest to finally arrive at Sayacmarca (3 624 m.a.s.l./11 889ft).
This is a beautiful complex made up of a semicircular construction, enclosures at different levels, narrow streets, liturgical fountains, patios and irrigation canals. Continuing up an easy climb, we arrive at the third pass, the Abra de Phuyupatamarca (3 700 m.a.s.l./12 139ft). Along this climb we can appreciate the magnitude of the Incas´ ancient craft, by walking along paths semi-detached from the mountain, and seeing rocks that fill up ravines in perfect order, saving the trail from the multileveled Andean geography. We go through an Inca tunnel to later arrive at the aforementioned pass and down to the complex of the same name. This is one of the most complete and best-preserved archaeological complexes along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and is located on the highest point of a mountain. Curiously, Phuyupatamarca means ¨town over the clouds¨.
From above, one can observe a sophisticated sacred complex made up of water fountains with solid foundations, and also impressive views of the Urubamba River valley and the long descending stone steps along which we will continue on to Wiñaywayna (2 700 m.a.s.l./8 858ft). At this campsite we find a lodge with a restaurant, bar and bathrooms with hot showers.
The campsite has the same name as the complex located only five minutes away from the lodge. Wiñaywayna is an impressive complex made up of an agricultural center with numerous terraces, a religious sector and an urban sector.
Day 04: Wiñaywayna – Machu Picchu
On this fourth and last day we get up at 04:00 am to leave Wiñaywayna an hour later and climb to Intipunku, or The Sun Gate. This will take an hour of hiking along a trail of flat stones on the edges of cliffs in highland jungle. From this fabulous spot, we may see the sunrise over the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu. From Intipunku we descend into Machu Picchu, and 40 minutes later we enter the citadel from the highest point through the ¨House of the Guardians¨.
We then descend to the control point where we register ourselves and leave our backpacks. We immediately begin a complete guided tour of the Inca citadel that will take approximately two hours. You will then have free time to walk around, climb the Huaynapicchu Mountain, where one can experience spectacular views of all of Machu Picchu, the valleys and mountains that surround it, or visit the Temple of the Moon and the fabulous Inca Bridge. In the afternoon, we meet in the town of Aguas Calientes where, if you like, you can visit and relax in the thermal baths. From here we take the train to the city of Cusco, where we will arrive after nightfall.