You'll enjoy spellbinding mountain scenery, unforgettable Inca sites, and a cornucopia of flowers and hummingbirds. Our trek spends four full days hiking to Machu Picchu, and a fifth day exploring in the famous ruins themselves. After more than 30 years operating this route, our local staff know how important it is to give all participants adequate time to enjoy the sights at a comfortable pace. Having the fifth day reserved for Machu Picchu, you have time to do the optional hike up Huayna Picchu or take a cruise through the village of Aguas Calientes before returning to Cuzco. Stroll down the Royal Road into the famous Lost City of the Incas!

We hike four days and you cover 35 km/21.9 miles, starting at 8,700' and finishing at 7,860' above sea level. You must cross two high passes, with a maximum elevation of 13,887'. Porters carry the heavy gear; you walk carrying only a day-pack. Cooks prepare wholesome meals from fresh ingredients and handle all the kitchen chores. You sleep warm and protected in high quality tents.

IMPORTANT!: Under current park regulations, trek permits are sold on a first come/first served basis, and are limited to 500 persons per day, including passengers, guides, cooks and porters. Book early! Permits sell out on popular dates and no tour operators can reserve permits in advance. In order to include you in the trek roster, we must receive from you: your full name as it appears on your passport, your nationality, passport number, age, occupation and gender. Permits are sold on a non-refundable, non-transferable basis. If you are unable to secure a place on our Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, please ask about our excellent alternative trekking programs in the Andes.


We pick you up at your Cuzco hotel and transfer by van to our trailhead at Piscacucho, on the Vilcanota River (km. 82 on the train route to Machu Picchu), a 3-hour drive from Cuzco. After clearing the trailhead control point, we hike along the left bank of the powerful Vilcanota River, beneath the impressive snowcapped Nevado Veronica. The valley is dry, with Opuntia and Cholla cactus common; where irrigation is possible, we walk adjacent to fields of corn. In the rapids below the trail, you can spot Torrent ducks swimming in the eddies. We explore the enormous Inca ruins of Llactapata, then turn south and begin to gain altitude following the narrow side valley of the Cusichaca River. We camp near the hamlet of Huayllabamba (2,954 m/9,690 ft). Distance 11.4 km/7.2 miles, elevation gain 300 m/984 feet. (L,D).


We climb steeply through fields and forest, then emerge above the treeline and reach Warmiwanusqa Pass (4,234 m/13,887'). Enjoy magnificent views to the Huaynay Range snowpeaks and distant Inca ruins. Descend to our camp at Pacaymayo in the valley bottom (3,613 m/11,850 ft. Distance 8 km/5 miles,
elevation gain 1,280 m./4,200 feet (B,L,D)


We cross a second pass (3,975 m/13,038'), and follow a fine Inca highway down to the exquisite ridge-top ruins of Sayaqmarka. Further on, we pass through a tunnel amid luxuriant cloud forest vegetation. Camp at the superb Phuyopatamarka ruins (3,679m/12,067 ft) overlooking the Vilcanota River far below. Phuyopatamarka is Quechua for "City above the Clouds". The views toward the sacred peak of Salcantay are sublime. Distance 7 km/4.5 miles, elevation gain 362 m/1,190 feet (B,L,D)


We descend steeply, following the Royal Highway through orchid-rich cloud forest to Winya Wayna ruins. The final part of the trail on the back of Machu Picchu Mountain is a stunningly beautiful traverse leading to the Gate of the Sun overlooking Machu Picchu. We reach this highlight in the golden sunshine of late afternoon. Descending into the city, we board a shuttle bus to descend a switchbacking road to Puente Ruinas and our basic but comfortable hotel in Aguas Calientes village for our last night. (2,000 m/6,560 ft). Distance 8.9 km/5.6 miles, elevation drop 1,150 m/3,772 feet (to Machu Picchu. (B,L,D).


We return to the site by shuttle bus. Those wishing to view sunrise over Machu Picchu can take the pre-dawn shuttle bus, which delivers you to the main gate at 6.00AM when the gates are opened. An early start gives you more options to hike some of the peripheral trails, such as Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain. We include an in-depth guided tour of the ridge-top city. We descend to the nearby village of Aguas Calientes for return in late afternoon by train, arriving into Cuzco around 9.30PM. Transfer to your hotel.
INCLUDED: Indicated meals (excellent, cooked fresh on the trail!), transport by train and bus, porterage of up to 10 kg/22 lbs. of personal gear, communal camp gear including tables and camp chairs, dining tent, spacious sleeping tents, Thermarest sleeping pad & hotel in Aguas Calientes - pretty much everything except for your sleeping bag, which you may rent from us.

EXCLUDED: Personal trekking gear and sleeping bag; tips to guide and trek staff; city services; air Lima/Cuzco/Lima (currently approx $268).

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