Altitude - 4,200m (13,780ft)
Grading Level - T3 (click HERE to find out more about our grading)
Best months to go: March - May & September - December
MACHU PICCHU’S INCA PAST
Historians believe Machu Picchu was built at the height of the Inca Empire, which dominated western South America in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was abandoned an estimated 100 years after its construction, probably around the time the Spanish began their conquest of the mighty pre-Columbian civilization in the 1530s. There is no evidence that the conquistadors ever attacked or even reached the mountaintop citadel, however; for this reason, some have suggested that the residents’ desertion occurred because of a smallpox epidemic.
Machu Picchu is a truly special place. Unique, in fact. People have visited in increasing numbers in recent years. Over the last quarter century, it has been recognized that visitor numbers have a significant stress on ancient sites such as Machu Picchu. As a result, a permit system has been introduced. Only 500 people per day, including all guides and support staff, are allowed on the trails.
Once called the ‘Navel of the World’ by the Incas, Cuzco remains a city that blends colonial Spanish charm with older, more austere remains of pre-Columbian glory – one can still see the foundations of Inca structures on many of its city streets today. Cuzco’s most important landmarks include sites from both Inca and colonial times, such as the Korikancha (the ancient Temple of the Sun), the Inca street of Loreto with its 12-cornered stones, the cathedral, the Museum of Colonial Art, the archaeological park of Saqsaywaman (the fortress-temple), the nearby funerary shrines of Kenqo, and the water-worship site of Tambomachay.
The Inca Trail is by far the most famous trek in South America and is rated by many to be in the top 5 treks in the world. In just 26 miles (43km) it manages to combine beautiful mountain scenery, lush cloud-forest, subtropical jungle and, of course, a stunning mix of Inca paving stones, ruins and tunnels. The final destination of the trail just cannot be beaten: Machu Picchu, the mysterious "Lost City of the Incas".
Tucked away in the rocky countryside northwest of Cuzco, Peru, Machu Picchu is believed to have been a royal estate or sacred religious site for Inca leaders, whose civilization was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century. For hundreds of years, until the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham stumbled upon it in 1911, the abandoned citadel’s existence was a secret known only to peasants living in the region. The site stretches over an impressive 5-mile distance, featuring more than 3,000 stone steps that link its many different levels. Today, hundreds of thousands of people tramp through Machu Picchu every year, braving crowds and landslides to see the sun set over its towering stone monuments and marvel at the mysterious splendor of one of the world’s most famous manmade wonders.
Inca Trail & Rainbow Mountain
Day 1 of you adventure you will explore the impressive city of Cusco. The history of the Inca Empire started here. The Imperial city of the Incas was a complex urban centre with different religious and administrative functions.
In Cusco ́s historic centre you will see Spanish buildings, native ruins, temples and finely finished buildings of the Incas. Main attractions are the Temple of the Sun and the main square Plaza de Armas.
You will continue to the nearby ruins of: Kenko - underground galleries and semicircular amphitheater. Tambomachay - a complex of walls connected by stairways. Puca Pucara - the red fortress that is located on a hill, possibly to defend Tambomachay Sacsayhuaman Fortress, an imposing example of Inca military architecture.
Day 2, the Inca Trail Hike begins we you go through the first Inca Trail checkpoint to begin your trek. The first 2 hours of the trek are relatively easy as we make our way to our first Inca site. Patallacta is an ancient Inca checkpoint for the approach to Machu Picchu. From Patallacta it’s another 2-hour hike to our lunch stop. After lunch, we will hike for another 21⁄2 hours until we reach the first night’s campsite at Ayapata (3300 meters).
Day 3, you will have an early start since it will be your longest day. You’ll hike for roughly 4 hours to the highest pass of the trek, Dead Woman’s Pass (4215 meters/13829 feet). On reaching the pass, we’ll stop for a short break to enjoy the views before setting off again to descend to the next valley, Pacaymayu Valley – Hidden River. It’s another hour and a half down the side of the valley to our lunch spot. After lunch, we begin ascending again to the second pass of the trek. It’s 2 hours over the pass where we will stop at a small Inca site, Runcu Raccay, and see two huge waterfalls cascading down the opposite side of the valley. After the second pass, it’s another hour downhill hike to reach the magnificent Inca site, Sayacmarca . We’ll stop here to rest and have a quick tour. Afterward, we will be able to watch the sunset over the Vilcabamba mountain range. It’s then just another 20 minutes until we stop for the night at our second campsite Chaquicocha (Dry Lake, 3600 meters)
Day 4, will start early again, for the most beautiful day of the whole Inca Trail. We hike for 2 hours along what we like to call “Inca flat” (gradual inclines) and begin to enter the jungle, known as the Cloud Forest. As we walk, we will have the opportunity to see Salkantay, the second highest snow-capped mountain in the Sacred Valley, and a fantastic panoramic view of the Vilcabamba mountain range. Towards the end of the Inca flats, we begin to make our way up to the last peak at Phuyupatamarka (3600 meters) from where we’ll have great views overlooking the Urubamba River. Down the valley, we get our first view of Machu Picchu Mountain, but the site itself is still hidden. From Phuyupatamarka it ́s a 3-hour walk down a flight of steps to our last campsite, close to Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young). Wiñay Wayna is the most spectacular Inca site on the trail after Machu Picchu and the most popular campsite because of its proximity to Machu Picchu. During the descent, we visit 2 Inca ruins, Phuyupatamarka (Town in the Clouds) and Intipata (Terraces of the Sun). Arriving at our final camp in the early afternoon, you will have the opportunity to relax for a bit so that you are ready for your final day at Machu Picchu.
At around 4:30pm your guide will give you a short orientation, and you will visit the Inca ruins of Wiñay Wayna for an hour and a half. Your guide will explain the significance of the site and combine all the information given during the trek. This way you will be fully prepared for your visit to Machu Picchu the following day.
It’s an Inca Trail tradition to organize a ceremony in the evening to introduce the crew to once again, to thank them for the great job. It is advisable to go to bed at a reasonable time to get up in the early hours of the morning to arrive to Machu Picchu at the crack of dawn in the hopes that the weather will give us a beautiful sunrise over the ruins at Machu Picchu.
Day 5, you will reach your goal. You will wake up at 3:30am, and after a light breakfast you will wait at the checkpoint to be one of the first to enter when they open the gates at 5:30am.
We’ll wave goodbye to our crew and then it’s on to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku). From here you have spectacular views of the mountains and Machu Picchu in all its glory. You will reach the Sun Gate by 6:30 am, and then it’s just an hour trek down to reach the Lost City of the Incas. As you hike and get closer to Machu Picchu, the views of the city get better! At about 7:40am you will reach the final checkpoint and enter Machu Picchu to begin our 2 hours private guided tour. After the tour, you’ll be given your bus tickets to make your way down to Aguas Calientes, and you’ll have plenty of free time to explore the city on your own or climb one of the neighboring mountains – Huaynapicchu (must be arranged ahead of time).
Your guide will offer to meet you down in the village of Aguas Calientes for lunch, where your guide will hand out train tickets for your 2-hour train to Ollantaytambo or Poroy (based on which train you get), where an Alpaca driver will meet you and drive you back to the city on our bus, then drop you off at your hotel.
Day 6, and the excitement continues with a visit to The Vinicunca Mountain, as known as Rainbow Mountain, is one of the newest destinations for those who love trekking, nature, and landscapes.
Vinicunca is a mountain located in Quispicanchis province in Cusco, Peru. Close to one of the highest snow peaks in Peru, Apu Ausangate. Over 5000 meters high, the surrounding landscape shows a bright blue sky and almost no people, plants, or animals. The rainbow colours make a fully enjoyable contrast with the other mountains and the afternoon sky. As the sun rises and the clouds are dragged by the wind the colours of the Vinicunca mountain change turning brighter or darker making the view even better.
After being taken from your hotel in Cusco (a 3-hour trip) you will start the journey to Rainbow Mountain. You can go at your own pace to enjoy every minute of the trek. In three hours approximately you will turn right to the last hill to hold your breath and get dazzled by the 7 colour mountain Vinicunca.
You will have time to chill out and take as many pictures as you want.
Booking the Inca Trail early is essentail. Permits are limited and always in high demand.
Permits are sold on a first come first served basis, once they are gone, they are gone.
We recommend booking a minimum of 4 months prior to your departure.
We will always try to offer you avaiable dates. However if there is no availability for the dates you want, we will offer the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu instead.
The Salkantay Trail is easier to book and less crowded, so makes a perfect alternative.
Full Inca Trail
Machu Picchu & Rainbow Mountain
Day 1: Thursday
Arrive Cusco – Transfer to hotel
Day 2: Friday
Cusco City Tour and Nearby Ruins
Day 3: Saturday
Cusco – Shabbat Rest Day
Day 4: Sunday
Cusco - Piskacucho - Llactapata- Ayapata
Walking distance: 8.7 miles/14 km (6-7 hours)
Campsite altitude: 3300 meters
Day 5: Monday
Dead Woman ́s Pass - Runcuraccay Pass – Chaquiccocha
Walking distance: 9.94 miles/16 km (7-8 hours)
Campsite altitude: 3600 meters
Day 6: Tuesday
Chaquiccocha – Wiñaywayna
Walking distance: 6.2 miles/10km (5 hours)
Campsite altitude: 2.600 meters
Day 7: Wednesday
MACHU PICCHU – Cusco
Day 8: Thursday
RAINBOW MOUNTAIN - Cusco
Day 9: Friday
Transfer to airport
Have you always dreamt of visiting Machu Picchu,
but didn't think you had the time?
6 Day Inca Express
Machu Picchu & Rainbow Mountain
Day 1 - Arrive
Day 2 - Acclimatise in Cusco
Day 3 - Trek Inca Trail, Aguas Calientes
Day 4 - Machu Picchu
Day 5 - Rainbow Mountain
Day 6 - Transfer to Airport
2023 Trip Dates
Hike to Machu Picchu - 9 days
6th - 14th July
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