At Action Peru Treks, we specialize in creating exciting and unique multi-day treks that combine the rugged solitude and spectacular beauty of the Ancascocha Trail with a journey to the most famous and photographed site in South America, the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu.
Despite being named by National Geographic as one of 20 “Dream Hikes” in their World Best Hikes list, the Ancascocha trail remains one of the least populated routes in the area. In fact, if you ask about the trail in Cusco, you may well get quizzical looks from tourists and locals alike. Whilst the Classic Inca trail and Salkantay have become household names, often booked out a year in advance, Ancascocha remains almost ‘undiscovered’. But don’t be put off by this lesser-known status, this is a heavyweight trail in all respects!
For this brand new 5-day trek itinerary, we have combined the most spectacular highlights of Ancascocha with an unforgettable 2-day journey on the famous Inca Trail. Spending our first 3 days on Ancascocha, far from the beaten path and the typical tourist trails, you will be treated to irresistible vistas of the majestic snow-capped Andes. We will walk amongst well-preserved ruins, marveling at the engineering feats of the ancient tribes, and we will pass remote communities who still live and work simply as they have for many generations.
Switching from “Trek to Train”, we then take a wonderful journey along the lush valley floor to the vibrant Sacred Valley town of Ollantaytambo, and its eclectic mix of ancient architecture, Artesan crafts and bustling restaurants and cafes. After a comfortable overnight stay in a quality local hotel, we begin the final stage of our journey on the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Whilst our time on this trail is short, it provides access to some of the most iconic views in the area. Taking the same steps walked by the Inca Pilgrims, we will pass the ancient settlements used by travelers for respite ahead of their (and your) final destination. Your first glimpses of this sacred centre of Incan culture are simply unforgettable, and we have plenty of time on the trail to make sure you capture those memories forever. Finally, crossing the spectacular Sacred Valley, we arrive at the magnificent Inti Punku, or Sun Gate. From here, breathless and elated, we make our final descent to the jewel in the Peruvian Crown, and one of the new 7 Wonders of the World, the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu.
This sort of reward requires effort of course, and this is a challenging trek recommended for people with a good basic level of fitness. We will have 4 long days of trekking during which we climb to a number of high passes, including the highest point at Huayanay at just over 4,650m (15,250 ft). At Ancascocha Trekking through your safety and comfort are always our primary concern, and your experienced guide will ensure that the pace of the hike, and the number of rest stops are suitable for the whole group.
We pride ourselves on the quality and comfort of our treks, recognizing that after a serious day’s trekking, it is often the little details that make the difference to a comfortable rest. So, from the quality of our camping equipment to the exceptional culinary skills of our chef, from being woken with fresh coffee to the bowl of hot water to wash with, we believe we provide just the right level of attention to all of our guests without taking away from the raw experience that trekking in the mountains provides.
We take care of booking all of the necessary tickets and reservations you need for the trek, so you can truly immerse yourself in the experience without worrying about anything.
Finally, we use only the best, most experienced guides to supplement the trekking with local history and information to make this more than just a walking experience. This is truly a step back in time, to the days of the Ancient Incas.
This is a journey to be found on Bucket Lists the world over, and so we invite you to join us on this ‘Dream Hike’ and create unforgettable memories from your time in Peru!
Total distance hiked: 62 km/38.5 miles
Beginning altitude: 3,205 m / 10,512 ft.
Maximum altitude: 4,650 m/ 15,250 ft.
Overall trek difficulty: Challenging
We provide a full pre-trek briefing at our office in Cusco. This gives you the chance to ask questions about the trek itinerary and you will also be given your duffle bag so that you can pack your gear for the trek. Briefings are generally scheduled for the morning of the day before your trek starts. If your trek begins on a Monday then the briefing will be scheduled for the Saturday before.
Please take this into consideration when booking your travel plans to Cusco, ensuring you arrive in time for the briefing.
In order to make the most of the daylight hours ahead of us, we will pick you up early (4-5am) from your hotel to make the 2-hour drive to the trailhead at Soqma. Your trekking crew will have got up earlier though, and they will be there ahead of us with the horses, all ready to start.
It is not long (around 2 hours) before we reach our first major photo opportunity at the Perolniyoc waterfall. Cascading hundreds of feet into a pool below us, you will hear the waterfall long before you see it. For those feeling brave, there is an opportunity to take a short walk down to the base of the falls to cool off, or you may just want to enjoy the view from the lookout point. Either way, as with all of the major view points on the trek, we will have plenty of time to enjoy the views and take photos.
The sights keeps coming, and around 30 mins after leaving the waterfall we arrive at the ancient Inca site of the same name. Like something out of a glossy history book, the ruins sit perched on top of a cliff with incredible views of the surrounding valley.
Your guide will share some history of the site, and maybe discuss what you may have read about these engineering geniuses who lived 500 years ago.
Just before lunch, we need to make a steep ascent for around an hour to Rayan at 3,700m
(9,350ft). This will be your first opportunity to sample the incredible meals that our kitchen team are able to create on the mountainside.
To reach the Kuychicassa pass (4,450 m /14,596 ft) it is a challenging 3 hours hike up! But as we walk through remote Fincas where generations of farmers have tended their livestock, as we pass wild Llamas roaming on the mountain, and as the climb reveals spectacular views across snow-capped peaks, perhaps your mind will be distracted from your aching muscles! Certainly, as we rest at the summit surrounded by the Chancachuco and Sacred Valleys, your effort will feel well rewarded.
We arrive at our campsite via an easy 45-minute downhill trail. Our team will have arrived ahead of us to prepare the site, and so you can immediately rest in your tent, or change into warmer clothing and lie back to watch the sky gradually fill with the most incredible display of constellations and shooting stars (clouds permitting!)
The evening finishes with a sumptuous group dinner, where we can relax and share stories of the day before retiring for the night to rest weary limbs.
Every day on our trek begins with our team gently waking you with a cup of fresh coffee or tea, and a bowl of hot water to wash with. We then take breakfast together, making sure everyone is suitably fueled for the efforts of the day ahead.
Hiking with views of Mt. Veronica in the distance, we start with an undulating path for around an hour along the banks of a quiet stream, before descending for around 2.5 hours to the remote community of Ancascocha. You may well marvel at the perfectly simple way of life of these communities.
Then, continuing uphill for about an hour, incredible views emerge of the nearby glacier and well-preserved Inca remains. Finally, we reach the beautiful crystal blue Ancascocha Lake where we stop for lunch.
Taking a deep breath, we make our climb to the highest point of the trek at the Huayanay Pass (4,650 m/ 15,250 ft). This is a challenging 2-hour ascent along a steep switchback trail, but we will take our time taking in the views of the lake and valley behind us as we climb to the summit.
Day 2 ends with a 3-4 hours descent. You will notice the change from barren mountaintop to the lush green vegetation of the lower valley. On a clear day we will have distant views of the classic Inca trail to Machu Picchu as well as the communities of the Quesqa valley. We will also pass the small Inca site of Incaracay.
Finally, reaching our campsite nestled in the Quesqa valley (3,850 m/12,628 ft) dinner awaits!
Day 3, and the hiking is almost all downhill!
After breakfast, we take a 2-hour path to the Inca site of Paucarcancha where your guide will provide a comprehensive commentary about the site. We then join a section of the Classic Inca Trail for around 5 hours until we reach Km 82 (the official start of the Classic Trail). Along the way we will be able to see the Inca site of Llactapata, and this is likely to be the first time that you will have seen other hikers on the trail (although they will all be going the other way!)
At Km82 we will have lunch, and say goodbye to our trekking team. Your guide will then take you by private local van to Ollantaytambo.
After checking into the comfortable hotel that we have booked, there should be time to walk around this charming town, sampling some local cuisine, or perhaps buying some locally made souvenirs from the Artesian street sellers.
We will dine together in the evening at one of the local restaurants in town (drinks not included) before retiring for a good night’s sleep, since Day 4 starts early!
Day 04: Ollantaytambo – KM 104 – Wiñay Wayna – Machu Picchu
After an early breakfast at your hotel, we will collect you around 6 AM to transfer you to the nearby train station. The train journey is stunning and provides yet another unique perspective of the surrounding mountains and countryside. We carve along the valley floor in the early daylight for almost 2 hours until reaching Kilometer 104, and the start of the Short Inca Trail.
Our hike starts with a 3-hour trek up to the Inca site of Wiñay Wayna (‘Forever Young’) located at 2,680m (8,792ft). After catching our breath and enjoying the views, we then join the path to Machu Picchu. Arriving at the famous Sun Gate of ‘Inti Punku’ (2,720 m / 8,920 ft) we get our first breathtaking panoramic views of this spectacular site.
Taking plenty of time to take in the view, and take some incredible photos, we walk down the last portion of the trail to reach the ancient city itself.
Saving our tour of Machu Picchu for fresh legs and fresh eyes, we take the 25-minute bus journey to Aguas Calientes. After checking into the hotel that we have booked for you, you may want to wander around the town, or even visit the hot baths after which the town is named. We then regroup for dinner at one of the great local restaurants in town (drinks not included) before retiring for a well-deserved rest, and to prepare for our early start and Machu Picchu tour.
The hotel we use provides a very early buffet or boxed breakfast so that we can be in the queue for the bus as early as the group would like. It is about 25-minute drive along the winding road to Machu Picchu, and on a clear day the sunrise can be spectacular.
As we enter through the gates of this new wonder of the world, you may well be breathless again – but this time from the views of one of the most famous sites in South America, if not the world. Your guide provides a 2-hour walking tour of the site, and then you are free to wander through the ruins yourself, perhaps finding a solitary spot to just sit, look and take in the spirit of the ruins!
If you have elected to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountains (ticket not included) you can begin the hike once your guided tour concludes.
Your guide will arrange the time for you to return to Aguas Calientes by bus in time to make your train connection back to Poroy or Ollantaytambo. From here you will travel by van to Cusco and back to your hotel. Arrival times will vary depending on traffic and connections, but should be around 8 pm.
* nb. batteries run down faster at high altitudes
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WHAT’S IN A NAME: Action Peru Treks? Action is a word we are all familiar with and probably use on a regular basis without too much thought! However, it is worth a look at the dictionary to understand what makes the word Action in our name special. ACTION: Doing things that require physical movement and energy; something done so as to accomplish a purpose; involved in the activities of a group and organization.