“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” Einstein
The Ancascocha Trail is one of the lesser known treks from Cusco. In fact, you may even draw blank looks from people when you tell them you’re hiking it. Yet it was named by National Geographic as one of 20 dream hikes on their World Best Hikes list, and for good reason.
Highlights of this trip include guided tours of ancient Inca ruins, wandering through remote Fincas where generations of farmers have tended their livestock, and passing traditional Andean villages like Chillipahua and Ancascocha. But of course the real reason to take this trek is for the unsurpassed views of the majestic Andes.
Being rewarded with amazing views does not come without effort. This is a challenging trek as we climb above 4,550m to the Huayanay Pass (4,650 m/ 15,255 ft.) and so we recommend that everyone who joins us has a good level of basic fitness. But maintaining a high elevation for much of the trek we will see spectacular views across the mountains, beautiful clear blue lakes and raging waterfalls, and with the towering 6,266m (20,551 ft.) Apu Salkantay frequently dominating the skyline.
At ATP, your safety, enjoyment and comfort are always our primary concern, and so your guide will always ensure that the pace of the hike suits the whole group, taking rests when necessary. Our campsite on all 3 nights will be prepared before our arrival, and we use only high quality camping equipment to ensure your maximum comfort. We are extremely proud of our kitchen team, and you will be amazed at the meals your chef and his assistant are able to produce on the side of a mountain. You certainly won’t go hungry, and the menu is especially prepared to ensure you have enough energy for each days hiking.
On our final day of hiking we will be on a portion of the Classic Inca Trail (the one that gets booked up a year in advance!) After 3 days of solitude, you may well be surprised to see so many other hikers; but don’t worry, they are going in the other direction!
From the sacred valley town of Ollantytambo we will take the scenic train to Aguas Calientes, which is the base for our trip to Machu Picchu. The train journey in itself is a fantastic experience, and full of photo opportunities. A night at a nice hotel is included in the price of the trek, as is a group dinner at one of the best restaurants in Aguas Caliente, so you are sure to get a good night’s rest.
Our final day is spent visiting Machu Picchu, one of the 7 new wonders of the world. Despite the staggering views that you will have seen already, you are guaranteed to be left speechless as you take in the views of the most famous site in South America. Your guide will provide a 2 hour guided tour, and also included is a ticket to climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountains (subject to availability). After completing the tour, we return you by train and then by our mini-van to your Cusco hotel.
We provide a full briefing for the trek a day or two before we depart. This gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the itinerary or the packing list (we will provide you with your ATP duffle bag for your gear at the briefing).
We pick you up from your hotel early on the first morning and drive for around 2 hours to Soqma (3,205 m / 10,512 ft), the starting point of our trek. Our vans are extremely comfortable and we provide blankets for those who would prefer to catch a little more rest during the drive.
After meeting your porters and horsemen, and making a final equipment check, the hike begins with a moderate 2 hour walk to the Perolniyoc waterfall. If the weather is warm enough you may want to make the short climb down to the base of the falls to cool off, or maybe just stay on the trail and take your first photos.
A half hour further on we arrive at the Perolniyoc Inca ruins, perched on a cliff-top with spectacular views of the surrounding valley. All of our guides are experts in Inca history and so they will provide you with a quick history lesson as you soak in the views. We will also take lunch here and for the first time you will sample the sumptuous cooking from our kitchen team.
After lunch we make a steep climb for around an hour to our campsite at Rayan (3,700 meters /12,139 ft).
Clear nights in the Andes are a wonder in themselves, and as we settle down to a full 3 course dinner you can watch the sky fill with constellations and the most amazing display of shooting stars before retiring to your tent for a well-earned night’s sleep.
There’s no need to set an alarm on an ATP trek, as our team will wake you gently in the morning with a freshly brewed cup of tea or coffee and hot water to wash with. Once everyone is up, we will have breakfast together and get ourselves fueled for the day ahead.
You will need that fuel as we start with a steep 3 hour ascent to the Kuychiccasa pass (4,450 m /14,599 ft). On the way we will pass rustic Fincas, see wild Alpacas or maybe even a passing Condor, and always with the snow-capped peaks of the Nevadas in the background.
There is no race to reach the top though, and we will take a break together to enjoy the 360 degree views of the Chancachuco and Sacred valleys. Then, it’s just a 1 hour easy hike to our lunch stop at the Chancachuco Valley (4,312 m / 14,147 ft).
After lunch we make a short climb with beautiful views of Mt. Veronica (5,822 m/ 19,100 ft) before an easy 3 hour walk downhill to the community of Ancascocha (3,700 m/12,139 ft). Our campsite for the night is in a small but gorgeous wooded valley with a stream running through it.
Once again, Day 3 starts with a climb, but this time just for 1 hour. Your reward? Stunning views of the nearby glacier, well preserved Inca remains, and the sparkling blue Ancascocha Lake.
Taking a deep breath we make a strenuous 2 hour climb to the highest point of the trek, the Huayanay Pass (4,650 m/15,255 ft). Along this section you will see an original cobblestone paved Inca Trail. After all that effort, we will take our time to enjoy the incredible views from the summit, before making an easy 45 minute walk to our lunch stop at the small Inca site of Incaracay.
The afternoon’s hiking is much easier as we descend to the community of Quesqa Valley and on to the Inca site of Paucarcancha (3,133 m/10,278 ft). At this lower elevation, the vegetation is lush and green, and we will have the chance to see a view of the Classic Inca Trail in the distance as well as the remote communities of the Quesqa valley.
On arrival at Paucarcancha your guide will provide a guided tour of the site, before settling into our campsite for the evening and yet another excellent dinner.
The last day of hiking is the easiest of all as it is a 6 hour hike downhill on a section of the Classic Inca Trail to Km 82 (the official start of the Classic Trail). Lunch will be served at Km82.
After lunch we drive you to Ollantaytambo (2,792 m/9,160 ft) to catch the scenic train to Aguas Calientes (2,040 m/6,692 ft). The train journey provides a totally different perspective of the mountains you’ve just been hiking in, and many more photo opportunities.
Arriving in Aguas Calientes you will check-in to your nice hotel room where you can rest before dinner. Or, if you still have some energy, the natural hot springs in town are also a great place to relax. Showered and refreshed we will take dinner together at an excellent restaurant with an extensive menu (drinks not included). It’s likely to be an early night though, as our trip to Machu Picchu normally starts before sunrise!
The hotel we use provides a very early buffet, or can provide a boxed breakfast, to ensure we are in the queue for the bus as early as the group would like. It is about a 25 minute drive along the winding road to Machu Picchu, and on a clear day the sunrise can be spectacular.
Upon arrival your guide provides a 2 hour walking tour of the site, named as one of the new 7 wonders of the world. Then you are free to wander through the ruins yourself, perhaps finding a solitary spot to reflect on this awesome achievement of the Incas, or, if you have elected to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountains 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 private van to Cusco and back to your hotel. Arrival times will vary depending on traffic and connections, but should be around 8pm.
*The standard trek includes a permit to climb Huayna Pichu Mountain which is a fairly easy 1 hour hike. However, if no tickets are available (e.g. due to late booking) then a permit to climb Machu Picchu mountain will be issued. Note that this is a 2-3 hour strenuous climb up and down following very steep and narrow steps
*In the event that Huayna Picchu Mountain is sold out, you will receive a permit to hike Machu Picchu Mountain
* nb. Batteries run down faster at high altitudes