We are excited to offer this new multi-day itinerary combining one of the lesser known, but most scenic treks in the area (Huchuy Qosqo) with a short, but memorable trek on the Short Inca Trail (part of the world renowned, and much travelled Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu).
This itinerary has many highlights, many of which we’ll mention here, but perhaps one of its biggest advantages is that it doesn’t require permits in advance. Current restrictions and the increasing number of travelers visiting Peru each year means that booking a trek on the Classic Inca Trail is becoming more difficult, often requiring you to book more than a year in advance. Not so with this route. Since there are no limitations on the number of persons that can hike the Huchuy Qosqo trail, your adventure in the Andes and your visit to the iconic Machu Picchu can often be booked last minute (though we don’t suggest leaving it too late…just in case!)
Our adventure begins on the Huchuy Qosqo trail. Gradually gaining altitude our route leads us through remote mountain villages, past lazy Llamas and cheeky Alpacas roaming freely on the mountainside, across golden grasslands and beneath dramatic snow-capped mountain peaks. Far away from the normal tourist routes, you may feel like you’ve stepped back in time as we meet the local indigenous people in their rural villages and experience some of the real culture of the Peruvian Andes.
You will walk along the footpaths built by the ancient pilgrims on the Inca Trail. Once the main route connecting the heart of the Inca Empire in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, the route brings us to the spectacular Huchuy Qosqo complex.
Perfectly positioned to stand as a lookout across the beautiful Sacred Valley, Huchuy Qosqo sits at an elevation of 3,600 m (11,800 ft) above the town of Lamay. This archaeological remnant of pre-Inca and Inca architecture is a fascinating testament to the engineering knowledge and technical capability that existed in those ancient times.
We spend our second night in the vibrant Sacred Valley town of Ollantaytambo. With its eclectic mix of ancient architecture, Artesan crafts and bustling restaurants and cafes it is a fascinating contrast to our time in the mountains, and you will have plenty of time to explore. We will have arranged your accomodation in a quality local hotel, allowing you a good night´s rest before we begin the second half 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. Crossing the 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. Welcome to Machu Picchu!
We spend our last night in the busy town of Aguas Calientes. Gathering together for a spectacular group dinner we prepare ourselves for the grand finale; our tour of the site that is on “Bucket Lists” the world over! Rising early to hopefully catch the spectacular sunrise over the Andes (we unfortunately can’t book the weather) you will have a full guided tour of this magnificent Citadel, and plenty of time to take those iconic photgraphs!
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 is when 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 timing into consideration when booking your travel plans to Cusco, ensuring you arrive in time for the briefing.
We will pick you up early from your hotel and transport you to Tambomachay (3,700 m/ 12,139 ft). Just a short 25-minute drive from Cusco in the Sacsayhuaman National Park, this is where we will meet the horsemen and horses that will accompany us for the first half of our trek.
Our trek begins with a gentle ascent through grassy highlands. Along the route we will see the Inca site of Tambomachay (“Temple of the Water”). Built by the ancient Incas it is one of the most spectacular Inca sites around Cusco. Its centerpiece is a beautiful water fountain where the Incas would take a spiritual bath before beginning their religious ceremonies.
A more demanding uphill stretch for 2 ½ hours brings us to the first pass of the day. At an altitude of 4,100 m/13,451ft you will have an uninterrupted bird’s-eye view of several Inca sites in the area as well as the city of Cusco far below, so make sure you have your camera at the ready.
We will reach the crystal waters of Lake Qoricocha (Golden Water) by early afternoon, and this is where we will stop for a delicious lunch and even a short siesta if you’d like.
After lunch, we continue upwards for just 30 minutes to the next pass on the north side of Qoriquocha at an elevelation of 4,200 m/13,779 ft.
From here we begin our descent through spectacular valleys to a beautiful canyon where we will find the picturesque village of Pucamarca (3,980 m/ 13,054 ft).
At the end of the day’s trekking we will have the privilege to camp at one of the Inca ruins at Huchuy Qosqo (3,600 m/ 11,808 ft). As well as having a spectacular view of the Sacred Valley, you will also be able to lay back and star-gaze, as the night skies in the Andes are a wonder all their own!
And of course, our talented kitchen team will prepare a sumptuous dinner for us to share as we sit and reflect on the sights and sounds of the day
After an early breakfast, our Guide will provide a tour of Huchuy Qosqo. Experts in the local area and the Inca culture, why not take this opportunity to try and catch our guides out with some tricky questions!
After the tour we take a path downhill for 2 to 3 hours until we reach Lamay (3,000 m/ 9,840 ft) where lunch will be waiting.
After lunch we travel by local van to the bustling town of Ollantaytambo. After checking-in to the comfortable hotel that we have booked for you, you may want to stroll around the town, soaking up the atmosphere of the Artesian markets and local street traders who ply their wares.
We will dine together at one of the best restaurants in town (drinks not included) before retiring for the night, ahead of our early start for the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
You will be picked up from your Ollantaytambo hotel at around 5:30am and taken to the train station. Traveling by train for 2 hours along the most picturesque of routes you will have the opportunity to see the valley and the mountains from a whole new perspective (and from the comfort of your seat!).
The train journey brings us to KM104 and the start of the Short Inca Trail.
Our hike begins with a 3 hour climb to the Inca site of Wiñay Wayna (‘Forever Young’). Located at 2,680m (8,792ft) and overlooking the Urubamba River, the site has a number of well-preserved house complexes, fountain structures and agricultural terraces.
Joining the main path to Machu Picchu, another gentle climb brings us to the spectacular ‘Inti Punku’ (or Sun gate). Be prepared to be amazed, as it is from here that you will get your first breathtaking views of Machu Picchu! (new profile picture anyone?)
We then take the final section of the trail to reach the ancient city itself. Once at Machu Picchu there will be plenty of time to take photographs (there will be many more opportunities to come!) before we take a side path off the trail to catch the bus down to Aguas Calientes, leaving the visit to Machu Picchu for the next day.
In Aguas Calientes, we once again dine together in a superb local restaurant before retiring for a well-deserved rest to feel rested and ready for our grand finale.
The hotel will provide either an early buffet or boxed breakfast to ensure we can take one of the first buses to Machu Picchu. It is a journey of around an hour, and if the weather is in our favor you may even see the spectacular sunrise over the Andes.
As we enter Machu Picchu, your first up-close views of this new wonder of the world are guaranteed to be unforgettable! Your guide will give a full 2-hour walking tour of site, ensuring you get to all of the iconic photo spots. After the tour you are free to climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountains for more spectacular views (tickets not included), or to simply spend more time exploring the site or finding a quiet spot to reflect on the spiritual nature of this ancient wonder.
Finally, taking the bus back to Aguas Calientes in the afternoon, you will board the expedition train to Poroy or Ollantaytambo. From here you will travel by private van to Cusco and back to your hotel. Your arrival time in Cusco will depend on traffic and connections, but should be around 8pm.
* nb. batteries run down faster at high altitudes