This remote and rarely visited region offers the trekker a unique view into traditional Andean life; a timeless worldwhere farmers still tend crops on lands worked by their ancestors, watching over herds of llama and alpaca beneath the sacred snow-covered peaks they once worshipped as Gods. The trails here originated during the rule of the Inca Empire and are still used today by their descendants, connecting the remote communities of Cancha Cancha, Quishuarani, Cuncani and Lares with everyday life in the Sacred Valley.
For this brand new 5-day itinerary we have combined the most spectacular highlights of our Lares trekking with an unforgettable 2-day journey on the stunning Inca Trail. Spending our first 3 days hiking far from the well-trodden tourist trails, you will be treated to irresistible vistas of the majestic snow-capped Andes. We will walk amongst well-preserved Inca Trails, marveling at the engineering feats of the ancient tribes, and we will pass through remote communities who still live and work as simply as they have for many generations.
On our 4thday we rest our legs and take a wonderfully scenic and comfortable drive 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 stunning Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Whilst our time on the Inca Trail is short, it provides access to some of the most iconic views in the area. Following in the footsteps of the Inca Pilgrims we will pass the ancient settlements used by travelers for respite ahead of their 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.
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 or afternoon of the day before your trek starts. We don’t offer briefings on a Sunday, so 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 your briefing.
We will pick you up early from your hotel to drive you to the beginning of the trek at Huaran in the Sacred Valley. The journey takes around 1.5 hours, so you can maybe catch a little more sleep in our luxury mini-bus or just enjoy the views as the sun rises around us.
After packing the horses and making one final equipment check, we begin our trek climbing gently along the banks of the Cancha Cancha river towards the community of the same name. Along the way we will see cultivated fields and pass through old Polylepis forests. The vegetation here is unique to the area and is home to a wide assortment of bird life, and the views across the valley as we gain elevation are spectacular.
Our team of porters will have forged a path ahead of us and will be waiting for us with a delicious lunch about halfway along the route. After lunch we will pass by the village of Cancha Cancha (3,956 m/12,976 ft) on the way to our campsite at Acopata.
Arriving before dusk, our campsite will have been fully prepared by the team and so you will be able to settle quickly into some warmer clothing, before sitting back to the watch the night sky in the Andes provide us with the most spectacular stellar display. Our chef will prepare a sumptuous dinner which we will enjoy together before we retire for a well-deserved nights rest in our comfortable tents.
Our porters will gently wake you with a cup of fresh hot coffee or coca tea, and some hot water to wash with. Then, after a delicious and nutritious breakfast we will continue our trek.
The day begins with a more strenuous 2.5 hour climb to the highest point of the trek at Pachacutec Pass (4,780 m/15,678 ft). Your efforts are well rewarded though as the view from the pass is breathtaking, with the snowcapped peaks of Pitusiray and Sahuasiray standing right before us.
After a short rest we make a steady descent for 2 hours until we reach our lunch spot, next to the most beautiful, crystal blue lake.
After lunch we descend further into the valley, passing several glacial lakes along the way. This area is home to a wide variety of wildlife and we will see herds of wild alpacas, llamas and sheep grazing nearby. In the forests that surround us keep your eyes out for Gray Brocket Deer, Viscachas, Andean Geese or the rare Giant Coot. In the blue skies above, we may even be fortunate enough to see Puna Hawks or the giant wingspan of the Andean Condor.
Tonight, our camp is in the remote village of Quishuarani. With its typical rustic stone houses you will feel a million miles away from the bright lights of Cusco.
Day 3 begins with another steady climb, but don’t worry, our kitchen team always ensure that breakfast contains enough fuel to get us all through the day’s exertions!
Our ascent takes about 2 or 3 hours and brings us to the pass at Willcaccasa mountain (4,458 m/14,622 ft). As we gain elevation, the views out across the Andes and down over several beautiful turquoise lakes are nothing short of spectacular. At almost every turn we are rewarded with a view that seems even better than the last!
After taking a rest at the summit we gradually descend for around 2 hours to village of Cuncani, and then further on towards the Lares Valley and its hot springs. Stopping here for lunch we can take a well-deserved soak in the springs, happy in the knowledge that our hiking for the day is over. Then, relaxed and rested, our private van will be waiting to take us on a scenic 3-hour drive to the Sacred Valley town of Ollantaytambo.
After checking into your comfortable hotel room there should be time to walk around this charming town, sampling some local cuisine, and perhaps buying some locally made souvenirs from the Artesian street sellers. We will dine together in the evening at one of the local restaurants (drinks not included) before retiring for a good night’s sleep, since Day 4 starts early!
After an early breakfast at your hotel, we will collect you around 6am 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 we reach Kilometer 104, and the start of the Short Inca Trail.
Our hike starts with a challenging 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 join the path to Machu Picchu, the anticipation and excitement of reaching our final destination very much in the air around us!
Arriving at the famous Sun Gate of ‘Inti Punku’ (2,720 m / 8,920 ft) we get our first unforgettable views of this spectacular site. No matter how many National Geographic pictures you may have seen, nothing quite prepares you for the impact of seeing this wonder of the world for the first time. There will be plenty of time to take in the view and take the photos you’ve been waiting for, before we hike down the last portion of the trail to reach the ancient city itself.
We save our tour of Machu Picchu for our final day, when we all have fresh legs and fresh eyes. So today we take the 25-minute bus journey down 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 best 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.
After a very early breakfast prepared at your hotel we take one of the first buses (5:30am) along the winding road to Machu Picchu. If the weather is kind then you may get the chance to see the magnificent sunrise over the Andes before we make our way into the site. Your entry ticket to Machu Picchu is included in the price of the trek.
After taking a little time to absorb those first iconic views, your guide will give a 2-hour walking tour, sharing with you much of the history and stories of these legendary ruins.
If you have elected to climb Huayna Picchu mountain (for more spectacular views), you will begin the hike at 10am (NB. the price for hiking Huayna Picchu Mountain is notincluded in the trek price). If you are not climbing the mountain you will have a couple minutes to explore Machu Picchu.
After taking the bus back to Aguas Calientes you will board the expedition train to Poroy or Ollantaytambo. From Poroy or Ollantaytambo you will travel by private transportation to Cusco and we will drop you off at your hotel. Arrival time in Cusco depends on the time of your train ticket, but is generally between 8 and 9pm.