This is a very popular hike! It incorporates a significant portion of the classic Inca trail but in a shorter time frame! But don’t start thinking this is not a great trek on its own merits!
On this hike you will tour an Inca Ruin, Chachabamba, which is not seen on any other trek. You will also see a waterfall that is so gorgeous it can’t be described!
This version of the trek includes one night camping at Puente Ruinas and two meals prepared by our gourmet chef.
You will have thorough briefing with your guide 1 or 2 days before your trek. Your guide will meet you at our office in Cusco and you can take this opportunity to ask questions and make any final preparations.
We will pick you up from your Cusco hotel early in the morning (about 4:00am) and then drive to the train station in Ollantaytambo and take the train to Kilometer (Km) 104, which takes about three hours. Km 104 is an unscheduled train stop so you will probably feel a twinge of satisfaction that the train is stopping especially for you – and by knowing you are about to see things that no one else will get to! At Km 104 we will get off the train and pass the Inca Trail checkpoint where we will see our first archaeological center called Chachabamba (2,170 m / 7,170 ft). These ruins were one of the last shelters that the Incas used before they reached Machu Picchu. This site was also used as a religious and administrative center, and features several buildings.
Then, we will gradually ascend for about 2-3 hours climbing Inca stone steps while our guide points out different flora and fauna along the trail. We will then pass a tall waterfall before arriving at the archaeological site called Wiñay Wayna at (2,650 m / 8,700 ft), which is named after an orchid and means Forever Young in Quechua. We will climb to the top of the ruins and enjoy lunch with an incredible view of the Urubamba River and the Sacred Valley. This large site sits on a mountainside and features experimental terraces that the Incas used to grow different crops. We will visit an important temple with 7 windows that was dedicated to the rainbow as well as observe the amazing engineering of water channels that still function today.
Once we finish our tour here, we will continue our hike for about 1 ½ hours on a part of the Inca Trail which is relatively flat, with small ascents and descents along the way. At about 5:00 pm we will reach the Sun Gate (2,720 m / 8,920 ft), which is called Intipunku in Quechua. This is where we will have our first view of Machu Picchu and from there we will head down to the ruins. From Machu Picchu, we take the bus to Aguas Calientes and have a short walk to our camp at Puente Ruinas. Our porter will have the tents completely set up for us.
We will have happy hour with tea when we arrive at the camp. Then our chef will prepare us an incredible, hearty dinner. After dinner we can relax at camp and get a good sleep so we will be up early for the sunrise.
We will get up early and have a marvelous breakfast, prepared by our chef. Then we will catch the bus to Machu Picchu in Aguas Calientes. We will want to be at Machu Picchu by six AM to see the sunrise. Once we reach Machu Picchu you will be given a 2 hour walking tour of the site.
If you have elected to climb Huayna Picchu mountain (the price for this is not included in your tour price) you will begin the hike at 10 AM. If you are not climbing the mountain you will have free time to explore Machu Picchu before you return to Aguas Calientes by bus.
Upon arrival in Aguas Calientes, you will board the expedition train to Poroy/Ollantaytambo. From Poroy/Ollantaytambo you will travel by private van to Cusco and we will drop you off at your hotel. Arrival time in Cusco depends on the time of your train ticket.