The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu needs to be experienced to be believed. The sheer size and extent of the Inca culture is breathtaking and inspiring. Their constructions are immense and impressive. At such a high altitude, it is essential we acclimatize so that we can fully appreciate this amazing country and civilization. We will visit these sites before the Short Inca Trail trek to acclimatize and give us a deeper understanding of the country we are about to trek through.
The former Inca Capital city of Cusco is our base for this great 6-day package, a wonderful place full of culture, history, good restaurants and excellent hot chocolate. From Cusco we travel through the Sacred Valley of the Incas, passing Chinchero, Moray, the salt mines of Maras and the Inca Fortress of Ollantaytambo, before embarking on the famous Inca Trail to one of new seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu. We will follow in the footsteps of the explorers who stumbled across one of the greatest archeological sites in the world. This 2-day, 1-night trek involves spectacular Andean scenery along an ancient paved Inca Trail. We have plenty of time to treasure each view and the ruins en-route. A night is spent in the colourful town of Aguas Calientes before spending the time exploring the awe-inspiring, “new wonder of the modern world”, Machu Picchu. The return to Cusco is by train and private transportation. The final day is spent some time in Cusco’s ancient streets, artisan markets or excellent restaurants and bars before you return home.
Welcome to Cusco – touch down, collect your luggage and meet our Action Peru Treks representative, then drive through the colourful South American streets to your Cusco hotel.
Step out into the Cusco streets and explore on your own. You do not want to cram too much in on your first day at altitude, so relax and get used to being up high with a gentle walk around this old Inca capital.
Visit the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral and the Qoricancha temple of the sun and perhaps take in the sights, sounds and smells of San Pedro market too. If you normally shop in supermarkets and farmers markets, you are in for a surprise. Stands full of juicy exotic fruits, counters heaving with cow heads and sheep hooves and cheerful local women selling handmade cheeses, local breads, healthy juices and even toad soups.
Today you stretch your legs with a delightful walk in the hills above Cusco. First we visit the impressive site of Sacsayhuaman. Huge stone ramparts surround a beautiful grass Amphitheatre. Once the scene of fierce battles it now hosts the recreation of traditional Inca ceremonies such as Inti Raymi and Warachikuy.
Next, Qenqo is a unique temple in its construction as well, having been entirely carved out of a gigantic monolith. Stretched across a hillside, the temple is carved out of rock and marries the man-made tunnels with natural chambers. One of these chambers features 19 small niches and is set up as an amphitheater. Once again, the purpose of the theater has been lost over time, but most agree the area was used for some type of sacrifice to the sun, moon and star gods who were worshipped at the site.
Finally, is the Inca water temple of Tambo Machay lying at 3,700m (12,000 feet). It consists of a series of aqueducts, canals and waterfalls that run through the terraced rocks. The function of the site is uncertain: it may have served as a military outpost guarding the approaches to Cusco, as a spa resort for the Incan political elite, or both.
Leaving Cusco behind you start your journey to Machu Picchu.
Explore the beautiful Peruvian Andes with a full-day tour of the magical Sacred Valley. First, you will visit the town of Chinchero (3,762 m, 12,342 ft) is a site that presents exceptional expressions of stonemasonry in the midst of a town that keeps ancient traditions alive. It was constructed by Tupac Inca Yupanqui around 1480 and consists of a collection of architectural spaces: pre-Columbian walls, enclosures, platforms, staircases and altars. The historic center of Chinchero is also considered unique because it mixes an archaeological complex and a town made from Inca foundations and walls, with a population that has maintained its ancestral customs.
Following your visit to Moray, fascinating circular ruins of Moray. While some think it was a landing pad for alien spaceships, more likely is that the Incas built this as an experimental agricultural centre. Concentric circular terraces allowed them to simulate different facing slopes and different growing temperatures to see what crops would grow where.
Next is the salt mines of Maras, Hidden deep within the Urubamba valley, lies – almost unknown to all the hordes visiting Machu Picchu every day – a precious gem: The Maras Salt mines, also called Maras salt evaporation ponds. A myriad of salt crusted terraces precariously nestles against the steep mountain sides, while a steady stream of mineral rich water trickles down with a silent gargling that somehow defies time. The ponds, you ought to know, have been in use since the times of the Incas and before. They are probably the only reason to visit the small town of Maras – but what a reason they are.
Finally, you will visit the impressive fortress of Ollantaytambo (2,792 m/9,160 ft). These magnificent ancient ruins provide a great vantage point over the Sacred Valley. Originally the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti during the Inca Empire, this site later served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui in the final resistance effort against the Spanish conquistadors.
You will stop for lunch on route to Ollantaytmbo (not included) at a buffet restaurant offering a variety of Peruvian and international food near the town of Urubamba.
In the evening, you will be taken to your comfortable hotel in Ollantaytambo.
Your 2-day, 1-night Short Inca Trail starts taking the train from Ollantaytambo to Km 104, where the Inca Trail starts.
The valley turns into a canyon and the scenery begins to alter as the cloud forests appear on our approach to the city of Machu Picchu. We will disembark the train at Km 104 and start the hike along a challenging 3-hour uphill trail. This trek is short and manageable.
This ancient Inca Trail takes us uphill all the way to the magnificent archaeological Inca site of Wiñay Wayna. Wiñay Wayna is a Quechua name meaning “forever young”, This is an Inca ruin along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It is built into a steep hillside overlooking the Urubamba River and valley. This Inca site consists of upper and lower house complexes connected by a staircase and fountain structures. Above and below the houses the people built areas of agricultural terraces, which are still visible today.
Wiñay Wayna will be also the perfect spot to enjoy our delicious boxed lunch, with incredible views of the massive green mountains and orchids.
After lunch, the trail becomes gentler from here and continues all the way to the famous Sun Gate (2,720 m / 8,920 ft), where we arrive at Machu Picchu through its real main entrance. It is from here that we will have our first glimpse of marvelous Machu Picchu. We then cross the Inca city of Machu Picchu to take the bus down to Aguas Calientes town (2,040 m / 6,691 ft), where you will check into your hotel. Dinner will be at a great local restaurant in town (drinks not included).
Today as it gets light, we will catch an early bus up to the magnificent city of Machu Picchu, to enjoy the city at a quieter time of day when there are fewer people. It is a 25 minutes bus ride to Machu Picchu (2,430 m/7,972 ft). Our expert tour guide will lead us in our walking tour of Machu Picchu. The guided tour will have an average duration of 2 hours.
Afterward, you will still have some time to visit other places that you did not see with your guide. For example, if you feel like an uphill challenge, you have the option to climb the mountain of Huayna Picchu (not included in the trek price). It is important to know that to climb this mountain, you need to buy a separate ticket well in advance.
At the end of your visit, you will take the bus down to Aguas Calientes for lunch and then board the train to Ollantaytambo. On arrival, you will be met by our private transport and return to the hotel in Cusco (2-hour drive).
After breakfast at your hotel, one of our representatives will meet you at your hotel and take you to the airport for your journey home or on to your next destination.
Hotel Upgrades for Machu Picchu
What to bring: