This is the classic small group four day trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This magnificent hike for travelers who are in condition to hike up to ten hours, with breaks, in a single day. The pace may be daunting for some, but the beauty and history of the area surround the hiker every step of the way. On the last morning you will arrive at Machu Picchu with plenty of time to explore the ruins before returning to Cusco by train.
The hike is accompanied by the finest Inca Trail guides (English-speaking), well-paid porters and staff, and includes all meals, transportation and camping equipment.
Day 1- Piskakucho (km. 82) - Huayllabamba
This morning you will be picked up at your hotel. A spectacular early morning drive through the Sacred Valley of the Incas takes us to our trailhead at Km. 82 of the Machu Picchu railroad. After getting acquainted with our trail crew we set out, crossing a footbridge to hike a gentle two hours down the Urubamba canyon, and then visit imposing sculpted Inca farming terraces and the settlement of Llaqtapata on the banks of the Cusichaca side river. We then climb a short way up the Cusichaca valley to Huayllabamba, the last inhabited village on the trail, where we camp.
Day 2- Huayllabamba - Pacaymayo
We climb the steep-sided Llullucha valley past a rushing stream and through enchanted native polylepis woodland. Crossing the rim of a small plateau, we abruptly find ourselves in the puna, the treeless grasslands of the high Andes. The trail traverses an open slope opposite mighty mountain crags as we ascend to the first and highest pass, Warmiwañusca (4,200m/13,776ft). Here we encounter spectacular views of the trail ahead to the second pass, and look back to the sweeping snowpeaks and valleys of the Huayanay massif. The trail to the floor of the forested Pacaymayo valley, where we make camp.
Day 3- Pacaymayo - Wiñay Wayna
We pick up an Inca stairway and ascend again past the small Inca site of Runkuracay. As we reach the second pass, the landscape opens onto spectacular new views to the snowpeaks of the Pumasillo range. We descend to the ruins of Sayacmarca (Inaccessible Town), an intricate labyrinth of houses, plazas and water channels, perched precariously on a rocky spur overlooking the Aobamba valley. The Inca trail, now a massive buttressed structure of granite paving stones, continues along the steep upper fringes of the cloud forest through a colorful riot of orchids, bromeliads, mosses and ferns. At the third pass pinnacles topped with Inca viewing platforms overlook the archaeological complex of Phuyupatamarca (Cloud-level Town). Pausing to explore the wondrous maze of Inca stone towers, fountains and stairways that spillins down the mountainside here, we begin a long descent through ever-changing layers of cloud forest. An Inca stairway partly cut from living granite leads us finally to our camp by the ruins of Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young), the largest and most exquisite of the Inca Trail sites.
Day 4-Wiñay Wayna - Machu Picchu - Cusco
An early morning hike takes us across a steep mountainside through lush, humid cloud-forest of giant ferns and broad-leaf vegetation. Suddenly we cross the stone threshold of Intipunku (Sun Gate) and encounter an unforgettable sweep of natural beauty and human artistry –a backdrop of twisting gorge and forested peaks framing the magical city of Machu Picchu.
We complete the final leg down the royal flagstone walkway, past outlying shrines and buildings and into the heart of Machu Picchu, where we spend the rest of the morning with a guided tour of the highlights and some individual exploring among Machu Picchu’s multitude of hidden nooks and corners. In the early afternoon a bus takes us to the small town of Aguas Calientes, where we board our return train to Cusco.
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