Looking to embark on the road less traveled? This itinerary offers the perfect exploration of Peru's famous highlights, while discovering the hidden treasures and natural beauty, far from the crowds. Your adventure begins in the charming colonial town of Cusco, before spending three nights camping beneath the start in the Andes, as you follow the path of the Inca Quarry Trail. During this cultural trek, you will observe an astonishing variety of scenery and ecological zones, snow-capped peaks and archaeological remains. Upon arrival into Ollantaytambo, take the train to Km 104 and begin a full day of hiking on the famous Inca Trail! You will twist, turn and wind your way through the stunning cloud forest, finally ending with your descent into the majestic ruins of Machu Picchu. Spend the night in Machu Picchu Pueblo, before returning to further explore the ancient citadel the following morning. By the afternoon, you will board the return train to Cusco for the final evening of your adventure.
Welcome to Peru! Upon arrival at the airport in Cusco, you will be greeted by your driver, who will be holding a sign with your name on it. They will transfer you directly to the hotel, for a smooth and comfortable start to your adventure. Check into your room, get settled and enjoy a relaxing evening at your leisure. (This service is on a private basis.)
Cusco is a beautiful city with well preserved colonial architecture, evidence of a rich and complex history. The city itself represents the center of indigenous Quechua culture in the Andes, and by merely walking the streets one sees the layers of history. Spanish colonial buildings erected directly atop Inca walls line the square, while the modern tourist nightlife flourishes in their midst. The city is surrounded by a number of ruins, the most impressive being Sacsayhuaman, the site of the 1536 battle in which dozens of Pizarro's men charged uphill to battle the forces of the Inca. Nowadays, Cusco is known for its indigenous population--often seen on the streets in traditional clothing--and its substantial tourist-fueled night life.
Enjoy this free day at your leisure in Cusco acclimating. This mountain town is a great opportunity to immerse in Peruvian culture, as there are many plazas and historical buildings to explore. You may want to enjoy a coffee on one of the balconies overlooking the Plaza de Armas, or wander through the streets of San Blas in the historical district. Bring your camera along to capture your discoveries of this beautiful city!
At your hotel later this evening, your guide will hold a full trek briefing. You will be able ask your guide any questions you may have to help you prepare for your adventure ahead! At the meeting you will also be provided with a loaner duffle bag, which you may utilize to pack all items necessary for your trek (i.e. clothes, toiletries, shoes for the evenings, etc.). Your porter crew will be responsible for carrying this duffle, which you will have access to at the end of each trekking day. You will only be responsible for carrying your own individual day pack, which will hold items you wish to access throughout the day (i.e. rain poncho, camera, water bottle, etc.).
*Please Note: You will be able to store your main luggage at your hotel in Cusco for the duration of the trek.
Your adventure takes off from Cusco this morning, as you are driven to Pachar in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. From there, you will head off on your scenic expedition of the spectacular Inca Quarry Trail Trek! You will first follow the Huarocondo gorge a short way upstream, to the trail head located in the village of Raphcca (9,510 feet above sea level). Continue, with a hike up a lush side valley of scattered farmhouses and crop terraces, where Andean bird species, such as the giant hummingbird and golden-billed saltator flit among abundant native trees and shrubs.
This afternoon you will stop to enjoy a picnic lunch by a rushing mountain stream, before deciding whether to take an easier route forward, or an optional steep trail via a tall waterfall, where you can enjoy a refreshing rest amidst the cool spray, or even indulge in an alfresco shower and dip beneath the falls! Climbing further, you will visit the little-known Inca ruin of Corimarca, perched at mid-altitude on a shelf high above the Soccma Valley. An Inca-built channel still carries water rushing past this small, elegantly designed settlement, which was probably built by the Incas to collect and control the agricultural production of the surrounding valley. You will set up camp here, or at a spacious set of Inca terraces, only a short distance up valley.
This morning, enjoy a tasty breakfast at your camp site, before kicking off today's trek with a climb across open meadows. Eventually, you will reach a zone of high altitude shrub land, which in turn gives way to treeless grasslands, known as puna. It is here, that the trail starts to wind gently around mountain spurs, following an undulating approach to the pass of Chancachucu (14,430 feet). In clear weather, this section of your journey offers dramatic panoramas of every major snow peak in the region. You can gaze east, across the distant town of Chinchero, towards the mighty snow capped Ausangate and the Qoyllur Rit’i range, while the jagged peaks of the Cordillera Urubamba rear across the Sacred Valley to the north. The scenic drama reaches new heights, as you cross the pass and confront the glaciers of Verónica (18,850 feet), looming vastly in the near distance to the north west.
From there, your route continues across a rolling, sparsely inhabited plateau with views of the tip of Salcantay and the Huayanays. You will pass mountain lakes where you may see wetland birds, such as Andean geese, crested ducks and puna ibis, before descending into your second camp at Q’euñacancha (13,380 feet). You will settle in there, for dinner and another star filled mountain night.
Today is your third day on the trail and with luck, you may even get to spot some Andean Condors! After breakfast at your campsite, you will set off on one of two routes. Fitter, more experienced groups will proceed on the Chancachucu Valley downstream, following the broken remains of an Inca water channel that once carried water to the ancient quarries. The stream plunges through Punkuyoc, a narrow ravine enclosed by vertical cliffs draped in ferns and orchids, and emerges amidst a small woods of native Q’euña trees. A narrow trail zig-zags steeply down open, grassy slopes, offering spectacular views of the Camicancha valley, its river a silver ribbon, far below. You will climb once more, and again pick up the Inca water channel, which has traversed a near-vertical cliff far above you. From there, you will follow the channel on a gentler path, encountering stunning views of Ollantaytambo and the Sacred Valley, as you reach the imposing gateway of Intipunku, an Inca temple apparently dedicated to worship of snow capped Verónica.
The alternative and easier route for this day, will take you on a climb gently from the second camp, across rolling grassland to the south flank of Yana Orco. This is a rocky crag, high above the Sacred Valley and the Inca quarries. Viewpoints in this region will provide you with the opportunity to look straight down on Ollantaytambo and its valleys (4,600 feet) below you, as if from an airplane. You will continue to wind your way along the rim of the valley, reaching a pass where you descend a steep draw through native Q’euna woodland, leveling off as you approach the Inca site of Intipunku.
Around this time, you will stop to enjoy lunch facing a breathtaking mountain and valley panorama, near the well-preserved Inca complex of Choquetacarpo. This site was most likely the residence of architects, masons and visiting dignitaries, who
managed the Inca quarries and performed ceremonies at Intipunku. Following lunch, you will wind your way downward, exploring different sectors of the Inca quarries and a natural rockfall, where massive carved blocks of pink rhyolite lie scattered in disarray. The quarried stones, testimony to a great building project that was never finished, were destined for the Inca temple at Ollantaytambo, (4 miles) away on the north bank of the Urubamba river. From here, you descend to your third and final camp, located on Inca terraces topped by small burial towers known as chullpas, near the village of Cachicata. Here, you can enjoy the luxury of toilets, hot showers and a warmer climate, as you relax in preparation for your unforgettable visit to Machu Picchu tomorrow morning!
Proceeding breakfast bright and early, you will head to Ollantaytambo to board the morning train, following the Urubamba river to Km.104 of the railroad, where you will disembark and continue on foot.
Hike: 12km 2250m - 2650m 7-8 hours
Your Short Inca Trail adventure now begins, as you cross a footbridge to kick off your hike at the Inca site of Chachabamba. After a brief visit to this lovely ruin with its water channels and fountains, you will start the four-hour ascent that will take you past spectacular overlooks above the great valley, then below a lovely waterfall near the delightful site of Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young).
You will ascend through this largest and most exquisite of the Inca Trail sites, passing its chain of ritual baths and elegantly curved terracing, and then joining the main Inca trail. You will follow it across a steep mountainside and up narrow stairways through lush, humid cloud-forest of giant ferns and broad-leaf vegetation. Suddenly, you will 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.
You will walk the last half-hour or so down the royal flagstone walkway, past outlying shrines and buildings and through the heart of Machu Picchu, taking a bus to the small town of Aguas Calientes (now called Machu Picchu Pueblo), where you will spend the night and enjoy dinner at your hotel property.
Enjoy an early morning visit to the fabled ruins, spending today in both guided and individual exploration. Make the most of this opportunity to visit the most fascinating features of this astounding and mysterious Inca settlement. Take your time to discover and investigate the multitude of hidden nooks and corners. If you're itching for a challenge, you may be interested in embarking on the grueling trek up to the summit of Huayna Picchu. Facing steep and exposed steps, this journey is not for the fainthearted, but offers an astounding "condor's eye" view above the ruins. Please note that this trek requires a special Huayna Picchu Permit, which has not yet been included in your tour. Should you be interested in this expedition for an additional cost, please let us know as soon as possible, as permits do sell out.
After an overwhelming adventure of this glorious monument to the Inca achievement, a delicious lunch will be served at the famed Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, before taking the return shuttle to Machu Picchu Pueblo. Back in town, you will board the Vistadome train back to Cusco. Upon arrival at the Poroy station, which is located just outside of Cusco, you will be greeted by your driver and transferred to your accommodations within the city. Fall asleep dreaming of today's once in a lifetime experience!
Sadly, your journey through Peru must come to an end today. However, you will be leaving with unforgettable memories and the experience of a lifetime! After checking out of your hotel in Cusco, you will be met by your driver and transferred to the airport in good time to board your international departure flight home. (This service is on a private basis.)
We hope you had an incredible trip and we wish you safe and pleasant travels onward!
Casa San Blas, the first boutique hotel in Peru, has been created to provide guests with a distinguished service based on individual, personalized service and attention to detail in a comfortable, home-like atmosphere. San Blas' design harmonizes with the colonial architecture of the San Blas neighborhood, based upon the restoration of a historic mansion, while incorporating all the benefits of the modern world. The district of San Blas has been the historic artisan's quarter of Cusco since Inca times, and lies just two and a half blocks from the main square. It is a neighborhood of narrow, picturesque cobbled streets and whitewashed colonial-era houses, with red-tiled roofs and wooden balconies.
Camping during a trek is an experience like no other. Meet and become friends with the porters and cooks that will support your journey as you weave your way through the Peruvian Andes. While walking all you need to carry is a daypack. Your luggage is carried by the porters, your tents are put up for you and your food is prepared for you. All you have to do is shoulder your daypack and enjoy the walking. Tents are new and sturdy and can fit up to two people each. Nothing beats waking to the smell of breakfast and stepping out of your tent to spectacular panoramic views of the mountains.
Smart and contemporary are the defining elements of this hotel, amidst the commercial village of Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes), from where you can admire and interact with the quaint folksy town and get a different perspective. The hotel is efficient, playful and people friendly; it welcomes a wide range of guests expecting an uncomplicated visit. Turn into an amiable and healthy environment after your enlightening visit to Peru’s most distinguished destination, the Machu Picchu Archaeological site.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.