Bienvenidos! Welcome to Cusco, the heart and soul of Peru. The day is at your leisure until your 6 pm welcome meeting in the hotel lobby. Be sure to take it slow while your body adjusts to the altitude (3,400 m). If you have time, check out the beautiful cathedral or perhaps the nearby ruins of Saqsayhuaman, Qenqo or Tambomachay. A Boleto Turistico (tourist ticket) will grant you access into these sites. For a change of pace, head to the central market, or perhaps enjoy a meal at Yanapay at 415 Ruinas Street. This restaurant uses all its profit to support children in Cusco through Aldea Yanapay and its social projects. Notes: This trip visits places that are at high altitude, and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the trip notes for more important information on this.
Depending on the travel arrangements you made before the trip, during the next four days you will hike either the Classic Inca Trail or the Inca Quarry Trail. While you're away from Cusco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. The evening before you leave Cusco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (6 kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Keep in mind that you won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group. Route 1: Classic Inca Trail Travel by minivan to the 82 km marker and meet your crew of local porters, cook and guide. The first day includes uphill trekking to the campsite (located 3,100 m above sea level). On the way you’ll see the Inca sites of Ollantaytambo, Huillca Raccay and Llactapata, and catch incredible views of the snow-capped Veronica Peak. In the evening, unwind at the campsite with a nourishing meal. Notes: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 45 km long and often steep. Each day's journey generally consists of seven hours of walking (uphill and downhill) with stops for snacks and lunch. Trekking usually begins at 7 am (except on the fourth morning) and you will reach the campsite at around 5 pm. Accommodation on the trek is camping (three nights). Double tents (twin-share) and inflatable camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals. Route 2: Inca Quarry Trail Make an early start today and drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon. Drive to the starting point of the trek, Rafq'a, and meet the horsemen who join us on the hike. After an hour’s walk, reach the small community of Socma. Carry on to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout, an opportunity to stop for photos and a food break. Continue to the campsite (3,700 m above sea level). You should reach the campsite around lunchtime. After lunch, set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint to the Incas. Notes: The Inca Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. The hike is 26 km long in total and its highest pass is at 4,450 meters above sea level. Throughout the trek, horses will carry your gear and camping equipment. The first two nights are spent camping, and on the third night you'll stay at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and inflatable camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.
Route 1: Classic Inca Trail This is the most challenging day of the trek as you ascend a long steep path (approximately 5 hours) to reach the highest point of the trail. Colloquially known as 'Dead Woman's Pass', Warmiwanusca (4,200 m) offers amazing views of the valley below. The group will then descend to the campsite in the Pacaymayo Valley, located at 3,650 metres. Route 2: Inca Quarry Trail This is the most challenging and rewarding day of the hike. Your walk (approximately 3 hours) takes you to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (4,370 m). After enjoying picturesque views of the valley, it’s a short walk before stopping for lunch. Afterwards, hike to Kuychicassa (approximately 2 hours), the highest pass of the trek (4,450 m). From here, descend to the sacred site the Incas called Intipunku (Sun Gate), with views of the Nevado Veronica mountain. Head to the campsite which is only a stone’s throw away at Choquetacarpo.
Route 1: Classic Inca Trail Start the day with a climb through the Pacaymayo Valley to Runkuracay pass (3,980 m). Enjoy beautiful views of the snow-capped mountain of Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending to the ruins of Sayacmarca (approximately 2–3 hours). Continue over the trail’s third pass to the ruins of Phuyupatamarca (3,850 m), also known as the 'Town Above the Clouds'. Start the descent on the Inca steps to the final night's campsite by the Winay Wayna archaeological site (approximately 2 hours). Route 2: Inca Quarry Trail Today’s hike is all downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Incas were intercepted by the Spanish. Around midday, your trek comes to an end. Explore the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. Visiting the natural hot springs in town is a recommended way to spend the late afternoon. Spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.
Today you will explore the incredible Machu Picchu ruins with a local guide. Your tour lasts for around 1.5–2 hours, and there will be plenty of free time afterwards to explore on your own. When it's all over, return to Cusco for a well-earned shower and perhaps a Pisco sour. Route 1: Classic Inca Trail This is the final and most spectacular leg of the trek to Machu Picchu. The day starts before dawn, with breakfast at 4.30 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and begin hiking by 5.30 am. Walk to Intipunku, aka the Sun Gate (approximately 2.5 hours). Weather permitting, enjoy unforgettable views over Machu Picchu, the ‘Lost City of the Incas’. Route 2: Inca Quarry Trail Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5.30 am along the winding road to Machu Picchu (approximately 30 minutes). At Machu Picchu, join up with the travellers in your group who hiked the Classic Inca Trail. If the skies are clear, take in spectacular views over the ancient city from the Sun Gate, before going on a guided walk around the ruins. Notes: Due to Intrepid's internal safety policy, our leaders are prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking trips to the mountaintop ruins of Wayna Picchu.
Farewell your new friends as your adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. Check-out time is 9 am. Luggage storage can be arranged at the hotel if you're departing later.