Cusco and the Inca Trail
Cusco and the Inca Trail
11 days from £2,255
To trek the Inca Trail, with its challenging climbs and breath-taking end-point, Machu Picchu, is the highest aspiration of many a traveller. On this trip you will achieve that goal and do much more besides so that the Trail and Machu Picchu themselves are not objects in isolation, but connected to historical and living traditions.
This holiday will introduce you to two important things: the historical significance of the Incas and the role they played in shaping what we now see in the Peruvian Andes; and your own ability to follow a deeply influential path and appreciate the rewards that it offers you.
Without a doubt the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu are the highlights of the trip. The Trail is a wonderful combination of the natural and the manmade, with awesome scenery and many archaeological features. At the same time, Machu Picchu has become for many the quintessential image of South America. But, lest you forget that these two special places were part of a vast empire, you will visit other places in Cusco and the Sacred Valley for a sense of how they fitted into the Inca worldview.
When you are trekking the team supporting you will attend to all your needs – apart, of course, from the steps that you take yourself.
If you wish to prolong your holiday and see a different side of Peru, it’s easy to add an extension to the Amazonian rainforest, or to Lake Titicaca. We can provide details of either, or both, if you wish.
Cusco and the Inca Trail Highlights
- Hiking the world-famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
- Support from guides, porters and cooks
- Mountain passes, cloud forest and magnificent views
- Well-established campsites on the Trail
- Machu Picchu and many other Inca sites
- Time to explore Cusco
- Boutique hotel in a traditional district of Cusco
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DAY 1: ARRIVE LIMA
Fly to Lima today, where you'll be met and transferred to the Wyndham Costa Del Sol Lima Airport hotel, which makes a convenient overnight stop. As well as comfortable accommodation, the hotel offers a restaurant, bar, indoor swimming pool, fitness centre and spa. Relax after your flight and enjoy a good night's sleep.
DAY 2: FLY TO CUSCO AND THE SACRED VALLEY
This morning you'll return to the airport for your flight to Cusco. You'll be met in Cusco by our local representative and transferred to your hotel, the Casa San Blas. This boutique hotel is in the artisans’ quarter of San Blas, a short walk from the central Plaza de Armas. After settling in you’ll be free to take it easy, acclimatise to the altitude and get your bearings in the city
DAY 3: SIGHTSEEING IN AND AROUND CUSCO
A guided tour will take you to two of Cusco’s most significant religious buildings and three major archaeological sites in the outskirts. Coricancha, or the Temple of the Sun was, in Inca times, covered in gold. What the Spaniards did not destroy while building their Santo Domingo convent on top remains some of the finest masonry anywhere in the world. You will also visit the cathedral on the Plaza de Armas, with its superb architecture and art collections. The 15th-century Inca ceremonial complex of Sacsayhuaman is just north of the city. How the massive stones that comprise its walls were transported is an unsolved mystery. You will also see the Inca religious centre of Qenqo and the ‘Red Fort’, Puka Pukara, both a short distance from Cusco. After the tour you will be taken back to the Casa San Blas.
DAY 4: TO THE SACRED VALLEY
After breakfast, you will be taken to your hotel in the Sacred Valley, El Albergue in Ollantaytambo where you will have free time to explore on your own and acclimatise further.
DAY 5: PISAC AND OLLANTAYTAMBO
Today you will be taken to the fascinating market at Pisac where you will be tempted by colourful alpaca textiles, replicas of Inca artefacts, necklaces, paintings and other crafts. Above the town are the ruins of a remarkable Inca complex, with its extensive area of agricultural terraces. After lunch you will return to Ollantaytambo to explore the old town, a living example of Inca urban planning, and the breath-taking ruins on a promontory, which has a ceremonial complex, baths and unbelievable stonework. Overnight at El Albergue.
DAY 6: FIRST DAY ON THE INCA TRAIL
You will be collected from the hotel after breakfast and taken to Piscacucho, at KM 82 on the railway to Machu Picchu. This isn’t 82 km’s into the Trail, as the trail hike is not that long, but it is 82 km’s from Cusco heading to Aguas Calientes. This rail line is vital for most of the visitors to Machu Picchu who do not hike the Inca Trail, because Aguas Calientes does not have road connections to the outside world. Piscacucho is the official starting point for the Inca Trail. Today’s hike is 5-6 hours, with a break for lunch. It leads to the Wayllabamba campsite, where dinner is served.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 7: WAYLLABAMBA TO PACAMAYO
Today’s hike, starting after breakfast, is a little longer than yesterday, 6-7 hours, but is much tougher. First up is an abrupt, steep climb to the Warmiwañusca pass, at 4,200m the highest on the Trail. Its name, rather discouragingly, means “Dead Woman’s Pass”. Once over the pass you will descend to the second campsite at Pacamayo. This is where you will have both lunch and dinner.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 8: PACAMAYO TO WIÑAYHUAYNA
This is the longest day, 8-9 hours on the Trail, but the climbs are not as challenging as previously, there are several stretches with archaeological remains and the scenery is more varied. From Pacamayo you climb relatively gently to the pass at Runquracay (3,900m) then go down to Chaquicocha, the lunch stop for the day. From here it’s back up a hundred metres or so to Phuyupatamarca pass (3,700m), beyond which you enter a section of cloud forest, rich in flora and birds. Your destination for the day is the restored archaeological site of Wiñayhuayna (2,700m) where you will camp and take dinner.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 9: WIÑAYHUAYNA TO MACHU PICCHU AND BACK TO CUSCO
A full morning today as you walk through the forest to the final climb up to the Intipunku, Sun Gate, entrance to Machu Picchu. You will have a beautiful view of the citadel from here and then you will descend to the site itself for a 2-hour guided tour. After some time to explore further on your own, you will take the bus down to Aguas Calientes for lunch at the Café Inkaterra in the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. And then it’s time for the train back to Ollantaytambo and an onward road transfer to Cusco and the Hotel Casa San Blas.
DAY 10: FREE DAY IN CUSCO
After the Inca Trail hike, you may wish to do nothing, which is fine. Alternatively, there are countless monuments, museums, galleries, shops and eateries for you to explore if you have the energy. Overnight at Casa San Blas.
DAY 11: CUSCO TO LIMA AND FLIGHT HOME
You will be taken to Cusco airport today for the flight back to Lima where you’ll connect with your flight home.
Guide price from (pp sharing): 2019 prices from £2,255 based on travel throughout 2019.
Includes: Meet & greet at Lima airport; airport transfers in Cusco; 10 nights twin share accommodation (7 in hotels and 3 camping on the Inca Trail); meals as shown, private guided tours of Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu; entrance fees on tours, including Inca Trail and entrance fee to Machu Picchu; train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo; one porter per person and one guide per group on Inca Trail; camping equipment on Inca Trail including Eureka mountain tent (shared for 2 people); sleeping bag with -9 °C rating.
Excludes: International flights and taxes, domestic flights within Peru (we would normally book these for you and add this to the package), visas (not currently required by British passport holders), meals not shown as included, drinks, tips, items of a personal nature.
The climate in the Andes varies according to the altitude. In general though, the rainy season is from December to March, but it varies in intensity from area to area and from year to year. For most people the best time to come to the Andes is between June and September. Days are mostly dry and sunny, but it can be cold at night. April and May, after the rains, and October and November are also good months to visit the Andes. Being at high altitude you will need to pack for variable weather at any time of year.
Note that June is the busiest month for festivals in Cusco, including the Inca festival of Inti Raymi, so there will be high tourist occupancy then.
The Inca Trail is closed in February, but we also choose not to sell the Inca Trail in January or March as we believe that trekkers damage the trail in these wet months.
On the Pacific coast of Peru, the climate is sub-tropical and dry. Temperatures are warmest in the summer from December to March, when they can reach up to 30°c. The winter lasts from June to September, when temperatures can drop to 15°c and days are usually misty (locally called garúa) and damp. You are more likely to experience some rain in these months.
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Call: 01473 599008