Alpaca Expeditions will pick you up from where ever you are staying in Cusco, Urubamba, or Ollantaytambo. Pick-up from Cusco will be from 4 to 4:30 AM, from Urubamba from 5:30 to 6 AM, and if you stay in Ollantaytambo, you get to sleep in a bit with your pick-up from 6:30 to 7 AM. These times will be confirmed at your briefing, as they might fluctuate based on where you are staying. We will take you to the Porter House which is located in Ollantaytambo after a delicious breakfast prepared by your cook, your guide will introduce you to your team of porters.
We will then drive to Km 82, we’ll go through the first Inca Trail checkpoint to begin our trek. Please make sure you have your original passport with you to enter the Inca Trail. The first 2 hours of the trek are relatively easy as we make our way to our first Inca site. Patallacta is an ancient Inca checkpoint for the approach to Machu Picchu.
From Patallacta it’s another 2-hour hike to our lunch stop. After lunch, we will hike for another 2½ hours until we reach the first night’s campsite at Ayapata (3300 meters). On this last stretch, we pass through 2 small communities. If you want to buy any energy drink, snacks, or essential items you may have forgotten such as batteries you can do so here. We’ll arrive at our campsite by 5:00 PM. After settling in for a bit, you can relax and have a hot drink and snack with your team of porters, chefs, and guides. By 7:30 PM, your dinner will be ready, and after you can get some well-deserved rest.
Walking distance: 8.7 miles/14 km (6-7 hours)
Campsite altitude: 3300 meters (high) above sea level
Considered: Moderate day (getting used to the Inca Trail)
Weather: Warm and windy
Your porters will wake you up early with a hot cup of coca tea to get you ready for the day. We will have an early start since it will be our longest day. We’ll hike for roughly 4 hours to the highest pass of the trek, Dead Woman’s Pass (4215 meters/13829 feet). On reaching the pass, we’ll stop for a short break to enjoy the views before setting off again to descend to the next valley (Pacaymayu Valley – Hidden River). It’s another hour and a half down the side of the valley to our lunch spot, where you will have a chance to refill your water bottles. After lunch, we begin ascending again to the second pass of the trek. It’s 2 hours over the pass where we will stop at a small Inca site (Runcu Raccay) and see two huge waterfalls cascading down the opposite side of the valley. After the second pass, it’s another hour downhill hike to reach the magnificent Inca site, Sayacmarca (an otherwise inaccessible village).
We’ll stop here to rest and have a quick tour. Afterward, we will be able to watch the sunset over the Vilcabamba mountain range. It’s then just another 20 minutes until we stop for the night at our second campsite Chaquicocha (Dry Lake, 3600 meters). After dinner, if you’re not too exhausted, we can do some star gazing, and we’ll point out the fascinating Inca constellations. In the magnificent Southern Hemisphere sky, away from all the artificial lighting, this sky is something to behold!
Walking distance: 9.94 miles/16 km (7-8 hours)
Campsite altitude: 3600 meters (high) above sea level (chilly weather)
Considered: Top day (you will have survived the two highest passes)
Area: Andes and Cloud Forest
Weather: Cold and rainy
Completing Day 2 and beginning Day 3 certainly deserves a pat on the back! We will start early again, waking up at 6:30 am to begin what is commonly felt to be the most beautiful day of the whole Inca Trail. We hike for 2 hours along what we like to call “Inca flat” (gradual inclines) and begin to enter the jungle, known as the Cloud Forest. As we walk, we will have the opportunity to see Salkantay, the second highest snow-capped mountain in the Sacred Valley, and a fantastic panoramic view of the Vilcabamba mountain range. Towards the end of the Inca flats, we begin to make our way up to the last peak at Phuyupatamarka (3600 meters) from where we’ll have great views overlooking the Urubamba River. Down the valley, we get our first view of Machu Picchu Mountain, but the site itself is still hidden. From Phuyupatamarka it´s a 3-hour walk down a flight of steps to our last campsite, close to Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young). Wiñay Wayna is the most spectacular Inca site on the trail after Machu Picchu and the most popular campsite because of its proximity to Machu Picchu. During the descent, we visit 2 Inca ruins, Phuyupatamarka (Town in the Clouds) and Intipata (Terraces of the Sun). We arrive at our campsite around 1:00 PM to have lunch.
Then we will relax so that you are ready for your final day at Machu Picchu. At around 4:30 PM your guide will give you a short orientation, and you will visit the Inca ruins of Wiñay Wayna for an hour and a half there. Your guide will explain the significance of the site and combine all the information given during the trek. This way you will be fully prepared for your visit to Machu Picchu the following day. We like to spoil our guests as we enjoy our last feast with the porters and chefs. It’s an Inca Trail tradition to organize a ceremony in the evening to introduce the team to the tourists once again. This is to thank them for the great job done (if you wish to provide tips for them then you can do so at this time). It is advisable to go to bed at a reasonable time to get up in the early hours of the morning to arrive to Machu Picchu at the crack of dawn in the hopes that the weather will give us a beautiful sunrise over the ruins at Machu Picchu.
Walking distance: 6.2 miles/10km (5 hours)
Campsite altitude: 2.600 meters (high) above sea level (chilly weather)
Considered: Easy day – all downhill!
Area: High Cloud Forest
Weather: Warm and very humid
Wake up time is at 3:30 AM. We’ll eat breakfast at 4:00 AM and wait at the checkpoint to be one of the first to start trekking when they open the gates at 5:30 AM. We’ll wave goodbye to our team of porters and chefs and then it’s “Forward On” to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku). From here we have spectacular views of the mountains and Machu Picchu in all its glory. We will reach the Sun Gate by 6:30 am, and then it’s just an hour trek down to reach the Lost City of the Incas. As we hike and get closer to Machu Picchu, the views of the city get better! At about 7:40 AM we’ll reach the final checkpoint and enter Machu Picchu to begin our 2 hours private guided tour. After the tour, you’ll be given your bus tickets to make your way down to Aguas Calientes, and you’ll have plenty of free time to explore the city on your own or climb one of the neighboring mountains – Huaynapicchu (must be arranged ahead of time).
Your guide will offer to meet you down in the village of Aguas Calientes to enjoy your last lunch in a local restaurant. This is optional and not included. At lunch, your guide will hand out train tickets, so if you choose to skip, please arrange to get these before leaving him at Machu Picchu. Unless you arranged for an upgraded train, we will book the Expedition class train departing Aguas Calientes at 3:20 p.m. or 4:22 p.m. Please make sure you are on the platform at least 30 minutes ahead of time. This will be a 2-hour train to Ollantaytambo or Poroy (based on which train you get), where an Alpaca driver will meet you and drive you back to the city on our bus, then drop you off at your hotel.
Considered: The most exciting and magical day (early wake up 3.30 AM)
Area: High Cloud and Subtropical Forest
Weather: Hot and very humid (bring lots of water)