Machu Pichu : Inca Trail, Peru

Snow capped peaks, lush cloud forests, ancient culture, and world famous archeological ruins.  Yes there is one trek that has it all.  The Inca Trail. 

Wake up to sunrise over the famed stonework’s of Machuu Pichuu.  This beautiful city is hewn on top of a mountain.  Its mystery and beauty captivates all who behold it.  Its popularity has soared in recent years and at some times it can be downright crowded.

You will follow the ancient stone path created by the Inca to transport men and material.  This 4-5 days trek passes several Ruin sites and provide some stunning views along the way – weather permitting.



When to Go

The main trekking season is from May to September, with April and Novemeber also providing reasonable trekking. However, as with most popular treks when in season the trails are quite crowded.

Guided vs Independent Treks

A guided tour is required for all trekkers, although some of the more aggressively independent trekkers may find a way.  However, there are so many companies available for hire in Cuzco it is easy to find one that matches your budget and level of comfort.  Porters are available for hire so take a load off and give a job to a local.  The load weight is meticulously monitored at the starting point and along the trail, as Peruvian law is careful not to overload their young men.  Load maximum is 20 kilos (44 pounds).


The Inca trail and Macchu Picchu are located in the Central Andes of Peru.  Lima is the capital of Peru and the major arrival point for international Travelers.  La Paz Bolivia is closer but does not have the same level of flight connections.  Cuzco is the jumping off point for the Inca Trail. 


The main trek is a five day four night adventure.  There is a shorter 3 day 2 night version although we strongly recommend the longer trek if you can spare a couple of extra days.  The trek can be challenging.  Trudging up Dead Woman’s pass on day two can take a toll.  It tops out at over 13,000 feet so some acclimatizing is helpful.  It is likely you will have spent some time in Cuzco, so this helps. However, climbing is only one of the issues. The descent can also be troubling if there is a lot of precipitation, because the trail can get fairly muddy and slippery. In addition, the stone paths can take their toll on the knees when descending.

Access / Local Information

The access city is the charming town of Cuzco.  A myriad of travelers services are available in all range of price and quality.  The town square is beautiful and the surrounding villages and ruins will keep you occupied for very interesting exploratory and side trips. Cuzco is accessible from Lima by flight or a grueling bus journey.  Cuzco is accessible from La Paz by Bus or a bus and train combination.  From Cuzco the trail head can be accessed by train, private bus or public bus. 

Day to Day Account - Jeff Salvage - Inca Trail

The Inca Trail with it's prized ruins of Macchu Picchu at the end has always been on my short list of destinations. When the opportunity arose to head south with a colleuge from the University I teach at presented itself, we jumped on it. Read about our trip down the Inca Trail.



Salcantay Trek:
The Alternate Route to Machu Picchu

Sacred Earth Travel Itinerary

5 Days / 4 Nights

One of the best non-traditional routes leading to the famous Inca city of Machu Picchu is the trail known as the "Salcantay Machu Picchu Inca Route" or "Alternative Inca Trail". This remote path leads us through an amazing array of landscapes and habitats varying from green, rich valleys full of lush forests and trees of different species to highland fields and glacial moraines flanked by steep rocky and icy peaks of impressive beauty. During our trip we have to cross a high pass below the spectacular glaciers of the Humantay (5,917m - 19,414ft) and Salcantay (6,270m -20,572ft.) peaks. From our last camp site, crossing awesome mountain terrain and lush cloud forest landscapes, we trek down to the shores of the Urubamba River and from there by train we will be transported to the small town of Aguas Calientes for a well deserved rest in a comfortable hotel. On the following day we will enjoy a full day tour to visit the amazing "Lost City", of the Incas: The fabulous Machu Picchu.

Day 1: Cusco - Marcocasa - Soraypampa

Salcantay Trek - the Alternative Route to Machu Picchu

Leaving Cusco early in the morning, we take a scenic drive of approximately 6 hours to the small village of Marcocasa, located high above the Apurimac River. Here, we meet up with the mules, horses, and arrieros (wranglers) that will carry our gear during the trek. We begin our gentle hike into the green river valley of the Cordillera Vilcabamba, hiking steadily up towards the high plateau. Along the way we get our first views of the high Andean peaks: Mount Tucarhuay (5910m/19385ft. As we approach our first campsite at Soraypampa, the enormous Mount Salcantay (6264m/20546ft) dominates our skyline.
LB, D.

Day 2: Soraypampa - Chaullay


Following a series of switchbacks our path (in this place known as Siete Culebras) leads up the side of a mountain and levels out beneath the shadows of the grandiose Mount Salcantay. With Salcantay looming above, we come to a summit of a high pass marked by small piles of stones or apachetas, left by locals and travelers to honor the mountain gods. From this high pass (4750m.) flanked by mounts Salcantay and Humantay, we make our way towards the valley below to camp for the night at the village of Chaullay.
B, LB, D.

Day 3: Chaullay - La Playa

Our trail leads us down the eastern slope of the Andes into a sub-tropical valley, where the temperature is warmer and we see a variety of orchids, flowers, and hummingbirds. After a morning of downhill walking, we arrive to the natural hot springs of Colpapampa. Continuing through the "Ceja de Selva," or "Eyebrow of the Jungle", we encounter bright flowers, butterflies, parrots, and lush groves of tropical fruit, cocoa, and coffee. At the small village of Playa, we set up camp for the night.
B, LB, D.

Day 4: La Playa - Llactapacta - Aguas Calientes

Alternative Route to Machu Picchu

Early in the morning, today we continue through sub-tropical vegetation to the village of Lucmabamba, where an original Inca trail remains. A gradual uphill climb brings us to Llactapacta (2700m.), from where we enjoy a brilliant backside view of Machu Picchu and great vistas of the surrounding peaks. After having our box lunch and following a steep mountain side, we will then continue our trekking (2 hours) down to the place known as La Hidroelectrica (operation area of the hydroelectric power plant). Here we will have time to rest and later on board the local train to the town of Aguas Calientes (2012m/6600ft) where we will arrive after a 1 hour train ride. Then our guide will take you to the hotel for a well deserved rest.
B, LB.

Day 5: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco

Early in the morning we take the first bus up to the stunning archeological complex of Machu Picchu for a full tour of these magnificent Inca city. We will visit the Intihuatana, the agricultural terraces, the different living areas, etc. Later on we will descend to Aguas Calientes from where we will take the train back to Cusco. End of ours services.


Trek Salkantay .com Itinerary

5 Days / 4 Nights

The Salkantay Trek, also known as the New Inca Trail, is North of Cusco. It reaches a maximum altitude of 4,600 meters (15,180 feet) above sea level at the highest point.

Weather: It's very rainy from December to March, that's why the trail is closed on those months. The rest of the year, it's very sunny and hot during the day, but cold in the night. Temperature drops below 0°C (32°F) at night, especially from June to September.

Surroundings: On the first days, you will see three snow-capped mountains: the Tucarhuay, the Salkantay (6,264 meters / 20,671 feet), and the Huamantay; the views are stunning. On the last days, you will go through the cloud-forest, there the weather is more tropical and the vegetation is lush. You will see waterfalls and fruits plantations along the path. It is amazing how fast the sceneries change along the trail, from snow-capped mountains to banana plantations in only couple of days.

The Inca Trail has become harder to book due to the new regulations, and also it has lost its charm due to the crowds of tourists who do it every day. That's the main reason why we are offering a new trail to Machu Picchu that has the beauty of the first one but preserves the sense of adventure and untouched that the Inca Trail has lost.

You can hike the Salkantay trek in 5 days starting at Mollepata town, or in 4 days starting at Soraypampa campsite. The only difference is that on the 5 days trek you will hike an extra day from Mollepata town to Soraypampa campsite, the other 4 days are the same as on the 4 days trek. Below is the description of the 4 days option.

Day 1 :
We will pick you up between 4:00 and 4:40 from your hotels or accommodation places. Then we will take a local bus towards Mollepata, small town located over 2,850 m above sea level, with a tempered climate and vegetation from the Edge of the Jungle, in its surroundings we will be able to appreciate some snowcapped picks that belong to the chain of Salkantay, where we will enjoy the beautiful sight that is part of the snowcapped pick Salkantay which is at an altitude of 6,270 ms above sea level., contemplating this landscape we will begin our long walk which will approximately last 7 to 8 hours. Likewise, we will observe the vegetation pertaining to the Edge of the Jungle, along the road we will have lunch, and then we will continue until we get to SORAYPAMPA, place of our first camping site.
Day 2 :
At dawn, when we wake up our first sight will be the impressive of the majestic Salkantay. At 7:00 a.m. we will get ready to have breakfast and after that we will continue our trek, also, this time will take us 7 to 8 hours. Along our walking we will be able to observe the echo tones and the differences among the altitudinal floors, we will enter into a kind of canyon which will lead us to the to the foothills of the Salkantay, after 3 hours walking we will have lunch, to keep on our walking we will have to get through this pass in order to descend and contemplate the Edge of the Jungle. This day, we will arrive to CHALLWAY where we will spend the night.
Day 3 :
We begin a new day and a new landscape and a new temperature, because here begins the warm weather related to the Edge of the Jungle zone. After breakfast we will follow our route, today we will go along valleys, watching a variety of birds, mammals, insects and other animals. Moreover, we will have the opportunity to observe the life of the settlers and enjoy of the thermal baths (collpapampa), the rainfalls (wiñaypoco), if we really have some spare time. Then, we will continue walking for about 4 a 6 hours before lunch (sahuayacu o playa), next we will take the bus to get to Santa Teresa where we will spend the night..

Day 4 :
Waking up we will have breakfast and after it, we will walk for about 40 minutes to get to the edge of the river VILCANOTA, here we will have to use the hanging bridge after which we will walk for 3 more hours towards the Hydroelectric, once there, we will be able to appreciate the valley of the Urubamba river, a huge rainfall that flows from the Machupicchu mountain, on the northeast we will find an appropriate place where we can have lunch. Afterwards, visit the Intihuatana at Km. 121.
At the end of our visit, we will have to wait for the train, that will take us to Aguas Calientes, where we will rest in a comfortable inn.

Day 5 :
Today is the great day because we will be able to know the Historical Sanctuary of MACHUPICCHU. At 6:00 morning we will get ready to hike towards MACHUPICCHU, where we will have a guided tour.


"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."    — Robert A. Heinlein

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