The great Inca Trail that united in the past two of the most exquisite citadels of the Incas is still in use to be able to visit it and explore its beautiful landscapes that surround it. Andean Great Treks has designed this impressive trekking route, which visits the archaeological sites of Choquequirao, the sacred mountain of Salkantay, the mythical Inca trail to Machu Picchu.
If you are a traveler who loves culture and a lot of high-level hiking activity, this route will surely surprise you, for everything it offers. You will travel through ancient inca trail used by the messengers of the Incas the Chasqui. To start the tour you will visit from the Capuliyoq viewpoint to the depths of the Apurimac river canyon, and then ascend a steep path to the archaeological complex of Choquequirao, which is said to have been one of the last strongholds of the resistance of the Incas of Vilcabamba. during the war against the Spanish.
This site is located at more than three thousand meters and its architecture is unique in the entire empire of the Incas, currently only less than 30% of its original design can be seen, since over time this site was covered by large trees and bushes.
Afterwards we will hike from the base of the snowy Salkantay to the Inca Chiriasqa pass, following the most preserved original Inca trail and with many temples, houses, shrines of the Incas. This sector stands out among others for the incredible scenic beauty from the valleys, to the high peaks, and the deep jungles of tropical forests, finally leading us to the fabulous sacred city of the Incas, Machu Picchu.
Mysterious Citadels in the mists
Amazing Tours & Athentic Experiences
Best Culinary Tradition
The hike to Choquequirao & Inca Trail via Salkantay is challenging, especially because of the rugged geography where the winding road crosses, uneven slopes with little oxygen from 4,600 meters above sea level down to 1,500 meters above sea level and again rising above 3,000 meters above sea level. And this adds to the distance, since the path passes through places where there is no presence of people. This walk demands a good will and important physical activity to be able to face it, you must be accustomed to daily exercises, walks, bike riding, in a nutshell this route is considered as difficult. The way to get there is walking a lot and camping, you will challenge climates from cold in the heights or walking in the intense Andean sun.
Camping Tents: 08 nights
On our trekking adventures, we use the best outdoor trekking gear. Our camping tents have the best technology to withstand the harshest climates in the Andes. They are Tents that have a capacity for three people, but are only used by 2 people. For your comfort, an inflatable mattress and additional blankets are provided to insulate you from the cold. On your trek you will have a tent with your portable toilet, in the camps, these are always clean and you can use at any time. A dining tent offers enough space to eat together and end the evening in peace.Because it is always different to experience the true spirit of Trekking, our company maintains that idea of not using Lodges or huts as other companies do.
We will pick you up from your hotel between 3:30 to 4:00 AM to start our trip in a private van for 4 hours to northeast of Cusco city, through small towns until Capuliyoc town (2.800masl) where we have a delicious breakfast and where also we will meet with our trip staff (muleteers and horses).
After breakfast we begin with our hiking for about 20 minutes and will arrive to our first viewer where we have a panoramic view, in front of us we can see the vilcabamba mountain range called ( padreyoc) and the famous Apurimac Canon, after having an amazing view we will start our descend for 3 hours through beautiful landscapes where you will be able to see different medicinal plants which were used by our ancestors ( muña, chilca and different varieties of plants) If we are lucky we will be able to see the majestic Condor, we descend until Chiquisca Hamlet (1800masl) where we have a delicious tipycal Cusco Lunch Buffet.
After having Lunch we will have a 30 min break to continue with or hiking, Descending 45 minutes more until Playa Rosalina (1700masl), located in Apurimac River. After passing the famous Apurimac river we continue hiking uphill a zigzagging road for 4 hours until Marampata (3500masl), at sunset we will see andean people, how they live in the mountains with a style of life that maybe you wont believe compared to the city. We will arrive to our camping site at 5:30 pm, after a small break its time for dinner, during the night you will be able to see constellations according Andean or Inca religión.
After breakfast, we will continue with our hiking to the ruins of Choquequirao, on this day the hiking is going to have a high level physically, where we will be able to see an amazing view of the Archeological Choquequirao Complex (3100masl) we will have amazing canon views. Choquequirao is also knew as the lost city of the Incas, we will visit the magnificent archeological site of Choquequirao for the entire day.These ruins are three times the size of Machu Picchu and new sections, hidden under the dense jungle, are constantly being discovered. Enjoy the private guided tour and explore all of the beautiful sections of the temples, terraces, palaces, the llamas’ section, and much more.
After to visit all of this places we will start our descend until Choquequirao Camping where our picnic Lunch is waiting for us, after having lunch we will take a 30min break and continue to an amazing place that only us know about it, this place is called cataratas de Pachayoc (water falls) a place where you will be in touch with the nature. Finally we will return to Marampata where dinner is ready and is time to stop over.
After a nutritious breakfast, we get ready to descend to the Apurimac River, and then we begin our return journey along the same path that took us the first day to Choquequirao. We will have a brief stop at the Playa Rosalina site, where we will freshen up and fill our canteens with more water for the journey.
From that point we head uphill to the Chiquiska farmhouse, there we can learn about the preparation of a typical drink of this region, we refer to the Cambray, which is prepared based on the fermentation of sugar cane juice. You can usually see all the travelers and muleteers consuming this slightly alcoholic drink. It is also a beautiful place where different types of tropical fruits are produced, such as mango, citrus, the sacred coca leaf, etc.
After a short break, we head to the site of Cocamasana, it will be three hours of ascent, the weather is quite dry and hot, but the landscapes that surround us are impressive.
After having lunch, we will make the ascent of the last part to the Capuliyoq viewpoint, where we will spend the night in a beautiful and comfortable lodge, with impressive views of the Apurimac river canyon, and the snowy Padreyoq.
Today we will have a spectacular sunrise, between the mountains, we will say goodbye to the great site full of energy. After having breakfast we will thank our cooks and muleteers, with whom we live a great adventure in the Choquequirao. Then we will drive to the majestic sacred valley of the Incas, during the journey we will pass through the towns of Curawasi, and Mollepata. At 11 am we arrive at the site of Soraypampa, where we will begin the walk to the humantay lake, itsa lake of glacial origin that has a turquoise color. After taking the pictures, we will descend to have our lunch.
In the afternoon we begin our three-hour walk to the site of Ichupata, where we will spend the night, with a beautiful sky full of stars.
After an early wake up and hearty breakfast, we start on a gentle uphill to Incachiriasca pass (4850 m/15908 ft) the highest point of the trek, we enjoy the views of this imposing mountain in front of our eyes , the mountain of Salkantay is the second highest mountain in the Cusco region and one of the Inca gods called “Apu”. As we ascend, we will make stops along the way to enjoy the outstanding mountain scenery of the Vilcabamba range, then we will descend towards our lunch spot at Sisay Pampa, a flat area from which one can observe the neighboring Salkantay Valleys. After lunch, we will gradually continue descending to our campsite in Pampacahuana community (3,700 m / 12,136 ft), located next to an original Inca canal. This is our camp for the night.
After saying goodbye to our muleteers who have accompanied us along the Salkantay route, we continue with the descent to the Paucarcancha valley, where we will visit an Inca ruins, which was used as the main control point for travelers to Machu Picchu. Following our journey we will arrive at the town of Huayllabamba, which is one of the last towns on the Inca Trail network, and traditional agriculture is still practiced, of potatoes and corn. This is the point at which the two routes join, and from where the mythical Inca Trail to Machu Picchu will begin, for two hours you walk along a steep path through the mountains of the Queuñas and Chachacomos forests. We will have lunch at the site of Ayapata, with an incredible view of the Huayllabamba valley, and the Wayanay mountain.
After a rest we continue with our walk to the Llulluchapampa camp (4,000 masl). In this camp we will be the only ones who will spend the night and we will enjoy a magical Andean sky full of stars and constellations.
Today, we will reach the highest point on the Inca Trail (pass of the dead woman) (Warmiwañusca) (4,200 Meters – 13,776 feet). Upon reaching the pass we will stop for a short break to enjoy the views before leaving again to descend to the next valley (Pacaymayu Valley – Hidden River). It is another hour and a half by the side of the valley to our lunch spot and the opportunity to fill our water bottles. After lunch, we begin to ascend again to the second step of the walk. After a descent of two hours, we will arrive at the Valley of Pacaymayo (3,600 meters / 11,808 feet) where we will have lunch. Then we will continue to the second pass (Runkurakay) (3,970 meters / 13,022 feet), stopping halfway to visit the impressive archaeological site of Runkurakay. Passing the pass, we descend to Lake Yanacocha and enter the Cloud Forest to reach the ruins of Inca Sayacmarca (3,624 Meters / 11,887 Feet). Our campsite is located in Phuyupatamarka (3,580 meters / 11,745 feet).
Today we will have a beautiful sunrise from the heights we will be able to contemplate the beautiful mountains of the Vilcabamba mountain range, also the Aobamba valley, in the distance it is possible to see the Salkantay snow-capped mountain. Today we will visit the best archaeological sites of the Inca Trail, the first site to explore is the ruins of Phuyupatamarka, and its sacred water sources.
Then we will make a descent following the ancient Inca trail inside the jungle, after two hours we will arrive at the place of intipata, from where you can take the best photos of the Inca trail circuit to Machu Picchu. Near noon we will arrive at the site of Wiñaywayna, which is another archaeological complex that according to scholars was one of the royal residences of the most powerful families of the Inca empire, after making the respective visit, we return to have our lunch, and it will also be The last day that our friends, the porters, with whom we have explored this impressive adventure, accompany us.
In the afternoon we must continue our walk to the famous Puerta del Sol where you will enjoy the first glimpse of the citadel of Machu Picchu, receiving the last rays of the sunset, finally we will go down to the town of Aguas Calientes where we will spend the night in a comfortable Hotel.
Today is very important, since we will get up at 4:30 am, to be one of the first to board the bus that will take us to the sacred citadel of the Incas, Machu Picchu.
We start the tour passing the control where we show our passports and tickets at 6:00 am, we can still enjoy the sunrise in Machu Picchu, and we go up the stairs to the viewpoint of the guardian’s house, which is where the best photos will be taken. for your memory in Machu Picchu, then we will visit the Inca sanctuary with your guide, the most important ceremonial and urban spaces for an average of 3 hours approx. Then we must leave the premises, since now it is not allowed to stay longer than authorized, once you go outside you can take any of the buses back to Aguas Calientes, or if you want you can also do the walk back to walk to the village, for approx. 1 hour and a half, along this trail you can enjoy the landscape full of orchids and typical birds of Machu Picchu.
In the afternoon at 14:30 pm, it is your return train to the Ollantaytambo station where your bus awaits you, which will bring you to Cusco, where it will arrive around 19:00 pm.
Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides everything you need to know about this adventure and more.View Essential Trip Information
The best time to visit Peru is during the dry season, between May and November, when the weather is dry and bright, with more frequent rainfall occurring between November and April.
To book this tour, a minimum of $ 500 USD per person is required, the remaining balance will be paid upon arrival in Peru, at the Cusco office.
Any other additional information, please coordinate with your travel agent.
All our Walking trips are graded from ‘Easy’ through to ‘Challenging to Tough’. On our online trip itineraries you’ll find a chart showing the daily walk distances, timings and information on the route including the terrain, altitude. Generally, no specific training is needed but you might feel more comfortable if you’ve got out walking a few times in the lead-up to your trip.
As with all our trips, every group is different but the ‘average’ group consists of roughly half couples and half solo travellers – all sharing a passion for exploring the world on foot. You’ll always have someone to keep you company along the route, but you don’t always have to walk together. Wherever possible your Andean Great Treks leader will allow everyone to walk at their own pace, regrouping regularly along the route.
Mostly of our hikes in the mountains in Peru and Cusco like the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Ausangate Trek, Lares Trek, Ancascocha Trek, Salkantay Trek , involves an average of walking hours of 7-8 hours per day, this timing includes stops for taking photos, lunch, breaks for recovery the energy, and the most important we adapt to your walking pace. This relaxed style of trip involves to know all the attractions in greater depth.
On nearly all our Walking trips, porters or mules will carry all the camping equimpent, so your main luggage will be transported for you. We recommend walk with a light rucksack, you will carry water, snacks, a camera, a small first aid kit and any extra clothing or sun protection. On more remote or challenging treks, additional guides are there to assist the leader tour guide and provide support to the group.
The acclimatization period is very important for our travelers to enjoy the experience. We suggest a minimum of 3 or 4 days of the previous stay in Cusco city, the Sacred Valley of the Incas or Machu Picchu. We recommend you check the acclimation programs we have prepared for you on our website.
The average height of our camps in the trekking circuits is 3,500 masl. In fact, one of the circuits where you sleep at the highest altitude is the Ausangate Trek, where you will have days to set up the tents at a height of 4,300 meters. Remember that Peru has snowy peaks that reach up to 6,700 masl.
From 3,000 meters above sea level, the symptoms of “altitude sickness” vary according to each person, and may even not occur. However, among the most common are a headache, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite and insomnia. Therefore, upon arriving in the city of Cusco, located at 3,400 meters above sea level, we recommend our travelers to take a good rest, drink plenty of water, eat light meals and take slower walking. Also, it is necessary to avoid alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. The symptoms can be alleviated with high mountain medicines such as DIAMOX or similar products, but we suggest you consult with your doctor before the trip.
While on the trail, hikers will need to carry a daypack (camera equipment, water bottle, extra layers, rain gear, and other accessories you might need on the trail.) Horses and llamas will carry your duffle bag to the next camping site.
The company makes the greatest efforts to provide a safe and unforgettable experience, for this reason, the trekking guides are constantly communicated with the central office through satellite phones, ensuring the welfare of each passenger. Our guides are trained in rescue techniques and first aid in emergency outdoor, these courses are developed annually and have the standards of the wilderness first respond. At all times we have oxygen and first aid equipment. In case of any eventuality a medical director will answer our questions 24 hours a day. In addition to the animals who carry the luggage we have horses to help walkers tired or eager to ride. We recommend getting a travel insurance.
Every Andean Great Treks holiday has been thoughtfully planned and crafted by our specialists. They draw on their own extensive travel experience and the guidance and expertise of our local partners to create superb holidays. Our specialists are committed to making every aspect smooth and enjoyable; they genuinely want to ensure that the holidays they create leave you with wonderful lasting memories.
Every Andean Great Treks traveller is accompanied by an experienced tour guide, you will be immersed in Historic cities, ancient ruins and unfamiliar landscapes are all brought to life by our carefully selected local guides. They want to share their expertise and help you make your own discoveries too; their sole mission is to ensure you enjoy every moment.
Giving you the freedom to make your holiday even more memorable. We know how much our customers look forward to their holiday and we pride ourselves on the choice and flexibility that we offer to enhance every aspect of your experience. Whether it’s getting to the airport, upgrading your room or booking an additional excursion, we can help.
Our guides are the stars of the show; it is their unrivalled knowledge, passion and expertise that will transform your tour experience from good to truly extraordinary!
Because the have grown up in the area and know it like the back of their hand, so they can help you experience whichever aspects most interest you. They’re passionate about sharing their corner of the world with you, and as you explore together, they’ll open your eyes to the intricate details, provide background to enhance your understanding of what you’re seeing, and share stories that will bring everything to life.
“Your inspiration for a trip can be a single word or a highly evolved outline, but it’s the conversations we have that help us understand the experience you’re looking for. Meanwhile, I’m looking back on the time I spent at the destination.
‘The great thing about working with a specialist at Andean Great Treks is how they take your complete jumble of ideas and turn them into something absolutely spectacular.’
As you begin to share your ideas with your specialist, it will connect them immediately back to a time in their own travels. Conjuring a picture of the rest time they made that same discovery, reminding them how it felt.
Your specialist understands that, when the journey is right, it has the power to excite your emotions in the most profound ways after all, that was the effect on them.
They carry a treasure box of moments, captured over many journeys, into every suggestion they’ll share with you, as they ask you how you want to feel on your trip.
EXPERIENCES THAT CALL TO YOU
It’s what you do in a destination that helps bring it to life. It’s why we strive to choose experiences that help you connect to a place, absorbing a little of its complex character. Wherever your passions lie, we’ll recommend experiences that speak to you, and we’ll recommend the guide or local expert who’s most qualified to help you explore. Packing your holiday full of special experiences means some early starts and long days, but you can be sure that you’ll return home with many incredible memories! Read our Tours and check the Physical Ratings to see if the pace and activity levels are right for you.
STAYS WITH DIFFERENCE
We know that where you stay is a cherished part of your travels. So, we go to great lengths to find places to stay that exceed expectations, or go above and beyond the ordinary, whether in their character, hospitality, or location. Over the years, we’ve discovered the very best properties, trying and testing them, so we can choose the right one for you. We’ve nourished long-standing relationships with these establishments and the people who founded them, and we’ve stayed there many times often, we’ll even know which rooms have the best views (and reserve them for you).
Our style of travel — authentic, thoughtful, and focused on building meaningful connections to the people and places you visit — is inherently respectful and considerate of the destinations we love. We design each aspect of your trip exactly as you want it, which includes its sustainability. That might mean choosing a train journey instead of a flight, staying at eco-friendly wildlife lodges, or opting for experiences that give back to the communities you’re visiting. The choice is yours.
Responsible travel has always been at the heart of what we do. First and foremost, because it gives you the best experience, but, also because it helps to preserve the communities and landscapes you visit. This isn’t new for us we collaborated with local communities and outside experts so we can grow to be better ambassadors.
The most authentic and interesting experiences often directly benefit the local people. We prefer to buy local products that are produced in the organic farms of the Sacred Valley, we also have alliances with local artisan organizations who provide us with souvenir items for our clients, your money directly benefits the local economy.
‘There’s a saying: we don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. When we show you our country, this philosophy guides everything we do. It’s our responsibility to preserve the environment and wildlife, and support communities. That means using slower modes of transport, like cycling, employing local people, and working with communities who’ll benefit directly from your visit. This also gives you the best, most authentic impression of the places we want to share with you.
We prefer to buy local products in ecological bags, to avoid the use of plastic bags, likewise we teach the use of soaps and ecological products in each tour that we organize. We also work on reforestation projects with local communities who take care of landscape resources such as communal reserves, national parks.
The Ausangate Trek is one of the hiking circuits, most incredible for the beauty of its landscapes, in this mountain adventure you will enjoy unique scenarios, such as lakes of different colors (blue, green, turquoise, red), the mythical mountain of rainbows and ancient Andean cultures, who are the true heirs of the Incas, many still celebrate their ancestral rites.
The Ancascocha Trail to Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes is a remarkable trail that remains off the beaten path. It is listed as one of National Geographic’s 20 dream hikes on their World Best Hikes list.
The Lares Trek combines high Andean trekking with a chance for genuine interaction with the most isolated indigenous communities which keep the inca culture alive. Majestic glaciers, amazing glacial lakes, waterfalls, llamas, and alpacas.