For most travelers, a visit to Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it's important to do it right. This multiday hiking tour will ensure that your trip to this historic site is one to always remember. The trek to Machu Picchu is considered one of the best ten best hikes on the planet, and on this 4-day tour from Cusco, you will learn why.
You will hike through different ecological zones and discover a diverse array of native flora and fauna, including orchids, bromeliads, hummingbirds, foxes, and deer. If you're lucky, you may even spot the magnificent spectacled bear of South America. Your tour offers the opportunity to explore all sorts of breathtaking archaeological sites and farming terraces, which were left behind by the Inca Empire and remained undiscovered for over 400 years.
Your journey will end with a highlight - Getting to see Machu Picchu, one of the world's most spectacular destinations.
DAY 1: Cusco – KM 82 – Llactapata – Ayapata
Day one begins with an early-morning pickup from your hotel between 4:30 am and 6:30 am (depending on your location). From there, you will drive to KM 82, arriving around 8 am. Eat a delicious breakfast, then head straight to the checkpoint where you will begin the hiking portion of your tour to Machu Picchu. You will start with a pretty easy two-hour walk to Patallacta, the first Inca site along the trail. Get your camera ready for breathtaking views of this ancient city from a unique, secluded lookout point.
After that, it's time for another two-hour walk to Hatunchaca, located in the heart of the Inca trail, where you will eat lunch. Then walk for another two hours to your first campsite located in Ayapata. You will arrive at approximately 5 pm. Your tent, a snack and a hot drink will be waiting for you. Spend the evening resting and enjoying the scenery before eating dinner and heading to bed.
DAY 2: Ayapata – Warmiwañuska – Runkurakay – Chaquicocha
Wake up early and enjoy a hot cup of cocoa, coffee or tea and breakfast. Then it's time for the most challenging part of your tour - a 4-hour trek uphill to Dead Woman’s Pass. At 4215m / 13829ft., this is the highest point along the Inca Trail. At the summit, you will have time to appreciate just how serene and beautiful this location is. Your guide will complete a traditional offering ceremony to the local gods, known as Apus. Then it's time for an easier, downhill hike to Pacaymayu Valley, which will last about 2 hours.
Once there, enjoy a much-deserved lunch. The second pass is a relatively mild 2-hour climb. Along the way, you will get to see two Inca sites - Runkurakay and Sayacmarca. Then walk 20 minutes to your second campsite at Chaquicocha (dry lake, 3600m / 11811 ft.), where you will be able to admire a beautiful sunset over the Vilcabamba mountain range before dinner. Get ready for an incredible stargazing opportunity come sunset, as this site offers unobstructed views of the clear night sky.
DAY 3: Chaquicocha — Puyupatamarca — Wiñay Wayna
With the hard part of the Inca Trail over, you can enjoy a relaxing and arguably most interesting third day of your tour. Your route today will be extremely varied and will include a total walking time of approximately 5 hours. On your journey, you will pass through a number of different ecosystems, experience the atmospheric cloud forest and observe the magnificent panoramic view of Salkantay Mountain (the second-highest in Cusco).
You will get to visit two Inca sites today - Puyupatamarca (City in the Clouds), which offers incredible views of the Urubamba River and the Machu Picchu Mountain, and Intipata (Terraces of the Sun). At Intipata, there will be time to rest and take in your magical surroundings. At about 1 pm, arrive at your campsite and eat lunch before taking advantage of some free time to relax and unwind. A few hours later, you will visit another impressive Inca site – Wiñay Wayna – where your guide will explain the history of this remarkable location. Then return to your campsite for tea and dinner.
DAY 4: Wiñay Wayna – Machu Picchu
Today is the last day you will hike the famous Inca Trail. You will get up very early to prepare for the highlight of your tour - visiting Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. Head straight to the checkpoint, which opens at 5:30 am. As the sky brightens, you will make your way up to Sun Gate, taking in the stunning views along the way. If you're lucky and the sky is clear, you will get to witness an incredible sunrise over Machu Picchu.
Then, begin your one-hour descent towards Machu Picchu, arriving at the final control point at around 7:30 am. Your guide will take you on a two-hour comprehensive tour of the city before leaving you in Machu Picchu to explore on your own. You can choose to climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain if you wish (tickets must be booked as far in advance as possible). Your guide will explain how to take the bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes for lunch (at your own expense) and then take the train and bus back to Cusco. Your guide will meet you off the train and return you safely to your hotel.