The Inca Trails

Machu Picchu needs no introduction. It is a spectacular pre-Columbian Inca city located in the Andes mountains northwest of Cusco in Peru. The city was abandoned in mysterious circumstances only 100 years after it was built and survives today only because it’s crumbling ruins were overlooked by the Spanish Conquistadores during their obliteration of the Inca empire. It is one of the world’s great historical sites.

Choquequiraw is less well known, but just as spectacular. It is a remote and well preserved ruined city that also escaped destruction at the hands of the Conquistadores.

Both sites can be reached by a variety of treks from Cusco.

Salkantay and The Classic Inca Trail Combination Trek - Trekking Permit Required

A great option for the more serious trekker. The Salkantay trek offers a quiet path through the high mountains, solitude and bewitching mountain views. It follows an ancient and remote footpath through the Cordillera Vilcabamba where massive glaciers collide with lush tropical rain forests. We visit lesser-known Inca ruins, camp under Mt Salkantay and tackle the 4800m Salkantay Pass. After five days trekking, we join the classic Inca Trail and grind our way up the 4200m Dead Womans Pass before coasting into the Lost City itself. An epic mountain journey for those hardy souls who are prepared to take-up the challenge.

Day 1: Arrive in Cusco. Sightseeing and acclimatisation.

Day 2: Sightseeing and acclimatisation. Optional half-day walk from the ruins at Tambomaches to Cusco. Pre-trek briefing.

Day 3: An early pick-up from the hotel in Cusco. 3hrs drive to the trail head. It's a gentle 5 hr walk along the Apurimac River valley to the camp site at Salkantaypampa (3980 m) fantastic views of Salkantay and Humantay.

Day 4: Another spectacular day on the trail. Climb to the Incachiriaska Pass (5000m) and take in the views. Then it's a long descent to our camp site near the settlement at Sisaypampa (3790m). 8 hours walking.

Day 5: An easy day in the Pampacahuana valley. Great views and Inca ruins. 6hrs walking.

Day 6: After the wilderness of Salkantay we enter the Inca Trail Sanctuary and join the crowds. We start with a gentle climb up the sides of the Llulluchayoq Valley to the treeless grasslands of the high Andes. We camp at Llulluchapampa. 8hrs walking.

Day 7: Today we tackle the 4200m Dead Womans Pass. This is the longest and most spectacular day on the trail. After a 4hr (900m) uphill climb we reach Dead Womans Pass and are rewarded with sublime views of snow capped peaks. We descend for a further 5hrs to the campsite at Chakicocha in the cloud forest. The route follows an ancient Inca stairway and passes numerous small Inca sites.

Day 8: The trail levels out high above the Aobamba Valley and passes the beautiful the ruins of Phuyupatamarca, Winaywayna and Intipata. We arrive at the camp site during the early afternoon. A number of creature comforts will be available at this camp site; a bar and hot showers for a small fee.

Day 9: This is what you've been waiting for. A 4am start and a 2hr trek in darkness to Inti Punku (the Sun Gate) will get us to Machu Picchu in time for the first rays of the sunrise. From Inti Punku, an easy 40-minute hike will bring us to the entrance to Machu Picchu itself. We explore the site with the trekking guide for about 3 hours, after which there will be time to wander the ruins at your own pace. We take lunch at Aguas Calientes and then catch the train and bus back to Cuzco.

Day 10: Trip ends. Transport to airport.

Choquequiraw to Machu Picchu- Trekking permit not required

My personal favourite; an unusual and seldom followed trail that joins up the lost city of Choquequiraw with the somewhat less lost Machu Picchu.

Day 1: Arrive in Cusco. Sightseeing and acclimatisation.

Day 2: Sightseeing and acclimatisation. Optional half-day walk from the ruins at Tambomaches to Cusco. Pre-trek briefing.

Day 3: Private transfer to the trailhead at Cachora (2800m). We load our equipment onto horses and climb for two and a half hours to the Capuliyoc pass at 2750m.  We then descend into the Apurimac canyon for two and a half hours to Chiquisca, where we camp for the night (1800m).

Day 4: We make an early start to and descend for about an hour to Playa Rosalina, where we cross the Apurimac River. A steep, 5hr uphill slog gets us to our campsite at Choquequirao (3100m).

Day 5: We will spend the whole day exploring the ruins. This place will blow your mind!

Day 6: Back on the trail. We start our ascent from the campsite to the Pass of Choquequirao (3250m) and then descend to the Yuracmayo river. Another hours walking gets us to the campsite at Maizal (3300m).

Day 7: The trail climbs steeply towards Mina Victoria, an Inca mining site, then over a 3900m pass and down to the village of Yanama where we camp (3600m).

Day 8: Heading up the Yanama valley we cross the Quiswar Pass and descend to the campsite at Totora (3200m).

Day 9: Todays trek follows an easy trail along the Salkamayo River to the campsite at La Playa (2155m).

Day 10: After breakfast, we cross the river and start climbing through coffee  and fruit plantations to reach El Mirador (2860m) from where we have an exceptional view of  Machu Picchu. We enjoy a last lunch at the recently restored Inca site of Llaqtapata before a 2-hour descent brings us to the small train station of Hidro- Electrica. A short train ride will take us to Aguas Calientes and our hostel for the night (2000m).

Day 11: After an early breakfast, we take the bus up to Machu Picchu, arriving well before the majority of tourists. You will have a guided tour of the site for two hours followed by plenty of free time to explore the ruins in your own time. The we make our way back on the bus to Aguas Calientes in time for some lunch before boarding the afternoon train to Cusco.

Day 12: Airport transfer and home.