Embark on this recently discovered route which some consider to be an alternative Inca Trail. See stunning waterfalls and witness intriguing Inca engineering marvels at the Cachicata quarry. Visit breathtaking archaeological sites en route to Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu.
Day by Day Itinerary:
Trek Briefings: All travellers are required to visit the Cuzco office for a mandatory briefing on your trek one day prior to departure. At this meeting you will receive detailed information on the route, a list of what to bring, confirm your accommodation pick-up for the morning of the trek and be able to ask questions.
*Note: You will have a guide during the trek and on the Machu Picchu tour. However, during your bus and train transfers you will not be accompanied by a guide.
Day 1: Cuzco - Rafca - Socma - Perolniyoc - Rayanniyoc (L/D)
We will pick you up around 6:00 am from your Cuzco accommodation, and drive towards the town of Rafca (2800m). Then we continue driving for another 30 minutes until we arrive at the village of Socma (3000m), the starting point of our trek. There, we meet the muleteer that will join us during the hike. After a short break and packing our things, we will begin trekking towards the Inca site of Perolniyoc (3200m). After about 2 hours and a half, we will reach Perolniyoc for lunch, and visit the beautiful waterfall as well as the archaeological ruins that lie at the top of the valley. We will go on for another 30 minutes until we arrive at Rayan-Niyoc (3,600m). Here we will get settled in and have dinner, then camp overnight in a cold climate.
Day 2: Rayanniyoc - Inti Punku - Choquetacarpo (B/L/D)
Wake early today for a hearty breakfast before a challenging trek to reach our first high pass of the trek, located at 4,400 meters above sea level with breathtaking mountain vistas. This area is still cultivated by the local people despite the high altitudes and we will see local people caring for their fields. After walking about 4 hours, we will reach the pass, stopping to take in the panorama and catching our breath. We will stop at a camp for lunch around 4,300m and then continue hiking to reach a second high pass of 4,500m, the highest point of the trek. Enjoy spectacular views of the valley below before heading down for about 3 hours to a site the Incas called Inti Punku (meaning Sun Gate), which also offers imposing views over the valley and the Veronica mountain rising over the horizon. Soon after, we will arrive at Choquetacarpo (3600m), our second camp of the trek. Get settled in, have dinner and camp overnight.
Day 3: Choquetacarpo - Cachicata Inca Quarry - Ollantaytambo - Aguas Calientes (B/L/D)
Today we will have breakfast at camp and then continue our descent to the Inca quarry of Cachicata (3820m), where we can witness the work of the Incas. It was the quarry used by the Incas for the construction of Ollantaytambo and there are various points of interest including several large buildings, quarried stones left half finished and abandoned throughout the site, chullpas (burial houses) and a cave with Inca mummies still in place. After exploring this site, we’ll continue our way down the mountain for about 3 hours until the small town of Ollantaytambo, the ending point of this challenging and fascinating trek. From there, take the train to Aguas Calientes. You will be met by your guide at the train station to take you to your hotel and give you the indications for the next day. Check in to your hotel, have dinner and enjoy a well-deserved rest tonight.
Day 4: Explore Machu Picchu & Return to Cuzco (B)
Waking up early, we will take the bus to Machu Picchu first thing in the morning, entering the site as it opens. You will go on a 2-hour tour with your guide, during which you’ll learn about the Incas and the history of Machu Picchu. Enjoy some free time after the tour to walk around the site, take some pictures, and/or do the optional hike up to Huayna Picchu (must be booked at least 2 weeks in advance). Take the bus back to Aguas Calientes and board the train to Ollantaytambo. Take a bus transfer back to Cuzco where you will be dropped off late in the day at the Plaza San Francisco. Please make your own way to the accommodation of your choice.
DESCRIPTION OF MACHU PICCHU GUIDED SITE VISIT: The one and only, the most spectacular (and not to mention most popular) archaeological site in all of South America. Your guide will take you on a 2-hour tour of Machu Picchu walking you through the most important sites and covering the history of the place. Then you will have free time to explore on your own and take pictures at your leisure.
Take an OPTIONAL hike up the steep peak named Huayna Picchu, which is located inside the Machu Picchu archaeological site for unforgettable views of Machu Picchu from a coveted perspective. You must purchase your ticket at least 2 weeks in advance for an additional cost in order to get one of the 400 passes (200 people are allowed up at 7:00am and 200 more at 10:00am). Most trekkers are usually too tired to do this extra trek, but true adventurers shouldn’t miss out! Please send us an email directly to request this extra ticket.
Typical Meals on the Trek:
On all of our Inca Trail Treks and Alternative Treks to Machu Picchu we search for the best cooks who put forth their best effort to provide you with the best tasting meals on the mountain.
All of our cooks pride themselves on their delicious specialty menus with the freshest local ingredients available. Every meal is prepared fresh with plenty of variety and an abundant quantity of food including a vegetarian option for every meal (please advise prior to departure). Here is an idea of what you will be eating during your trek.
Vegetarian Option Available Upon Request (please advise at least 2 days in advance).
Hot porridge, quinoa or oats, fried eggs, egg omelet or pancakes with fresh bread, fried bananas and boiled water for hot tea, coca, coffee, chocolate and milk.
LUNCH & DINNER:
First Course: Quinoa, corn, noodle, asparagus, mushroom or vegetable soup, stuffed avocado or potatoes.
Second Course: Chicken breast, beef stew, quinoa, fried rice, hamburgers, fried chicken, spaghetti bolognese, typical dishes: aji de gallina (chilli pepper chicken), escabeche de pollo (marinated chicken) or ajiaco de olluco (spicy potato stew).
Deserts: Fried plantains, chocolate pudding, chocolate or vanilla cake and boiled water for hot tea, coca, coffee, chocolate and milk.
Boiled water for hot tea, coca, coffee, chocolate and milk with popcorn, cookies, crackers.
Brief History of Machu Picchu & Advice:
Machu Picchu was (relatively recently) "discovered" by American historian, Hiram Bingham, in 1911 while searching for the legendary "lost city of the Incas". Hiram Bingham and his local guides stumbled across the site which was then covered in thick vegetation which was later cleared revealing the magical mountain-top archaeological site and opening up the possibility for archaeologists to conduct research on the site by 1915. Whether arriving via Inca Trail or entering from Aguas Calientes don't miss the excellent photo opportunities from the following spots: Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock (a restored building with a thatched roof), Sacred Plaza with views of the Cordillera Vilcabamba in the distance and Rio Urubamba below. Take a short walk out to the Inca Drawbridge (30 minutes) and Inti Punku (45 - 60 minutes) for great views of the site.
ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS: During the trek single travelers will share a tent with another traveler of the same sex & couples will have a tent to themselves.
PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS: This hike is demanding, it’s important to be in good physical condition. The elevation changes make the hike strenuous as there are two high passes during the hike.
SUGGESTED PACKING LIST: Bring or Rent in Cuzco: hiking poles, rain pants, rain poncho, trekking boots, sandals, warm socks, sweater, thermals, hat, gloves, sun hat, sun block, sun glasses, flashlight/torch, camera, extra batteries and memory card (there is limited to no electricity available during the trek), waterproof bags for your camera, hand sanitizer, personal first aid kit, water bottle. Bring extra cash for snacks, water, gatorade which doubles or triples in price along the trail.
DON'T FORGET THE ESSENTIALS: Original passport, visa (if applicable), insurance card, personal medications.
RESTRICTIONS: This is a strenuous trek. Good physical condition is necessary. A minimum of 2 persons is required for the tour to operate.
** Travellers who booked their trip using one passport, then renewed or replaced it afterward, must carry the old passport they used to make the booking or a photocopy with them on the trip.