Many people wonder why we take one more day to do the Inca Trail. If you can do it in 4 days, as 95% of tour operators do, why do it in 5? Our route has been thought about, designed and developed over more than 43 years since we first opened the route for the world to enjoy. At Explorandes, we are always looking to offer the best possible experience to our travelers. This means staying far away from the crowds, ensuring more intimate settings and enjoying the connection with our natural environment. Following are a few reasons why we recommend doing the Inca Trail in five days instead of four.
Better views and more connection: the hike is best enjoyed when there is no traffic on the route.
The Inca Trail is the busiest trekking route in the province of Cusco and its popularity is not in vain. On this journey you can explore and get to know the trails and archaeological sites by which the Incas traveled to the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu. Most operators complete this trek in 4 days / 3 nights, and usually start trekking at around the same ridiculously early time, from the same starting point and use mostly the same campsites. We feel that following the crowds generates a disconnect between our travelers and the beautiful landscapes and mystique of the sites along the trail.
This is why at Explorandes we have been operating the route in a different way for the past 43 years. We start from a different location, at a later time and are always far from the crowds. This ensures that our trekkers can enjoy the views in peace and take their time to connect with nature. In addition, our itinerary is designed so that hiking is done during the day and not in the middle of the night, taking advantage of the light to appreciate the magic of each place we travel.
Exclusive Camping Areas: The hike is not the only important thing; sharing stories with your group and enjoying a good camp are too.
Multi-day treks are characterized by being full of stories and learning experiences that deserve to be shared. What better place to share with your group than at the campsite, while enjoying a delicious meal made with local ingredients. Over four decades of trekking on the Inca Trail we have identified the best, off-the-beaten path camping areas, where we not only look for good climate, flat tent spots and excellent views, but we also make sure that we camp far from the rest of the groups that travel the route.
- Chamana: our privately-owned campsite where travelers will spend the night free of noise and enjoy beautiful views of the ruins of Patallaqta at sunset and sunrise. Chamana literally means “resting place” in Quechua.
- Llulluchapampa: A beautiful open space where you can appreciate views of the snowy Huayanai peak and get a first glance of the rare Andean cloud forest made up of Queñua trees.
- Phuyupatamarca: Also known as “the village above the clouds”, you will be able to appreciate one of the most beautiful sunrises on the route and be surrounded by snow-capped mountains such as the Salkantay and Pumasillo.
Machu Picchu: one of the 7 wonders of the world that deserves to be visited and appreciated with tranquility and time.
The citadel of Machu Picchu is the most visited tourist destination in Peru. During 2017 it received an average of 3,900 visitors per day. Because of the high demand and popularity of the site, visits have become increasingly briefer and more rigid, demanding that many of the tourists begin hiking in the early hours of the day to be able to arrive to this wonder of the world earlier to avoid the crowds and make it down in time to catch the train back to Cusco. Due to this problem, we have planned our route on the Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu close to sunset on the 4th day. Doing it this way ensures that our trekkers arrive at the site once the crowds have left and can enjoy the golden late afternoon light over the citadel which makes for perfect photos. Then, spend a night in the unique town of Aguas Calientes, resting quietly to enjoy the guided tour of the citadel the next day.
The Photos: how could you forget something as important these days as taking a good picture?
Who has this not happened to? You are in the right place, with the perfect light, ready to take the perfect shot. You even have the caption in mind. Suddenly, a swarm of people arrive, they rush you, and your wonderful photo is ruined or you end up having people in your frame who you don’t even know!
Our extra day allows us to have more time to enjoy the spaces and not have to hurry, so you can take your photos with only your friends or why not, a good old selfie? Remember that your relatives also want to see you in the photos.
Sustainability is at the core of our modus operandi
At Explorandes we are concerned about reducing our negative impacts and seek to generate positive ones, that is why we take the following measures for our excursions:
- In our expeditions, we prohibit the use of plastic bottles and encourage the use of refillable canteens or thermo flasks (Nalgene, Hydroflask, Camelback).
- We separate our organic and inorganic waste into different bags and take all of it back to our headquarters. The organic waste is composted so that we minimize the amount of waste going to the landfill.
- We work with the communities where we operate, supporting their social and economic development. We pay our cooks, porters and field staff among the highest salaries in the market, ensuring fair pay for hard work.
- We buy products locally from the communities, reducing our carbon footprint and supporting local economies.
- We use portable toilets in all our camps on the Inca Trail and make sure that the waste is disposed of correctly to minimize negative environmental impact.