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THE GREAT INCA TRAIl-background image


5 days

The Central Andes of Northern Perú are home to the best-preserved tracts of the Great Inca Trail that used to connect the religious capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco, with its northern capital, Tomebamba (now Cuenca, in Ecuador) back in the 15th century.  This is as much a trek through the forgotten villages and archaeological sites of the Andean backcountry as it is a voyage through time. Our exploration takes us over 70km from Chavin, one of the most important pre-Inca sites dating back to the origins of Andean civilization along the remnants of a wide, stone-paved, marvelously engineered roadway past forgotten hamlets and villages set in the Andean puna grasslands until we reach Huanuco Pampa, the largest Inca archaeological site outside of the department of Cusco. Note: We recommend at least two days of acclimatization in Huaraz before joining on this trek.

travel itinerary
seasonApril - October
group departuresEvery last Sunday
mininum: 2 passengers
maximum: 12 passengers
Pet Friendly
Mountain Bike
shared plan
private plan
shared plan:You will travel with other adventurers heading to the same destination.

We depart Huaraz towards Ccatac taking the road over the pass and down the valley towards Chavin. A scenic trip, this high road traverses impressive landscapes of snow-capped peaks descending slowly into the Callejón de Conchucos and the headwaters of the Marañon River. At the head of this valley, we arrive at the pre-Inca site of Chavín de Huantar, one of the oldest archaeological monuments found in Peru and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985. A ceremonial and pilgrimage center for the Andean religious world, and a key location to understand the origins of Andean civilization, one of the world’s 6 cradles of civilization. We will continue our drive toward the village of Castillo where we begin a short hike toward our campsite at Soledad de Tambo (3,661 m.a.s.l./ 12,011 f.a.s.l).

Bus ride: 142 km (88.23 mi)
Time: 4:30 hours
Trekking distance: 3.3 km (2.05 mi)
Time: 2 - 3 hours

Upon departing Soledad de Tambo we will continue our trek on the Royal Inca Road, at times a wide, stone-paved road over otherwise vast, open, Andean puna grasslands, past an ushnu, a sort of truncated pyramid platform used for ceremonies, until we reach a cross-roads. Here we have the chance to take a short detour to visit the qolqas, or storehouses at Waqanku. We continue our slow ascent toward the Waqankupunta Pass at 4,385 m.a.s.l. (14,386 f.a.s.l.) before descending toward the village of Taulli, where we will stop for lunch. After lunch we continue over a smaller pass before reaching our campsite at Queñuajirca at 4,090 m.a.s.l. (13,420 f.a.s.l.)

Trekking distance: 14.5 km (9.01 mi)
Time: 6 - 7 hours

We begin our descent toward the town of Ayash, a fast-developing town due to the influence of Antamina, one of the largest copper mines in the world, whose expanding footprint threatens the permanence this tract of the Royal Inca Road. Leaving the hustle and bustle of Ayash behind, we take a set of interminable stone steps on a wide trail to climb our way out of the reaches of modern civilization toward the pass at Huamanipunta (4,448 m.a.s.l./14,593 f.a.s.l.). We will hike down until we reach the Taparaco river valley where we will stop for lunch before continuing to our campsite at Tambo Grande (4,188 m.a.s.l. / 13,740 f.a.s.l)

Trekking distance: 16.8 km (10.44 mi)
Time: 6 - 7 hours

We will continue our trek along the Royal Inca Road down the Taparaco river valley, a unique cultural landscape where we will appreciate the marvels of Inca engineering upon close inspection of bridges, terraces, and culverts that allow the water to pass under sections of the road. We hike past marshes on our way down toward a narrow river valley adorned by rocky outcrops on either side with the occasional alpaca staring at us from a distance. We will arrive at San Lorenzo de Isco (3,721 m.a.s.l. / 12,208 f.a.s.l.) where we will camp for the night.

Trekking distance: 24.8 km (15.41 mi)
Time: 7 - 8 hours

A short hike up the valley toward Estanque and then down toward Colpa on the Vizcarra river valley brings our trek to an end. We will hop on our vehicles for a short drive toward Huánuco Pampa, an important administrative center that boasts fantastic Imperial-style Inca masonry throughout its carefully planned urban sectors. Beautifully carved pumas, monkeys and reptiles adorn the stone walls and doorways of the site. After lunch and a tour around the site, we will board our vehicle to begin the drive back to Huaraz.

Bus ride: 170 km (105.63 mi)
Time: 5:30 hours
Trekking distance: 12.9 km (8.02 mi)
Time: 4 - 5 hours
Our safety standards are the best in the business
  • Transportation
  • Professional bilingual guide
  • Double occupancy tents with Thermarest sleeping pads
  • Guided tour in Chavin and Huanuco Pampa
  • Lunch in Chavin on day 1... keep reading
no included
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Dinner in Huaraz on Day 5
  • Laundry service
  • Airline tickets
  • Sleeping bags (rent available)... keep reading
what to take
  • Regular and long wicking first layer for cold weather, like polyester, nylon, or merino wool
  • Short-sleeved shirts or t-shirts, breathable fabrics, like nylon and polyester
  • Light-colored long-sleeved shirts or t-shirts
  • QuickDry Pants, trekking pants, and shorts
  • Insulated long-sleeve jacket (fleece, synthetic, down, merino wool)... keep reading
Personal First-Aid Kit
On each trip we carry a medical kit, but we suggest you bring a small personal First-Aid Kit for bruises and blisters. Knee and ankle braces are sometimes useful especially if you suffer from weak knees or ankles. Include any special medication your doctor might suggest for you.
$1,700.00/5 days and 4 nights
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