Trekking to Machu Picchu has become the ultimate bucket list item for many and usually it’s the classic Inca Trail trek that people have their sights set on. With such high demand and permits almost always snatched up six months in advance, the Inca Trail can be an out-of-reach option if you’ve planned your Peru vacation five months in advance instead of six. Allow us to introduce you to a no less challenging or less scenic alternative to the classic Inca Trail.
The Ancascocha Trek to Machu Picchu is a four-day trek through the foothills and passes of the Cordillera Vilcabamba. If natural beauty, storybook settings, brushes with Andean village life, and the snow-capped peaks of the Andes sound enticing to you, this trek is for you. Listed as one of National Geographic’s 20 dream hikes, the Ancascocha trek has a lot going for it including that ever-popular appeal of being considered off-the-beaten-path. Here’s what you can expect on the Ancascocha Trek to Machu Picchu.
The Ancascocha Trek
Traverse everything from the rolling farmlands of the Vilcabamba Valley to the high alpine passes of the Cordillera. Pass through traditional Andean villages, meeting the schoolchildren and peeking inside a day in the life of an alpaca herder. You’ll see glacial lakes and soaring glaciers, steamy cloud forest and ancient ruins dating back even before the Incas roamed the very same lands. The trail is 90% original Inca trail and, because this is the road less traveled to Machu Picchu, many sections of the trail are in near perfect condition.
Three Things You Should Know
1. The hike is strenuous
It’s not for the faint of heart. You’ll reach a pass higher than the highest point of the Inca Trail on your second day and hike between 7 and 8 hours each day. The trail is longer than the Inca Trail and begins with your highest ascent of the trek (Quchusq´asa Pass at 4,500 meters/14,763 feet) instead of a slow build as on the Inca Trail.
2. The hike isn’t a continuous path to Machu Picchu
The first three days will be pure hiking. The fourth begins with a bus ride to Ollantaytambo where you’ll catch a train to KM 104. At KM 104 you’ll connect with a section of the classic Inca Trail and hike your way into the world famous citadel of Machu Picchu, approaching at the Sun Gate. Alternatively, you can take the train all the way into Aguas Calientes and take a bus to the citadel from there.
3. Explorandes was the original tour operator to open this trail to tourists
Ever since, many other tour operators have offered slightly varying versions of the same trek but we stick to the original path as we first discovered it. You’ll trek with knowledgeable guides who have been there from the very beginning of this trail’s opening and who know the trail and all of its various alternatives like the back of their hand.
Why book the Ancascocha Trek over other treks to Machu Picchu?
It’s simple: The popularity of trekking to Machu Picchu has left treks like the Inca Trail and Salkantay Trail overrun and overcrowded. On the Ancascocha Trek, you’ll feel as though you have the trail to yourself and all of the beauty that comes with it. Additionally, the Ancascocha Trail isn’t just one trail, it’s a web of trails with options to suit your level of fitness. Challenge yourself as much or as little as you wish. It’s one of the few trails where horses can follow you every step of the way, offering you that “plan B” option if saroche (altitude sickness) or bodily aches and pains become a factor.
For more information about the Ancascocha Trek to Machu Picchu, find the full itinerary and details, please contact us. Reach out to an Explorandes travel specialist with any and all questions you may have.