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National Geographic Magazine has rated this Inca Trail alternative trek as one of the top hikes in the world! This is truly the road less traveled by, for those who crave time away from crowds, amidst the beauty of nature. The journey begins at the Parpishu Footbridge and ascends amidst the dramatic backdrop of Mts. Salkantay and Verónica. Crossing through rugged terrain, remote mountain communities, ancient ruins, and diverse ecosystems for around 37 km (23 mi), the trek culminates at the village of Camicancha, near Km 77 on the railroad tracks to Machu Picchu. On day 4, we will board the train to Km 104 to walk along the pathway that covers the final stretch of the Inca Trail, where you will have a taste of the famous longer Inca Trail hike, and the thrill of entering Machu Picchu through Inti Punku, the Gate of the Sun. On our last day, we will spend time exploring Machu Picchu, one of the ancient wonders of the world.
Day 1 Cusco – Parpishu – Chilipahua
Day 2 Chilipahua – Ancascocha
Day 3 Ancascocha – Camicancha
Day 4 Camicancha – Ollantaytambo – Km 104 – Machu Picchu
Day 5 Machu Picchu – Cusco
5 Days / 4 Nights
March to December
Leaving Cusco by bus and heading north to the village of Huarocondo, we’ll descend into the gorge of Pachar, towards the Urubamba River, 2900 m (9514 ft). Here we’ll encounter the starting point of our trek: the footbridge of Parpishu. Now the trail starts ascending slowly, leaving the valley behind and below us, and continues to Watuq´asa Pass (3800 m / 12,467 ft) where we will find an Inca wall and an ancient storage/ administrative building, or tambo. This site is known as Qosqoqáwarina (Viewpoint of Cusco), and we will be taken by the surrounding panoramic views as we enjoy a hearty lunch. We will then continue along a trail that descends to the left, ending in a tranquil valley with a flowing stream running through it. Here, we’ll find the community of Chilipahua (3840 m / 12,598 ft), where we will camp for the night.
(L / D)
Driving distance: 45 km (28 mi) – Time: 1:20 hours
Trekking distance: 11.2 km (7 mi) – Time: 6 hours
We depart from our campsite and head northwest, slowly ascending through moist highlands to Quencomayo, an icy cold stream that flows from the pass of Chi Chusqasa (4500 m / 14,763 ft). After crossing the pass, we’ll descend to the Silque River gully, before reaching the area known as Ancascocha (3900 m / 12,795 ft), where we will camp within sight of the spectacular Huayanay Glacier.
(B / L / D)
Trekking distance: 11 km (6.8 mi) – Time: 7 hours
After a hearty breakfast, we’ll start our day’s journey hiking alongside the torrential Silque River, towards the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This trail is known for its abundance of Huakani, or Masdevallia Orchids. If we’re here when they are flowering, we will delight in the sight of their brilliant, deep pink to magenta blooms. After crossing many little footbridges, we will reach the community of Camicancha (2800 m / 9186 ft), where we’ll camp in a place known for its volcanic rock, within sight of spectacular snow-capped Huacayhuilque, also known as ¨La Veronica¨.
(B / L / D)
Trekking distance: 12 Km (7.5 mi) – Time: 5 hours
After breakfast, we will meet our private transportation and head to the town of Ollantaytambo, where we’ll board the train to Km 104. We’ll disembark and cross a hanging bridge that spans the mighty river, and visit the ruins of Chachabamba, which is believed to have been a spiritual center dedicated to water deities. Now it’s a 3-hour ascent to a second important spiritual center, Wiñay Wayna. These ruins are built into a steep slope on the way up to the Sun Gate. After we explore for a bit, we’ll cut across the ridge above Machu Picchu to reach Inti Punku, Gate of the Sun. This is a dramatic moment, as we look down on the magnificent Machu Picchu ruins spread out far below, gaining a glimpse into a mystical, forgotten world. We’ll spend the night in a hotel in the village of Machu Picchu.
(B / BL)
Driving distance: 12 km (7.5 mi) – Time: 35 minutes
Train ride: 37 km (23 mi) – Time: 1:10 hours
Trekking distance: 11.7 km (7.3 mi) – Time: 6 hours
Bus ride: 6.2 km (3.9 mi) – Time: 30 minutes
After an early breakfast, we’ll hop on board the bus up to the ruins, a half-hour ascending ride. Your English-speaking guide will accompany you as you explore the breath-taking ruins and learn about the various structures and buildings and the lifestyles of its former inhabitants. You’ll be immersed in the sheer beauty of the complex and its verdant surroundings, as you breathe in the rarefied air of the cloud forest. Return to the village below in the afternoon, where you’ll board a train back to Cusco or Ollantaytambo. (Hotel overnight and dinner on your own).
(B / L)
Trekking distance: visit Machu Picchu – Time: 3 hours
Bus ride to Machu Picchu (RT): 12.4 km (7.7 mi) – Time: 1 hour
Train ride: 43 km (27 mi) – Time: 1:45 hours
Driving distance Ollantaytambo to Cusco: 79 km (49 mi) – Time: 2 hours
End of services
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.