Day 01 Cusco
Travel the impressive Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, an adventure that begins with the departure from the city of Cusco to the Sacred Valley.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting 12:00pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can’t arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you’re able to attend. We’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you’re going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We’ll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
The Cuzco region truly is the heart and soul of Peru. The city itself is the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city and was the home of the Incas for two centuries before the Spanish built their first capital here. Today Cuzco is a fascinating combination of both cultures. Inca-built walls line the central streets and many of the elegant colonial buildings are built on or around Inca foundations. This is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend and is a perfect base for explorations into the Inca world or to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.
Take the time to acclimatise to the city’s 3,450 m (11,150 ft) altitude and explore the many Baroque churches and ancient temples that dot the city.
Your leader will take you on a walking tour including a visit to the Coca Musuem – where you can learn more about this infamous plant which has been an essential part of life in the Andes for centuries – and the local San Pedro market.
The cathedral, built on top of an Inca palace, dominates the Plaza de Armas, Cuzco’s picturesque heart. The cathedral is one of the city’s greatest repositories of art and houses an elegantly carved choir stall and a silver-covered Neoclassic altar.
There are several impressive Inca ruins within the city. The most easily accessible is Coricancha, which was the Inca empire’s richest temple. Once plated in thick gold, the Spanish built a Dominican church atop its sturdy walls.
The Boleto Turistico (Tourism Ticket) is a good option if you to visit the many musems in Cuzco. This ticket also includes the archaeological around Cuzco such as Saqsaywaman, Q’enqo, Pica Pakara, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Some museums in town, like Contemporary Art Meseum, Regional History Museum and Qosqo Native Art Museum can only be accessed by purchasing the Boleto Turistico.
Please note that this trip is part of a combination trip. Some of your fellow travellers may start this journey in Lima, may hike a different trek (or not hike at all) and/or may continue travelling to the Amazon Jungle
Leader-led walking tour
Boleto turistico (general) – PEN130
Cathedral – PEN26
City tour – USD15
Coricancha – PEN15
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo
Travel by private bus through the Sacred Valley (approx 2 hours total drive), on the outskirts of Cuzco. Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, the lush, fertile valley has long been the main source of food for the high Andes. Maize crops can be seen surrounding the river and covering the terraces carved high into the valley walls.
We will head to a community in the Valley to learn about local lifestyle and activities and if our visit coincides with market day we can spend time browsing the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm ponchos and maybe practising some of the local language, Quechua.
The town of Ollantaytambo has been built over an ancient Inca town, which is a magnificent example of Inca urban planning. This is one of the few places where the Incas defeated the Spanish.
Ollantaytambo’s archaeological site is located to the east of the Plaza de Armas. The upper terraces of this site offer great photo opportunities of the squared grid town below.
Sacred Valley and local community visit
Ollantaytambo Ruins – PEN70
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 3-6 Inca Trail – Machu Picchu – Cuzco
INCA TRAIL: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but do come prepared: the trail is 45 km (28 miles) long and often steep. Generally each day’s journey consists of 7 hours walking on average (both uphill and downhill), plus stops for snacks and lunch. Normally trekking starts at 7am (except for the fourth morning) and you reach the campsite around 4-5pm.
Accommodation on the trek is camping (3 nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. Tents are set up by the porters. Meals are prepared by the trek cook.
Day 1: Today we travel by minivan to the 82 km marker and join our crew of local porters, cook and guide. The starting point of the trek is located at 2,850m. Our first day includes some uphill trekking to the campsite – at over 3,300 m above sea level. Today you will see the ruins of Llactapata, burnt to the ground by the last Inca emperor to discourage Spanish pursuit down the trail.
Day 2: This is the most challenging day of the trek as we ascend a long steep path (approx 4 hours) to reach the highest point of our trek, Warmiwanusca (‘Dead Woman’s Pass’), at a height of 4,200 m (13,779 ft), before descending to the Pacaymayo Valley at 3650 m. Next is a climb up to the second pass known as Runkuracay at 3,980 m – approximately 90 minutes uphill from the Pacaymayo Valley. From here we can enjoy views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending to the ruins of Sayacmarca (2-3 hours). From here it’s only a short walk to the Chaquicocha campsite at 3,620 m.
Day 3: Continue over the third pass and soon reach the beautiful ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the ‘Town above the Clouds’, at 3,850 m (approx 90 mins walk). From here we start our descent along Inca steps (2 hours) to reach our final night’s camp by the Winay Wayna (‘Forever Young’) archaeological site at 2,750 m. Grab a drink and enjoy the panoramic views of the valley below.
Day 4: Take a short final hike (approx 2 hrs) to the Sun Gate where we can watch the ruins of Machu Picchu emerge from the mist below. The feeling you get as you see the ruins for the first time is indescribable.
Day 7 Cuzco
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the ‘Finishing Point Hotel’ section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Included / Not Included
What is included
- Pre-departure briefing
- 3 night Hotel (2N Cusco – 1N Ollantaytambo)
- Tour leaders
- Sacred Valley Tours and visited to Community
- Collection from your hotel in the morning and transfer in private transport to km.82 (starting point of the trail)
- Inca Trail and Machupicchu entrance fee (days 1-4)
- Personal tents: 2 people in each 4-people-capacity tent, to allow for higher comfort and a safe keeping of backpacks. Our tents are 3-season, highly maintained to ensure an excellent performance in field. Kailas or North Faces Tent
- One inflatable sleeping pad per person
- Dining tent with tables and chairs
- Kitchen tent
- Toilet tent with bio-degradable toilet facilities
- English speaking professional guide (2 guides for groups of over 10 people)
- Chef and cooking equipment
- Porters (to carry tents, food and cooking equipment)
- Accommodation for all our staff
- Meals (03B, 03L, 03D + daily morning snack + daily tea service except last day). Vegetarian or special menus are available at no extra costt
- Filtered boiled water from lunch time on 1st day onwards
- Bio-degradable personal hand soaps
- Bio-degradable dishwashing detergents used by our kitchen staff
- Others: hot water every morning and evening for washing purposes / boiled water to fill in your water bottle every morning and night, and at lunch time if requested with enough time ahead
- First-aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle
- Bus ticket from Machupicchu ruins down to the village of Aguas Calientes – 4th day
- Train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo (Expedition, Vistadome, upon request)
- Transfer train station to hotel in Cusco
What is Not Included
- Breakfast on the first day
- Lunch and dinner on the last day: after the guided tour at Machupicchu, you can enjoy free time to further visit the ruins and choose to have lunch either in Machupicchu or in Aguas Calientes at your own expense. Arrival in Cusco is estimated after nightfall, dinner being at your own expense too
- Sleeping Bag
- Visit to the hot springs in Aguas Calientes: a relaxing way to end-up the trek while you’re awaiting the return train to Cusco, only 10 minutes from the village center, entrance fee is s/10.00 (Peruvian Soles). Towels can be hired in Aguas Calientes
- Huayna Picchu entrance fee: if you would like to climb this mountain a new entrance fee applies ( US$80)
- Tips: please note that our agency staff is well paid so please feel free to tip or not as you wish
What we Recommend that you Bring
- A backpack with a change of clothes for the whole period of the trek
- Rain gear (jacket and pants if available) or rain poncho (plastic ponchos can be purchased in Cusco)
- Strong footwear, waterproof trekking boots recommended
- Sandals or jogging shoes for a higher comfort while at camp
- Warm clothes, including jacket, fleeces. Thermal clothing is also recommended, especially for sleeping
- Flashlight/headlamp and batteries
- Camera and batteries (batteries consume more quickly under cold conditions)
- Hat or cap to protect you from the sun, rain and cold
- Sun block
- After-sun cream or hydrating cream for face and body
- Insect repellent – minimum recommended 20% DEET – no malaria risk has been reported
- Toilet paper
- Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, raw fruits, muesli, etc. Please note that we do provide a daily morning snack and our meal service is very complete and well supplied. This recommendation applies for all clients being used to a specific snack, as it may happen that it is not included in our selection
- Water container and water for the first morning. Important notice: plastic water bottles are no longer allowed into the Inca Trail. Plastic water containers (ie. Nalgene) or metal ones are recommended
- Optionally: water- sterilizing tablets in case you pick up water from streams or rivers along the route. Otherwise, we provide filtered boiled water, which is safe to drink and has not reported any health problem so far
- Small towel
- Swimsuit (if you wish to go to the hot springs in Aguas Calientes)
- Cash in soles and/or US$
- Original passport
- Original International Student Identity Card (in case you have applied for a student discount)
- walking sticks or poles (rubber covers required in order not to damage the Inca Trail)
Prices & Availability
Price information: Price per person 2023
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Available discounts (these discounts are not cumulative)
- Students: US$ 30.00 (students require a valid International Student Identity Card. Please note that Youth Travel Cards are not valid)
- Teenagers: US$ 40.00 (up to 15 years of age, passport copy required for all bookings)
- Children: US$ 60.00 (up to 7 years of age, passport copy required for all bookings)
DEPARTURE ON 2023
Inca Trail Availability
The exact information provided by you will be submitted to the governmental institution in charge of regulating the access to the Inca Trail and will be included in the official permit to enter the Inca Trail on the requested date. Should there be any change in the above-mentioned data (ie. New passport number), we kindly request you to inform the Reservation Department at Terra Quechua Tour Operator via email as soon as possible. The government reserves the right not to allow the entry to any visitor whose data are not the exact ones as those in the official permit. Terra Quechua Tour Operator excludes any responsibility for a no entry in case the passenger information has changed without prior notice to us.
Inca Trail permits are available. You can book your trip for this date, 2023.
- January: Availability
- Fefruary: Also note that the Inca Trail will be closed for general maintenance during the month of February each year. Also, closures may occur at various times throughout the year due to inclement weather or other conditions beyond our control. During these periods, any tour affected will do the Lares Trek
- March: Availability
- April: Availability
- May: Availability
- June: Availability
- July: Availability
- August: Availability
- September: Availability
- October: Availability
- November: Availability
- December: Availability
Inka Trail Frequently Asked
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: Is the trek difficult, do I need to be fit?
The Inca Trail is a 43km (26 mile) hike through mountainous regions. The maximum altitude reached is 4200m above sea level. On the second day of the trek we climb 1200m. Make no mistake, the Inca Trail is a fairly difficult trek and you should be well prepared and healthy prior to starting it. You have to be moderately fit and take regular exercise. Try walking 15km in a day or go to the gym in the months leading up to the trek. It is also important to be well acclimatized to the altitude. Try to spend 2 or 3 days in Cusco (3400m) prior to starting the trek. This time can be put to good use visiting the city of Cusco, nearby Inca ruins and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The good news is that virtually everyone in the last few years who started the trek finished it Only a handful had to turn back. (see tips on staying healthy on the trail below).
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: How far in advance do I need to make a trek reservation?
As far in advance as possible. The government has strictly limited the number of people permitted on the Inca Trail (permits are issued to about 200 trekkers per day plus 300 porters). We therefore recommend that you try to make your Inca trail reservation as far in advance as possible as soon as you know the dates of your international flights.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: What do I need to bring for the hike?
Travelers only need to bring their own personal supplies and a sleeping bag. If you do not have a sleeping bag, these can be rented in Cusco for a reasonable rate ($20 per all trips). A duffle bag will be provided for your belongings on the Inca trail so travelers do not need to bring a large backpack unless desired. Proper sungear, comfortable trekking clothes, mosquito repellant, hiking shoes, a flashlight, a camera, and 1-2 refillable water bottles are recommended. Rain gear is also recommended during the wet season (December- March) and cold weather gear (warm jacket, thermals, hat and gloves) is recommended for the dry season (especially June- August).
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: Which campsites do you use?
Campsites are subject to change depending upon the crowds and the season. We generally try to camp in less trafficked areas so that travelers can enjoy the natural beauty of the Inca trail and minimize environmental impacts. Our typical campsite choices are Huayllabamba, Pacaymayo and Wiñay Wayna or chaquicocha.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: What are the guides like?
Our Adventure,Tour guide are among the very best and most experienced guides anywhere. They are from the surrounding Cusco/ Sacred Valley area and speak fluent English, in addition to Spanish and the native language of Quechua. Most have 10 years of experience leading Inca trail hikes and all have training in the history, spirituality, culture, and ecology of the area.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO:Can I have vegetarian meals?
Our cooks can provide vegetarian meals no problem. Just let us know your dietary requirements when you book your trek.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: I have a food allergy, can this be catered for?
A6: We have plenty of clients who have allergies to nuts, wheat, etc. Please give us details of your allergy at the time of booking. Please indicate the severity of the reaction and what type of medicines you have to take in an emergency. If your allergy is severe you must be accompanied by a friend on the trek who is aware of your allergy and the location of any required medicines. Due to the nature of the remote geographical location of the trail and the lack of suitable nearby medical facilities Peru Treks will not accept any responsibility, either directly or indirectly, for any problems due to your special medical/dietary requirements. We suggest that you to check with your doctor before booking the trek.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: I have asthma / diabetes / another medical condition. Can I still do the trek?
You must disclose at the time of booking any medical condition that you may have that could affect your ability to do the Inca Trail trek. Terra Quechua hikers reserves the right not to accept a trek booking if we feel that a medical condition may put your life or the lives of any of our trekking staff or other clients at risk on the trek. People with heart conditions, knee problems, severe asthma or are more than 18 weeks pregnant should not participate in the trek. People with mild asthma / diabetes / pregnant less than 18 weeks will have to bring a medical note from their doctor stating that they are fit to undertake the trek. They will also be required to be accompanied by a trekking companion on the trek at all times who will trek at their sides and be familiar with any medicines required in case of an emergency. Terra Quechua Peru reserved the right to cancel the trek booking of a client if the client has not fully disclosed at the time of making a booking a medical condition that may pose a risk to the health of the client and/or other trekkers. No refunds will be given in this instance.
Due to the nature of the remote geographical location of the trail and the lack of suitable nearby medical facilities along the trail Terra Quechua Peru will not accept any responsibility, either directly or indirectly, for any problems due to your special dietary requirements / medical condition. We suggest that you check with your doctor before booking the trek.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: How is drinking water supplied?
Although there are places to purchase bottled water occasionally along the trail, we recommend that travelers bring their own refillable bottles to limit plastic waste. Water is boiled, treated with iodine, and then filtered with one of our portable filters (Katadyn and PUR commonly used). It is available in the morning to fill your bottles and at every meal.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: What do I need to bring on the trek?
Backpack, sleeping bag, thermarest mattress (we will provide you with this but you have to carry it), rain jacket, strong footwear, one complete change of clothing, sweater, jacket (something warm), water bottle (metal or nalgene type) and sterilizing tablets (Micropur are recommended and can be bought in local pharmacies in Cusco), flashlight and batteries, broad-brim or peaked cap, sunblock, insect repellent, toiletries and toilet paper, selection of small snacks, chocolate, dried fruit, biscuits etc, camera and spare batteries (nowhere to charge your camera during the trek). For your own personal hygiene we also recommend that you bring a small bottle of antiseptic/anti-bacterial hand gel to clean your hands each time after using the camp toilets and before eating any snacks / meals. You also have to bring your original passport with you on the trek, with the same passport number you originally made your reservation with, otherwise you will be unable to go on the trek. Photocopies are no longer acceptable.
We will buy your Inca Trail trek permit using the names & passport numbers that you send us with your trek booking application. You must bring these same passports with you to Cusco and take them on the Inca Trail. If the name or number in your passport is different from the name and number on the trek permit, the government authorities will not allow you to start the trek and you will not be entitled to a refund. If you plan to renew your passport between making the trek booking and actually starting the trek please see the section below about Frequently Asked Questions relating to passport numbers. If you make a trek booking at the student price you must send us a copy of your ISIC card at the time you pay the trek deposit. If you fail to bring your ISIC card on the trek the government authorities will not allow you to start the trek. You will not be given the opportunity to pay the extra difference in price and you will not be entitled to a refund. These are government regulations and apply to ALL licensed Inca Trail tour operators.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: What do I need to carry?
Unless you hire an extra ‘third of a porter’ you will need to carry all of the above personal items. We include porters to carry all the other items such as tents, food and cooking equipment.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: Do I need to bring walking boots?
Walking boots are recommended as they provide support to the ankle which reduces the risk of injury especially when trekking in the wet season (December – March). However it is important that your boots are comfortable and well worn-in and not brand new. Many people prefer to trek in tennis shoes but extra care should be taken. We do not recommend trekking in sandals or using new boots or hiring boots prior to the trek. Make sure the shoes are sturdy enough for the duration of the trek and will not fall apart.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: What equipment is supplied by Adventure Life?
We supply the sleeping tents, dining tents, tables, chairs, toilet tents, cooking equipment, water purifiers, sleeping mattress (the thermarest), and other camping equipment. Our outfitter purchases the highest quality equipment in Peru and older equipment is evaluated and replaced on a regular basis.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: Can I use trekking poles / walking sticks on the Inca Trail?
Many people like to hike with trekking poles or walking sticks. This is fine as long as the poles will not cause damage to the stone paving along the Inca Trail. If the trekking poles have metal spikes then these must be protected by rubber tips. We recommend bringing some spare rubber tips with you. Rubber protectors can also be bought in several shops in Cusco. Wooden walking sticks are obviously fine as long as you bring them with you from home. Recently government authorities have stopped trekkers using wooden sticks that could have come from local forests (to prevent deforestation of protected Andean forests). Metal trekking poles can also be hired in our office.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: Where can I store the bags that I do not need to take on the Inca Trail?
Any bags that you don’t need to take on the Inca trail can be left at your hotel in Cusco. Nearly all hotels have a luggage deposit and rarely charge for this service as long as you are returning to the hotel after the trek. You can also leave valuables in the hotel safe, but remember to bring your passport and some emergency money. We do not store clients luggage or valuables in our office.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: How many porters and trekking staff are in the group?
Terra Quechua Peru is committed to looking after our porters and our trekking weights are carefully calculated so that our porters are not overloaded. The group sizes given below show the absolute minimum number of porters that we will provide for each group. As a professional company we will guarantee these numbers. Obviously we will use extra porters if any of our clients decide to hire the services of an extra third of a porter up until the maximum number of porters per group permitted by the government. This is why we limit each client to a maximum of just a third of a porter i.e. maximum 6kg.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: What if I have a medical emergency while hiking the trail?
Guides carry a first aid kit for basic medical problems (traveler’s diarrhea, cuts/ scrapes, etc.). They receive Red Cross First Aid and other emergency training every year. Our guides lead over 500 travelers along the Inca trail each year and we have rarely had a traveler unable to complete the hike. In these rare instances when someone has not felt well enough to finish the hike, he/ she has been escorted back to Cusco and generally felt well enough to re-join the group in Machu Picchu via train a few days later. Cusco has the nearest modern medical facilities so travelers with a serious medical emergency would need to be evacuated there. Guides and porters have pre-established evacuation strategies in place should this need occur.
TERRA QUECHAU INFO: What is the food like on the Inca trail?
A cook accompanies every group on the Inca trail. Almost invariably, travelers comment on the delicious menu. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and hearty snacks are provided for your hike. Meals are a mix of local specialties and international favorites. For a sample menu, check out our Inca Trail Menu below. Vegetarian meals are also available upon request. Other special dietary requests can usually be accommodated as well with sufficient notice.