Explore Tour Leader/trek guide, porters, horsemen and Cook.
This is an 8-day trek with an average of 6 to 8 hours walking each day. We reach a maximum altitude of 4500m. This tour is graded as strenuous.
Challenging Trekking Tour In Peru
Details may vary depending on departure date. Please choose
On this trekking trip to Peru we explore the spectacular ‘lost city’ of Machu Picchu. We also follow ancient Inca trails to the settlement of Choquequirao overlooking the mighty Apurimac River – known as the ‘Cradle of God’. Hiking through the Andean highlands we discover the ancient Inca capital of Cusco, the ruins of Saqsaywaman and enjoy walks in the Sacred Valley.
Choquequirao - Hike to the remote Inca site of Choquequirao, stunningly surrounded by snow-capped peaks and thickly forested slopes
Machu Picchu - Discover the ‘lost city’ of Machu Picchu, one of the New Wonders of the World
Cusco - Explore the ancient capital city of the Incas
Sacsayhuaman - Visit the ancient fortress dramatically located high above Cusco
Sacred Valley of the Incas - Walk in the valley and optional whitewater rafting
Departing Lima today we fly on to Cusco, the old capital of the Inca Empire and the oldest continuously inhabited city on the continent. Imbued with an atmosphere of mystery and grandeur, the Spanish-style city of today, with its attractive pink tiled roofs, arcaded plazas and steep winding alleyways, stands upon tremendous Inca foundation stones. The interlocking stones, assembled so carefully that a knife blade cannot be forced between the multi-sided joints, were highly functional as well as beautiful – they are earthquakeproof! Upon arrival we will transfer to our hotel after which we will have a guided tour of this atmospheric city, to see important Inca and Colonial monuments, such as the Inca wall of Hatunrumiyoc with its famous twelve-sided stone. The stone, measuring some 5 feet across, has the typical bevelled joints, which create the patterns of light and shadow on Inca walls.
Overnight Standard Hotel
AM bus to Pisac, return via the Cusco ruins of Saqsaywaman
This morning we take a bus to the town of Pisac. Strategically located at the head of the Urubamba Valley, Pisac once controlled the road connecting the Inca Empire with Paucartambo on its eastern borders and the magnificent Inca ruins that once so dominated this valley still occupy the mountainside above the town. A quiet village most of the time, Pisac shakes off its somnolent feel with the arrival of the Sunday market, when locals (and tourists) from miles around come to buy, sell and barter in the main square. On market days the square is awash with vendors trading local produce for medicines and tools and there are bargains to be had amongst the weavers and potters. We will stay here a while, soaking up the ambience and the atmosphere before heading back towards Cusco. On our way back we plan to visit the nearby ruins, including Qenko, Tambo Machay and Puca Pucara and Cusco’s fortress-citadel, Saqsaywaman. Built to defend the Inca capital, Saqsaywaman broods high above the town, its huge, zigzagging stone walls broken into 66 sharply projecting angles to catch attackers in a withering crossfire. This site represents the head of a puma, 20,000 conscripted workers toiled for 90 years to finish it and it was the site of one of the most fiercely fought battles of the Spanish conquest, when the Incas made one last ditch attempt to drive out the Spanish, an attempt that ended in defeat and death for thousands of Incas. We plan to walk the 8km back to Cusco from the Puca Pucara ruins, visiting the other sites on our way back to the Plaza del Armas.
Overnight Standard Hotel
Optional Rafting and Pisac
Today you may chose to go white-water rafting on the Urubamba River (grade 2-3) - no previous experience is necessary and all safety equipment is provided (optional) or return to Pisac and visit the Inca ruins that we briefly saw before. One of the largest Inca ruins in the region, their commanding position overlooking the plains of Urubamba afford some stunning views of the surrounding terraces, with deep spectacular gorges either side. The ruins themselves comprise stone terraces, temples and the ruined citadel with its magnificent Temple of the Sun, a worthy match for any of the temples at Machu Picchu.
Overnight Standard Hotel
Drive to Cachora, begin trek
Departing Cusco this morning we drive to the south side of the Apurimac River, to the small town of Cachora and our starting point for the trek. Meeting up with our mules and guides we begin walking up the path to Capulilloq (2,800m), a two hour hike from where we will get the first of many incredible views down onto the Apurimac River, the archaelogical complex of Choquequirao and the snow capped peaks of Padrayoc and Wayna Cachora beyond. From here we descend towards Coca Masama (2,330m), where the climate becomes noticeably warmer and where there is a marked change in the surrounding flora and fauna. As we descend we pass through dry forest and below us the turbulent waters of the Apurimac are clearly visible. Translated from the local Quechua, Apurimac means the river that speaks, an all too obvious epithet given its raging condition in places. Arriving at Chiquisca (1,750 m) we set up camp beside the river and settle down for our first night under the stars. Total walking time approx 8 hours
After breakfast we begin the long hard walk up to Santa Rosa. Following the steep path up it will take us between 3 and 5 hours to reach there, where we will stop for some doubtless much needed refreshments, before continuing on up towards Marampata. A steep zigzag climb will bring us onto a plateau, from where the trail flattens out as we follow the canyon towards Choquequirao. On the far side of the valley we can see the Huanpaca waterfall and as we approach the first sight of the terraces of Choquequirao keep your eyes open for spectacled bears. The terraces lie in different microclimates along the valley, enabling the ancient farmers to produce a variety of crops; fruit and vegetables in the lower, warmer climates and the much needed staples for survival on the upper reaches. Finally we reach the Citadel of Choquequirao (3,085m) where we set up camp for the night. Total walking time approx 6 hours.
Built during the reign of Inca Pachacutec this vast complex exceeds even the mighty Machu Picchu in size and to date only about 30 % of it has been uncovered. Believed to have once been an important trading centre, linking the jungle regions to the major complexes of Pisac and Machu Picchu, the site is divided into nine sectors, including political and religious quarters. The site’s main areas include the Lower Plaza, considered by many to be the focal centre of the entire city and the quality of the stonework, along with the significance of double-jammed doorways indicates that it was used by high ranking members of the Inca elite. There is also the Upper Plaza, reached by a set of impressive steps, believed to have possibly contained ritual baths, leading some experts to speculate that this was the reserve of the Inca priesthood. The designs of the city follow the symbolism of the imperial capital, with palaces dedicated to the sun, earth and water. The outlying buildings are still buried under a tangled web of vegetation, teeming with brightly coloured orchids and a walk up to the hilltop plateau of the Unsu, will afford spectacular 360 degree views across the valley and, with luck, the sight of a Condor or two. The ruins were first described in the 18th century by the famous explorer Hiram Bingham, who went on to discover Machu Pichu. Visiting the restored section of the citadel this morning we will explore the recently discovered ruins with our guides and after lunch there will be ample opportunity to continue exploring at your leisure, perhaps taking a walk down to the Casa Cascada, before returning to the Unsu to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Apurimac Canyon.
After breakfast we leave Choquequirao and begin walking towards the Rio Blanco (white river). Passing once more into scrub and dry forest we get some glorious views of the Apurimac Canyon then continue down to the Rio Blanco where we will stop for lunch. After lunch we then begin the arduous climb up through thick forest to our next campsite. A four hour climb brings us out onto a stunning plateau overlooking the forest below, where we will spend the night, in the shadow of dramatic glacial peaks. The next morning we continue climbing, towards San Juan Pass (4,400m), following an original Inca trail that takes us through cloudforest and past mountain cedars as it winds its way up to the pass. The area is alive with a profusion of bird and mammal life, including spectacled bears, eagles and the odd condors. We pass by old silver mines en route, dating from the 19th century. We then continue, heading down into the Rio Yanama Valley, passing fields of wildflowers as we make our way down the steep path to the village of Yanama (3,750m). We will have our lunch and camp this evening in this settlement. Our fifth and sixth days walking take us over a pass of 4,650m, surrounded by snow covered mountains, and then down through the cloud forest until we reach the valley floor. We follow the river valley until we reach the coffee growing region of La Playa. Average daily walking time: approx 7 hours
Final day’s hiking to Aquas Calientes via Mirador and Llaqtapata
Crossing the river this morning we begin the 3 hour climb to Llaqtapata from where, weather permitting, we get our first look at Machu Picchu; an exceptional view with the city ringed by hills and overshadowed by the snowy peaks of the Urumbamba Range. We then begin our descent into the Rio Urumbaba Valley, following the railway tracks down to the Hydroelectric train station where we will have our lunch. Taking the local train we finally arrive at our simple accomodation in the town of Aquas Calientes, situated on the valley floor and in the upper reaches of the cloud forest. Tonight we recommend a dip in the thermal springs, a relaxing way to ease away the rigours of the past few days. Total walking time approx 6 hours.
Overnight Standard HostelIncluded meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Visit Machu Picchu, train and bus to Cusco
Catching the first bus this morning we head up to the citadel and may catch the sunrise over the incredible complex of Machu Picchu. The rest of the morning is spent in this magnificent city, probably the most astounding feat of engineering in all of ancient America. Temples, stairways, palaces and gabled stone dwellings are scattered everywhere, testifying to the energy and ingenuity of the builders. Not without reason is this site probably the most revered tourist attraction in the Americas. Its location alone is dramatic in the extreme, teetering on the saddle of a high mountain peak that towers above the valley below, its backdrop a blanket of forested mountains. Believed to have been built in the mid 15th century by Pachacutec, the city was rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham. Thought to have been a major agricultural centre for the Inca empire, the city’s inaccessability seems to have preserved it from the looters of the intervening years, resulting in the remarkably well restored ruins that we see today. We will have a guided tour of the site, taking in the major highlights of this vast complex and those who wish to will have the opportunity to climb Huayna Picchu mountain and admire the site from a different perspective. Later in the afternoon we return to Aquas Calientes to catch our train back to Ollantaytambo and on to Cusco.
Overnight Standard Hotel
In Cusco, free day
Today is free to relax, do some sightseeing and perhaps some last minute shopping in this beautiful city.
Overnight Standard Hotel
Fly to Lima
This morning we transfer to the airport for our flight back to Lima. Founded in 1535 and called the City of Kings, Lima today is both ancient and modern. On arrival there may be time to partake in an optional city tour and perhaps visit the Larco Herrera Museum, featuring one of South America’s best collections of historical costumes and weaponry. Alternatively you may just wish to stroll through Plaza San Martin and Bolivar and enter the fascinating Catacombs of the convent of San Francisco, or pass through the colonial squares and under the intricate modern balconies of old Lima, seeing some of the city’s best surviving examples of colonial architecture.
Overnight Standard Hotel
Tour ends Lima
Please note that from time to time our itineraries may be amended, either for operational reasons or in response to feedback from customers. Please ensure you have read the latest Tour Notes before booking or travelling on your tour.
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