The Classic Hiram Bingham Inca Trail to Machu Picchu needs to be experienced to be believed. The sheer size and extent of the Inca Empire is breathtaking. Their monuments are immense and impressive. At such a high altitude, it is essential we acclimatise so that we can fully appreciate this amazing country and civilization. We will visit these sites before the trek to acclimatise and give us a deeper understanding of the country we are about to walk through.
“Remote, spectacular, and still not entirely cleared, the ruins of Choquequirao are often described as a mini–Machu Picchu.
This breathtaking site at the junction of three rivers currently requires a challenging two-day hike each way“
The former Inca Capital and Spanish colonial city of Cusco is our base for this great expedition, a wonderful place full of culture, history, good restaurants and excellent hot chocolate. From Cusco we travel through the Sacred Valley of the Incas, passing the Inca Fortress town of Ollantaytambo, before embarking on the famous Inca Trail to the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu. We will follow in the footsteps of Hiram Bingham who stumbled across one of the greatest archeological sites on the planet.
This five day, four-night trek involves spectacular Andean scenery along an ancient paved Inca Trail. We have plenty of time to treasure each view and the many ruins en-route. A night is spent in the colourful town of Aguas Calientes before spending the whole day exploring the awe-inspiring, “new wonder of the modern world”, Machu Picchu. The return to Cusco is by “Vistadome” train and private bus. The final day is spent relaxing in Cusco’s ancient streets, artisan markets or excellent restaurants and bars.
“In the variety of its charms and the power of its spell, I know of no other place in the world which can compare with it.”
The “Locals’ guide to Cusco” tour : Welcome to Cusco- touch down, collect your luggage and meet your guide, then drive twenty minutes through the colourful South American streets to your hotel.
Meet in the Coffee Museum at 1pm to enjoy a tasty lunch and learn about the story and people behind this popular drink.
After lunch step out into the Cusco streets and explore with one of our carefully chosen guides. They are not only very knowledgeable but also great fun to be with. You do not want to cram too much in on your first day at altitude, so relax and get used to being up high with a gentle walk around this old Inca capital.
Visit the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral and the Qoricancha temple of the sun and perhaps take in the sights, sounds and smells of San Pedro food market too. If you normally shop in supermarkets and farmers markets, you are in for a surprise. Stands full of juicy exotic fruits, counters heaving with cow heads and sheep hooves and cheerful local women selling handmade cheeses, local breads, healthy juices and even toad soup.
The evening is free to relax and wander around the UNESCO World Heritage Site city centre.
Today you stretch your legs with a delightful hike in the hills above Cusco. First we visit the impressive site of Sacsayhuaman. Huge stone ramparts surround a beautiful grass amphitheatre. Once the scene of fierce battles it now hosts the recreation of traditional Inca ceremonies such as Inti Raymi and Warachikuy. Next is the Inca water temple of Tambo Machay lying at 3700m (12,000 feet) followed by a special picnic lunch. From here it is all downhill to Cusco, stopping at the Temple of the Moon and other historical sites along the way. (B)
Leaving Cusco behind you start your journey to Machu Picchu. The hike starts at the fascinating circular ruins of Moray. While some think it was a landing pad for alien spaceships, more likely is that the Incas built this as an experimental agricultural centre. Concentric circular terraces allowed them to simulate different facing slopes and different growing temperatures to see what crops would grow where.
With another homemade picnic along the way you hike on down, past the spectacular salt pans of Maras to end in the Sacred Valley. (B,L)
Your five day Inca Trail is carefully tailored to avoid the crowds. By leaving later than everyone else, and allowing an extra day, you spend the whole trail out of sync with other tourists. Thus you will literally have the trail to yourselves.
This morning you visit the old Inca town of Ollantaytambo. After a look around and some lunch you have a short drive to the trailhead at Piscacucho (km 82). Here you meet the porters and cooks that will support your journey to Machu Picchu. With the crowds now long gone, you hike an undulating trail above the Urubamba river to camp beside the spectacular ruins of Llactapata (2,788m/9,146ft). Whilst walking all you need to carry is a day-pack. Your luggage is carried by the porters, your tents are put up for you and your food is prepared for you. All you have to do is shoulder your day-pack and enjoy the walking. (B,L,D)
After a hearty breakfast you climb gently up the Cusichaca valley to the small hamlet of Huayllabamba. This is the last inhabited place on the trail. A little steeper now, you head up the beautiful Inca path, past hummingbirds and stunted cloud forest to your camp at Llulluchapampa (3,680m/12,073ft). This beautiful grassy area has outstanding views and you may be even see the Andean deer that come to feed here. (B,L,D)
Today is the most challenging day but also the most exhilarating. You climb to Dead Woman’s Pass (4,212m/13,819ft) the high point of the trail before dropping into the Pacasmayo valley. Climbing once more you pass the Inca control post of Runkuracay to the second pass of the day (3,998m/13,117ft). On a clear day there are spectacular views towards Pumahuanca mountain in the Vilcabamba range.
You continue on well preserved Inca trail to Sayacmarca. Located at the junction of two old Inca roads, historians still argue over its exact purpose. A few more gentle ups and downs and you arrive to your stunning campsite for the night, Phuyupatamarca, or ‘the place above the clouds’ (3,650m/11,975ft). (B,L,D)
This is the day you finally reach Machu Picchu. As you step out of your tent the views are stunning. Perhaps you will see the sun rising over the snow capped mountains of Salkantay (6,200m/20,341ft) and Veronica (5,800m/19,029ft). Or perhaps you will have a cloud inversion, with the clouds filling the valleys beneath your feet. After saying a fond farewell to your porters it is time to put on your boots and head to Machu Picchu.
You descend through the cloud forest on beautiful Inca stairways, to Winay Wayna, another interesting ruin full of swallows and orchids. Finally you contour the hillside to arrive at Inti Punku, the gateway of the Sun. As you step through the old stone gateway Machu Picchu appears laid out before your eyes. After plenty of photos you carry on past this wonder of the world to catch the bus down to the colourful town of Machu Picchu Pueblo and a well deserved hotel and shower. (B,L)
Relaxed after a comfortable night, you head back up to Machu Picchu for your full guided tour before the crowds arrive. There is time afterwards to hike to the Inca Bridge, Watchman’s hut or else just wander through the ruins soaking up the atmosphere. In the afternoon you descend to the waiting train to enjoy one of the great train journeys of the world back towards Cusco. (B,L)
Arequipa, the beautiful “White City” and the nearby Colca Canyon is the perfect place to start or finish a trip to Peru and is ideal for both acclimatising to the rarefied air of the Andes, or for relaxing in its hot springs.
(4 Days/3 Nights)
Per person is $1200 (twin share)
Includes: 2 nights in Colca Canyon, 3 Star Hotel in Arequipa, English speaking guide, tours of Arequipa, Colca Canyon and Cruz del Condor, Entrance to Santa Catalina and Colca National Park, Silustani tour and entrance fees
Lake Titicaca offers a great way to relax and explore the fascinating culture of the Aymara Indians who dwell upom the lake. Take a boat cruise to the amazing floating islands of Uros and Taquile Island, overnight with a local family on Amantani or watch a sunset at the pre-Inca Ruins of Silustani.
(3 Days/2 Nights)
Per person is $1000 (twin share)
Includes: 3 Star Hotel in Puno, English speaking guide, Lake Titicaca tour, Luxury Train
A visit to our well appointed jungle lodge in the excellent lowland rain forest of the Tambopata National Reserve is one of the best ways to see some of the world’s best rain forest wildlife that is available in a short, economical stay.
The reserve and the adjacent Bahuaje-Sonene National Park, is home to over 20,000 plant species, over 900 species of birds (more species than in all of continental USA), 91 mammals, 1230 butterflies, 127 amphibians and reptiles, and much more. It’s a haven for the Amazon’s largest, most spectacular and most endangered predators – the Jaguar, the Giant Otter, the Harpy Eagle and the Black Caiman.
(4 Days/3 Nights)
Per person is $846 (twin share)
Includes: Two or Three nights full-board at Jungle lodge and full guided service throughout, All transfers to and from Puerto. Maldonado airport to Jungle lodge by bus, boat and canoe
This lovely half day bike riding trip is a superb introduction to the Inca heritage of Peru, as well as being suitably flexible to suit everyone, from the beginner to the experienced.
At 3,650 – 3,250m, this is also a perfect acclimatisation ride to prepare you for your onward travels at altitude.
Per person is $162 (down to $66 per person for a group of 4)
Includes: English speaking guide, Transportation
April through to October
All airport transfers
Cusco walking tour
Transport to and from the trail in private vehicle
All camping and cooking equipment including Thermarests, spacious two person tents, dining, cook and toilet tent
Extensive First-aid kit including Oxygen
Professional English and Spanish speaking guides trained in first-aid and C.P.R.
Cook team with correct wages, transport to trail head, food, tent and insurance.
3* plus hotel in Cusco and Aguas Calientes.
All meals as indicated in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
Connection to Cusco
Personal spending money
Tips for General Guides
Any meals not listed as included
Your Guides and Safety
Your guide can make the difference between a good holiday and an exceptional holiday.
Efrain Valles (who has worked with us for over ten years), was even voted Wanderlust World Guide of the Year 2014!
All our guides come to us as recommendations from our current guides, and they are very careful who they recommend.
We consider training a vital investment to ensure the security and safety of all our trips. We also believe that trained guides are confident guides which help them to relax and enjoy the trip which we firmly believe will massively enhance your own personal enjoyment.
All our guides are qualified in first aid, with instructors brought in from the UK to run these courses.
On the ground, we have an extensive local contact network, which ensures that we are able to organize visits by the Doctors (when needed) and treatments as quickly and as comfortably as possible.
On The Trail Accommodation
There’s no escaping it, this is a camping expedition, so for the most part, it’s going to be in a tent.
The plus side is, each and every morning, you’ll be waking in a new, stunning location!
We have upgraded our hotels on this expedition to provide you with excellent comfort, service and a unique experience. In Cusco we stay in the Quinta San Blas, a republican home that has been renovated into 20 beautiful rooms. In a quaint suburb only three blocks from Plaza Mayor del Cusco, the Quinta San Blas is a beautiful and cosy hotel with great flare and wonderful furnishings to help you feel at home.
In Machu Picchu Pueblo we stay in the contemporary but cosy El Mapi by Inkaterra. This is a unique place in Peru with wonderfully tasteful decor and an excellent place to relax after your trek.
Hotels in Lima : We can arrange for accommodation in Lima as well as transfers there. We use the 4-star Hotel Boulevard, Miraflores. Per night twin for the room is $160 and a triple room is $240. Transfers to and from the airport are $55 each way.
“Our Sacred Valley trek to Machu Picchu is very different to other treks offered on the same trail. We leave at mid-day, meaning we will be hiking when no one else is around and we end the day at campsites few others use as we are half a day behind everyone else. We spend 4 days on the trail and a day at Machu Picchu, giving more time out in nature, at the archeological sites and of course, at Machu Picchu. You are going to love the little touches that make a huge difference to your trek to Machu Picchu and I can’t wait to show you by backyard.”
Juan Carlos – Guide
“Peruvian food is so simple yet amazingly flavored with their traditional spices.”
L’Wren Scott, Model & Designer
Perched on a spur of the Urubamba Valley, nestled away in the Andes mountain range, high above the Urubamba River lays the deserted city of Machu Picchu, once home to the thriving ancient civilisation of Incas; a united community situated and dwarfed by the mountains of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. Abandoned a century after being built and swallowed by an overgrown extension of the jungle, Machu Picchu sat silent just waiting to be discovered, its existence remaining a secret to the outside world up until 1911.
After extensive excavating, archaeologists have been able to identify and develop a layout of the lost city, dividing areas into agricultural and urban sections. The agriculture section is made up of both small and large terracing all built in accordance to the natural slope and layout of the land, extending onto the surrounding mountain fields and the urban areas divided into East and West, littered with plazas, temples of worship and staircases with a total of three thousand and something stairs.
Construction of the sanctuary of Machu Picchu began approximately around the mid- 15th century, the city flourished for 100 years before being abandoned when the Incas became under threat from the invasion and conquest of the Spanish. There is no evidence in the Spanish invasion archives that they ever made it to the mountaintop and thus created speculation that the real reason for the abandonment of the city was due to an outbreak of smallpox that ravaged the community.
The purpose of Machu Picchu to this day remains unclear. The discoverer of the “City of the Incas” Hiram Bingham, pondered theories that the city provided a convent for Inca women to be educated on how to serve the ruler of the Inca Empire and coterie, Bingham believed that 75% out of the hundreds of skeletons found on site were female, further modern studies deduced that a more accurate split of 50/50 between the two genders. Bingham also theorized that Machu Picchu was actually the fabled Tampu-Tocco, the site that the forefathers of the Inca race were said to have originated from.
Today, the preserved history, artefacts and culture of Machu Picchu all contribute, to the newly claimed title of being one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
The lost city, now found.
These trips might also interest you...
Secret Trail To Machu Picchu
With thousands of kilometers of Incan Trails, there is no wonder there is more than one way to reach the mountain citadel of Machu Picchu. One of the more remote ways is to hike the Secret Trail from Choquequirao to Machu Picchu.
The Dolomites. Are they "the most beautiful mountain range on the planet"? Some think so. From the city of Romeo & Juliet, explore rugged mountain trails, lush valleys and at the right time of year, seas of beautiful wildflowers...