Classic Inca Trail 4 days/3 nights
There are many reasons to walk the Inca Trail. Getting to the famous Inca site of Machu Picchu and seeing abundant historical monuments along the way is one obvious reason. Suffering the hike and enjoying the sense of achievement is another. Experiencing the flora and fauna of the Andes is a next one. Doing it for all three reasons, is obviously the best of all!
Few give more than fleeting attention to the ecology along the trail. To provide some ecological background I came up with this site. To understand the ecology of the Inca Trail, it is important to understand the effects of altitude and rainfall. If you travel Peru from west to east, you will notice the immense change in ecosystems and climates. The Andes is the most important factor in this. Essentially, the cold gulf stream in the Pacific Ocean prevents rain formation on the west coast leading to desert conditions in the west. In the east lies the moist Amazon basin but rain coming from that direction cannot cross the Andes and alleviate the drought in the west, but the eastern slopes of the Andes are lush and green.
Although on the Inca Trail you don't travel exactly from west to east, the above transitions are still noticeable on a small scale. The transition from dry to moist here is mostly a consequence of altitude. Still, the influence of the nearby Amazon basin is becoming apparent.
The Inca Trail is Peru's best known hike, combining a stunning mix of Inca ruins, mountain scenery, lush cloud-forest and rich subtropical jungle. Over 250 species of orchid have been counted in the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary, as well as numerous birds such as hummingbirds, waterfowl and the majestic Andean Condor. The star of the Sanctuary is the spectacled bear - a shy, herbivorous animal that is extremely rare and close to extinction.
And we will have the opportunity to photograph all of this! With the help of Flavio, your expert photography guide, you will learn new techniques and appreciate new perspectives. At Photo Tours Peru, we want you to share your knowledge and skills as well as learn new ones. We hope to send you home not only with fantastic memories of the stunning landscapes and vibrant flora and fauna, but beautiful photos too.
What is really special about our photography treks is that they give you unrivalled chances to capture sunrises, sunsets and night scenes in amazing locations. The light pollution at our campsites is non-existent, meaning we can experiment with light painting and Milky Way photography too. We look forward to welcoming you on our tours!
Essentially the Inca Trail is a mountainous jungle hike leading to the sacred Inca city of Machu Picchu. The 45km trek is usually covered in 4 days, arriving at Machu Picchu at daybreak on the final day before returning to Cusco by train in the afternoon.
Day 1: Cusco - Wayllabamba -Ayapata
Great opportunity for lansdscape, flora, fauna, birds & sunset photography
After an early morning breakfast, you will be transferred to km 82 by bus where you will meet with your Quechua porters and prepare for the Inca Trail with a session of yoga from your personal instructor. After some relaxing, breathing and stretching techniques, you will be ready to embark on the four day trek that awaits you. You will cross over the turbulent Vilcanota river, with magnificent views of Nevado Veronica (5,900m/19,000ft) and continue along the trek admiring the Llactapata archaeological site, and stopping at the Wayllabamba river for lunch. All meals are in very large dining tents with outstanding three course meals freshly prepared by your chef. After lunch, we will visit the archeological sites of Patallacta, Qente and the valley of Cusichaca along with the magical Polylepsis forest before continuing the hike. To help us focus on the true nature of our trek, our destination and our very location, our personal porters will be playing the Quena, or ancient Andean flute. We also encourage to talk with our porters to learn a little about their ancient customs and ways or life. Our hiking today will last approximately 7 hours. Upon arriving to our campsite, we shall enjoy . Dinner before listening to the intriguing stories and legends from our Quechua porters. Overnight camping on the trail. (L / D)
Day 2:Ayapata - Paqaymayu- Chakiqocha
Great opportunity for sunset, time lapse, flora, fauna & landscape photography
An early start today as this is the most demanding day of the entire trek and we shall gain considerable altitude. We will see outstanding views to the east of the Huayanay peaks and to the west of the rugged Vilcabamba Range. After breakfast, we shall begin the climb up through the first pass at 4200 m/13,750 feet at Warmiwanusqa. Passing 3 ecological zones: the Yunga, Quechua and Puna, we shall ascend 1000 metres in 5 hours. Our porter's enticing music will help us to marvel at the views rather than focus on the difficult ascent. Upon reaching the summit of Dead Woman's Pass, we shall celebrate our achievement by paying homage to the Apus, or mountain gods, before descending into camp. After Lunch You will then hike for another hour and a half downhill through Inca steps, until you arrive at your lunch spot. After lunch, you will have another four hours, including breaks, you will reach your campsite at Chaquicocha, You will get to visit two Inca sites, Runku Raccay and Sayacmarka. The day will be finished with dinner at the campsite.welcoming dinner at Chakiqocha Camp. More secret myths will unfold tonight as the porters explain the significance of the Apus, or mountain gods. Overnight camping on the trail.
(B / L / D)
Day 3: Chakiqocha Phuyupatamarca - Wiñay-wayna
Great opportunity for landscape, flora, fauna, time lapse, sunset & sunrise photography
After breakfast, we shall begin the ascent of the third pass, this is easier than the previous day's ascent.Admiring at the same time the fabulous cloud forest which is now all around us. The third pass of the Inca Trail in this section is a long white granite roadway, with some ascents and descents, traversing a thickly forested mountainside. We will finally descend to the magnificent archeological site of Phuyupatamarka ("Cloud Level Town") where a fine lunch will await us. After lunch, we will then Visit to Wiñay-wayna, an outstanding Inca complex built into the mountainside. A visit of the ruins before our last massage and trail shower. After relaxing, we shall enjoy dinner carefully prepared by our chef. We shall also meet with our porters for the very last time and exchange thanks and talk about the ancient paths upon which we have trekked for the last few days. Overnight camping on the trail. (B / L / D)
Day 4: Wiñay-wayna – Machu Picchu - Cusco.
Great opportunity for flora, fauna, landscape, sunrise at Machu Picchu & time lapse photography
Early morning wake up at 4:30am for breakfast and to begin the final trek to Intipunku (the Sun Gate), and the first site of the archaeological complex of Machu Picchu. We will descend rapidly from cloud forest into high jungle habitat. Orchids and hummingbirds are commonly seen along this spectacular section of the trail high above the river. We will arrive at Intipunku to observe the sunrise over Machu Picchu from an elevated vantage point. We will then continue down to the royal road and at last arrive at the "Lost City of the Incas" to begin our tour of Machu Picchu. Built by the Inca Pachacutec, and comprising stone blocks fitted with masterful precision, Machu Picchu harmoniously blends into the mountain landscape. There are many theories as to the origins behind Machu Picchu but three of the most popular ideas include a temple to the sun, a fortress against the jungle inhabitants and a sanctuary for the Incas. This fabulous city holds houses, temples, warehouses and a large central square, all connected by narrow roads and steps, which are surrounded by terraces cut into the mountain side which were used for agriculture. We shall visit the Main Plaza, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of Three Windows, the Circular Tower and the Sacred Sun Dial and Burial Grounds. After the guided tour, you can enjoy an afternoon of self-exploration and discovery, or hike up Huayna Picchu. Then return to Cusco.
(B / L)
* People who want to visit Huayna Picchu must let us know as soon as they can, because according to new rules, there is a limit of people (400) per day that can climb it.
- 1st Turn 07:00 am : 200 people.
- 2nd Turn 10:00 am : 200 people.
Daily departures with quality service....
Our groups are designed to be comfortable and we ensure you have the best Inca Trail experience! Our new camping equipment, efficient chefs, amazing food and professional bilingual guides will make this Inca pilgrimage the crowning experience of your South American trip!
In this Inca Trail service our porters are treated very well treated (family porters, red army, commando, as our tourists often describe them); they carry cooking and camping equipment while tourists (unless a extra porter is hired) carry personal belongings, including sleeping bag, sleeping mattress and clothes.
Please Note: Difficulty level depends very much on your fitness and aclimatisation
We recommend you bring:
*To qualify as a student, it is necessary to have a valid ISIC card
Optional items to bring:
Optional services not included:
Considering an extra night in Aguas Calientes? We can change the date of your train ticket to the following day. Hotel and other costs associated with returning to Machu Picchu the following day are additional to trek costs. Please also note that your entry ticket to Machu Picchu is valid for one day only, if you wish to visit the ruins on a second consecutive day you will need to purchase another ticket.
Aguas Calientes Extra Day Upgrade Package (optional)
With hikes that trek the traditional Inca Trail, the standard package has clients returning to Cusco at the end of the trek, and they don't spend a night in Aguas Calientes. This package provides clients the opportunity to stay in Aguas Calientes for an extra night, visit Machu Picchu for a second day and then return to Cusco by the comfortable Vistadome train.
** Please contact us for a price for the same package but with 2 star accomodation and return in Expedition Train service **
In Cusco dry season starts in April to October, the days are usually sunny and hot but temperatures drop abruptly after 4-5 pm until 7-8 am.
Weather is very changeable from November to March and heavy rains are expected, with the wettest months being December to March, although is not as cold as it is in the dry season.
*Please note this reference applies to the altitude of 3400 meters and changes depending on the altitude (higher altitude = colder). Also note that it could be wet on the 3rd and 4th day of the Inca Trail (cloud/wet forest regions).*
Available Departure Dates: We strongly recommend that you make your trek booking as soon as possible. So far we have been able to obtain trek permits for ALL of our clients and have not had to cancel any trek bookings.
Train included in all tours is the Cerrojo backpacker (to Ollanta) Train times will only be confirmed once full amount of tour is paid. The earliest train you could take is the 13:37pm and 9:20pm being the last train. Incaland Adventues will organize the transport back to Cusco (by taxi or by bus).
*Please Note: train times are subject to change depending on Peru rail timetable and availability. If organized in advance, the train can be upgraded to Visatadome (larger windows than the backpaker cerrojo train) for an increased price.*