You will probably only trek to Machu Picchu once. So why not do it properly? Our nine day Ultimate Inca Trail package has been carefully designed for the discerning traveller. It allows you to complete the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in the best style possible.
First you slowly acclimatise with some great one day hikes, which show you the best of Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Then you take our superior five day Inca Trail trek. By taking it a bit slower than the crowds who rush through in four days, you can really enjoy every moment and make the most of this once in a lifetime experience.
Our Ultimate version of a true classic! The Inca Trail is an iconic trek on the bucket list of many a traveller. But why follow the crowds, when by taking an extra day you can avoid the busiest of the campsites and take your time to properly explore the nature and ruins you will encounter.
- 5n in hotels, 3n fully-serviced camping
- 4* hotel in Cuzco
- 5 days trekking (moderate). Fully supported trekking – carry only day packs
- 8 Breakfasts, 8 lunches and 4 evening meals (nights in Cusco/towns left free so you can decide where you want to eat from the many restaurant options)
- Iconic views of Machu Picchu
- Climb Inca steps to the top of Dead Woman’s Pass (4,200m)
- No waking up early on the last day of the trek, as we take an extra day to explore Machu Picchu
- Explore the historic city of Cuzco and the Sacred Valley
- Trek the classic Inca Trail to the Sun Gate for the iconic view of Machu Picchu.
- Learn about ancient Incan culture
|TRIP START POINT||Cusco, Peru|
|DURATION||9 Days, 5 days trekking|
|TRIP TYPE||Camping trek|
|SEASON||March to October|
|CHALLENGE LEVEL||3/5 – Moderate multi-day camping trek with some high passes and long descents. Fully supported, carry only day packs|
Inca Trail Regulations
There are a number of important regulations regarding the Inca Trail that we would like to make you aware of:
- Spaces on the Inca Trail are on a first come, first served basis and we urge you to book as early as possible.
- If you cancel your booking after an Inca Trail Permit has been obtained this is non-refundable.
- Bookings can only be made if we are supplied with your full name, passport details, date of birth and nationality, exactly as per the passport you will be using to travel to Peru (this information is used to purchase your Inca Trail permit). If your passport details do not match those on your permit you will be refused entry to the Inca Trail by the local authorities.
- Should the passport used to purchase your permit be lost, stolen or expire before your Inca Trail start date, you must purchase a new passport and notify us immediately as we will need to apply to amend your Inca Trail permit. To do so, you must supply copies of both your old and new passports to us in advance of travel. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you make a copy of your passport at the time of booking and keep it somewhere safe.
- Please be aware that these regulations may change at any time, and The Grand Adventure Company are not responsible for the decisions made by Peruvian authorities.
- There is a possibility that the Peruvian authorities may increase the entrance fees to the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu and other major sights at any time. If they do so, we will inform you of this increase and the extra amount will need to be paid locally in cash in Peru.
Please Note: Whilst your departure date may be ‘Guaranteed’, your Inca Trail permit itself will initially be ‘On Request’. If travelling within the current year we will try to purchase your permit immediately upon receiving your booking. If travelling next year, we will apply for your permit as soon as they are released for sale. In either case, in the event that we are unable to get your permit we will contact you to discuss your options. *2018 Inca Trail permits will go on sale in early October 2017 – early booking essential.*
NOTE: Peru is very strict on passport numbers. You MUST let us know if these change. A passport change will invalidate your reservation and you may be refused to travel. -*see below.
Welcome to Cusco
Accommodation: 4* Hotel in Cusco
Activities: Sightseeing & acclimatisation
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 1 pm 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 expert 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, Cusco is at 3,400m, 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 at 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.
Hike Cusco ruins - acclimatisation walk
Accommodation: 4* Hotel in Cusco
Activities: Sightseeing & acclimatisation walk
Today you stretch your legs with a delightful hike in the hills above Cusco. First, you visit the impressive site of Sacsayhuaman. Huge stone ramparts surround a beautiful grass amphitheatre. Once the scene of fierce battles it now hosts the annual re-enactment of traditional Inca ceremonies such as Inti Raymi and Warachikuy. Sundays also see families from Cusco head up here to play, fly kites and dig the traditional huatias, a method of cooking potatoes in the ground.
Next is the Inca water temple of Tambo Machay lying at 3700m (12,000 feet) followed by a special picnic lunch. A trail through the fields leads you to the intricately carved Inca Temple of the Moon. From here a beautifully preserved section of royal Inca Trail leads you down into the old San Blas district, home to the city’s artists and finally into the Plaza de Armas.
Hike Moray and Maras - Acclimatisation walk
Accommodation: Hotel in Sacred Valley
Activities: Acclimatisation walk
Leaving Cusco behind you start your journey to Machu Picchu. You drive to the fascinating circular ruins of Moray about one hour outside Cusco. While some think it was a landing pad for alien spaceships, most agree 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 which crops would grow where. They then used this knowledge to cultivate the varied terrain of their vast empire providing abundant amounts of food to feed the people,
After exploring Moray you take a mainly downhill trail through the fields. Depending on the time of year, you may have a chance to stop and chat with local farmers digging their fields of corn or planting potatoes. Perhaps you could have a go with the hand tools that have been used for centuries.
Along the way, you stop for a for a homemade picnic with marvellous views across to the snow-capped Vilcanota mountains before carrying on down to the spectacular salt pans of Maras. Here you can stop and watch as local families extract the salt by hand, much as they have done for centuries. You could even buy some of the famous Maras Pink Salt as a souvenir. Finally, you take the old track down to the Sacred Valley, where once llamas, then horses carried out the salt to be sent across the empire.
Your support vehicle is on hand most of the day, should anyone prefer to take a ride rather than walk at any point.
Inca Trail - Meet your support team and start the trek
Inca Trail: km82 to Llactapata
Accommodation: Camping at Llactapata
Activities: Main Trek
This morning you may visit the old Inca town of Ollantaytambo. After a look around the extensive hill-top ruins, you have a short drive to the trail-head at Piscacucho (km 82). Here you have some lunch and 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.
Inca Trail - camping at Llulluchapampa
Accommodation: Camping at Llulluchapampa
Activities: Main Trek
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 even see the Andean deer that come to feed here.
Inca Trail - Trekking over Dead Women's Pass, camping at Phuyupatamarca
Accommodation: Camping at Phuyupatamarca
Activities: Main Trek
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 Pacaymayu 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 at your stunning campsite for the night, Phuyupatamarca, or ‘the place above the clouds’ (3,650m / 11,975ft).
Today is the most challenging of the trek due to the high altitude pass crossing at 4,212m. Unlike many other companies operating on the ‘normal Inca Trail schedule,’ we attempt the pass on day 5, not 4, giving you an extra day to acclimatise and increasing your chances of success and enjoyment.
Inca Trail - Hike to Machu Picchu, then hotel in Machu Picchu town
Accommodation: Hotel at Machu Picchu Pueblo
Activities: Main Trek
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 Wiñay 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 gate-way, 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 lively town of Machu Picchu Pueblo and a well-deserved hotel and shower.
Explore Machu Picchu and train
Accommodation: 4* Hotel in Cusco
Activities: Sightseeing at Machu Picchu, train journey
Today you explore the pinnacle of Inca engineering – Machu Picchu.
For years it was lost to the jungle. Rediscovered in 1911 by the Yale professor Hiram Bingham, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Machu Picchu exceeds all expectations.
This astounding site lies in an even more astonishing location. Perched high on an inaccessible hilltop it is protected by huge cliffs and the raging Urubamba river. Things are slightly easier now than in the time of the Incas and so you start your day with a twenty-minute bus ride up to the site.
You will arrive early, allowing you to explore the ruins in the company of your guide, before they get too busy. The guided tour takes around two hours leaving you a few hours free to wander amongst the old Inca walls and just sit and take in the scale of the place on your own. For those who want to walk a bit more, you could take the hour-long trail up to the Sun Gate, or a shorter trail to visit the Inca Bridge which once spanned a sheer cliff face.
Eventually, the time comes to catch the bus down to Machu Picchu Pueblo and board your train back along the Urubamba River. The scenery is beautiful and the train jolts softly along, allowing you to sit, stare out the window and reflect on a wonderful week.
Free day in Cusco then onward travel
Back once more in the old Inca capital, you have time to enjoy all that this city has to offer. Coffee museums, cooking classes, chocolate making, souvenir hunting or even just sitting in one of the many cafes and watching the world go by. The new late flights out of Cusco allow you to really maximise your time and get the most out of this holiday of a lifetime.
If the dates and prices fail to load above, please go to My Grand Adventure, where you will be able to see all available departures.
Want to join one of our open-group adventures, but don’t see any suitable dates that work for you? For most of our trips, you can request new dates and we will set up a new open adventure.
We stay in a 4* hotel in the San Blas neighbourhood of Cusco, a couple of blocks from the central plaza.
For our time in the Sacred Valley we stay at a luxury lodge.
In both Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu Pueblo we stay in well appointed, and highly rated 3-star hotels.
All groups travel with a local cook team, it is amazing the quality and variety of food they are able to produce in the mountains! They ensure all food on the trek is freshly prepared using local ingredients and that there is plenty for everyone.
A typical menu on this trip would be:
Breakfast: Porridge or cereal, bread with cheese, jam, margarine, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and hot milk.
Lunch: A picnic lunch will be provided for you to carry with you.
Dinner: A hot meal is served every night consisting of soup, traditional or ‘European’ main course and dessert.
Groups will have a mess tent to eat in and be provided with all cutlery and warm water for washing.
In Cusco you will find wide choice if international restaurants providing an excellent rage of food. Coca tea, a local brew thought to combat the effects of altitude, is widely available and well worth trying.
GROUP & LEADER
A qualified, English-speaking, Peruvian leader will accompany your group. He / she will ensure your safety and provide an insight into the culture of the area. On this trip you will be joined by walkers who have booked with other agencies.
On this expedition we will be experiencing all extremes of Peruvian climate, from freezing Altiplano to extremely hot sunshine. During the day hopefully it will be generally sunny enough for shorts and T-shirts, though having a fleece and rain gear handy is advisable. It will get cold higher up, especially in the evenings (as low as -5°C whilst camping) so bring a warm fleece jacket, a good waterproof and some warm clothes including thermal underwear, gloves, scarf and woolly hat as well as one set of smarter clothes for Cusco.
April to October is the driest season and best for trekking. November and December are likely to be wetter but are usually warmer.
WHAT YOU'LL CARRY
This trek is fully supported by a team of mules who will transport your main baggage. You will only need to carry a light daypack. A 35l rucksack is a useful size to comfortably fit in essential items such as water bottle, camera, wet-weather gear and extra layers etc.
Tipping is an accepted part of life in Peru. We generally tip our local trek staff as a group, with the local leader organising the split between cooks, porters and other support staff.
Detailed tipping guidelines will be sent to you before departure, but we would recommend allowing for around £50 per person. Tipping at meals and in hotels is also normal practice.
LANGUAGE & TIMEZONE
Language: Spanish and Quecha are the official languages but your guide and many hoteliers and restaurant owners will also speak English.
To brush up on your Spanish before departing why not try the free duolingo app at: https://www.duolingo.com/.
Local Time: GMT-5 hours.
ALTITUDE & FITNESS
Altitude: High Altitude Sections.
Flying in to Cusco at 3,400m you are likely to feel mild affects of altitude on your first day or two: dull headache, loss of appetite, shortness of breath (especially when climbing stairs!). However these will most likely ease after a day or so as you acclimatise, it is rare for more serious symptoms to occur at this altitude and most customers have no issues acclimatising.
Much of your trek is above 3,000m, with the highest point, “Dead Women’s Pass”, being at 4,200m. This will add to the physical demands of the trek and therefore being in good shape will be extremely beneficial to your enjoyment and chances of success. You will have had several days to acclimatise to these altitudes and your tour leader will ensure a slow ascent, both of which will reduce the likelihood of developing AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), so although most trekkers may find this physically challenging and some may develop mild AMS symptoms the vast majority of prepared participants are able to complete the route.
Fitness Requirement: Moderate/Challenging Days trekking.
The Inca Trail involves trekking over several high passes up to 4200m and involves some very steep descents on old Inca steps – it is recommended that all customers should have some previous trekking experience and should be in reasonable fitness. There are also some exposed sections of trail that trekkers with severe vertigo will not enjoy.
Reasonable fitness would amount to being comfortable hiking consecutive long days (7-8 hours) in the UK hills, or equivalent, with a light pack. E.g. A weekend walking in the Lake District, taking in some high points and peaks with minimal discomfort.
Country specific information and advice is published by Fit For Travel, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.
The risks to health whilst travelling will vary between individuals and many issues need to be taken into account, e.g. activities abroad, length of stay and general health of the traveller. It is recommended that you consult with your General Practitioner or Practice Nurse 6-8 weeks in advance of travel. They will assess your particular health risks before recommending vaccines and /or antimalarial tablets. This is also a good opportunity to discuss important travel health issues including safe food and water, accidents, sun exposure and insect bites. Many of the problems experienced by travellers cannot be prevented by vaccinations and other preventive measures need to be taken.
We recommend taking your trip itinerary with you to this appointment and highlighting remoteness of trek and level and type of activity, as this may affect the recommendations. e.g. Rabies risk is higher in remote areas where access to appropriate treatment may be delayed, so it is strongly recommended to discuss rabies vaccination with your medical practitioner for all of our trips.
Malaria – The areas this itinerary visits are generally ‘low risk’, as they are above 2,000m. Antimalarial tablets are not usually recommended for ‘low risk’ areas, however, they can be considered for certain travellers who may be at higher risk. It is important to always consult a medical practitioner for recommendations on anti-malarial precautions.
ZIKA – There have been cases of ZIKA virus reported in Peru. ZIKA is most commonly spread by mosquitoes, so strict mosquito bite avoidance measures are recommended ( more information provided in your pre-departure information).
- Pregnant women are advised to postpone non-essential travel to countries or areas with High risk of ZIKV transmission.
- Pregnant women are advised to consider postponing non-essential travel to countries or areas with Moderate risk of ZIKV transmission.
British nationals don’t need a visa to travel if the purpose of the visit is tourism.
On arrival, you’re normally given permission to stay for up to 183 days.
Double check the period of time you’ve been granted. If you overstay, you’ll need to pay a fine. In the worst case scenario you could be held in detention.
Your passport should be valid for the duration of your stay in Peru.
For more information please see https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/peru/entry-requirements.
Customers of different nationalities need to check with their own embassy.
The currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol (PEN). ATMs and change bureaux are available in the arrivals hall at the airport and in Cusco. You may like to bring USD cash with you, ensuring you have some small denomination notes, as these can also be used directly. However you will get change in Sols.
You must make sure any USD are in good condition, as notes with minor tears or in poor condition will not be accepted by money exchanges.
FLIGHTS & ARRIVAL
The starting point of this itinerary is Cusco Airport.
International flights will usually fly in to Lima, the capital of Peru. From there a connecting flight to Cusco can be made.
If you book a LAND ONLY package you will need to get to Cusco Airport, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
If you book a FLIGHT INCLUSIVE package we will book your flights for you. We will contact you to confirm the best departure airport, timings and final price of your flight. Please note flight prices are dependent on availability and any price listed on our website is an estimate of the flight cost from London. You will be advised of the final flight cost before committing to pay for it. Most flights are non-refundable and need to be paid for upfront before they can be booked (due to the flight terms of the airlines).
Please do not make any non-refundable travel arrangements or flight bookings until your booking has been confirmed (by email from us) and your trip is guaranteed to run. Note: the automated booking response does not constitute these confirmations.
IT FOR ME?
In order to fully enjoy your trip it is very important that you choose the right trip for you and fully understand what it involves.
There are risks inherent in travelling in Peru, as indeed there are in most of the trips that we provide. Many of the activities we offer also involve a significant level of effort on your part. After all, it is called Adventure Travel for a reason.
It is really important that you read both the trip notes and FAQ information on our website, to enable you to choose the best trip for you. Once you have read them both, please make sure you ask if there is anything you do not understand. We classify this trip as:
- Trek ‘Moderate’… This trek is mostly aimed at experienced trekkers – But if you are ‘fit’ (What does that mean? In this case – that you do regular exercise – walk/cycle/jog/squash/ etc) and have an ‘adventurous’ disposition, then you might consider this too! As an experienced trekker you will know that this type of trip will involve some sweating and breathing hard! It will involve steep up and down. There may be sections of rough trail that falling off is not an option! The days are likely to be long, remote and even arduous at times. Make sure you are comfortable with this description (and the remainder of the trip notes), if at all unsure, then drop us an email asking for more clarification. We want you to book the perfect trip for you!