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Day 1: Cusco - Chachabamba - Winaywayna - Machu Picchu - 12 KM
Pickup from hotel (about 4 -5 am) to transfer you to the Ollantaytambo train station, where we board the train. The train winds us through the mountains and cloud forests with breathtaking scenery until it stops in the jungle at Km 104, the starting point of our trek. After crossing the Urubamba river on a footbridge, we check in with park rangers at the control point, then continue our hike to the archaeological site of Chachabamba, with an elevation of 2150m. From here we ascend a hill for about 2 hours until we reach a beautiful secluded waterfall and in a few more minutes, will arrive at the fascinating archaeological site of Wiñaywayna 2650 m (8,694.23 ft). After we explore the ancient ruins. we continue to hike through the semitropical cloud forest area, until we cross over the mountain through Intipunku (The Sun Gate) to get our first glimpse of Machu Picchu. After a short hike down, we enjoy the afternoon before we descend by bus to Aguas Calientes for a comfortable night in our hotel.
Day 2: Machu Picchu - Cusco
After an early breakfast, we will take the shuttle bus up to Machu Picchu to enjoy the magic of the morning light and a private, guided tour. After your guided tour, you are free to explore the ruins on your own. In the afternoon, we return to Aguas Calientes by bus, then on to Cusco by train & private vehicle. With advance notice, we can make arrangements for you to spend one more day in Aguas Calientes and defer your return to Cusco at no extra cost unless you want us to book the hotel.
Travel Tip: by adding 1 day Sacred Valley tour before start of hike you can spend the night in Ollantaytambo where the train station is located.
This is the best way to explore the Sacred Valley and give you an advantage for boarding the train in Ollantaytambo the next morning. Our guide, driver and private vehicle will pick you up at your Cusco hotel to take you to Chinchero, the weavers' village, then continue to the Incan Greenhouse near Moray. Arrive in Ollantaytambo for guided tour of the ruins, then checkin to hotel for dinner and overnight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I get altitude sickness?
It's common for most people coming from sea level to experience at least mild symptoms of altitude sickness when they arrive in Cusco, which is 11,000 ft/3430 m above sea level. Age is not a factor for the severity of symptoms one can experience. But fitness can be. Symptoms vary from person to person, but can include:
-loss of appetite
Treatments may include:
- -OTC pain reliever - bring your own favorite remedy for pain relief
- -Oxygen. Most hotels have oxygen tanks in their lobbies and guides will carry small tanks of oxygen on hikes. Some local pharmacies sell an individual size O2 tank for personal use.
- -Coca Leaf. Locals believe that drinking coca leaf tea will help and you will find the tea leaves readily available in hotel tea bars as well as restaurants.
- -Water. Drink extra to keep your blood flowing freely. Dehydration leads to sludgy blood and may contribute to your discomfort.
- -Diamox. (AKA "Acetazolamide" is a diuretic or "water pill") can be purchased by prescription in some western countries or over the counter in Peruvian pharmacies.
- -Treatments may alleviate the symptoms as you adjust in the first 24-48 hours. But it's not likely that breathlessness when climbing steps or stairs will completely disappear, no matter how you treat it. If other symtoms do not show signs of improvement within 24 hours of your arrival, please notify your travel companions or guide so s/he can monitor your progress. In rare occasions, individuals may need to seek medical attention.
Is it safe to drink the water?
Tap water in Lima, Cusco and other larger cities is consumed by local people every day. But is it safe for you? There's only one way to find out and we suggest that you not drink the tap water or use it to brush your teeth. Bottled water is cheap and available everywhere including small towns and villages. We support Travelers Against Plastic to reduce the use of disposable water bottles and encourage you to bring a purification device to make your own safe drinking water. The device should be rated to purify water from microbes and viruses, not just for taste. Purified drinking water is provided on all the multi-day hikes and during your stay in the Amazon jungle lodges. Please bring your own water to begin the activity.
Should I travel to South America if I have a life-threatening allergy?
We've learned that there are different kinds of allergies; from hayfever to insect stings. IF YOU HAVE A LIFE-THREATENING ALLERGY TO ANY FOOD, INSECT, MEDICATION OR NATURAL ELEMENT, WE REQUIRE WRITTEN, ADVANCE NOTICE WITH FULL DESCRIPTION OF THE ALLERGEN AND THE TREATMENT. We reserve the right to require a doctors written approval for you to travel or ask you to provide your own treatment remedy and plan. And we ask you to notify your guide during your first meeting. In rare circumstances we may choose to reject your reservation if we feel that your condition is beyond the scope of the training of our guides or may negatively impact other travelers. Epi-pens are only useful in areas where you are close to medical services like Lima or Cusco.
What is the best way to travel between Lima and Cusco?
We recommmend flying between the cities because other means requires more time or is not practical for short vacations. There is no train service between Lima and Cusco. And while there is bus service, the drive is almost 24 hours long over paved, but winding mountain roads. There is no speedy highway. The cost of round-trip air tickets varies from around $250 pp on the domestic carriers, including STAR PERU AIRLINES and PERUVIAN AIRLINES, to $450 pp on LAN AIRLINES and somewhere in-between on TACA (recently merged with AVIANCA) AIRLINES. The majority of the flights between the cities occurs in the morning to mid-day hours. Afternoon flights taper off by 5 pm and there are no evening flights in either direction due to mountain weather conditions.
Where should I stay if my international flight arrives in Lima in the evening?
There is only one hotel at the Lima airport. The Wyndham Hotel is connected to the arrivals terminal by a skybridge on the 2nd floor. It takes literally 2 minutes to walk from the terminal to the lobby of the hotel. The hotel is expensive by Peruvian standards (in excess of $250 per double room per night). We've seen good rates on booking.com and hotels.com The hotel will accommodate as many as 3 to a room, but not 4.
This hotel is best for groups who arrive in Lima late evening and plan to depart again by air the next day. For groups planning to stay in Lima, it's best to pre-arrange a transfer to a hotel outside the airport, unless you don't mind paying the "gringo rate" when you negotiate on your own. The travel time is about 45 minutes each way when the traffic is moderate. And the cost ranges from $35 each way and up. If your group is larger than 3 persons, you may need a transfer in a mini-van or two taxis.
Do I need vaccinations to visit Machu Picchu?
The altitude of Machu Picchu is 8000 ft/2440 m and higher. Disease-carrying vectors do not thrive at higher elevations. US passport holders are not required to get Yellow Fever vaccinations or prophylactic Malaria treatments. Although there have been no recent cases of Yellow Fever in Peru, some countries, including the US, recommend that visitors get Yellow Fever vaccinations prior to visiting the Amazon Rainforest including Tambopata Reserve or Manu National Reserve. We recommend that travelers check the regulations for re-entry for any countries they will pass through after leaving Peru, Bolivia or Ecuador. Bolivia requires all foreigners to have proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry if you plan to travel to the Bolivian Amazon jungle. (Some countries including Australia, require their citizens to get yellow fever vaccination if they enter Peru, even if they are only visiting the higher elevations) As these regulations may change from time to time, it is the responsibility of travelers to consult their own government health departments for up to date and relevant information.
This Adventure Includes
- Pre-hike briefing the day before you start. Usually in your hotel or nearby hotel if others are hiking
- Transportation from: Hotel to Km. 104 (bus and train)
- Full-time, Professional English-speaking guide; (2 guides for groups of 8 or more people)
- Train tickets to the Km 104; and from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
- Transfers from Cusco to train station in Ollantaytambo
- Snacks ( during the hike)
- Permits for the Inca Trail
- 1 way + 1 round trip shuttle bus ticket: Machu Picchu - Aguas Calientes
- Hotel accommodation including breakfast in Aguas Calientes.
- Entry to Machu Picchu National Park & private tour
- ***optional 3rd day Sacred Valley tour includes guide, driver, vehicle & hotel
- International airfare to and from Lima.
- Domestic airfare from Lima
- additional shuttle bus tickets (pay $24 pp for each roundtrip)
- Trekking poles (can be rented for $8 pp)
- Travel insurance
- Hotel in Cusco (available on request or ask us for recommendations)
- Passport is required to obtain permits for this hike - we can use expired passport to get permit, but you must travel with both the old and new passport
- Once booked, permits cannot be transferred, changed or cancelled.
- Trip extensions available to Amazon jungle, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, Ecuador & Galapagos Islands
- We offer preferred rates for Cusco hotel - $85 /dbl, $75/sgl, $115/trp at Encantada
- (Optional )Huayna Picchu Hike on Day 2: (must be booked in advance) add $75 adult
- We guarantee all reservations. (except in circumstances beyond our control)
- Minimum 2 people per group / Maximum 8 per group
- it is possible for group members to stay on the train and continue to Aguas Calientes and skip the hike
- We can organize trips that include 4-Day Inca Trail and easy 2-day Inca Trail if you have group members with differing needs
- Add 1 day Sacred Valley Private Tour with entry tickets and hotel the day before you hike. Add $218 USD pp dbl occupancy (min 2 pax)