We depart Cusco at 6.am in a private car for a 4 hour drive to the charming village of Cachora, situated on the edge of the Apurimac canyon and surrounded by impressive snowcapped peaks. After lunch, it is a 2 hour hike to Capuliyoc (2915 metres/ 9561 feet) from where we have our first beautiful views of the Apurimac valley stretching below as well as the snow-capped peaks of Padrayoc and Wayna Cachora. Our total hiking time today is about eight hours. Accommodation: Camping at Chiccisqa 1950 m
16 km descending 1200m in altitude - cachora to chikisca
Departing early, we descend to the magnificent Apurimac River (1550 metres/ 5084feet) before beginning our climb to Santa Rosa and then onto Maranpata where we will have lunch. The climb from the river takes about 4 hours and is tough. From our lunch spot we can see the ruins of Choquequirao, from here we have two hours more hike to the ruins. (3110 metres/ 10120 feet) We will spend the late evening in the ruins, where we will watch the sunset and have the chance to see condors. Accommodation: Camping at Choquequirao campsite 3033m 13 km ascending 1600 m in altitude -Chikisca to Choquequirao
We have a chance to more fully explore the ruins and have a little rest in the morning. In the afternoon we will climbing over a ridge hike to the ruins Pinchinuyoc, where we will camp the night. This is definately the easiest day of the trip! Accommodation: Camping at Pinchinuyoc about 3000m/ or depending on the group at Rio Blanco, a further 1.5 to 2 hours descent. 10 km descending 1450 m in altitude – Choquequirao to Rio Blanco
After 2 hours of walking, we will arrive at the canyon of the Rio Blanco (1990 metres/6527 feet) where will have a rest before starting a difficult climb to our campsite of Victoria Silver Mine . The climb is 6-7 hours. Accommodation: Camping at Victoria Silver mine 3500m 8km ascend 2000 m in altitude – Rio Blanco to Mina Victoria
We depart at 7am, and walk uphill for about 2 hours through semi-jungle. We visit the ancient mines and some Inca Ruins before climbing an hour more to the pass of Abra Victoria. (4130 metres/ 13 546 feet). The newly discovered Coryhuayrachina ruins are between Yanama and Maizal and we do follow well constructed inca steps at an area that we call "Mina Victoria" (we started calling it this because that's what the muleeteers called it)
There are spectacular views from the pass as we descend to the charming village of Yanama. (about 3 hours walk). Accommodation: Camping at Yanama 4100m
12km 500m descend and ascend 600m in altitude - Mina victoria to Yanama
A day of mountain peaks. In this day we walk for seven hours, preferably rising early to appreciate the chain of snowpeaks that we can see from here. We lightly ascend to the second pass which is the highest of our trek at 4850 metres/ 15908 feet. After the pass we descend for three hours to the Valley of Totora, where will spend the night. Accommodation: Camping at Colpapampa about 3100m .
18km 700 m ascend and descend 1900m in altitude - Yanama to Colpapampa
A day of botany and glacier . Today we also walk up for 7-8 hours, but the whole day is hiking up ,we can easily notice the changing scenery and different varieties of plants typical of the high jungle - known in Spanish as the "eyebrow of the jungle", we can appreciate Vizcachas (andean chinchilla) and a very small lake. You finally arrive at the pass which is the highest point of the trip (4,600 metres/13451 feet then we’ll descent until camp site Salkantay pampa.
Alter a cold night, we continue our hike to start the 3-4-hour steep climb towards the Incachiriasca pass (4850m/15908ft), the highest of the entire route, offering impressive viewsof the Salkantay snow peak. After a celebratory rest on the pass we will then descend towards our lunch spot at Sisaypampa, a flat area from which one can observe the Salkantay´s neighboring valleys (it is possible that you will see condors in this area). After lunch we continue towards the Pampacahuana community, located next to an original Inca canal, where we set our second camp and spend the night.
14km hiking in total 8-9 hours aprox.
In the morning you will see that the valley begins to narrow and the river becomes a canal. The Incas frequently cut canals through valleys to increase the agricultural land. From Pampachuana it's a 3 hours hike down the narrow, steep valley to the Inca fortress of Inkaracay (also known as Paucarcancha). This is a site well worth exploring and little known to the vast majority of visitors to Peru.
It's about another 2 hours walk down to the small village of Wayllabamba which is the point that we join the Traditional (or Classic) Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. As mules are not allowed on the Traditional Inca Trail, at this point we say goodbye to our mules and muleteers and welcome our porters who will accompany us for the next few days. Wayllabamba is our cap site 3000mts. 12km hiking in total 7-8 hours aprox.
we leave Wayllabamba behind to start our way up the Warmihuañusca mountain pass (Dead Woman’s pass) through an abrupt and steep ascent that stretches for 9 km. reaching the mountain pass of Abra Warmihuañusca (4200m/13776ft) after about 4 hours. Immediately after the pass, we descend about 1 ½ hours until campsite Pacaymayo valley (3600m/11808ft.
Today we continue our trek up until halfway to visit the very impressive archaeological complex Runkurakay. This site, located at 3800m/12464ft, consists of a small oval structure that is believed to have served the purpose of a watchtower then continue to climb to the second pass, the Abra Runkurakay (3970m/13022ft).
After going over the pass, we descend towards Yanacocha (Black Lagoon) and enter the cloud forest to finally arrive at Sayacmarca (3624m/11887ft). This is a beautiful complex made up of a semicircular construction. Only 20 minutes away is Chaquicocha – 3400m (dry lake in Quechua), where we will have launch. After siesta we have an easy climb, to arrive at the third pass, the Abra de Phuyupatamarca (3700m/12136ft). Phuyupatamarca is one of the most complete and best-preserved archaeological complexes along the Inca Trail to Machupicchu, and is located on the highest point of a mountain. Curiously, Phyupatamarca meamiss this archaelogical complex!
On this last day we get up at 4.00 am to leave Wiñaywayna at approx. 5am and climb to the Intipunku, or the Sun Gate. This will take an hour of hiking along a trail of flat stones on the edges of cliffs in highland jungle. From this fabulous spot, we may see the sunrise over Machu Picchu. From Intipunku we descend into Machupicchu, and 40 minutes later we enter this famous city. We then descend to the control point where we register ourselves and leave our backpacks. We immediately begin a complete guided tour Machu Picchu that will take approximately two hours.
After your tour you can further explore the ruins by yourself or climb Huayna (Wayna)Picchu for that classic photo of Machu Picchu. Please note that new regulations (designed to protect the ruins and for the safety of visitors) mean that there are two entry times to Huayna Picchu - at 7am and 10am, and each time has a limit of 400 enries. Also try to fit in a visit to the Temple of the Moon or Uñay Huayna Picchu while visiting Huayna Picchu.
Normally, during high season those people who climb Huayna picchu spend a extra day at the ruins just to get for the mountain and then spend a good amount of time on this classic mountain.
If you don't get to do Huayna Picchu, other options are:
Inti Punku (gate of the sun) this is the location where the classic inca trail arrives.
Machu Picchu mountain.
We highly recommend walking down from Machu Picchu to get a feeling for the vegetation and also the audacity of its builders. Its a 1.5 hour walk back to the village of Aguas Calientes. We return to Cusco in the afternoon by the backpacker train (leaves either at 2.30pm or 6pm) and are met by a driver at Ollantaytambo who will transfer you directly back to your hotel. You will arrive in Cusco approximately 4 hours after your train's departure from Aguas Calientes.
MOUNTAIN BIKING MARAS MORAY SALT MINES
Maras: Maras is a district of the Urubamba province, possible to be reached through a paved road from kilometer 50 on the road cusco – Chinchero (cruz pata) - Urubamba. It is located towards the west of cusco at an altitude of 3300 mts. (10824 feet); over a plain that in prehistoric times was a huge plateau, from which it is possible to observe the range of mountains of Urubamba including the snow capped mountains of Waqay Willka (today "La Veronica", 5682 mts., 18641 ft.) and " Chicon" (5530 mts., 18143 ft.).
Moray: About 7 kms. (4.3 miles) away southwest from Maras is Moray, a very unique archaeological site in the region. It is possible to reach it by car through the dusty road and the path departing from the town. Those are enormous natural depressions or hollows in the ground surface that Inkas used for constructing irrigated farming terraces around them. What is surprising is that the difference of average annual temperature between the top and the bottom reaches even about 15°C (59°F) in the main depression that is about 30 mts (100 feet) deep
Towards the northwest of the Maras village are the famous "Salt Works". which are possible to reach walking by the trail or by car through a dusty road that is almost useless in the rainy season. The Maras "salt works" to which some people call "salt mines" are constituted by about 3000 small pools with an average area of 5 m² (53.8 ft²), constructed in a slope of the "Qaqawiñay" mountain. People fill up or "irrigate" the pools during the dry season every 3 days, with salty water emanating from a natural spring located on the top of the complex, so that when water evaporates the salt contained in it will slowly solidify.