Hike in the footsteps of the Incas to the iconic ruins of Machu Picchu
Our trek along the legendary Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the world’s classic adventures, a four-day pilgrimage echoing the ceremonial journeys of the ancient Incas. History unfolds before us as we hike up and down steep stone staircases past long-abandoned villages and temples that can only be reached on foot, each ruin more impressive than the last, until we arrive at South America's most awe-inspiring archaeological site, the enigmatic stone citadel of Machu Picchu. Only a limited number of travelers are allowed to make this trek each year, and MTS knows how to do it right. We’ve been leading treks and tours in Peru since 1969, and our trip leaders—all natives of the region or long-standing residents—are the best in the business. Our Inca Trail experience is unlike any other, with two nights at Machu Picchu and ample time before the trek to acclimatize and explore evocative Inca monuments and out-of-the-way villages near Cusco. This tour is one of our most popular trips (with good reason!), so be sure to book early.
4 days moderate to strenuous hiking at medium elevation (max. 13,776')
- See the best of Peru with the Andean adventure experts since 1969!
- Make the classic 4-day hike on the famous Inca Trail, following in the footsteps of the Incas—one of the world’s great treks!
- Explore the enigmatic stone ruins of Machu Picchu, South America's most awe-inspiring archaeological site, and spend two nights at the footsteps of the famous citadel
- Visit the major Inca forts and monuments around Cusco, the charming, fascinating ancient capital of the Incas
Duration: 10 days Start Location: Lima End Location: LimaDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Cusco, via Lima
Morning arrival in Lima. You will be met by a Mountain Travel Sobek representative who will assist you with your connecting flight to Cusco. Upon arrival in Cusco, your trip leader will meet you outside the baggage claim area at the airport and transfer to the Hotel Libertador, located in the historical center of the city just three blocks from the main square. Afternoon guided tour of this charming, red-roofed city—the ancient capital of the vast Inca Empire. The Spanish conquistadores destroyed significant portions of the Inca civilization while leaving their mark on Cusco. Ornate cathedrals, adobe walls, carved balconies, hidden courtyards, and cobblestone streets add to the historic richness of the ancient Inca city. For dinner, choose from many fine restaurants, then stroll around the central square where colorful Quechuan handicrafts are offered for sale.
Day 2 : Inca ruins in the Cusco area
Today we'll make a morning visit to several Inca ruins in the vicinity of Cusco, which may include the zigzagging channels of Kenko, the ceremonial bath of Tambo Machay, and majestic Sacsayhuamán fortress, most impressive of them all with its perfectly fitted, mortarless stone blocks and zigzag walls. (Tambo Machay is the highest, at an elevation of 12,267'.) We’ll have lunch in the town of Pisac, where we visit its colorful market, then explore Pisac’s Inca ruins, the largest fortress-city complex of the Incas and one of the largest of ancient America. Pisac is at the same elevation as Cusco and is perched upon a high ridge overlooking the valley. Its ruins extend from a fortress to a temple complex where we can see some of the finest Inca stonework in existence. Terraces extend up from the river perhaps 2,000 feet and we’ll descend through a network of stairs, walkways, tunnels, and temples to the valley floor at 9,500'. We'll then continue to our hotel in the Sacred Urubamba Valley. (Approx. hiking time: 2 hours)
Day 3 : Chinchero, Maras & Moray
Today we'll take a scenic drive into the Urubamba Valley and up onto a highland plateau to visit the market town of Chinchero (12,398'). En route we’ll pass through farmland areas with a patchwork of pretty fields and adobe houses with red-tiled roofs, and enjoy views of snowcapped mountains in the distance. Chinchero is famous for a massive Inca wall located in its town square, with ten of the largest trapezoidal niches known among Inca monuments. Continue to Moray, a large experimental agricultural station where the Incas dug concentric circular terraces (the ancient terraces are pre-Inca in origin, but the Incas took it over and enlarged and refined them). Here we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch. In the afternoon we'll hike from Maras to the salt pans of Salinas, used for salt extraction since the time of the Incas. Late afternoon return to our hotel in the Urubamba Valley.
Day 4 : Visit Ollantaytambo and begin trek
In the morning we'll visit the Ollantaytambo ruins, one of the few Inca towns that have survived in much the same form as when Incas designed it several hundred years ago. Here we'll see Inca "canchas", enclosures of multi-family living quarters that share just one exit to the street, ingenious stonework, cobbled streets, and an extensive communal water system that survives to this day. We'll continue by vehicle to Km 82 and, after passing the control point, cross a footbridge and begin our trek along a trail following the Urubamba River, heading inland and slowly uphill at the Cusichaca Valley. Fortunately, the Incas left a marvelous path, including stone staircases up through cloud forests and open grasslands. We continue trekking to the small village of Huayllabamba (9,800'), enjoying some great views back towards the Urubamba Valley along the way. (Approx. hiking time: 4-5 hours)
Day 5 : Cross the Warmiwanusqa Pass
We'll hike steeply through three vegetation and climatic zones over the Warmiwanusqa Pass (“pass of the dead woman”—13,776'), the first pass and highest point on the Inca Trail. We pass through harvested fields, a relic forest of queñua trees, and finally reach the puna or alpine grasslands. From the pass, there are wonderful views of the surrounding ridges and peaks. Descend to Pacamayo (11,800') and camp. (Approx. hiking time: 6 hours)
Day 6 : Phuyupatamarca
A steady climb takes us over Runkuraqay Pass (12,900'), with commanding views back toward Warmiwanusqa. Then descend to the remarkably situated ruins at Sayacmarca, a fortress city located on an unassailable promontory between two valleys, in an area where overgrown Inca ruins are still being uncovered! After a picnic lunch, we'll hike across a third (and last) pass to camp at Phuyupatamarca (“town at the edge of the clouds”) at 11,906 feet. Phuyupatamarca has remarkable views of the Urubamba Valley and interesting ruins lie just below the campsite. The afternoon is free to explore the area. (Approx. hiking time: 6 hours)
Day 7 : Arrive at mysterious Machu Picchu
From Phuyupatamarca we'll descend steeply to the jungle-bound ruins of Winaywayna (“Forever Young”), perched on a promontory above a gorgeous waterfall and featuring a series of ceremonial baths. The descent is mostly on a stone-hewn staircase that zigzags down the mountainside. From there we continue to Intipunku (“Gate of the Sun”) at about 9,400 feet, the original entrance to Machu Picchu.
Nestled between striking peaks high above the Urubamba Valley, Machu Picchu exists as an incomparably well-reconstructed ruin of staircases, terraced hillsides, altars, temples, fountains, and incredible vistas. We should arrive by the late afternoon, when the gentle light casts shadows on the impressive ruins below. We'll enjoy dinner and overnight at Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, located in the small town of Aguas Calientes and surrounded by gardens on the banks of the Urubamba River. In 2006 it was rated by readers of Travel & Leisure as one of the top 500 hotels in the world. (Approx. hiking time: 5 hours)
Day 8 : Machu Picchu
We’ll awake early to catch the bus to the ruins in time to experience the morning light over Machu Picchu and explore the ruins in depth before the train arrives with day visitors. We’ll have a thorough walking tour of Machu Picchu, visiting the various main structures and learning about their importance in the lives of the Incas.
After lunch at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Hotel, you'll have the afternoon free to explore some more on your own. Those who like can hike the “Inca Bridge,” an ancient drawbridge leading to the jungle. You can also return to our hotel via bus and stroll its lovely gardens containing more than 372 species of orchid, native palms, ferns, begonias, fruit trees and medicinal plants.
Day 9 : Machu Picchu and return to Cusco
The morning is free to relax at the hotel, return to Machu Picchu, or take short hikes in the immediate vicinity. After lunch at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, we’ll catch the return train to Cusco (about a four-hour ride). Once in Cusco we'll transfer to the Hotel Libertador. You'll have the evening free to relax or spend time exploring this charming city.
Day 10 : Fly home
Morning transfer to the Cusco airport and fly to Lima. Upon arrival, you’ll be transferred to the Casa Andina Private Collection, where dayrooms will be available. The remainder of the day is free to relax before returning to the airport in the evening for your homeward-bound flight (most U.S.-bound flights depart in the evening), or to shop and explore on your own. You may want to visit the exceptional Gold Museum with its numerous gold artifacts, from earplugs to dazzling jewelry.
DATES: Best time to go: April - September Departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.
$400 internal airfare (subject to change)
Palacio del Inka-CuscoCusco
Facing the Sun Temple "Koricancha," this romantic, personalized hotel is a traveler's favorite, reaching 11th place on Condé Nast Traveler's list of top South American hotels. Rooms furnished in a classic, traditional style ensure the hotel maintains its serene character despite its central location.
Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
A luxury boutique hotel just steps from the train, but a secluded natural paradise. Located in the small town of Aguas Calientes on the banks of the Urubamba River, the Pueblo Hotel was rated by Travel + Leisure readers as a top 500 hotel of the world in 2006. Rustic elegance distinguishes the private bungalows, each with its own fireplace, and the lush gardens are home to orchids, exotic birds and other flora and fauna.
Casa Andina Private Collection—Miraflores
The Casa Andina Private Collection—Miraflores hotel is the top of its class in every aspect. Once the Miraflores César's, Lima’s fondly remembered, original five-star hotel, this modern icon was dramatically transformed in 2008 into the capital’s newest luxury hotel. Its quintessential Limeño flavor reverberates in the exquisite art collection of contemporary local artists and prized colonial-era antiques, in both public spaces and accommodations.
The 17-story hotel, with views over Miraflores and the Pacific coast, offers 148 sophisticated, contemporary luxury rooms and suites, with soundproofing and LCD flatscreen TVs in every room. First-class amenities include a heated, covered pool and breezy terrace, gymnasium with the latest exercise equipment, prestigious Joop salon & massage room, business center, and 5 multimedia-equipped corporate event & meeting rooms.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Manolo Lazo is one of Peru’s most experienced adventure travel guides, with more than 15 years of experience leading treks and whitewater rafting trips. A resident of Cusco, Manolo is well versed in the rich history of the Andes as well as the classic trekking routes that follow the ancient Inca trade paths. His knowledge of the country, its people, and traditions add immensely to your appreciation of the trip. Manolo is fluent in English as well as Spanish, and conversant in Quechua—the historic language of the Incas, and he has a gift for instilling confidence in every trekker.
Manuel started out as a field assistant with Mountain Travel Sobek more than 20 years ago, and is now considered one of the finest trek and tour leaders in Peru. Manuel graduated with a degree in agriculture and raises white corn on a farm in a valley near Cusco.