Things to know before hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The classic Inca Trail does much more than reach Machu Picchu. Crossing the mountains, the trail offers breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, dense forests, subtropical forests, and highlands. In addition, you get a great mix of Inca cobblestones, tunnels, and several Inca archeological sites only accessible via the Inca Trail.
Suppose you plan to hike the Inca Trail remotely. We highly encourage you to do so, as you will be amazed at both the sight and what your body can do. The trek covers a total distance of 43 km (26,719 mi) and an altitude of 2,720 m (8,900 ft) to 4,200 m (14,000 ft).
Yes, in 2024, it will be open to all lovers of outdoor walks. The Classic Inca Trail is one of the top 5 hiking trails in the world. Many adventurers around the globe plan their itineraries and start booking to reach their next destination, Machu Picchu. A Machu Picchu hiking adventure awaits you. It is recommended to check the availability of the Inca Trail in advance and reserve a space.
Km 82 (Piscacucho): hiking for four days on rocky roads. First, you will be in the middle of the Andes and the Amazon jungle, where Machu Picchu is located, surrounded by Andean mountains, subtropical forests, and clouds. Along the way, you will encounter impressive Inca and pre-Inca structures. The Inca Trail is one of the best treks in the world, and you can see it in thousands of reviews from travelers worldwide.
The Great Inca Trail refers to the more than 60,000 km (37,282 mi) network of Inca Trails that united the Inca civilization. It included much of South America, from Peru to Colombia, western Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, central Chile, and northern Argentina. According to Peruvian historian José Antonio del Busto, the Inca ruler Huayna Capac expanded the Inca trail network to organize his army into the Inca Empire quickly.
Inca trails vary in quality and size; Inca trails on the coast are 6 to 8 meters wide, the paved trails in the Andes are only 1 meter wide, and some parts of the hiking trail are incredibly steep. The famous classic Inca Trail was rediscovered by the North American professor Hiram Bingham during his clearing work between 1913 and 1915.
Passing through different landscapes, the views of the Inca Trail are stunning, which is undoubtedly one of the reasons it is so unique. Tour participants will also see the high Andes, cloud forests, Puna grasslands, high mountain passes, and various wildlife, birds, and plants native to these climates. The mix of these different types of terrain provides a stunning landscape where the Andes mountains merge into the high Amazon rainforest.
Another reason this route is unique is that it visits three important Inca ruins along the way, all accessible only on foot. On the first day, hikers visit the ruins of Llactapata, an impressive site with terraces and buildings resembling a small fortified hilltop village.
On the third day, hikers visit Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca, both large complexes with remains of terraces and buildings. After camping near Phuyupatamarca, one of the highlights of the hike is waking up to the sun rising over the ruins just before taking the final walk to Machu Picchu.
However, the most striking ruin on the way is Wiñay Wayna. This beautiful site, of particular spiritual significance to the Incas, consists of curved Inca terraces that follow the lines of a hill and include a complex of buildings embedded in the ruins.
This trail is unique because it leads to one of the world’s wonders, Machu Picchu. On the fourth day, hikers reach the ruins through the Gate of the Sun, which gives them a unique first view of the site, just as when the Incas came. This is a great experience and very rewarding after challenging days of trekking. And, of course, it’s also worth spending some time exploring this world-famous site.
Walking the Inca Trail without a guide is not allowed. In 2002, an ordinance prohibited visitors from hiking the Inca Trail alone. A registered professional guide must accompany all hikers along the trail.
Since 2002, access to the Inca Trail has been limited to 500 people (about 200 tourists, 300 accompanying guides, and porters) daily, regardless of the season. This means that everyone must obtain a permit in advance for the trek.
A permit is only possible through an authorized travel provider who purchases the tickets in advance.
The weather on the Inca Trail varies depending on the length of the trek and can be pretty unpredictable. The weather on the Inca Trail changes monthly. The temperature inside the entrance can differ from place to place every day. It is best to get ready for different situations.
From April to October, the weather is sunny and ranges from 12oC/53F to 28oC/82F, averaging 17oC/62F. It is windy, and sometimes it rains in the high passes or the highest places. However, the weather in the Andes is unpredictable.
Rain and wind can blow. November to March is the rainy season, so expect drizzle during the trek. Bring suitable equipment such as a down jacket, thermal shirt, trousers, fleece, hard-shell or Gore-Tex jacket, and warm socks to prevent weather problems. Hiking boots, gloves, buffs, bandanas, sunglasses, and hiking pants are also recommended.
The temperature on the second night reaches 01°C (33°F); on other nights, the campsites are in subtropical locations, and sometimes it can rain with strong winds as we are very close to high mountains, especially the first and second nights.
Your sleeping bag must be rated -10oC/14F, and bring a one-liner sleeping bag per person. Thermal shirts, pants, and socks are essential for these nighttime temperatures.
Peru is a year-round travel destination, but the dry/winter season, between May and September, is typically the most popular time for trekking. Then, the nights are quieter, and wildflowers often bloom along the path. Less cloud cover in winter means cooler nights on the hiking Inca Trail (near 0 degrees on the coldest nights).
Machu Picchu Tour
June and July are the months to visit Peru, so expect long lines and crowds. Consider visiting during the off-season to avoid crowds. The Inca Trail has a cap on the number of trekkers, but the only way to guarantee a spot during peak season is to book your permits in advance.
04-day Inca Trail permits must be booked 5 to 6 months in advance. However, if you plan to trek in May, June, or July, book the Inca Trail eight months in advance for your hiking permit.
High-altitude trekking for 6–8 hours daily for four days is not easy, so training is highly recommended. Hiking the Inca Trail should be fun because it doesn’t hurt. So, staying healthy is essential. When training for the Inca Trail, you must focus on cardio, lift light weights, and think things through. It’s also something you need to prepare months in advance. Our Inca Trail training guide will help you get fit and thrive while hiking. Whether you follow our guide in full or select small parts, we are confident you will be well prepared for the trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
The Peruvian government, the National Institute of Culture, and the Ministry of the Environment have not issued guidelines on age limits for trekking the Inca Trails that require a permit. It is up to tour operators to set their limitations.
Operators planning group travel can choose the age limit they prefer. Some people chose 08 as the youngest and 67 as the oldest. We manage great hikes along the classic Inca Trail; we have designed a hiking tour for families with children under 6, infants carrying backpacks, and seniors in their 70s.
Fitness is a factor, and it is in the tour operator’s interest to carefully review groups with members under 15 and over 50. All our employees walk all Inca Trails, and we have detailed explanations, expertise, and practical advice to help people make decisions.
You don’t have to be an intrepid hiker to hike the 4-day Inca Trail, but you must be in acceptable shape. We recommend walking about 10 km (6 miles) to get an idea.
A few tips for better physical preparation for the Inca Trail
The trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is not just a walk. The hiking Inca Trail is a 26-mile trail with steep inclines and descents, many steps, uneven terrain, rough cobblestone chunks, and tricky switchbacks. It has some of the world’s most impressive natural and historical attractions.
Inca Trail hikes are rated from moderate to challenging. A common misconception is that it will be easy because so many people are hiking the Inca Trail. It’s not like that. The pathway is 26 miles (43 kilometers) long and requires a fair amount of fitness.
The Peruvian Ministry of Culture, authorities, and the Environment have already designated camping nights. Camping on the Inca Trail is one of the best experiences in the Andes mountains and jungle within the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu. The porters and the cook will prepare the tent and the food for each night.
It is a beautiful camp in the Inca Trail’s buffer zone with the Huayllabamba community and the Inca ruins of Patawasi. Huayllabamba has the ideal climate of the Cusichaca Valley and the Huayruro Grande. The weather is pleasant during the night.
Ayapata Camp is one of the first-day camps; Ayapata is the second camping area after Huayllabamba Camp. The camping area presents a jungle typical of the Inca route, with dense jungle. This camp is one hour away from Huayllabamba.
Located in the middle of the second day of the Inca Trail, the Frosty Camp is a three-hour walk from the Huayllabamba Camp. It is accessible to hikers experienced in lengthy and strenuous treks.
Official camp for day 2 of the Inca Trail trek. The camping area has a warm to cool climate, a high jungle in the middle of the Andes, and great views of the cloud forest and Vilcabamba Batholith.
The Chaquicocha camp area is a second option for camping on the second day of the Inca Trail. To get to Chaquicocha, after Pacaymayo, you must pass through the Runkuracay pass, with a walking time of about 3.5 hours. Chaquicocha offers incredible views of the Aobamba Valley, snow-capped Salkantay, and the ruins of Sayacmarca.
Phuyupatamarca Camp is located just south of Mount Phuyupatamarca. It offers stunning views of Phuyupatamarca ruins, the city of Aguas Calientes, and Machu Picchu, as well as incredible views of Wiñaywayna. The Phuyupatamarca camp is the third official camp after Wiñaywayna. When no spaces are available in the Wiñaywayna camp, the Phuyupatamarca camp is assigned.
Camp Wiñayhuayna is the third official camp of the Inca Trail and the most popular basecamp, as it is located in the cloud forest just two hours from Machu Picchu. Regarding panoramic views, it features the Andes capped by the Urubamba River. The camp is surrounded by two incredible ruins of him, Inti Pata and Wiñaywayna.
This is an optional camp when there are weather restrictions between Wiñaywayna, Inti Punku, and Machu Picchu due to landslides, etc. Puente Ruinas Camp is a 20-minute walk downriver from Aguas Calientes. Hikers also use Puente Ruinas Camp on the Inca Trail, completed in 5 days.
Peruvian soles, preferably around $150. But let’s say you start buying along the Inca trail a chocolate bar, chips, a shower, a few drinks, and perhaps eat lunch in Aguas Calientes (the villages of Aguas Calientes aren’t that cheap). In this case, it should be mentioned that Aguas Calientes has an ATM.
This is an excellent place to start if you can afford it and want to spend it without relying on spur-of-the-moment impulses. Of course, if you don’t tip or drink the water provided by the Inca Trail tour operator, you have very little money to spend. It depends a lot on how you travel.
To give you an idea of how much cash to bring as a tip and how much to provide the support staff. The recommendation is the classic 4-day Inca Trail. Prices are shown in Peruvian Nuevo’s Soles.
Generally, it’s best to tip the tour staff with smaller denominations of Nuevo Sol bills. We recommend 60 soles for each porter and 120 Peruvian currency for the cooks (not for each hiker but for the whole group). Tipping is technically optional in most situations.
Travel insurance is essential for any trip, but it’s necessary when undertaking potentially dangerous activities such as hiking in remote areas where medical facilities or assistance may not be nearby. Knowing that you have the right insurance coverage in case of an accident, you can make the most of your adventure with complete peace of mind. It can be anything from lost or stolen luggage to mountain rescue by helicopter.
When mountaineering, make sure your travel insurance covers you for the altitude. Most standard policies include running up to 2,500 meters. Get insurance up to 4,600 meters, including the highest point of the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu at 4,215 meters.
The short answer is a double yes. Your knees will thank you, especially when walking up and down stairs that make you dizzy. The authorities do not allow the use of metal-tipped trekking poles because they damage Inca Trail stones. Get rubber covers for hiking poles. You can also buy it in Cusco. If you don’t have room for hiking poles in your luggage, purchase cheap wooden hiking sticks! Buy in Cusco or Ollantaytambo. They work well and are made from cultivated wood (usually bamboo).
Tour guides permanently carry a first aid kit with oxygen, but prescriptions are not allowed. When trekking the Inca Trail, there is no harm in having a basic first-aid kit with the medicines you know!
What is usually carried in the first aid of the operating company: Diamox (acetazolamide), Cipro, Ibuprofen, and Imodium are important. Diamox helps with altitude sickness. Ibuprofen helps with headaches. Cipro and Imodium will save you from food poisoning.
Any hotel in the area will store your main luggage at the reception after you walk to the Inca Trail. “Note: The hotel where the customer is staying.” You do not need to book a room for this. You can pick it up when you come back.
Indoor flush toilets are located at the following locations: Trailhead, lunch break on Day 1, Camp on Days 1 and 2, Wiñaywayna Camp on Day 3, and Phuyupatamarca outpost camp on Day 3. There is no water in the restrooms in Phuyupatamarca. The condition of all toilets on the hiking Inca Trail depends on their use. Bathrooms are not “sanitized.”
How to prepare for the Inca Trail 4 Days?
Want to know why portable toilet camps are an excellent fit for the Inca Trail?
Staying hydrated is essential when hiking the Inca Trail, as it helps your body adjust to the high altitude of the Andes. Carry a 2-liter bottle of water with you for a day’s walk.
On the first day, there are several local shops along the hiking route to Huayllabamba Camp. On the second day, there are only two places where you can buy water in this section: Ayapata and Llulluchapampa. Llulluchapampa is the last place where you can get bottled water.
There are generally several streams leading to Machu Picchu along the Inca Trail, and you can bring tablets or charcoal filters to purify the water.
Inca Trail Machu Picchu Frequently Asked Questions
Note: On strategic days, the chefs will provide each hiker with boiled water before starting the trek. We also recommend bringing a reusable bottle to keep the Inca Trail network clean. “Plastic bottles are prohibited.”
Like motion sickness, no one expects to suffer from altitude until they do. Altitude sickness is much more common than motion sickness and can be fatal if left untreated. Many travelers arrive in Cusco experiencing mild symptoms of altitude sickness, including headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and more. However, these symptoms usually disappear after acclimatization (about 12–24 hours after reaching the Andes of Cuzco). The Inca Trail has steep ascents and descents, and body movements affect the body’s ability to adapt. This is a big reason why the Warmihuañusca Mountain Pass is a significant challenge for all Inca Trail hikers.
Inca Trail Essential information: distance, difficulty, and more
You will walk through Cusco, Sacred Valley, etc., from different heights while chewing or drinking an organic infusion of fresh coca leaves. While these can be helpful, listening to your body and learning to recognize the symptoms is essential.
Overworking or not paying attention to the warning signs can be dangerous. Before arriving in Peru, consult your doctor and discuss the possibility of taking medication for altitude sickness. Altitude sickness medication is usually good for traveling to a high altitude for the first time. You may not need to take altitude sickness medication, but preparing beforehand is a good idea.
Choosing an Inca Trail tour company is one of the most complex parts of planning your hiking adventure. GO. MACHUPICCHU.TOURS offers unforgettable and unique expeditions of the Inca Trail of Peru. One of our primary goals is to support our local towns. We achieve this by hiring local staff (including porters, cooks, guides, and caterers). We provide all porters with quality equipment, uniforms, fair and legal wages, and insurance to provide good service. On the Inca Trail, we operate small groups of up to 2 and up to 16 people.
You did it; you finally decided to hike the Inca Trail. Chances are, you’ve been planning this for quite some time. We read about previous experiences of different hikers, check out other tour companies, visit the gym for the occasional leg workout, and Google Machu Picchu photos for inspiration. You pause for a moment to realize that you are about to walk the Inca Trail and feel at peace, but after a while, you admit that you don’t know what to do on the Inca Trail, so here we describe the essence.
You’ll need your passport to enter Peru when starting the Inca Trail. At the start of the hiking trail, an official government checkpoint imposes strict limits on the number of visitors allowed daily. Any foreigner embarking on a trek must present a passport.
An optional passport stamp is also provided, a great way to commemorate your hike. Since you can’t even start the journey without it, your passport must not be missing from your Inca Trail packing list!
Remember that during your four-day hike, you will shower only once or not at all. This means you’ll want plenty of underwear and socks—clothes that get dirty the fastest and are most miserable the second time you wear them unwashed!
Regarding other clothes, the most important thing to consider is that you want clothes you can wear. Temperatures are sweltering day and night, with a rapid rise in body temperature during strenuous travel and a drop in body temperature during rest. It is better to dress appropriately for these conditions. Ideally, it would be best to have hiking or gym pants that convert to shorts when needed. You should bring short- and long-sleeved shirts and a light jacket. You should also pack cold-weather clothing for the nights, including hats, gloves, and scarves, especially if you’re designing your Inca Trail packing list for the rough times of the year.
Whether you bring hiking or hybrid boots, make sure they are waterproof! Even if you visit during the dry season, you’ll likely encounter rain or slush at some point during the hike.
When choosing between boots and boots on your Inca Trail packing list, remember that boots are much lighter and provide better ankle support. One final shoe recommendation is that blisters are no fun on a 4-day trek, so whatever you wear, ensure they fit well and are somewhat worn.
Again, even when hiking in dry weather, don’t forget your rain gear! A poncho or rain jacket and plastic bags to separate wet clothes from dry clothes are essentials for your Inca Trail packing list.
Do not forget to choose the right sleeping bag for your trip, as this will be your source of relaxation every night of the trek. No matter what season you visit Peru, we recommend the four-season sleeping bag.
If you’re hiking the Inca Trail, face the facts. It will take several days. This means you can bring along basic toiletries to make it more enjoyable.
These include Toilet paper, moist wipes, deodorant, soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, sunblock, and chapstick.
These are essential items on your Inca Trail packing list, especially if you plan to shower on the third night. You can relax and let your feet breathe at night without showering.
The tour company provides food and water, but you may get thirsty or hungry during the day’s hike. These will help you keep going until it’s time to stop eating.
Again, your guides should always carry a first-aid kit with them. Having a basic first-aid kit with you doesn’t hurt when hiking the Inca Trail!
You should also not forget essential medicines for stomach problems and such, as well as medicines you need to take.
This article is easily forgotten but is essential for navigating your campsite after dark. But it’s a must-have for any Inca Trail packing list.
It goes without saying that during your Inca Trail trip, there is no option to plug in and charge your electronic devices. If you can bring extra batteries, it is recommended that if you can’t, use your device sparingly! After the first day, there’s much to see, and you won’t want the cameras off until then.
While you certainly won’t need a lot of cash on the Hiking Inca Trail, having some money with you is still a good idea. Along the way, you will pass a few small local shops and have to pay for any goods you want. Tipping the guide or porter also helps.
The Lost City of Machu Picchu is one of South America’s most famous archaeological treasures. Nestled in the cloud forests of the Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is said to have been the Inca rulers’ royal domain or sacred religious site. Today, the mountaintop location, finely crafted stonework, and ancient history make Machu Picchu Peru’s most desirable tourist destination.
Ready for an experience? Before heading to one of the world’s most famous manufactured wonders, here’s what you need to know:
Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel located in the eastern mountains of southern Peru in a 2,430-meter (7,970-foot) mountain range. It is located in the Machu Picchu sanctuary territory of the Urubamba province above the Sacred Valley, 50 miles (80km) northwest of Cusco. The Urubamba River flows in between, crossing the Cordillera to create a tropical mountain climate valley.
You may be wondering how Machu Picchu’s elevation affects your visit. Machu Picchu Park itself is not considered a high-altitude destination. The mountain saddle where most ruins are located is about 2,407 meters above sea level, about 1,005 meters below Cusco, and 480 meters below the Sacred Valley.
The two peaks, Huayna Picchu and Montaña Machu Picchu, reach 2,692 meters (8,835 feet) and 3,081 meters (10,111 feet), respectively. The usual threshold for altitude sickness expression is 2438 meters, or 8000 feet.
Aguas Calientes has a comfortable elevation of approximately 2,042 meters (6,700 feet).
Sun and other thoughts
Machu Picchu is almost unaffected by strong winds. The average wind speed is less than 9.6 km/6 miles annually, and the maximum wind speed rarely exceeds 16 km/10 mph.
Sunscreen is a must. The UV index is moderate at 3 or 4 almost monthly due to cloud cover. However, this cloud will eventually split, allowing the sun to burn faster at these altitudes. Bring a hat, sun-blocking sunglasses, and sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher). Long sleeves and long pants are highly recommended. Insect repellent is essential.
There are only three ways to get to Machu Picchu: the Inca Trail, a train that goes through Ollantaytambo, and an alternative route via the hydroelectric train station “Intiwatana.” Each offers a different experience in terms of travel and prices. Your choice depends on the type of experience you are looking for.
Three steps to get to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is 9 kilometers up the mountain from Aguas Calientes. There are only two ways to get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes: by bus or on foot.
Buses operated by Consettur Machupicchu transport passengers between Aguas Calientes and the main gate of the ruins. The route follows a winding and steep road called Carretera Hiram Bingham. Buses depart from the bus stop on Av. Hermanos Ayar in Aguas Calientes from 5:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. as soon as the bus is full, or every 15 minutes. In general, the bus ride takes 25 minutes. The last bus from the ruins back to town is at 5:30 p.m.
It’s a steep climb along the river and mountain to the entrance to Machu Picchu. You can hike the 7 km (4.5 miles) following the dirt road or take the more vertical route, “The Inca Trail from the Puente Ruinas to Machu Picchu.”
A visit to Machu Picchu is not a visit to a specific place. There are other places to hike for visitors with a bit of a thirst for the extra discovery kilometers.
Trekkers usually take 1 to 1.5 hours to reach the summit. Athletes can reach the top in 45 minutes. Getting off is about the same time, so walking for 3 hours with plenty of time would be good.
It usually takes hikers about two hours to reach the top. The athletic guy climbs to the top in 1 hour and 30 minutes. It takes about 1.5 hours to go down, so it’s good to give yourself 4 hours to enjoy the views.
Most people take 40–60 minutes to reach the Sun Gate, taking breaks and taking pictures just in time.
The Inca Bridge was built of several narrow logs on a steep vertical cliff; the Inca Bridge is said to have served as a secret entrance to Machu Picchu. Most people get to the Inca Bridge in about 20–30 minutes.
It is necessary not to bring any of the following objects to Machu Picchu:
If you want to know where to get a Machu Picchu stamp on your passport, there is a simple answer: the stamping area is at the Machu Picchu exit on the right. “Do it at the end of the Machu Picchu tour.” However, your passport stamp at Machu Picchu is much more than a stamp; it proves the fantastic journey you have just completed in southern Peru.
Whether it is a day trip to Machu Picchu or a multi-day hike in the Salkantay Mountains, the Inca Jungle, or the Choquequirao Trek, an overnight stay in Aguas Calientes is highly recommended if you want to experience Machu Picchu early in the morning.
Due to its proximity to Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes has several hotels, restaurants, cafes, and small shops. It is also good to know that food is prohibited at the Machu Picchu archaeological site. Have a good breakfast before heading out.
Your visit to Machu Picchu depends on several factors, such as your level of fitness, your hiking experience, and the orientation of your tour group.
The Machu Picchu day trip is the fastest way to access the archaeological site of Machu Picchu. Arrive at Aguas Calientes by train from San Pedro, Poroy, Urubamba, or Ollantaytambo train stations. Though this trip is long, it’s worth taking in the incredible sights on an epic train journey through the Andes and Amazon cloud forest. The main advantage of a day trip is that it offers vacationers who want to visit the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu or are unprepared for a hike the opportunity to visit the site with a tour guide and learn more about the tourist experience. With this in mind, many include day trips from Cusco, Urubamba, or Ollantaytambo, the “Sacred Valley of the Incas.”
Let’s say you’re short on time, but you still want to see the highlights of Machu Picchu by leisurely exploring various ancient sites with incredible panoramic views. If so, we recommend the 2-day tour to Machu Picchu through the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This is a beautiful Andean adventure way to immerse yourself in the local Inca culture and get the proper background before visiting the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu. After a fantastic tour of the Sacred Valley on the first day, you will have plenty of time to rest before catching the train to Aguas Calientes and heading to Machu Picchu on the second day.
The impressive sites and ruins accessible from downtown Cusco amaze visitors with the number of Inca sites. You should consider a multi-day tour to explore more of the region and Cusco’s local culture and traditions. We have 3 to 7-day multi-day tours covering the most impressive sites of the Cusco region to complete your Cusco vacation in Peru.
Of course, take a train through the Sacred Valley or Maras Moray to Machu Picchu Pueblo, then catch a bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu Main Gate. The first impression of Machu Picchu is unique from every angle photo of the Inca fortress Machu Picchu.
A tour of Machu Picchu is a great way to bring ancestral ruins to life, learn about their history, and glimpse the incredible ingenuity of the Inca people who built the Inca citadel.
Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain (2024) -The Ultimate Guide
Palccoyo’s Rainbow Mountain is the new hidden gem south of Cusco in the Ausangate Andes. With less than 40 minutes of walking to the top, three beautiful rainbow mountains are scattered around the central mountain. The Cusco South Tourist Route is a new alternative to the ever-famous Rainbow Mountain Tour at Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain.
One of the must-visit mountains in Peru and South America is Rainbow Mountain (Palccoyo), which especially appeals to all explorers exploring its unique landscape. For all travelers who want to know more about the incredible tours of Palccoyo Cusco, in this article you will find some ideas to help you make the best decision for your next vacation in Peru.
Peru’s incomparable Cusco region offers impressive hiking routes with colorful scenic landscapes that mesmerize with their stunning beauty. Remarkable for its natural beauty is the Rainbow Mountains range in Palccoyo.
Palccoyo’s Rainbow Mountain is located south of the city of Cusco. The tourist route is the jewel of the South Peruvian Andes. It consists of three colorful mountains and offers a spectacular view of the snow-capped Ausangate.
The Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain Tour is not physically demanding. It is about a 45-minute walk, so it is a recommended spot where you can casually stop by with your family. If you’re not used to long walks on your next vacation, the Palcoyo Trail is for you.
The Rainbow Mountain of Palccoyo is located about 10 minutes from the community of Palcoyo. The Palccoyo tourist circuit is situated in the Palccoyo neighborhood in the Combapata district within the Canchis region of Cusco, Peru.
Palccoyo became famous for local and international tourism in 2018. Thanks to the visitors, they are recommending an alternative tour of Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain.
Today, it’s part of a tourist circuit with short activities to three viewpoints on Rainbow Mountain in Palcoyo.
The formation of the Rainbow Mountain of Palcoyo is due to marine sediments, lakes, and rivers in the water that once covered the Andes Mountain range. The age of these sediments dates back to the Tertiary and Quaternary periods, about 65 million years ago.
Over time, these sediments were formed in layers today known as the color layers of Palcoyo. The movement of tectonic plates in the area raised the sedimentary deposits that became the mountains. After that, the Andes mountains got their bright colors due to the oxidation and erosion of the soil minerals.
The trip starts from Cusco at 05:30 a.m. We head south of Cusco; the trip lasts three and a half hours, “2 and a half hours by road and 1 hour by dirt road.” After the Palccoyo experience, we arrive in Cusco between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
The easiest way to explore the areas of the Rainbow Mountain of Palccoyo is on a guided day trip from the city of Cusco.
The city of Cusco is the starting point for a trip to Rainbow Mountain, Palcoyo. We travel by private transport on the Cusco-Sicuani highway.
At Combapata, before crossing the bridge, we turn left to ascend a dirt road until we reach the beginning of the Palccoyo walking circuit.
Note: The vehicular trip takes 3 hours and a half to Palccoyo; visitors will have plenty of time to take pictures and enjoy the landscape of the Ausangate Andes.
It’s a 30-minute leisurely walk to reach the third observation point of Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain for incredible panoramic views of the Andes and other Palcoyo Rainbow Mountains.
The hardest part of the hike is the Inca Rock Forest, which takes about 20 minutes to reach the top. Stone Forest offers stunning views of all of Palccoyo’s Rainbow Mountains. Visitors can return through the same hiking trail or the back of a rocky area.
It should be noted that the different hiking routes through the Stone Forest are optional. The three views of Rainbow Mountain in Palcoyo are the most important and attractive.
The first view of Palcoyo is a 7-minute walk, with a beautiful panoramic view of the majestic Rainbow Mountain from the parking lot. On the other side, we have Rainbow Hill with the spectacular backdrop of the Andes.
After walking for about 10 minutes from the first observatory, you will reach the second. The second Belvedere offers panoramic views of the inter-Andean valley with its unique landscape in the distance. The third viewpoint has a picture of Palcoyo Hill and the largest rainbow mountain with a panoramic view.
After 10 minutes of walking, we will find the third observation point. In short, the three views of the three rainbow mountains have their characteristics. Everyone is beautiful in different ways. For landscape lovers and photographers, find a new photo every minute to feed your social networks.
Palcoyo’s natural color composition has a colorful pattern that produces a beautiful scenic landscape.
The colors that make up the rainbow mountains of Palccoyo are:
The best time to visit Peru’s Palcoyo tourist circuit is during the dry season, from April to November. From April to November, there is little rain, making Palcoyo a pleasant visit.
However, the weather is unpredictable in the Peruvian Andes and can change at any time. Therefore, you should be prepared for several situations. We always recommend bringing mountain gear for cold and rainy days.
It is recommended to check the weather in Palcoyo before booking a tour of Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain.
It’s impossible to dress appropriately for Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain. If you leave Cusco around 5:30 AM (05:00 AM), you’ll want to wear a few layers of gloves and probably be cold.
When the van dropped us off at the beginning of the Palccoyo Trek, we were still shaking, and when we saw some visitors in shorts and t-shirts, we thought they were crazy; however, later in the day, the sun bore down, bringing skin to the boil, and those hikers in shorts were adequately dressed.
We were still shaking when the van dropped us off at the start of the Palcoyo hike. When we saw other hikers in shorts and t-shirts, we thought they were crazy. But the sun was setting on our boiling skin later that day, and the hikers were in shorts. It was about our visit, but other visitors had a snowstorm the day before, so anything was possible.
Walking through the Palcoyo Mountains is perfect for ages 7 to 65. The tourist circuit of Palcoyo is suitable for children and the elderly traveling with family, friends, or teams.
A hike along the Palcoyo Trail takes you to three viewpoints in Palcoyo centered around three different Rainbow Mountains in an easy 30-minute walk.
The wildlife in its natural habitat on the Palccoyo hiking trail is alpacas and llamas, making the landscape unique in the Andes. “The higher the elevation, the happier the Andean camelids are because they are used to the Andes, Peru.”
Explorers may even spot condors soaring over the Rainbow-Palcoyo Mountains. Some Andean foxes, chinchillas, Cara-Caras, and Huallatas are rarely seen.
The fauna of the Palcoyo circuit presents a rich Andean flora; the grassland of the Andes is excellent food for the Peruvian camelids of the south of the Cusco, Andes.
Heading south of Cusco, we find the district of Checacupe. In Checacupe, travelers can see three bridges over the Pitumarca River; each bridge represents a different stage of Peruvian generations, such as the Inca, Colonial, and Republican periods.
The Inca Bridge was built at the beginning of the 13th century, during the reign of the eighth Inca emperor, Wiracocha. The bridge is made of wild straw from the Andes. “Essentially, it is a hanging or suspended bridge.” The Inca bridge of Checacupe was part of the great Inca Trail that led to Lake Titicaca and Cusco.
The colonial bridge was built in the 17th century by King Carlos III of Spain’s order between 1759 and 1788. The colonial bridge of Checacupe Colonial is built of ashlar stone joined with cement, adorned on its surface by a layer of small rocks. The construction of the Checacupe Colonial Bridge allowed the colonial authorities to travel to both sides of the city to collect taxes (the city of Checacupe is divided into two neighborhoods divided by the Pitumarca River).
The republican bridge of Checacupe dates from the 19th century. The bridge is made of iron from the railway track. Currently, it is the alternative route to travel to Checacupe. The Checacupe colonial bridge is well preserved, with an excellent connection for vehicular traffic.
Short Inca Trail Trek (2024): The Ultimate Guide
The Short Inca Trail is a famous trek that lasts for two days. The two-day Inca Trail includes a five-hour hike on day one and a two-hour guided tour of the spectacular Inca citadel of Machu Picchu on day two. During the Short Inca Trail, we pass the Inca ruins of Wiñay Wayna and end at Puerta del Sol “Inti Punku” above Machu Picchu.
It continues overnight in a hotel in the town of Aguas Calientes. The next day, we explore the ruins of Machu Picchu and the possibility of climbing Huayna Picchu. “Book tickets in advance.” This section of our website reports the experience, questions, and advice needed for this short two-day trip to Machu Picchu.
The two-day trek includes hiking to find the final section of the Classic Inca Trail. The walk is cataloged for an average level of physical condition.
The night before the hike, your tour guide from the agency provides a brief on everything you need to prepare for the Short Inca Trail.
On the tour day, a walking guide will pick up travelers from their hotel in Cusco or Ollantaytambo to travel to Ollantaytambo Train Station. The well-maintained trains have large windows offering impressive views of the mountains and the Urubamba River. The train stops at 104 km of track for a few minutes to disembark. “The tour guides and train crew will warn you to disembark the train in advance.”
The first few hours are the most challenging part of the hike. On the short Inca Trail, there is a steady climb of three and a half hours. Hike the edge of the Wiñaywayna Mountain and follow the Inca Trail with well-preserved steps.
The Urubamba River first flows near our feet, then recedes and becomes smaller until it becomes a thin line in the distance.
The first part of the Short Inca Trail is exposed to sunlight. Some trees provide shade on some parts of the path. Of course, the hiker can’t linger too long because shade means mosquitoes “bring excellent mosquito repellent (no spraying).”
Before finishing the 3:30 walk, we have the Wiñay Wayna waterfall in front of us. After the Wiñaywayna waterfalls, we will walk for about 10 minutes to find the Inca ruins of Wiñaywayna.
After a grueling three-and-a-half-hour climb, all hikers are rewarded with their first view of the Inca site of Wiñaywayna, along the Choquesuysuy Valley and cloud forest area.
This part of Wiñaywayna intersects with the Main Inca Trail. This is the last camp for 4-day Inca Trail trekkers before reaching Machu Picchu.
Wiñaywayna Archaeological Construction has a building on the top floor made up of Inca house structures. The remains of Inca window frames and drainage holes give an idea of how the ancient Inca may have lived in this part of Machu Picchu.
In addition to Inca houses, there are terraces in several places that may have been used for agriculture. Before leaving Wiñaywayna, there is a viewpoint where you can take photos of the entire Inca ruins. Keep walking until you reach the Wiñaywayna checkpoint, then hike for 1.5 hours to the Inti Punku ruins.
During the last hours, the Short Inca Trail is semi-flat and smooth. It is pleasant to walk and contemplate the incredible panoramic views.
Before you reach Puerta del Sol, a final climb is known locally as the Monkey Steps. The stairs are steep. It is recommended to climb using your hands. Finally, we get to the summit of Intipunku to see Machu Picchu for the first time.
After our first sighting of Machu Picchu, we will descend Mt. Inti Punku for approximately 35 minutes. Arrive at the top of Machu Picchu; we go to the Inca guard house to see the classic view of Machu Picchu as on the postcard “15-minute photos session”. Then we go towards the parking lot to get on the bus to Aguas Calientes town to spend the night there and prepare for the second day. DAY 2: EXPLORING MACHU PICCHU “2-hour guided tour”
The Short Inca Trail is the shorter version of the world’s most famous hiking trail, “The Classic Inca Trail.” At the same time, this hiking trail is the best option for people who prefer moderate hikes to Machu Picchu.
The Short Inca Trail excursion includes a bus ride from Cusco to Ollantaytambo on day one, a train ride from Ollantaytambo town to 104 km, and a 5- to 6-hour walk via the Short Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu World Heritage Site. On this first day, after all the hiking, we will go to the Machu Picchu viewpoint to see the classic and most famous view of Machu Picchu from the Inca Guard House. We stay in a 3-star hotel in Aguas Calientes on this first day.
On the second morning, visit Machu Picchu on a two-hour guided tour. In the afternoon, we return to Cusco. We travel to Ollantaytambo Railway Station. At Ollantaytambo, we have a private vehicle to take you back to Cusco.
The Incas built this citadel as a place of religious worship to water (in their worldview, all of nature had a spiritual essence, which, when honored, provided what was necessary for life). Agriculture was the basis of the Inca economy. In addition, the other purpose seems to be a point of surveillance and access control to Machu Picchu since this Inca sanctuary was the primary vacation spot for the Inca nobility, located a short distance away.
Wiñayhuayna is an Inca site located six kilometers (3.7 miles) from Machu Picchu. Wiñaywayna was the gateway to the sacred city of the Incas and may have been used as a resting place for visitors. The Inca site of Wiñaywayna has many terraces carved into the hillside, with stone walls and steps leading to the temple of the sun or the rainbow above. There are also many water fountains and storage areas where the Incas used to store food grains.
The site of Intipata was a crucial agricultural center in the cloud forest region for specific agrarian production due to the type of climate in the area. The terraces perfectly fit the shape of the mountain, which was built to provide farmland for the Incas and the South Andean camelids. The Inca terraces are designed to collect rainwater and channel it to the crops.
Also known as “Puerta del Sol,” Intipunku is the main entrance to the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu with its panoramic views. The name comes from the Quechua words INTI (sun) and PUNKU (door). The Incas built this gate to coincide with the sunset at Machu Picchu. The view of Intipunku is impressive; on one side, you’ll find the majestic Andes Mountains; on the other side, the ancient city of Machu Picchu is located in the Vilcabamba Batholith Valley and surrounded by the meandering Urubamba River. If you are lucky enough to witness the sunset over the mountains, you will have an unforgettable Machu Picchu experience.
There’s nothing more fun than walking the short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was built in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Machu Picchu was abandoned shortly after the Spanish conquest of Peru in the 15th century. However, it was rediscovered in 1911 by American explorer Hiram Bingham. In 1911, Peru became one of South America’s most popular tourist destinations. You can reach Machu Picchu by hiking the Short Inca Trail or by train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. Once at Machu Picchu, visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the history of this fascinating site on a 2-hour guided tour.
The hike starts at km 104 of the railway from Cusco to Machu Picchu Pueblo. The hiking trails consist of 11 kilometers, or 6.1 miles, of paved Inca Trail. We visit archaeological sites such as Chachabamba, Wiñaywayna, Intipata, Inti Punku, or Sun Gate through this walking adventure.
Elevations on the Short Inca Trail start at 2,250 metros or 7,240 pies and ascend to 2,700 meters or 8,540 feet at Inti Punku’s Puerta del Sol before descending to Machu Picchu, which sits at an altitude of 2,400 meters above sea level or 7,972 feet. The Short Inca Trail tourist circuit is ideal for all ages and people who require an outdoor walk full of cloud forest vegetation that shows incredible landscapes during the entire walking experience.
The highest point of the entire Short Inca Trail is 2,700 m (8,540 ft), located at the Inti Punku mountain pass. To get to Inti Punku or Puerta del Sol, you’ll have to walk from kilometer 104 of the railway line, following and ascending the Inca Trail for about four and a half hours. At the top of Inti Punku are the ruins of Inti Punku, which consist of several Inca houses with pyramid platforms supporting the building of Inti Punku.
Inti Punku offers spectacular views of the entire Inca citadel of Machu Picchu; if travelers love panoramic Machu Picchu views from the Inca Guardian’s House! Inti Punku is the best, offering dramatic views of Machu Picchu.
Over the years, the top of Inti Punku has become one of the most popular spots for all the walkers who visit Machu Picchu and the Short Inca Trail.
The difficulty of the short Inca Trail is moderate and recommended for all ages, families, etc. “Be inspired to walk one of the most famous Inca trails in the world, “THE SHORT INCA TRAIL PERU.” The tour allows you to admire the beautiful Andes and the Amazon of Machu Picchu landscape and discover the beautiful Inca architecture. Visit the famous Puerta del Sol, or Inti Punku, with views of Machu Picchu.
The Short Inca Trail is an uphill hike; ensure you have everything you need, like sunscreen, water, etc. In the first 3 hours, you will consistently climb the Short Inca Trail until you reach the ruins of Wiñayhuayna; from Wiñaywayna, there is still a two-hour walk, but the level of walking is classified as easy to moderate. From Wiñaywayna, the Short Inca Trail section is the most exciting of all the Inca Trails!
The entrance ticket to the Short Inca Trail covers the entrance to Machu Picchu on the day of the guided visit.
The short Inca Trail entrance ticket, in addition to allowing entry to the Inca Trail network of the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu, provides access to Machu Picchu only once through circuit number 5 of Machu Picchu.
In the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, there are five established circuits for guided tours; if travelers require a re-entry to Machu Picchu, they can purchase a new ticket.
Walking sticks are unnecessary for the Short Inca Trail; hiking without them is 100% possible. However, its use is guaranteed to make walking more accessible and reduce pain during and after walking. For aluminum trekking poles, it is necessary to bring rubber tips to not damage the network of the Short Inca Trails.
Trekking poles are prohibited in the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu because they disrupt traffic or cause accidents. In Machu Picchu, only older adults or people with visible physical disabilities can use trekking poles.
For the Short Inca Trail, trekking poles are allowed to “take it with you; it helps a lot to climb the mountain, and it gives you security and balance.”
There is no internet signal at the beginning of the Short Inca Trail, which is kilometer 104 of the railway. After ascending the Inca Trail until reaching Wiñaywayna, there is an internet signal, but it is weak. Upon reaching the Sun Gate (Inti Punku), the internet signal is connected 100 percent, as in Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes.
Packed Box lunches for the Short Inca Trail, along the 104 km of the railway that leads to Inti Punku (Sun Gate), are prepared in a tourist restaurant in the center of Cusco. Box Lunch ensured the biosecurity and quality the Short Inca Trail deserves. The contents of the lunch box are as follows; have a look.
Note: Biodegradable Containers and Biodegradable Forks
After the control of the 104 of the railways, when entering the beginning of the network of Short Inca Trails, there is a local stall selling snacks; in the local store, they sell bottled water, chips, chocolates, wooden sticks, plastic rain ponchos, etc.
At kilometer 104, it is the only place on the entire Short Inca Trail that sells snacks until you reach the exit gate of Machu Picchu. Before boarding the bus service to Aguas Calientes in Machu Picchu, snacks with coffee, Coca-Cola, and ice water are sold.
At the beginning of the Short Inca Trail, there is a stream to provide water from the Andes of Peru. It is recommended to bring water tablets, filters, or electronic devices to purify the water.
For more water, hikers can reach the Wiñaywayna waterfalls and ruins. You should bring at least 2 liters of water; the usual amount is 3 liters to cover the entire route of the Short Inca Trail.
It is essential to bring your aluminum bottles to recycle plastic bottles; plastic bottles are prohibited on the Short Inca Trails and Machu Picchu network!
During the short Inca Trail to the Inca city of Machu Picchu, it is possible to feel some of the symptoms of altitude sickness. Still, they dissipate little by little as the Inca Trail swings from 2,250 meters (7,240 feet) to 2,700 meters (8,540 feet), and it’s not a significant problem.
The Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu recommended that people adapt to the Andes and then go to higher elevations like the Rainbow Mountain of Cusco.
The Short Inca Trail cannot be made on your own, so a permit issued by the National Institute of Culture and the Ministry of Environment (“SERNANP”) is required for the hike.
Tickets are required to control access to the short Inca Trail network and the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary. There is a limit on entries: “200 entries per day”. Travel agents who can enter the Inca Trail will obtain their trekking permits.
We recommend booking the Short Inca Trail service four months in advance to obtain permits for the high season. The high tourist season in Machu Picchu is from May to October.
However, you can book the Short Inca Trail two months in advance, from October to December, or two weeks in advance. It should be noted that the Shorter Inca Trail is permanently closed for maintenance in February.
Yes, authorization and permits are required to enter the network of short Inca Trails to Machu Picchu. The license is issued annually to the operating travel agencies that obtain passes to organize organized group excursions within the Inca Trail network.
The following restrictions are prohibited in the excursions of the Short Inca Trail Peru: following good hiking practices to preserve the Inca Trail network for future generations is essential.
Visitors must respect the protocols indicated on each tourist circuit.
2024: strictly prohibited!
After hiking the wonderful walk of the Short Inca Trail in Machu Picchu, we board the bus service that goes to Machupicchu Pueblo.
In Machupicchu Pueblo, hikers on the Short Inca Trail sleep in a three-star hotel. We work with the best three-star hotels with no train noise and have a good location in the center of Machupicchu Pueblo. We also have the best options for upgrading service to four- and five-star hotels.
Yes, visitors carry their belongings during the Short Inca Trail trek, so we recommend bringing only the necessary items.
Suppose visitors need a porter service for the Short Inca Trail Trek. In this case, send a booking form using our website. Book the porters when you sign up for the Short Inca Trail! Once the passenger’s Short Inca Trail permits are booked, adding or using the porter’s services is impossible.
The porters of the Short Inca Trail carry between 10 and 18 kilograms of weight, which means that hikers can rent half or full porters.
Note: Most hikers on the Short Inca Trail in Peru do not require porter service since the trek is 5 hours, and they only carry what is necessary for the short adventure.
The short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is suitable for everyone. Hikers not only have the opportunity to enjoy beautiful landscapes, but they can also see important Inca constructions such as Chachabamba, Wiñaywayna, Intipata, and Inti Punku. Enjoy the panoramic views of Machu Picchu from the Inti Punku and the Inca Guard House. Enjoy short hikes on the Inca Trail in Cusco, Peru, South America.
Yes! Children can make the 2-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Children must like outdoor walks.
Many hiking trails lead to Machu Picchu, but none like the Short Inca Tour, South America’s most famous hiking trail. Cusco is an ideal place to walk the short Inca Trail through the jungle, thick fog, ancient stone steps, and Inca ruins.
Don’t hesitate to try the short Inca Trail with your kids. You might think traveling with them would be inconvenient, but Inca culture’s vibrant nature and dynamic display will keep them entertained. They will see many plants and animals, different people, and exotic words in foreign languages, “such as Spanish.” Inca architecture fascinates travelers, and no time is wasted taking family selfies.
Seniors can also walk the network of short Inca trails in Cusco. Of course, older adults must be in good health. It is best to consult your doctor in your home country before making the Short Inca Trail.
We have several alternatives for the Short Inca Trail combined with different tourist circuits within the Cusco region of Peru. Have a look.
Sacred Valley is just an hour’s drive from Cusco, but you’ve entered another area. The Sacred Valley of Peru, with Inca ruins scattered along the Andes Mountain slopes, is a surreal experience that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Discover off-the-beaten-path Inca ruins, tackle some of the best Sacred Valley hikes, and fall in love with the Sacred Valley in Peru. Explore the Inca ruins on a beaten track and experience some of Peru’s Sacred Valley’s beauty.
The Sacred Valley in Peru is incredible, unique, and magical. The Inca Valley is also known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas. There are many great activities to do in the Sacred Valley. Explore magnificent Inca ruins in vast archaeological parks, snow-capped mountains, salt mines, and hundreds of hiking trails. There is no shortage of unique and breathtaking experiences.
The best guide to the Sacred Valley focuses on the Urubamba Valley’s famous and hidden sights, from the beautiful town of Pisac to Ollantaytambo and everything in between. Let yourself be inspired by the strong desire to travel in this magical region. Find valuable tips such as how to get to the Sacred Valley of Peru, what to see, where to eat, how to use convenient public transportation, and where to stay in the Sacred Valley of Peru. The main objective of the leading guide to the Sacred Valley is to help travelers create personalized Sacred Valley tours.
Peru’s Sacred Valley is located north of the city of Cusco. The Sacred Valley is usually the area between the two villages of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The Sacred Valley of Peru is also called the Urubamba Valley because the Urubamba River flows through the fertile valley. The Urubamba River changes its name as it flows through the valley towards Machu Picchu and Quillabamba.
The three cities of Pisac, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo are the easiest ways to reach the Sacred Valley from Cusco. Although Pisac is less than 30 kilometers from Cusco, the Sacred Valley has a remarkably different climate than the city of Cusco.
Cusco is at an elevation of 3,400 meters (1,152 feet), and the Sacred Valley city reaches 2,743 meters (9,000 feet). The weather here is generally mild and can feel that way, but the sun seems to shine more here than in Cusco, which has a decent and excellent climate.
There are several ways to get to the Sacred Valley of Peru, with Pisac, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo being the most popular gateway towns to the Sacred Valley. Local colectivos and minibuses serve these popular destinations.
Transportation is safe and fast, and luggage can be secured on the roof of local vehicles. Cover your bags with a waterproof tarp when visiting during the rainy season.
Travel agencies or hotels organize private transportation services so travelers can travel safely and directly to the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
The Cusco to Pisac local vehicles are on Puputi Street near the Garcilaso monument (intersection). Several vans depart from both sides of Puputi Street. Colectivos go to Pisac to drop off passengers near the main Pisac bridge, but some continue to Calca or Urubamba for a slightly higher fare.
Local transport and buses heading to Urubamba towards the Sacred Valley frequently depart from Cusco, the central bus station on Calle Pavitos near the Grau Bridge.
The transport passes through the beautiful towns of Chinchero and Maras. The trip takes 60 minutes; the vehicle leaves the travelers at Urubamba’s central bus terminal.
Local transport and buses to Ollantaytambo depart from the central bus station on Calle Pavitos in Cusco. Frequent services are available from 03:30 to 22:00. The journey passes through Izcuchaca to descend to Pachar through the Pomatales valley. The local tour takes 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Local transport drops travelers off at Ollantaytambo Train Station. To return, travelers should go to the Ollantaytambo train station or the main square in Ollantaytambo to board a local bus to return to Cusco via Pachar.
Charming towns abound in the Sacred Valley of Peru. Each city offers its unique charm.
The most beautiful towns in the Sacred Valley of the Incas are:
Between Yucay, Urubamba, Yanahuara, and Ollantaytambo, make exploring all the highlights of the Sacred Valley of the Incas easy and convenient! It has a central location and some of the best hiking and tourist circuits in the Sacred Valley.
The Andes of the Sacred Valley of the Incas have two seasons: rainy and dry. The rainy season usually lasts from December to mid-April, while the dry season lasts from May to November.
The nights in the rainy season are hotter than in the dry season, but it rains often. Sometimes, the rain in the Sacred Valley comes as a simple drizzle, while it can be torrential at other times.
The weather is unstable during the rainy season, and landslides are unlikely. However, the sacred valley is lush and green after the rainy season.
During the dry season, skies are usually bright blue, and conditions are dry and fair, with breathtaking views of the Andes and the Sacred Valley. Despite being the dry season, the snow-capped mountains in the Sacred Valley make the nights even colder.
The most amazing places with incredible views in the Sacred Valley of Peru and their respective branches are as follows:
Pisac is a famous colonial town on the Sacred Valley tourist circuit. Pisac is 45 minutes from Cusco. Pisac Archaeological Park is a popular spot on the Sacred Valley circuit.
Several communities around Pisac offer a variety of outdoor activities in the valleys and mountains of the Andes.
Pisac main square and craft market
Find the daily artisan market in the main square of Pisac. Pisaq Market has a variety of Andean textiles to buy Peruvian souvenirs. Pisac’s market, with a more local folk atmosphere, is booming on Sundays. The inhabitants of the Andean Mountains come to the town to sell their agricultural products and handicrafts. On Sunday, too, local people come to buy supplies for the week.
Pisac Archaeological Park
The main attraction of Pisac is the massive Inca ruins of Pisac, built on top of a mountain. The Archaeological Park of Pisac is generally accessible behind the central square, the “Pisac Inca Trail.” While traveling, it is better to choose a road to reach the ruins of Pisac.
Pisac Archaeological Park is a large park built around a large mountain with various trails leading to various Inca temples.
Pisaq ruins have four main parts: P’isaqa, Inti Watana, Qalla Q’asa, and Kinchiraqay. The ruins also have their own sun temple, with beautiful Inca Empire architecture on the walls. The Pisac Ruins offer breathtaking views of the Sacred Valley, the Andes Mountains, the Inca terrace system, and Inca structures.
Kinsa Cocha o Paru-Paru Potato Park
Kinsa Cocha is an impressive nature reserve near Pisac, with three picturesque lakes dominating the Andes Mountain range. Kinsa Cocha of Paru Paru is a small mountain community open to tourists. Residents of Paru-Paru display the preservation of more than 3,000 varieties of potatoes.
Kinsa Cocha offers a variety of potato experience tours. First, we’ll show you the different types of potatoes and how to identify them, then dance and plant using traditional Inca tools, and later go to the communal hall for a delicious lunch of potatoes.
Walk through the Chapel of Pisac in the colonial town of Pisac
A few blocks from Pisac’s main square, we have a colonial chapel—”we’re looking for the colonial chapel, not the main church”—that offers morning or evening walks in the fresh air with panoramic views of cornfields. Follow ancient Inca aqueducts, meander through cornfields, and get a different perspective on this lovely town.
Calca is one of the most beautiful towns in Cusco’s Sacred Valley. Calca has two beautiful colonial-style main squares. On the outskirts of Calca, find the ruins of Uno Urqo, which are a half-hour walk or 5 minutes using local vehicles. If you are up for a challenging hike, Calca has the Pitusiray mountain, the “sacred mountain of the Incas and the beginning of Inca ancestral mythology.”
Calca has two beautiful colonial-style main squares. On the outskirts of Calca, visit the ruins of Uno Urqo, which can be reached on foot in half an hour or 5 minutes by public transport. If you’re looking for a challenging hike, Calca is home to Pitusiray Mountain, “the sacred mountain of the Incas and the beginning of the legend of the Inca ancestors.”
Calca has two busy bus stations connecting you to the entire Sacred Valley of the Incas towards Pisac, Urubamba, or Ollantaytambo. Calca is also the main gateway to the Lares Valley for walks through the Andes to discover the ruins of Ancasmarca and the thermal baths of Lares.
In the area of Lamay near Calca, we have the hiking trail of Huchuy Qosqo ruins, “the royal palace of the eighth Inca ruler.” The archaeological site of Huchuy Qosqo was built on a mountain in the middle of the slope.
Things to Do in Calca
Relax and stroll through the main squares of Calca.
Calca’s two main plazas are beautiful, with manicured gardening and Sacred Valley landscaping. There is a lovely water fountain.
Many street food vendors selling sweets, cafes, etc., surround the two main squares in Calca.
Both sections surround the main church. We appreciate the beautiful colonial-style architecture of Calca. Also, Calca is the capital of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Visit the ruins of the Uno Urqo temple.
Uno Urqo, or Uno Urco, is a sacred site of the Incas. Getting to Uno Orqo takes less than half an hour on foot from Calca’s main square.
The Urqo Archaeological Park has a peculiar and unusual carving on one of the primary rocks, which shows the figure of a snake and the ritual head of a puma. However, the scouts mention that it looks more like an alien face.
Apart from the main temple of Uno Orqo, there are small rustic buildings that, in Inca times, were used by priests and guardians.
Before entering the archaeological site of Uno Urqo, we find a circular building with window designs in the shape of an Inca cross that ends with trapezoidal windows. The building was used for meditation and spiritual work.
Challenging Hike to Apu Pitusiray Mountain from Calca
There is a lot of mysticism surrounding Mount Pitusiray. Experienced hikers can spend the day trekking through the Andes to beautiful Pitusiray Lake.
Pitusiray Mountain presents impressive panoramic views of Calca, the Sacred Valley, the Andes, and the beautiful corn plantations.
In the winter and summer solstices, in a sequence of shadows, you can see the figure of the awakening of an Inca guardian, “ancestral Inca mythology.” That is why the Pitusiray walking circuit area emanates a positive mystical energy ideal for people who seek energetic experiences of the Andes.
Spectacular walking circuit of Huchuy Qosqo Trek
The Huchuy Qosqo trek has several trekking routes, such as the Sacsayhuaman, Tambomachay, Cupper Alto, and Ccorccor trekking routes. Even so, one of the most accessible trekking circuits can be accessed by walking short and directly from Lamay, ascending towards Huchuy Qosqo for 2 hours.
Huchuy Qosqo was the royal palace of the eighth Inca emperor, Viracocha. In Huchuy Qosqo, we find support terraces for all the Inca architecture. There are ceremonial fountains, Inca streets, a lodging system, and several Inca trails that go to different areas of the Andes.
Enjoy the thermal baths of Lamay.
The Lares Thermal Baths are a two-hour drive from Calca. Most hikers will dip in hot springs before hiking the Lares Trek’s trails.
The coloration of the Lares hot springs is orange due to natural minerals; there are several pools of different temperatures to enjoy some good dips. On the outskirts of the thermal baths of Lares, they sell snacks, coffee, food, etc.
Enjoy fantastic hiking trails through Lares Trek.
There are multiple hiking trails through the Valle de Lares in Peru. The Lares Trek is one of the alternative routes to Machu Picchu. There are walks between 1 and 5 days.
We have several circuits of the Lares Trek Walk, such as:
A must-see in the Sacred Valley is the ancient city of Chinchero. Chinchero is 28 km from Cusco. Chinchero is also called the Land of Rainbows. You will see the remains of the Tupac Yupanqui Inca palace. Also, it is an iconic Sunday show internationally recognized for its craftsmanship. There is a lot to see in Chinchero, so it is essential to plan your itinerary according to your time.
You can start your tour with a visit to one of Chinchero’s weaving centers. Learn the traditional, ancient techniques of weaving and dyeing textiles. The conventional know-how of fabrics is preserved from generation to generation. Another tourist attraction is the colorful Chinchero Sunday market in the main square.
The Tupac Yupanqui Palace is another visit not to be missed in Chinchero. The royal palace of Chinchero was built in 1480; the extensive archaeological complex of Chinchero contains the main square, which includes an Inca wall with 12 trapezoidal niches. You will also find the Church of Our Lady of Montserrat, built in the 17th century, housing baroque-style altars and numerous frescoes.
Things to Do in Chinchero
Explore the archaeological park of Chinchero.
Chinchero Ruin is the palace of the Inca ruler Tupac Yupanqui. The Inca complex of Chinchero includes architecturally preserved terraces, a holy temple with various ceremonial functions, an Inca trail, and the Chinchero Church built on the temple of the sun.
Enjoy the experience of the Chinchero artisan weaving market.
Chinchero is known today as the route of traditional Inca textiles. In Chinchero, there are several textile centers to observe the process of making textiles, such as extraction, dyeing, and spinning, using ancestral Inca techniques.
Enjoy a walk in the open air from Chinchero to Urquillos Trek.
An Inca trail begins at the ruins of Chinchero. Before starting the walk, we will explore the sacred temples of Chinchero. The trek from Chinchero to Urquillos through the Poc-Poc waterfalls is a light trekking experience to enter the Sacred Valley of the Incas towards Wayllabamba.
The ancient Inca Trail of Urquillos descends along a spectacular panoramic route through the beautiful Poc Poc Waterfalls. Continue walking to Urquillos, where the tourists’ vehicles usually wait to continue their adventures toward the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Explore the spectacular maras with the Inca salt mines. Maras and salt mines are located 50 km from Cusco city. Maras and Salineras are a natural visual spectacle that will amaze you with the landscapes of the salt mines in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
The Maras Salt Mines are a large area with approximately 5,000 natural salt wells fed by an underground salt spring. The history of the salty waters of Maras dates back more than 100 million years since their formation. Salineras are essential to the salt supply in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. It is a valuable source for the export of this primary cuisine in Peru.
Things to Do in Maras, Peru
Explore the magnificent archaeological park of Moray
The Moray Ruins are four large and strange terraces, one of which is larger than the others. The large archaeological site of Moray highlights the Sacred Valley of Peru.
Several easily accessible hiking trails on the terrace lead to different viewpoints and areas for short walks with breathtaking views and archaeological sites.
During the Inca period, Moray Circular Terraces were used as laboratory greenhouses for the genetic adaptation of plants to different altitudes in the Andes, coasts, and forests of the Inca Empire.
Visit the impressive salt mines of Maras.
The salt ponds of Maras are pretty striking for hikers visiting the Sacred Valley of Peru. The viewpoints of the salt mines in Maras have excellent photographic angles.
There are several ways to get to the salt mines of Maras, such as coming on foot from the town of Maras, from the Urubamba River through the Pichingoto area, by a vehicle following the dirt road, or descending through different bicycle routes.
Combine your vacation to the salt mines of Maras with the ruins of Moray for a full day of exploring the Sacred Valley, Peru. Start early and walk to the salt mines of Maras.
A worthwhile hike from Moray to the Salineras in Maras
A beautiful walking trail leads from the ruins of Moray to the banks of the Maras, Minas de Sal, and Urubamba rivers. During the hike, you can see beautiful views of the Sacred Valley and the Andes Mountains.
The colonial city of Maras offers beautiful houses with distinctive doors and spectacular iconography. Before reaching the Salineras salt pans, we have an incredible panoramic view of the salt areas.
Urubamba, Peru, is a charming village in the Sacred Valley where you can experience the highlights of various Sacred Valley Peru tours.
The Urubamba Valley is ideal for a few days to get acquainted with the high altitudes of the Andes or the city of Cusco. Visitors from Urubamba can plan trips to beautiful tourist sites in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
From Urubamba, it is possible to independently visit the four magnificent archaeological parks of the Sacred Valley, such as Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, Moray, Machu Picchu, etc.
Sacred Valley, Saywa Archaeological Park Day Hike
One of the best treks in the Sacred Valley of Peru is the Saywa trekking circuit. To reach the Inca ruins of Saywa, we must climb Urubamba Mountain.
At the top of Saywa Mountain, find two ancient Inca pillars and the remains of the mighty Inca dynasty. The Saywa Archaeological Park has pedestrian access and incredible views of the Sacred Valley and Urubamba.
Experience the best hikes from Urubamba to the impressive Juchuycocha lagoon.
The picturesque alpine Juchuycocha Lake lies in the beautiful mountains behind Urubamba in the Sacred Valley of Peru. This strenuous hike is a long but rewarding day hike from Urubamba.
Start your trek with a gradual incline from San Isidro to the main hiking trail. Continue up the steep but scenic Juchuycocha Lagoon. The hiking trail runs along an impressive mountain slope with great views of Chicon Mountain and the glacier.
Pachar is a small town between Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. Pachar is the perfect location to access the best outdoor hiking trails in the Sacred Valley.
Explore the temple of Ñaupa Iglesia, a unique and exciting Inca temple in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The Ñaupa Iglesia construction contains a closed Inca window carved into the side of the cave that could be a dimensional portal.
Pachar, Peru, is also the gateway to the fantastic Perolniyoc waterfalls, “A short distance from Socma village.” Enjoy the panoramic view of the waterfall and continue along the path until you reach the ruins of Raqaypata or Perolniyoc. Socma is also the gateway to the Ancascocha Trail.
Things to Do in Pachar, Peru
Enjoy the craft breweries of the Sacred Valley.
Stop at one of the most famous microbreweries in Peru’s Sacred Valley. Pachar Brewery is located at the central bus station in Pachar. Sacred Valley Brewery has a beautiful beer garden next to the river.
The outdoor space at Pachar Brewery is spectacular, the beer is delicious in various flavors, and the brewery has long been a favorite destination for locals and foreigners alike to enjoy delicious craft beer, whether food to eat or appetizers to share with friends. Don’t miss this incredible adventure at Pachar, Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Follow the incredible ancient Inca Trail from Pachar to Ollantaytambo
Across the Pachar, after the bridge, is the old Inca Trail that leads to the lovely town of Ollantaytambo. This ancient Inca trail is part of the original Inca trail.
The Main Inca Trail connected several significant parts of the Inca Empire. This section of the Inca Trail passes by the Choqana Ruins on the banks of the Urubamba River before joining Ollantaytambo.
Enjoy a short walk from Pachar to Ollantaytambo and admire the vast natural landscapes on the hiking circuit. During your adventure, explore some of the Inca terraces, where locals grow corn and other agricultural products.
Explore the temple of Ñaupa Iglesia
Ñaupa Iglesia, also known as Choquequilla, is an Inca site built halfway up the mountain of Pachar.
On the promenade of the Ñaupa Iglesia temple, the ruin is built in a natural cave where the ancient Incas built a fountain, trapezoidal Inca windows, and a dimensional window.
Ñaupa Iglesia translates to “old church.” This magical place has a lot of positive energy. Don’t miss this beautiful outdoor adventure in the Sacred Valley in Peru.
Lovely hike to Perolniyoc waterfall and Raqaypata ruins
Perolniyoc Waterfall is hidden away in the gorgeous Sacred Valley of Cusco. The waterfall is impressive and worth it. Also, explore the Inca ruins of Raqaypata or Socma.
Start your hiking adventure from Soqma to the beautiful Perolniyoc Waterfall and continue to the Raqaypata Archaeological Park. On the cliff where this Perolniyoc waterfall is located are the ruins of Raqaypata.
The Socma Trek in Peru’s Sacred Valley takes place year-round. Between the whimsical Perolniyoc waterfall and the intriguing Inca ruins of Raqaypata, the Socma hike is a must-do when exploring the Sacred Valley.
Ollantaytambo is a picturesque village located at the exit of the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley is home to the ruins of Ollantaytambo, one of the most visited tourist attractions. There are several exciting tourist routes just outside Ollantaytambo.
The Sacred Valley has some of Ollantaytambo’s best hiking trails, such as the Pumamarca Inca Trail and the Inti Punku Ruins of Ollantaytambo. Explore the cozy streets of the Incas in the city of Ollantaytambo. Native Inca streets and several perfectly carved Inca water canals are paved.
Finally, Ollantaytambo is the gateway to Machu Picchu. Take a train on the Peruvian Railways. The duration of the train journey is 1 hour and 40 minutes. “An epic adventure from the Andes to the cloud forests of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of Ollantaytambo.”
Things to Do in Ollantaytambo
Explore the entire archaeological park of Ollantaytambo.
Ollantaytambo is a strategic, religious, and agricultural center that will amaze any explorer. The archaeological site of Ollantaytambo dates back to the days of the Inca Empire. The Ollantaytambo ruins were briefly a refuge for Inca kings and nobles in the Spanish colony. The Ollantaytambo ruins are enormous boulders from the Cachicata Quarries, 6 km away.
The temple of Ollantaytambo is aligned with the city of Cusco due to the ancient Inca architects’ selection of the area for its underground water channels, location between three valleys, climate, and the entrance and exit areas of the sacred valley. At the top of Mount Ollantaytambo, six sizeable rectangular stone blocks belong to the Sun Temple.
One of the most striking details of Ollantaytambo is that the rocks found in the complex are entirely smooth, flawless, and undamaged, which means that the builders could lift and transport the stones without damage. Some. Ollantaytambo was built on a very high slope, which is quite an achievement. Undoubtedly, Ollantaytambo is one of the great wonders of Inca architecture, and questions still arise today, many of which remain unanswered.
Enjoy the nearby ruins of Ollantaytambo for free.
Many incredible Inca ruins are accessible while exploring the Sacred Valley of Ollantaytambo.
Discover the sacred mountain of Pinkuylluna. To get to the Pinkuylluna ruins, you have to go to the main square of the town of Ollantaytambo and look at the nearest triangular-shaped peak.
Before entering the town of Ollantaytambo, find the archaeological site of Qellorakay. At Qellorakay, you can see the main gateway of Ollantaytambo, Inca hanging houses built on the reefs of Pinkuylluna Mountain, and explore the agricultural terraces of Qellorakay on both sides of the Urubamba River.
Enjoy the trek through the Inca Trail of Pumamarca.
The Pumamarca ruin is the most spectacular Inca site in Peru’s Sacred Valley. To get to Pumamarca, take a vehicle in the town of Ollantaytambo to go up the river from Patacancha in “20 minutes by car.” The trail to Pumamarca winds through a beautiful Andean forest in the Ollantaytambo valley.
This hiking route to Pumamarca is splendid for descending the Pumamarca mountain towards Ollantaytambo; during the walk, we find beautiful panoramic views; several ruins consist of a system of Inca platforms that cover almost an entire mountain, “Inca platforms of Pata-Pata.”
The walk ends on the colonial trail along the Patacancha River until you reach the plaza of Ollantaytambo. “Explore the Pumamarca Inca trail of the Sacred Valley in Ollantaytambo.”
Reach the top of the Intipunku of Ollantaytambo with an impressive view
Walk along the beautiful Inca Quarry, hike the Inca Trail to the Sun Gate, and discover Intipunku in Ollantaytambo. Overlooking the Veronica Glacier, the Sun Gate, with a view directed towards the Veronica Glacier, Intipunku has one of the most astonishing views in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Impressive sun gate in front and on top of Ollantaytambo village. As you reach the top of the mountain, you will see the panorama of Nevada Veronica (5682 m), the region’s highest and most visible mountain.
The best way to reach Intipunku is on foot or horseback, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Sacred Valley and the snow-capped mountains surrounding the Andes region.
Stroll through the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo is a city that preserves colonial and Inca architecture. The combination of the two architectures is astonishing for Peru’s living heritage and culture. Ollantaytambo’s cobbled streets are lined with Inca aqueducts.
The Andes mountains of the Sacred Valley surround Ollantaytambo’s charming central square. Ollantaytambo is an ideal place to spend a few nights or have a great adventure and climb to higher altitudes, such as the city of Cusco or the Rainbow Mountain hiking trail.
Ollantaytambo: The Gateway to Machu Picchu
Ollantaytambo is the gateway to Machu Picchu. Most travelers arrive in Ollantaytambo to take the train to Aguas Calientes. Two rail companies, PeruRail and Inca Rail, travel to Machu Picchu. The town of Aguas Calientes is only accessible by train. When arriving in Aguas Calientes, take the bus to Machu Picchu.
Many travelers also visit Ollantaytambo and spend the night at various tourist routes such as Lares, Huchuy Qosqo, Pumamarca, Urquillos hikes, tours of the Sacred Valley, Maras Moray, etc.
The next day, many travelers continue their direct journey to Machu Picchu, traveling by train or connecting with the Short Inca Trail Adventure, Inca Jungle, etc. Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley is a focal point for several archaeological sites or spectacular excursion circuits.
The Sacred Valley begins at Pisac with its beautiful Inca ruins. The Urubamba River passes through Calca, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo. The Sacred Valley ends almost near Machu Picchu. The distance to the Sacred Valley between Pisac and Ollantaytambo is 100 km.
The Sacred Valley is about 1 km wide. Tall mountains surround both sides of the valley, some of which are permanently covered with snow.
BTG: Integral Tourist Ticket: The entrance ticket allows you to enter the archaeological sites and some museums administered by the Ministry of Culture in Cusco. The entrance ticket to the Sacred Valley is priced at S/130 Soles (approximately $45) for foreign adults; the integral tourist ticket is valid for ten days.
On the other hand, partial tourist tickets are exclusive to visiting the ruins of the Sacred Valley, cost 70 soles (about $25), and are valid for two days.
Entrance tickets to the Sacred Valley can be purchased at any archaeological park in the Sacred Valley or Av. El Sol 103 in the town of Cusco. “Tourist Galleries” is half a block from Cusco’s main square.
In general, the elevation of the Sacred Valley is first taken as a reference; the Pisac ruins are at 3,347 meters, the midpoint of the Sacred Valley route.
Then there is the ruin of Ollantaytambo at 2800 meters. Between the ruins of Pisac and Ollantaytambo is a significant elevation to tour or stay overnight anywhere in Peru’s Sacred Valley.
Chinchero’s 3,800 meters above sea level are added if travelers take the full-day tour of the Sacred Valley to the highlands.
In May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December, you will have good weather with an average temperature between 20 degrees Celsius (68°F) and 26 degrees Celsius (79°F).
It has mild temperatures all year round, ranging between 18°C (65°F) and 21°C (69°F).
May, June, July, and August are the dry seasons.
October has an average maximum temperature of 21°C (70°F) and is the year’s warmest month.
The coldest month is July, with an average maximum temperature of 19°C (66°F).
January tops the wettest month list with 158mm (6.2in) of rainfall.
June is the driest month, with 2mm (0.1 in) of precipitation.
July is the sunniest month, with an average of 257 hours of sunshine.
The high Andes surround the Sacred Valley; the Sacred Valley sits at an elevation that never falls below 2,042 meters (6,700 feet) and routinely rises well above 2,895 meters (9,500 feet). At that altitude, the air is thin and can create challenges for those who aren’t fully acclimated. The twin peaks of Sahuasiray and Veronica are even higher and dominate the horizon at over 5,791 meters (19,000 feet).
The Sacred Valley was formed over millions of years by the Urubamba River, fed by a loose mountain stream. Urubamba means “sacred river” and originates from the valley’s name. Lined with rolling green meadows, the river offers a refuge from the rugged and harsh Andes and the hot and humid Amazonia of Cusco.
Archaeologists believe the Sacred Valley has been continuously inhabited for over 3,000 years. First, around 800-900 BC, the people of Chanapata arrived, and later, through Qotacalli, the Kilke civilization came 1200 years later. These groups were attracted to the rich and fertile land there, which enabled them to grow crops that could more easily feed their populations.
Around 1000 AD, the Incas appeared throughout the region, using their capital, Cusco, as their seat of power. Using a combination of diplomacy, military force, and administrative control, the Incas took command of the Sacred Valley, where their empire eventually expanded. They used the lush and fertile areas to grow corn and other vegetables, allowing their culture to thrive and grow. Forts were built throughout the region to become permanent monuments to their civilization.
The Incas would rule the region for over 400 years. Their dominance in the Sacred Valley collapsed with the arrival of the Spaniards, who were looking for gold, jewels, and enslaved people. However, carrying its Inca legacy, Cusco remains the region’s most prominent city.
The best private tours within the Sacred Valley are the following:
We have several alternative tourist circuits to explore the Sacred Valley and its surroundings or spend the night in Ollantaytambo before entering Machu Picchu or leaving the Sacred Valley, Peru.
Cusco’s Rainbow Mountain has recently become one of the most popular adventure trails. The Rainbow Mountain Route is Peru’s second-most visited tourist destination after the enigmatic Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Visit the Rainbow Mountain Trail for one of the most stunning photos south of Cusco, known locally as Winikunca, or the Mountain of the Seven Colors.
The tourist route is a must for hikers or visitors enjoying the unique and colorful scenery of the rugged mountains deep in the Andes and Ausangate. It only takes 70 minutes of hiking to see Mother Nature’s remarkable beauty show or to go horseback riding for 50 minutes.
There are many reasons to visit Cusco, Peru, from its diverse natural geography to cultural celebrations and remnants of ancient Inca civilizations. Every year, millions of tourists travel to the Andes to visit Machu Picchu. But in 2015, a newly discovered geological wonder was added to the country’s must-see list. Also known as the Seven Colored Mountains or the Rainbow Mountains, Vinicunca was founded eight years ago when the Andes snowpack melted, revealing the natural beauty below. Formed over time by weathering, environmental conditions, and sedimentary deposits, the mountain’s unique minerals create stunning views that rise high into the sky in layered colors of gold, purple, red, and turquoise.
The trail to Rainbow Mountain begins at the parking lot of Llactoc and follows a flat path for approximately 70 minutes. It then gradually ascends through Rainbow Valley to a steep incline to the top of Rainbow Mountain. To reach the typical view of Rainbow Mountain, you must climb the mountain’s steep slopes for about 18 minutes.
At the summit, see beautiful views of the colorful foothills and the blue Andes, with lush green views of the snow-capped peaks of Ausangate.
Recommendation: Two days of acclimatizing in the Cusco or Sacred Valley area are recommended. We recommend that you do the Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain Circuit on the last day; your body has already adapted to the altitude of the Andes.
The climate on the Rainbow Mountain of Vinicunca varies with the seasons. Due to its altitude of 5200 meters (17,060 feet), the weather on Mount Vinicunca is generally chilly, with consistently cool, dry air and temperatures. During the rainy season, the weather is cloudy, rainy, and frigid, with temperatures dropping to 5 degrees Celsius at night, average temperatures during the day between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius, and temperatures between May and November between 7 and 10 degrees Celsius. Twelve degrees below zero during the day. At night, the temperature drops below 0°C.
The best time to visit the Rainbow Mountains and the Vinicunca Circuit in the Cusco region is during the dry season in the Peruvian Andes, from April to November. From April to November, there are blue skies with fantastic panoramic views. The sun is present most days, making it one of the most comfortable conditions for walking and horseback riding. Please prepare and bring appropriate mountain equipment.
Certain months of the year are better for exploring the colored mountains than others. We recommend April, May, September, October, and early November. During these months, the weather remains dry, the temperatures are pleasant, and the trails are lightly traveled.
Travelers should visit Rainbow Mountain at any time of the year. In this case, be it the dry or rainy season, we are happy to organize an excursion to one of the planet’s most unique, colorful mountains. Our advice is always to carry the right mountain equipment when the sky is blue, and the weather might change instantly.
There are two ways to reach Color Mountain. The distance between Cusco and the Mountains of Color depends on your chosen road.
The route through Cusipata: The travel route is currently the best-known and most famous.
General Note: The trip takes 3 hours from Cusco to the beginning of the Rainbow Mountain adventure. The vehicle carries the paved road south of Cusco for about 2 hours until it reaches the town of Cusipata. From Cusipata, the last hour ascends towards the Andes of Rainbow Mountain for 1 hour, following the vehicular dirt track.
The route through Pitumarca is the original and less congested but the longest.
This vehicular travel route reaches the vicinity of Rainbow Mountain from the back.
It’s not ideal, but very rustic toilets are available. Bring a roll of toilet paper to be well prepared.
The entire system and circuit of the Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain are managed by the 20 indigenous communities that live and surround the tourist attraction, which is why there is a rustic bathroom service at the beginning of the adventure as well as in the middle of the entire excursion and about 20 minutes before reaching the top of Rainbow Mountain.
The half-recommended bathroom service is located at the ticket control. The bathroom is located before reaching the vehicle parking lot or the dirt road’s end.
Note: There are gas stations with bathroom service when traveling by car. There are also several tourist restaurants where travelers can stop to enjoy the WC services.
Yes! It is considered a challenging trek due to the height (5100 meters of altitude), not precisely because of the complexity of the path.
Although the mountain of seven colors is beautiful and a great trip from Cusco, its popularity is undeniable.
About 2,500 customers use it every day! What was once a peaceful and secluded place has become one of the most visited destinations after Machu Picchu.
However, another mountain offers the same appearance, which few people talk about (at least for now): Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain in Combapata.
The excursion to the top of Rainbow Mountain on foot or horseback is well worth it. The panoramic view is fantastic and adds beauty to the entire landscape of Ausangate.
There is a combination of beautiful things, such as Ausangate covered with snow, valleys in the middle of the Andes, the natural exposition of color during the trek, the presence of South American camelids, and the experience of hiking over 5,100 meters above sea level. 16,732 feet. Undoubtedly, the Rainbow Mountain sightseeing tour is 100 percent worth it.
The Winikunka Rainbow Mountains are located southeast of Cusco, between the districts of Cusipata and Pitumarca, in the province of Canchis and Quispicanchis, in southern Peru, South America.
Lares Trek, Peru (2024) -The Ultimate Guide
The Lares Trek is one of the many routes leading to Machu Picchu. Lares’s walk is particularly rich in cultural experiences. We highly recommend the Lares Trek to anyone wanting to immerse themselves in the local culture of Cusco.
The Lares trek to Machu Picchu is one of the alternative trekking routes to Machu Picchu. Lares Trek is an excellent option for those who are less committed to traveling with a date. Hikers still experience hiking in rural Peruvian villages, high-altitude camping, and a day at Machu Picchu on a guided tour along Peru’s Lares Trail.
The Lares Trek trail involves trekking through valleys, mountains, the Amazon of Machu Picchu, uphill and over Andes hills, past lakes, waterfalls, and towns. The second day is the most difficult. This isn’t unique to the Lares Trail, but a second day is difficult for all hikers to Lares Machu Picchu.
The Lares Trek is off the beaten path on the Inca Trail. It begins near the town of Lares, where it derives its name. This small town is 64 kilometers (40 miles) north of Cusco and 56 kilometers (35 miles) southeast of Machu Picchu. Lares Trek is at a high altitude of 3,200 meters (10,498 feet). The Lares Trek itself is located in the Lares Valley. It lies east of the Urubamba Mountains and runs through part of the Sacred Valley.
There are several versions of Lares Treks to Machu Picchu, each with its own challenges. Suppose you have specific physical conditions for high hikes on these Lares hiking trails. There are 5 Lares Treks with different checkpoints depending on your preference and general fitness level.
The walk can be completed as an independent 1-2-3-day excursion. Extending the tour by 1-2 days and visiting Machu Picchu is also possible. The latter option is quickly becoming a popular trail for hikers. This is due to the limited permits for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
The permits are not required for Lares Trek. This means you can reach Cusco and travel in a day or two. However, you should always book train tickets to Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes as soon as possible.
Several aspects make this trek a tremendous alternative hiking trail to Machu Picchu through the Lares Trek. You can spot local weavers and farmers in colorful traditional outfits. Depending on the expedition, you can watch or participate in some weaving.
The best time to hike the Lares Trek in Peru is during the dry season (May to November). This is the region’s most active trekking season.
How prepared you are depends on what you’re doing on the Lares Trek. Only one prerequisite is required for the shorter routes (routes 1, 2, and 5). Routes 3 and 4 are longer than that. You must be suitable for hiking to take advantage of these options.
Specific exercises will make your journey more enjoyable, regardless of your route. We recommend walking, running, or swimming 3 to 5 times a week in the months you prepare to walk. This helps build cardio endurance.
Altitude sickness can seriously affect some Lares Trek Peru hiking circuit visitors. So, prepare appropriately with light exercises and seek advice from your doctor if you need the proper medication.
Most adventure guides carry first-aid kits and an oxygen bottle for any eventuality. Drink plenty of water during the day, stroll, rest the usual 8 hours, etc.
The Lares Trek is considered a moderate trek. But the height of the Andes can affect some people. We recommend purchasing a pair of aluminum poles to help you maintain balance and reduce stress on your knees. We can all do the awesome Lares Trek.
For the best time to hike the Lares Valley, there are two very distinct periods:
Lares Trek: The dry season spans from April to November.
Lares Trek: Rain season: goes from December to March.
Lares Trek is 100% guaranteed. It is recommended to book in advance to secure your entrance tickets to the Lares Trek, Machu Picchu, the train, and more.
May, June, and July are the peak months of Cusco’s high season. Departs daily. If you want to book at the last minute, we welcome our travelers based on availability. Book several months in advance!
There is no age limit for the Lares Trek. If hikers go on the Lares trek with children, the key is to keep them well-hydrated so they quickly adapt to the heights of the Andes.
Older people must have their spirit of adventure active to have a good time on the Lares Peru trek; taking short walks is recommended before the experience through Lares to Machu Picchu.
Useful when heading to various parts of Lares Pass or the Lares Trail. In general, it’s a good idea to bring trekking poles into your backpack to adjust the size of your hiking poles for Lares Hike’s ups and downs on the Lares hiking circuit.
There is no Internet service or signal on the hiking trails in Lares. Hikers can capture an excellent signal on their electronic devices once they enter the Sacred Valley of the Incas through Huaran, Yanahuara, Pumahuanca, or Ollantaytambo.
In the town of Machupicchu and the same ruins of Machu Picchu, cell phones have a 100 percent internet signal.
There is no drinking water in the tourist circuit of Lares. There are several streams along the Lares trek in any of its hiking circuits in which adventurers will have to use purifying tablets, filters, or UV rays to purify the water.
Throughout the Lares Trek adventure, there are local water vendors; the sale of bottled water is safe to drink.
The travel agency that organizes the tour provides boiled water in the canteens of the hikers for each day of the Lares Trek expedition. There are several options to stay hydrated in the Andes of Peru.
The thermal waters of Lares have different temperatures; the thermal baths are ideally located in the unique Valle de Lares. Its proximity to the lush Sacred Valley makes it easily accessible from Calca.
The Lares hot springs are straightforward but essential for enjoying a good dip. The thermal baths of Lares are located next to the stream with a spectacular exuberant background between the Andes Mountain range.
Discover and have fun swimming in the different pools of the thermal baths of Lares before starting the other walks that the Lares Valley of Peru offers.
Yes and no. Acclimatized and in relatively good shape, you can hike the Lares Trek in Peru. Each hiker’s Lares route has to check their physical condition and, above all, their acclimatization level. There are alternatives to combine the adventure through the Lares, which is riding horses for specific days to enjoy your vacation much more.
It’s cold; it’s pretty freezing. It depends on the time of year you will go on the Lares Hiking Trail, “the first and second nights of Lares Trek.”
However, the night and early morning temperatures will drop below freezing for at least the first two days of the Lares route. During the day, it will be warm enough to enter the forest in the Amazon region of Machu Picchu via the Sacred Valley.
Note: In the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, there are five established circuits for guided tours; we use circuits 1 and 2, “the best ones.”
All travelers on the Lares Trek must carry their original Passport. A passport is also required to enter the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu; the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu must be given together to enter Machu Picchu and get the most spectacular visit in Peru and South America.
The Inca Jungle Trek is one of the treks through the Amazon circuit of Cusco between Santa María and Santa Teresa and, therefore, to the magnificent Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. You can see breathtaking landscapes full of lush vegetation, exotic fruit trees, coffee plantations, etc., while taking the Inca Jungle Amazon to Machu Picchu tour, along with a stunning fusion of all the qualities that nature offers, like the low jungle and the cloud forest.
Several Inca Trails, including Santa Maria, Huacayupana, Santa Teresa, and Lucmabamba from the Aobamba valley, are used by tourists as loops through the Inca Jungle in the Amazon.
The best thermal baths in the Huadquiña Valley in Santa Teresa, Peru, are found at the Cocalmayo thermal baths, which we visit on our 2, 3, and 4-day Inca Jungle Trek tourist circuits.
The thermal baths have four pools and mini cold-water waterfalls so that after the thermal waters, you can combine temperatures; the magnificent climate complements the beautiful panoramic views. On the last day of any Inca Jungle Trek adventure circuit, we visit Machu Picchu on a 2-hour guided tour.
The Inca Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu is an adventure through the beginnings of the jungle in Cusco, Peru. The tour includes various moderate adventure activities between Santa María and Santa Teresa, the thermal baths of Cocalmayo, and the Inca Trail of Lucmabamba. The Machu Picchu Jungle Trail has become one of the most popular trekking trails to reach Machu Picchu through the Amazon route.
Hiking the Inca Jungle Trek, we have excellent Inca trails with warm climates that most visitors love. The experience of observing tropical plants with superb panoramic views makes the vacation one of the best in Peru – South America, and even better when we head to Cocalmayo Hot Springs.
Around Santa Teresa, more adventurous explorers can experience zip lines built from mountain to mountain or walk across suspension bridges. The day before arriving at Machu Picchu, enjoy stunning panoramic views of Machu Picchu from the Llactapata, Intihuatana Ruins, Hidroeléctrica Train Station, or Puente de las Ruinas.
The Inca Jungle Trek is a great alternative route to Machu Picchu and adds incredible scenery to the Amazon route to Machu Picchu.
The Inca Jungle Trek tour of the Amazon from Cusco is packed with adventure along a beautiful stretch of the original Inca Trail between Santa María, Santa Teresa, and Lucmabamba, ending the expedition at the Inca fortresses of Machu Picchu, one of the most amazing places on the planet.
You will experience many breathtaking landscapes, including the Andes, the rainforest, the Urubamba River, and the Amazon jungle around Machu Picchu.
The bus journey from Cusco to Santa María takes about 4 hours and 20 minutes. We travel from Cusco to Huarocondo, down the Sacred Valley, and then to Ollantaytambo.
From Ollantaytambo, the trip heads up the Andes to the Malaga Pass. Admire the dramatic scenery of snow-capped Veronica from the Abra Malaga Pass, then head to the Carrizales Amazon Forest. At Santa Maria, embark on an adventure on the Inca Trail Jungle Trek to Santa Teresa.
These items should be light and easy to carry. Bring only what you will need for the outing.
Bring the following items to enjoy the best thermal baths in Cusco:
In addition to trekking through the Amazon tourist circuit of Machu Picchu, there are special activities of the Inca Jungle Trek, such as:
On the Inca Jungle Trek Mountain bike, Day 1 is a 65 km/40-mile descent of approximately 2 hours, starting at the Malaga Pass and ending at the ruins of Huaman Marca.
Informative note: In the 2-, 3-, and 4-day Inca Jungle to Machu Picchu tour, Kondor Path Tours does not organize the experience of the bike tour between the pass of Malaga and Huamanmarca because it is an asphalt road and there are many regular local vehicles. If visitors are required to experience a bike tour, we recommend doing it around Maras Moray. If guests need it, we can arrange a bike tour before embarking on the Inca Jungle Trek.
Rafting can be done in the white water of Vilcanota; many travelers want another option. Recommended between May and October due to the good conditions of the Vilcanota Santa María River, “boating is done only in summer.”
Travelers can include a zipline experience through the Santa Teresa Valley. The Inca Jungle tour package does not include the zipline experience, but if guests want a zipline tour, we can arrange it.
Just a 10-minute drive from Santa Teresa, we arrive at the Cocalmayo Hot Springs for a 02-hour splash in Cusco’s most luxurious waters.
All our Inca jungle trekking tour packages include access to Cocalmayo Hot Springs. Relax after experiencing the Inca Trail on a 2-, 3- or 4-day tour, the Inca Jungle Trek from Cusco, Peru.
The climatic conditions in the Cusco region vary from dry winters to wet summers. But it’s much different on the Amazonian trekking circuit in the Inca Jungle Trek:
A dry season, from May to September
A wet season, from October to April
The Inca Jungle Trek is a walking adventure through the low Andes and the Amazon Route to Machu Picchu. The ride is best suited for vacationers of all ages, including children, youth, adults, and seniors.
The route of the walk from Santa María to Santa Teresa is 3 hours and a half following the Inca Trail of Huacayupana; the other days can be exchanged for rides in local vehicles or the experience of the zip line with the thermal baths of Cocalmayo, etc.
Enjoy the Amazon Inca Trail with beautiful vegetation, fruit plantations, coffee, coca leaves, avocados, and many more. The scenic landscapes amaze from the tops of the Inca Trail and the thermal baths of Cocalmayo.
One of the most spectacular hikes before visiting Machu Picchu is walking the Lucmabamba Inca Trail; as you turn the mountain, enjoy one of the best views of Machu Picchu from Llactapata Mountain in the Aobamba Valley.
Exposure to mosquitoes and minor insects bothers you during the Inca Jungle Trek. Neither mosquitoes nor insects are poisonous or vectors of disease.
Sandfly bites are more annoying than mosquito bites, but luckily, they repel very well with insect repellent.
Informative note: The spray repellent is prohibited in the tourist circuits of the buffer zone of Machu Picchu and inside the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Repellent cream is allowed. “Let’s take care of the environment.”
The Inca Jungle Trail technically has a typical elevation gain between 1,203 m (3,946 ft) and 2814 m (9232 ft). This means that altitude sickness is rare on the Inca Jungle Trek. It doesn’t happen as often as other tourist circuits in Cusco.
When are you at higher risk of getting altitude sickness before hiking? Most travelers to Machu Picchu first fly to Cusco City, which is located at an altitude of over 3,400 meters (1,155 feet). It is usual for visitors to Cusco to experience mild altitude sicknesses such as headaches or nausea. It would be best to acclimate to this altitude for several days before going higher.
Another reasonable option, if you have time, is to quickly descend from Cusco to the stunning Sacred Valley at an altitude of 2,851 meters (9,353 feet). Rest here for a few days before returning to Cusco or joining the Inca Jungle Trek group on your way to Machu Picchu.
In the accommodation in the walk through the Amazon jungle of the tourist circuit Santa María, Santa Teresa, and Machu Picchu, we offer lodging services in three-star hotels.
We recommend booking the Inca Jungle tour for 2, 3, or 4 days of excursion in advance if there is no availability in the only two hotels in the town of Santa Teresa! We accommodate visitors in basic lodgings the first night, and the following days in Machupicchu Pueblo, we stay in 3-star hotels according to the Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco, Peru itinerary.
We advise you to book the 2, 3, or 4-day Inca Jungle Tour in advance. There are two hotels in Santa Teresa! We lodge guests in 3-star hotels, and if there is no availability, accommodation in basic lodgings on the first night, according to Inca Jungle Trek, Cusco, Peru.
All travelers on the Inca Jungle Trek must carry their passport to check the Intiwatana section of the Hidroeléctrica station for the entrance to the Amazon Tour Circuit.
A passport is also required to enter the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu; the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu must be given together to enter Machu Picchu and get the most spectacular visit in Peru and South America.
We invite you to explore the following tourist circuits of the Inca Jungle Trek in the Cusco region in Peru, South America.
Planning a day trip from Cusco to Rainbow Mountain is an exciting adventure that allows you to witness one of nature’s most stunning wonders. Located in the Peruvian Andes, Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca, is renowned for its vibrant and awe-inspiring colors, making it a bucket-list destination for travelers worldwide. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about this extraordinary day trip, from the best time to visit to essential tips for an unforgettable experience.
Rainbow Mountain is a geological wonder that boasts a vibrant and diverse palette of colors. The mountain’s unique appearance is attributed to the rocks’ mineralogical composition, resulting in red, orange, yellow, green, and turquoise stripes. The sight of this natural phenomenon is a true feast for the eyes and a testament to the Earth’s geological history.
Besides its geological significance, Rainbow Mountain holds immense cultural importance for the local communities in the region. The mountain is considered sacred by the Quechua people, who inhabit the surrounding areas. Learning about the spiritual significance of the mountain adds a layer of depth to the journey.
The best time to embark on a day trip to Rainbow Mountain is during the dry season, typically from May to September. The weather is relatively stable during this period, providing clear skies and excellent trekking conditions. It is crucial to avoid the rainy season, as heavy rainfall may make the trek challenging and obscure the vibrant colors of the mountain.
If you are an adventurous traveler and seek a unique experience, visiting Rainbow Mountain during the wet season (October to April) could be an option. The rainwater can create a surreal effect on the landscape, intensifying the colors of the mountains and surrounding valleys.
Before embarking on the trek, assessing your physical fitness is essential, as the journey involves a challenging hike. Moreover, Cusco is situated at a high altitude, so acclimatization is crucial to preventing altitude sickness during the trip.
Proper preparation is vital to a successful day trip. Pack essential items such as sturdy hiking boots, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a water bottle, snacks, and a camera to capture the breathtaking scenery.
While the trek to Rainbow Mountain can be done independently, hiring a local guide can enrich your experience. They have extensive knowledge of the area’s history, culture, and geology and can ensure your safety during the hike.
Your day trip will begin in the historical city of Cusco, where you’ll meet your guide and fellow adventurers before setting off on the journey to Rainbow Mountain.
The drive to the trailhead is an adventure in and of itself. You’ll pass through picturesque Andean landscapes, encounter traditional villages, and be surrounded by the beauty of the Peruvian highlands.
The trek to Rainbow Mountain is approximately 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) long and takes 3 to 4 hours to reach the summit. The path is moderately challenging, with some steep sections that require stamina and perseverance.
The trek to the summit offers breathtaking views of the Andean peaks and the Ausangate Glacier. Keep an eye out for llamas and alpacas grazing in the highlands, adding to the picturesque scenery.
As you ascend to higher altitudes, it’s common to experience mild altitude sickness. Stay hydrated, take slow and steady steps, and listen to your body. If you feel unwell, inform your guide immediately.
Arriving at Rainbow Mountain’s summit is a rewarding moment. The panoramic views of the multicolored slopes and the surrounding landscape will leave you in awe of Mother Nature’s artistry.
The mountain’s diverse colors result from various mineral deposits exposed over time. Iron oxides create red and pink hues, while green shades are caused by copper mineralization. The interaction of these minerals with the environment produces a spectacular rainbow effect.
To capture the stunning beauty of Rainbow Mountain, use a good-quality camera or smartphone with ample storage space. Take advantage of natural lighting to highlight the colors and textures of the landscape.
While taking pictures, ensure you leave no trace behind. Preserve the pristine beauty of Rainbow Mountain by respecting the environment and refraining from leaving any litter.
After spending time at the summit, it’s time to begin your descent back to the trailhead. Cherish the memories of the journey as you say farewell to Rainbow Mountain.
On your return journey to Cusco, you can stop at nearby attractions such as the Red Valley or local villages, providing further insights into the Andean way of life.
A day trip from Cusco to Rainbow Mountain is a remarkable adventure that allows you to connect with nature’s breathtaking beauty and delve into the cultural significance of this geological marvel. As you hike through the Andean highlands and witness the vivid colors of Rainbow Mountain, you’ll undoubtedly create memories that will last forever.
Salkantay Trail, an alternative trek to the Inca Trail Salkantay Trek is perhaps one of the most incredible hikes in the Cusco region due to the competition offered by the Inca Trail, which is world-famous and promoted by GoMachuPicchu.Tours
The variety of flora and fauna and the various towns along the way made it one of National Geographic Adventure Magazine’s top 25 adventure trips worldwide. The end of the Salkantay trail takes you to the small tourist town of Aguas Calientes and the Inca citadel at Machu Picchu.
The Salkantay Trek or Salkantay route is an alternative to the famous Inca Trail to reach Machu Picchu. This is a slightly strenuous route as it involves a pass at 4600m elevation, but it is more beautiful and possible to hike the Salkantay route in Peru.
The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu is around 72 kilometers, preferably covered in 5 days and 4 nights. The Salkantay Trek walking trail could be completed in four days and three nights. The last day is all about the visit to Machu Picchu.
The climate is generally pleasant during the day and hot and cold at night. The temperature can drop below zero degrees in some places, especially on the first night. The best time for the Salkantay trek is from May to September, when the weather is more relaxed but rain is less likely. The rainy season lasts from December to March.
The Salkantay trekking trail has no technical difficulties; it is signposted, and all kinds of hikers walk it. But it’s difficult; you must walk a lot at high altitudes, so there is a risk of altitude sickness. It would be best if you were prepared and adapted and, as always, had travel insurance.
Yes and no. Acclimatized and in relatively good shape, you can hike the Salkantay Trek in Peru. Each hiker’s Salkantay route has to check their physical condition and, above all, their acclimatization level. There are alternatives to combining the adventure through the Salkantay, which is riding horses for specific days, to enjoy your vacation much more.
No, you won’t get lost on a hiking trail. It’s hard to get lost. The Salkantay Trail is well-marked and filled with hikers and residents of the Salkantay Trail tour circuit en route to Machu Picchu.
Yes. Fortunately, and unfortunately, it is a bustling route. In an emergency, the tour guide always carries a first-aid kit.
We can also always request assistance from other organized groups of travel agents and horses in the area or make satellite calls to request a rescue helicopter.
Also, each stage has escape routes at the end of the Salkantay Trek Trail. Our guides and support teams are trained and prepared for any eventuality.
Yes. Positively yes. We recommend that you spend at least two or three days in Cusco. Drink plenty of water (juice or tea made from fresh coca leaves), get plenty of rest, and walk to weigh yourself.
If you feel that your body is reacting more or less correctly (considering that you are more than 3500 meters above sea level around Cusco), you are ready for the trip to the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.
It’s cold; it’s pretty freezing. It depends on the time of year you will go on the Salkantay road, “the first night of Salkantay.”
However, the night and early morning temperatures will drop below freezing for at least the first two days of the Salkantay route. During the day, it will be warm enough to enter the forest in the Amazon region of Machu Picchu.
The idea is to hike this route during the dry season, from April to November. It is when it is coldest, but there is little chance of rain. From December to March, it is the rainy season. “You can hike the Salkantay Adventure in the rainy season; the important thing is to bring complete rain gear.”
Yes. You can buy water every 3-4 kilometers on the Salkantay hiking trail. There are also several streams of natural water; visitors can fill their water bottles, but first, they must purify them with purifying tablets, filters, etc.
The Salkantay trek is not very strenuous, but reaching the highest point at 4,650 meters above sea level will require you to be in good shape. We recommend spending a few days before visiting Cusco or the Sacred Valley to avoid discomfort (altitude sickness) while climbing the Salkantay Trail.
We recommend chewing on coca leaves (available for S/2 at any market in Cusco) or coca candies. So-called Soroche tablets, a highly effective treatment for altitude sickness, are available in all Peruvian pharmacies.
At 4,645 meters above sea level, the Salkantay Pass is the most challenging part of the trail. Expect wind and cool temperatures. Some excursionists may experience symptoms of altitude sickness called “Soroche.”
Double yes! The Salkantay Trek is one of the best Peruvian hikes in South America, and the trail is impressive.
Although the Salkantay Trail is challenging and rises more than 4,500 meters from Soraypampa (3900 meters), the Salkantay Trek offers incredible panoramic views, including views of the Salkantay and Humantay Glaciers and the beautiful Amazonian forests of the Santa Teresa Valley.
Yes. The Salkantay Trek goes higher and is known for the challenging mountainous terrain of the Andes and the Amazon of Cusco. The Salkantay trail, compared to the Classic Inca Trail, has less distance to walk: the Salkantay with the Short Inca Trail has a length of 39.9 km (24.7 miles), while the Classic Inca Trail has 42 km (26 miles).
Walking sticks are guaranteed to make walking more manageable and reduce pain during and after walking. For aluminum trekking poles, it is necessary to bring rubber tips so as not to damage the network of the Salkantay Trek Trails.
Trekking poles are prohibited in the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu because they disrupt traffic or cause accidents. In Machu Picchu, only older adults or people with visible physical disabilities can use trekking poles.
We recommend booking the Salkantay Trek Trail service four months in advance to obtain service for the high season. The high tourist season in Machu Picchu is from May to October.
However, you can book the Salkantay Trek Trail two months in advance, from October to December, and three weeks in advance.
Visitors must respect the protocols indicated on each tourist circuit.
2024: strictly prohibited!