9. Cusco: 4-Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Small Group Trek
Day 1: Cusco to Wayllabamba
After pick-up Cusco, drive for 1.5 hours by bus to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where the trek begins. The walking on the first day is relatively easy. Along the way you will visit the ruined city of Patallacta, and Willkarakay, a military post located above Patallacta. Then enter the lush valley of Wayllabamba, walking along the banks of the Cusichaca River. The trail continues gradually upward through dense Andean forest, to the first campsite in Wayllabamba.
Day 2: Wayllabamba to Pacaymayu
You will start early, as the walking is physically intense for those who are not accustomed to high altitudes. Trek through the densely vegetated Andean forest until you arrive at a campsite, where you will take a short rest. Continuing your ascent in the afternoon, the habitat will begin to change. After another rest, with snacks and hot drinks, begin the final ascent to a 4,215 meter pass, the highest point of the trek. Enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding valleys below, then descend to the campsite in Pacaymayu for the night.
Day 3: Pacaymayu to Wiñay Wayna
Visit the archaeological site of Runkurakay, a former resting lodge for ancient pilgrims. Then after a 45-minute ascent, you will reach the second highest pass of the Inca trail. Descend to the archaeological site of Sayacmarca. After visiting the site, continue down the beautifully paved road to the lunch stop. From here you will enter the high Andean cloud forest. The trail continues along a narrow ridge, arriving at a natural viewing area, where it is possible to see the Sacred Valley and numerous mountain peaks, as well as Machu Picchu. From here, descend to the campsite at Wiñay Wayna, passing an important archaeological site and a temple where offerings are made to the sacred mountain spirits.
Day 4: Wiñay Wayna to Machu Picchu
Rise early to complete the final stretch of the Inca Trail. After about an hour you will reach the Sun Gate, and see the sunrise over the Andes (weather permitting). A 45-minute walk will take you into the higher area of Machu Picchu. Take a 2-hour tour to learn more about this magical place, and then you will have time to explore the citadel by yourself. The climb to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain is optional (at additional cost and must be booked in advance). In the afternoon you will descend by bus to the town of Aguas Calientes, where you will receive your train tickets for the return journey to Cusco. The train will arrive to Ollantaytambo, where you will be picked up and driven by bus back to your hotel in Cusco.