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Home » Destinations » South America » Peru » Exodus The Inca Trail
Offering an unrivalled combination of history and dramatic scenery, the ancient Inca Trail winds its way from the powerful Urubamba River, across mountain passes and through cloud forests, passing several crumbling fortresses before reaching the lost city of Machu Picchu. This fabled trail is specifically designed to maximise the time spent at Machu Picchu with an early morning tour of the ruins, quieter at that hour before the crowds of day trippers and other trekkers arrive.
The overnight group flights to Cuzco leave London this evening.
The group flight usually arrives around midday and there will be time for a short orientation tour of the city or free time to wander the cobbled streets admiring the old houses, visiting its interesting museums, churches and pre-Columbian buildings, or to sit in a café and sample a coca-tea.
If you fancy something more active then there are an array of other optional activities available from Cuzco, although you may wish to leave these until your return to the city after the Inca Trail trek, by which time you will be fully acclimatised. These include paddle-boarding on a lake, mountain biking, or a combination of via ferrata and zip-lining in the Sacred Valley.
We leave Cuzco early and drive for roughly two hours to Ollantaytambo, our last chance to buy any items needed for the trek. From here we veer off the road and follow a track beside the river (45 minutes) to the start of the Inca Trail at Piscacucho, commonly known as Km82. After greeting our trekking crew, we show our passports at the checkpoint and begin the Inca Trail trek.
This is the longest and most strenuous day of the trek. A long climb takes us first through an area of cloud forest to the meadows of Llulluchapampa, then over the Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman’s) Pass – at 4215m the highest point on the trek.
We start the day with an easier climb which takes us past the ruins of Runquracay and over the Runquracay Pass (3930m). From now on the Inca Trail becomes a clearly defined path made of flat boulders. As we leave behind the ruins of Sayajmarca, we suddenly enter rainforest; at one point the trail passes through an Inca tunnel. We spend the night at a spectacular campsite on the ridge above the Inca site of Phuyupatamarca (3680m) to benefit from the views of sunset and sunrise.
From the ridge, we embark on the infamous Inca steps: a two kilometre stone staircase taking us rapidly downhill amid a panorama of overwhelming immensity, with the peaks of the Vilcabamba range above, and the river thousands of metres below. After visiting the attractive ruins of Wiñay Wayna, we have an undulating walk through cloud forest high above the river to Inti Punku, the Sun Gate. From here we get our first full sight of Machu Picchu itself, with Huayna Picchu rising behind.
In order to beat the day-trippers arriving from Cuzco and reach the ruins as early as possible, a very early start is required to queue for Machu Picchu; only government-registered buses can make the 30-minute drive up the winding road to the site entrance, and during high season (May-October) queues can be hours long.
Today has been left free to relax after the trek or explore Cuzco further. Again, your leader can help to arrange optional excursions and activities for you.
For land only travellers, the trip ends in Cuzco after breakfast today. Those who are travelling on the group flights will be taken to Cuzco airport to catch the overnight flight back to London.
The group flights arrive into London this afternoon.
The hotels normally used are indicated within the itinerary, however, accommodation may differ from those stated depending on your departure date. All of our Cuzco hotels are small and locally-owned with en-suite bathrooms and breakfast facilities. All are located within walking distance of the central Plaza de Armas. Most hotels have a safety deposit box in the room but if not, there will be one at the reception.
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