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Alternative Inca Trail Treks

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Home > Activity > Alternative Inca Trail Treks

Alternative Inca Trail Treks




The citadel of Machu Picchu was the spiritual centre of the Incan world, and a great many pathways led to this site. So many so that, to this day, archaeologists continue to discover new ‘Inca Trails’ that have until now been hidden by the thick jungle that surrounds Machu Picchu. Here we showcase some of the alternative, lesser-known routes that head towards Machu Picchu, offering stunning panoramic views and fascinating natural and cultural history along the way.

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The Salkantay Trek

This 4-day trek takes you high up into the Andean Mountains, reaching an ultimate peak of 4600m. This is a quiet and peaceful trek and gives you excellent chances of seeing Andean Condors. You will travel from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, and enjoy a final full day in Machu Picchu itself.

Day 1: Cusco - Mollepata - Sayllapata - Salkantaypampa - Andenes

Early in the morning we will depart from Cusco to journey the town of Mollepata by private transportation, travelling for about 4 hours. The tour will take a northwest direction, crossing the Pampas or Yawar Anta Pampa (Pampa de la Sangre), known for the fierce battle developed between the Incas and Chancas for control of the city of Cusco. We will continue our journey to Mollepata, where we will stop for breakfast and take a short break. Then we will continue through Cruz Pata at 3200 meters to finally reach Soraypampa at 3800 meters, the starting point of the trek, where we meet our wranglers and horses. After a short introduction, we will start our hike towards the base of Mt. Salkantay at 6271 meters, crossing Salkantaypampa and then climbing a 2-hour steep ascent to Soyroccocha, just next to the impressive glacier of Salkantay at 4200 meters. Continuing uphill, we reach the Abra Huayracmachay at 4600 meters - the highest mountain pass in the programme where, besides enjoying stunning views of the surrounding glaciers and the snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range with the south face of Salkantay towering above us, we may also observe chinchillas and condors in their natural habitat. From this point, we will descend towards a more tropical climate and into the cloud forest.  A long though easy descent brings us in the late afternoon to our first campsite at Andenes, 3500 meters.

Day 2: Andenes - Chaullay - La Playa - Lucmabamba

Today we continue our hike with an easy downhill walk along the Salkantay River, enjoying the increasingly lush vegetation and passing waterfalls, passion fruit and coffee plantations. The arid highland landscape begins to transform into a cloud forest filled with trees and bromeliads. After approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes we arrive at Chaullay, and after a further 45 minutes walk, at the town of Collpapampa. From Collpapampa, the Salkantay River becomes the Santa Teresa River. Having stopped for a short rest, we continue our descent to the banks of the Totora River, then past the waterfalls at Coripacchi, the settlement at Wiñaypoko and the bustling small town of La Playa to finally arrive at our second camp at Lucmabamba, 2100 meters. On the way we will see plantations of banana, coffee, and avocado, as well as exuberant local flora. We enter spectacled-bear territory and it is likely that we will be accompanied by flocks of parrots as we descend. At dinner we can enjoy a glass of wine by the light of the camp-fire.

Note: La Playa is not a remote campsite - for those that want to get away from the crowds you should talk to your guide about camping at Lucmabamba.

Day 3: Lucmabamba - Llactapata - Hidroelectrica - Aguas Calientes

After breakfast we will head east along an ascending path, in the direction of Llactapata, and will continue to see coffee plantations, banana, avocado, etc, and a beautiful view of the valley of Santa Teresa. After climbing for 3-4 hours to the highest point of Llactapata at 2700 meters, we will enjoy free time to relax and observe the mountain of Machu Picchu and some of the nearby archaeological sites. We will then descend for 2 hours to the Hydroelectric Power Station (1870m), where we will have the final lunch with all our team. Later we will take the train to Aguas Calientes, a trip lasting roughly 45 minutes. In Aguas Calientes we will check into our hostel, after which you may set out to explore this picturesque town which offers, apart from its hot springs, many bars, cafes, Internet kiosks, etc. Overnight at Aguas Calientes.

Day 4: (Wed) April 25, 2016: Aguas Calientes - Machupicchu - Ollantaytambo - Cusco

Early in the morning, at 5:30am, we will move to the bus station of Aguas Calientes to take the touristic bus that leads to the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu. This short bus ride takes only 20 minutes and travels on an unpaved track, very steep and winding through the jungle and mountains, providing travellers with breathtaking views. Finally we will arrive at Machu Picchu, where our guide will tour the most important parts of this beautiful citadel. You will then have free time to explore the city on your own. Later we will take the bus back to Aguas Calientes. In the afternoon we return to the station to catch the train to Ollantaytambo and then transfer to a tourist bus to return to the city of Cusco. Overnight at Cusco.



The Lares Trek

A 4-day trek which takes you through traditional villages, on a trail that is still used today by local indigenous communities. Along the way you will be greeted by herds of llama and will pass lakes and waterfalls, as well as having the chance to relax in some natural hot springs. 

Day 1: Cusco - Quishuarani (Lares) - Cuncani - Yanacocha

At a scheduled time you will be picked up from your hotel by our representative, to board a vehicle to take you to the community of Lares. Travel through the Sacred Valley of the Incas, taking a detour through the town of Calca. The trip to Lares offers an insight into the lives of the Andean peoples that live along the route.

We recommend having a camera always at the ready, as there are sections where the landscape presents views to remember. It is also advised to bring something for the community of Lares. We recommend fruit, and gifts for the children of these villages, as it is certain that we will find them very welcoming when we reach the community of Quishuarani (3,700 meters above sea level), which is the starting point for the walk. Throughout the tour, we will come across small Andean communities, spectacular landscapes and mountains, herds of llamas and alpacas, and have the company of local villagers in colourful traditional costumes.

We will begin the beautiful hike through the Andes with a gentle climb from 3700 to 4200m, at which point we get to the lake of Queuña Cocha, where we will be able to see Mount Sawasiray (5400m) and Colquhoun Cruz (5600m). We will begin a short climb, steepest in the first section, to reach Hualcacasa pass at 4400 metres. From there we will normally be able to spot Mount Veronica (a sacred mountain with a peak of 5700 metres). Next we will descend for 30 minutes to reach our lunch spot, located next to the picturesque “Seven Lakes”. After lunch, we will begin the descent, which will take about 30 minutes, travelling through the community of Cuncani. Then, little by little, for two hours, we will ascend the beautiful slopes in order to get to our second point, Qolqecasa (4200 m). After a further 30 minutes of descent, past beautiful lakes and waterfalls, we finally arrive at approximately 16:30 at Yanacocha, where we will camp overnight.

Day 2: Yanacocha - Wakawasi - Mantanay

After breakfast, at 6.30am, we will leave Yanacocha and gradually descend for about 2 hours to Chaqchapata (3950m).

We will see the potato crops and herds of llamas and alpacas that are developed in this part of the Andes (part of the camelid family), as well as the local communities of people still living in farmhouses made of stone. Along the slopes you will normally see Chaqchapata farmers at work. 30 minutes later you will find Wakawasi. Then we continue for roughly an hour and a half for our lunch in “Hierba Esponjosa” (spongy grass), next to a glacial stream, Champacocha.

After our lunch break, we will climb for about an hour to reach the highest point our walk - the Auroracasa pass (4600m), where we will see the Auroracocha lagoon. From Auroracasa we will descend to a point from which you will be able to take pictures of this beautiful landscape, before entering the valley of Queuña. At this point you will notice a change of scenery with beautiful mountains, before continuing and reaching our campsite after a journey of approximately 2 hours.

Day 3: Mantanay - Yanahuara  -  Aguas Calientes

After breakfast, at 7:30am, we will start our walk that will bring us a much easier day, as we descend to lower altitudes and enjoy breathtaking views of the areas of Maras Moray and Salineras, the mountains and the valley Queuña. You will notice the sudden change of climate and environment and will see local farmers and agricultural crops of corn, potatoes and vegetables. The tour takes about 4 hours, after which we will reach the picturesque town of Yanahuara, where we will enjoy the last lunch together on our trip before the departure of our staff, leaving the horses and horsemen. A private bus will take us to the station of Ollantaytambo where we board the train for a 2-hour trip to the city of Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes. Upon arrival, you will check in at  your hotel where you will spend the night.

Day 4: Aguas Calientes - Machupicchu - Ollantaytabo - Cusco

After a very early breakfast at 5:30am, we will depart to experience an unforgettable visit to the ruins of Machu Picchu. You will need to leave early to avoid congestion with other groups of tourists and enjoy the spectacular view of the sunrise over the mountains of Machu Picchu. To reach the ruins it is necessary to take the local bus, a short 20 minute ride which follows an unpaved track, very steep and winding through the jungle and mountains, featuring stunning views. Finally we will arrive at Machu Picchu where our guide will accompany us on a tour of the most important parts of this beautiful citadel. This 2 hour tour will visit the agricultural area, consisting of sets of agricultural terraces, as well as the urban area where occupants lived and where some of the main civil and religious activities took place.

We will also visit the Intiwatana of Machu Picchu, located at the top of the citadel, the Temple of the Sun, the Condor and other major features. Later we have free time to explore the city at leisure. At around 13:00 we will take the bus back to Aguas Calientes.

Later at a coordinated time, you will board your return train back to Ollantaytambo. On arrival, you will be received and transferred to your hotel in Cusco.


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