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Machu Picchu Peru  •  Inca Culture Adventure Trek
Itinerary

IMG Machu Picchu Itinerary

Our trip to Peru will be an amazing experience, and is designed to give trekkers adequate acclimatization time for all objectives. There are several opportunities in the schedule to allow for shopping, sightseeing and general non-guided touring. Arrangements can easily be made to accommodate non-trekking partners or family members into the program. In many ways, this will be a dream trip for just about any trekker. We'll see some of the most beautiful areas in the world and visit culturally diverse ruins. The trekking on this adventure will be challenging long days, but reasonable for active, fit participants.

Trip itinerary is subject to change, based on the needs of our group, weather and route conditions, and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. Alternative routes and/or schedule may be used as warranted.

Classic Inca Trail Trek Itinerary
Day Itinerary
Day 1-2

Depart from home on day 1, either planning to arrive in Lima in the evening and overnighting at the airport (at your expense), or arriving early morning on day 2 and waiting at the airport for your connection to Cusco.

Note: many prefer to arrive an extra day early in Cusco and spend an additional day there. This helps with acclimatization and it is easy to arrange an extra day of touring in Cusco if you wish.

Day 2

Once in Lima, we'll transfer to a national flight to Cusco (10,988'), trying to choose a flight around 9:30am (consult with IMG regarding the flight number) arriving by mid-day. All members will be met at the airport and transported to the hotel. Rest and relaxation will be in order, focusing on acclimatization. Our local guide will meet us after check in, make arrangements at a local restaurant for lunch (not included), and conduct a short afternoon tour. The team will meet at 6pm for a briefing on what to expect in the coming days. A team dinner will follow. (Meal included, dinner)

Day 3

An exciting cultural touring day. We'll first visit the local ruins of Sacsayhuaman on the way out of town. We'll travel on to the Sacred Valley where we will tour the famous Pisak market, a good place to purchase local crafts and goods. Our last cultural visit in the Sacred Valley will be Ollantaytambo, which sits above the town in a beautiful setting. We'll overnight in a hotel here, close to our departure point for the Machu Picchu trek. (Meals included, breakfast, lunch, dinner)

Day 4

Rise around 4:30-5 AM, have a quick breakfast in our hotel, then our bus will take us to the trailhead, at km. 82 (2,400m or 7,872'). After meeting and introductions with the porter crew our team will wait in line to be checked in at the trailhead. We'll hike about 8 miles with an hour or more break halfway up for a cooked lunch, and then to our tent camp at Llullchapampa (3,600m or 11,808'). Figure on 6-8 hours of trekking on this day. There will be awesome views well worth the effort. (Meals included, breakfast, lunch, dinner)

Day 5

Wake up by 7 latest, then start trekking out of the light woodland. The trail continues to climb upwards beyond Llupachayoc, up steeper trail and LOTS of rock steps. The woodland gives way to scrub, then to puna, bleak grassland and bare slopes. The ascent becomes increasingly steep, and the terrain increasingly rugged. The trail climbs steeply towards the first pass, the Abra de Huarmihuanusca ("Dead Woman's Pass"), 4198m, or 13,769'. This is a tough day by trekking standards. All trekkers are advised to train in particular for this ascent, as it will be the most demanding of the entire trip. While we will not be carrying heavy packs, the ascent up the pass and descent down the other side requires good endurance and a steady, all day pace. (Meals included, breakfast, lunch, dinner)

Day 6

Another early wakeup. From the valley of the Pacamayo, the trail climbs steeply up the opposite side of the valley wall, towards the second pass, Abra de Runkuracay, 3,998m (13,113'). After the pass, the trail descends towards a valley containing a shallow lake. Here, the trail changes from a dirt path to a narrow stone roadway, the beginning of the "true" Inca Trail. The stones of the roadway were laid by the Quechua people during the period of the Inca Empire. We'll journey along the most classic looking parts of the stone path, so be sure to take plenty of photos as you approach the "Third Pass," (12,200') and, just beyond it, an Inca ruin, Phuyupatamarca ("Cloud-level Town"). We will camp at the high pass with a spectacular 360 degree panorama, or just down on the other side, depending on our camp assignment. (Meals included, breakfast, lunch, dinner)

Day 7

This morning be prepared for a pre-dawn wakeup and hike to the gate for admittance to the final leg of the hike to Machu Picchu. Our porters will leave us here and carry our personal gear down to the town of Aguas Calientes where it will be waiting for us. Part of the early rising is to allow the porters, after leaving our gear in safe hands in town, to catch the early morning porter train back to their homes. The final section of the trail to Machu Picchu, from Huinay Huayna to Intipunku, is an easy hike, following a broad level path which winds comfortably through scrub and light woodland.

After no more than an hour or two, the trail comes to a narrow flight of steep stone steps leading upwards into a small stone structure. This is Intipunku, and through the rectangular doorway, you can see the ruins of Machu Picchu. From Intipunku, a pathway leads directly to Machu Picchu itself, and a descent of over an hour will take us down to the actual ruins. We'll have until midafternoon to explore the area. Our cultural guide will take us for a general tour of the area, explaining Machu Picchu's highlights. Following the tour, there will be time for individual exploration and photography. After the tour, we'll await a bus for our trip down the mountain and walk to lunch in town, then check-in to our hotel in Aguas Calientes, a tourist mecca below the Machu Picchu ruins. Overnight in hotel. (Meals included, breakfast, dinner)

Day 8

A great advantage of this itinerary is that we have a SECOND day to tour Machu Picchu if members wish. This is a great time to climb Huayna Picchu in the early morning for those that are willing and able. Others may choose to wander Machu Picchu on their own, for more photo and sightseeing opportunities. Some members may opt for sleeping in and some morning shopping/sightseeing in Aguas Calientes. We'll all meet after lunch then catch a private train for the journey to Cusco. Get off train half way to Cusco, then private bus the remainder of the way. Overnight in hotel after a team celebration dinner with included entertainment. (Meals included, breakfast, dinner)

Day 9

Departure for Lima, then late flight from Lima to USA (Meal included, breakfast)

Day 10

Flights generally arrive early in the U.S., which leaves plenty of time to make final connections for flight home. Arrive home by mid-afternoon.



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Salkantay Variation Trek Itinerary
Day Itinerary
Day 1-2

Depart from home on day 1, either planning to arrive in Lima in the evening and overnighting at the airport (at your expense), or arriving the early morning on day 2 and waiting at the airport for your connection to Cusco. Note: some prefer to arrive an extra day early in Cusco and spend an extra day there. This helps with acclimatization and it is easy to arrange an extra day of touring in Cusco if you wish.

Day 2

Once in Lima, we'll transfer to a national flight to Cusco (10,988'), trying to choose a flight around 9:30am (consult with IMG regarding the flight number). All members will be met at the airport and transported to the hotel. Rest and relaxation will be in order, focusing on acclimatization. Our local guide will meet us after check in, make arrangements at a local restaurant for lunch (not included), and perhaps a short tour if desired. The team will have a complete briefing on what to expect in the coming days. A team dinner will follow. (Meal included, dinner)

Day 3

An exciting cultural touring day. We'll first visit the local ruins of Sacsayhuaman on the way out of town. We'll travel on to the Sacred Valley where we will tour the famous Pisak market, a good place to purchase local crafts and goods. Our last cultural visit in the Sacred Valley will be Ollantaytambo, which sits above the town in a beautiful setting. We'll return to our hotel in Cusco at day's end. (Meals included: breakfast, lunch) Dinner is not included to give the team a chance to sample one of the many local restaurants.

Day 4

Departure from Cusco early in the morning, bus ride for about 4 hours to the start of the trek at Mollepata. We will meet with the rest of the staff including the wranglers and horses and then start the expedition at an elevation of approximately 11,500'. We'll hike to Soraypampa and Salkantaypampa, about 6 hours and 1500' elevation gain including a lunch stop on the trail. Pampa is Quechuan for "flat grassy plain." (Meals included: breakfast at hotel, lunch and dinner on the trek)

Day 5

We take the right side of the moraine and start climbing up to turquoise colored Suyrococha Lake at 14,280 feet in elevation. Continuing up to the top of Salkantay Pass at a maximum height of 15,180 feet, we'll enjoy spectacular views of the glacier and the surrounding peaks of the sacred mountain, Salkantay. After an appropriate amount of time resting and taking photos, we descend down to a campsite at Andenes or beyond to Collcapampa hot springs, located at around 12,500 feet. Total walking time is an estimated 8-10 hours, with a gain of about 2,000 feet, and loss of 2-3,000 feet, depending on which camp the team uses in descent. This is a long, tiring day on the trail. The team will be issued a sack lunch for today to keep the lunch break reasonable. (Meals included, breakfast, lunch, dinner on the trek).

Day 6

We head down through valleys eroded by glacier waters. Different ecological zones are passed on the way down following Collcapampa creek, then the Santa Teresa River. We'll be down in warmer zones here, with waterfalls, flowers, fruit trees and exotic birds to view. We climb back up to an Andean community named Paltaybamba, where a bus will be waiting to transfer the group to our campsite, located in the small town of Santa Teresa. There is a lovely hot-springs here, a visit is definitely in order to soak tired muscles! It's a 6 hour walk this day, with a loss of 2,000 feet. (Meals included, breakfast, lunch, dinner on the trek).

Day 7

The team has an option this day. The IMG leader will make the final decision on this, based on team interest, strength of the group and weather. Option 1: an early morning start hiking to Llactapata, a recently re-discovered Inca site. This includes nice views of the mountains and Machu Picchu's eastern flank but involves a steep final climb up a ridge crest to the site and back down again. At the end of the trail at the Machu Picchu hydroelectric plant the team will catch a local train to the town of Aguas Calientes. Option 2: spend the morning touring a coffee plantation, learning about the process of growing and roasting coffee beans, then a short private bus ride to the trail head for a final five hour hike to Aguas Calientes. The trail leads all the way in to town and is essentially flat, following the train line. After a stop for lunch in town, we'll check in to our hotel for much needed showers. (Meals included, breakfast on the trek, dinner at the hotel in AC).

Day 8

Early wakeup (4am!) for a dawn bus ride up to the Machu Picchu archeological site with a full tour of the area. There will be additional free time to hike around the site, explore and take photographs. With the early start, some members may choose to climb Huayna Picchu peak, rising above Machu Picchu. This hike is limited in number twice each day to the first 200 visitors and is subject to availability on a first come, first served basis. Those who register after the first of the year may not be able to get permits for Huayna Picchu if they have all been issued. Note, this also cuts down on the amount of time available to tour Machu PIcchu. In the afternoon after lunch on our own, we'll take the train to Cusco and transfer to our hotel for a final dinner with entertainment to celebrate the end of the expedition. (Meals included, breakfast and dinner).

Day 9

Late afternoon flight to Lima, then flight from Lima to USA. We'll try to book the latest flight to Lima allowed to make our international connections in order to allow a few more hours to shop and sightsee in the city of Cusco. (Meal included, breakfast)

Day 10

Arrive in US early morning, with plenty of time to make connections for final flight home. Arrive home by mid-day.

 

Trip itineraries are subject to change, based on the needs of our group, weather and route conditions, and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. Alternative routes and/or schedule may be used as warranted.

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