International Mountain Guides Climbing and Mountaineering Expeditions

Machu Picchu

Peru  •  Inca Culture Adventure Trek

Machu Picchu Trek with International Mountain Guides

Machu Picchu Trek with International Mountain Guides

Join us for a fun filled adventure starting in Cusco, Peru. We'll acclimate, explore local ruins and tour the "Sacred Valley of the Incas." Afterwards, we'll trek for several days to Machu Picchu, a nearly indescribable sight of early Incan architecture and ingenuity. We hope you can join us trekking to this awesome cultural and adventure experience!

Trip Highlights

  • Early morning arrival at Machu Picchu with plenty of time to explore and sightsee during a tour of the area with your guides. On the classic Inca Trail trek, there is an option for revisiting Machu Picchu the next morning and hiking up Huayna Picchu Peak for a spectacular viewpoint.
  • A local guide and expert will supplement our own IMG lead guide to lend insight into the area's culture and history
  • Porters will transport a large part of your gear during the trekking portion of our trip to make the hike more enjoyable. A cook staff accompanies the trek. Horses are used to pack the gear in place of porters on the Salkantay trek.
  • 3-star hotels (or better) with great accommodations
  • Private vehicle with driver for all transfers
  • Most meals throughout the trip, both on the trek and in town
  • Trekking at high altitude must be taken seriously. IMG carries a pulse oximeter and supplemental oxygen on every trip, along with a First Aid trained and altitude experienced IMG lead guide

Location: Southern Peru

Rendezvous Point: Lima, Peru, then an in country flight on to Cusco.

Team Size: Up to15 Trekkers with 1 Senior IMG Leader and 1 local cultural expert plus a staff of Quechuan porters, cook and cook staff. On the Salkantay route horses are used to pack gear in place of the porters.


Good all around fitness. Previous multi day hiking or trekking experience is strongly recommended. The pace is slow and steady but the days can be long (up to 10 hours) and the Inca Trail has lots of stone steps that go steeply up and down hill. Both treks put in long days on the trail with lots of climbing up to high elevation and descent back down again.

Machu Picchu and Inca Culture

Machu Picchu, once the citadel of the Inca culture in Peru, sits atop a mountain in a jungle of green landscape in the steep rugged mountains of southern Peru. A mystery for over 400 years, it was left undiscovered during the Spanish Conquest, although the Spaniards searched in vain for the gold that was believed to have been there. The idea of a "lost city" of the Incas faded in credibility over time, as it sat disguised in the jungle overgrowth. Then, after years of searching, Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham found it in 1911. The rediscovery of the ancient city made worldwide news, as the citadel was slowly unearthed from its hiding place.

Inca Trail Trek

Today, the Inca trail is an extraordinary journey leading into a mysterious city built by remarkable craftsmen. The hidden secrets of this lost city are yours to explore with us, as we venture to the ruins on a spectacular four-day trek. We'll have ample opportunity to explore and photograph the breath-taking architecture; enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way; and learn about the Incan culture that fostered the growth of this extraordinary creation—the "Eighth Wonder of the World."

Early Signup for Inca Trail

The Peruvian government has placed a daily limit on the number of trekkers allowed to walk the Inca trail to Machu Picchu each day. It is imperative that we submit actual requests for trekking permits for each person as close to the first of the year as possible in order to guarantee permits for each member of the group. This means you will need to submit your application prior to the first of the year in order to confirm a place on the Inca Trail trek. For the Salkantay trek, signups can occur up to 90 days in advance of the trek departure, but permits for the optional hike up Huayna (Wayna) Picchu may not be available after the first of the year.

Salkantay Trek

At 6271 meters (20574'), Nevado de Salkantay is the tallest and most majestic mountain in the Cordillera Vilcabamba range and the backdrop for an alternate trek to Machu Picchu. This journey travels off the beaten track, far from the classic and better known Inca Trail. It offers a true view of the Peruvian mountains with spectacular vistas and provides a feeling of adventure and remoteness. Salkantay means "Savage Mountain" in the Quechua language.

The trek takes us up over a high mountain pass gaining a maximum elevation of 4600 meters (15,180 feet), past the massive snow clad peaks of Tucarhuay, Salkantay and Huamantay. The trek then descends from the region of high peaks down river drainages and multiple ecological zones, ending in lush forested terrain, the "cloud forest" with wild orchids, banana plantations and exotic birds. The total trek distance is approximately 30+ miles yet experiences the breadth and depth of the Peruvian mountainous region. This trek is slightly more arduous than the Inca Trail, but requires no load carrying other than a day pack. On the Salkantay we pack personal (a limit of 7 Kilos/15 pounds per person) and group gear on horses led by wranglers in addition to the normal trek leaders, kitchen and camp staff. This route is less traveled than the Inca Trail and there is no limit on the number of permits for the trek. You do not need to apply by the first of the year in order to guarantee participation on the program.

In general, the Salkantay trek hikes on wider, dirt trails as opposed to the stone steps of the Inca Trail trek. The altitude gain is greater on the Salkantay, up over 15,000 feet and the day hiking over Salkantay Pass is a long one. During the first two days if any members are struggling or ill, it is possible to take a rest for part of the journey and ride horseback.

The Classic Inca Trail, in contrast, has several days which climb stone steps steeply up and back down again over mountain passes rising up to a maximum of 13,000 feet in altitude. There are archaeological sites to observe and visit along the way and more reminders of the past Inca civilization. The final pre-dawn hike to the Sun Gate for a first view of Machu Picchu in early morning light is one of those experiences to last a lifetime. Whichever trek you choose, the experience will be truly memorable.

Inca Trail Trek with IMG

Our program begins in the 12th century colonial town of Cusco, once the Incan capital and home of Manco Capac, one of the early rulers. Today, Cusco retains a history which is a mix of tradition and legend. We'll spend a day here, acclimating to an altitude of 10,900 feet, with time to stroll the downtown area, sight see and shop for local artifacts. The following day we will depart for the "Sacred Valley." We'll visit the local ruins of Sacsayhuaman, travel to the famous Pisak market, a good place to purchase local crafts and goods, and on to Ollantaytambo, a spectacular site perched high above the town below. We'll overnight in a hotel here, close to our departure point for the Machu Picchu trek. Many people find the local cultural tours to be nearly as impressive as Machu Picchu itself.

Throughout our small expedition the team staff will include at least one local resident and guide who is an expert of the local history and legends that surround the sights we will explore. This cultural expert will accompany the group throughout the trek and visit of Machu Picchu.

During the trek portion of our program, we will use local porters to transport our gear and supplies. This permits us to enjoy the walk each day, as we move along unencumbered, free to take photos and investigate our surroundings. Meals will be served by our cook staff in a dining tent set up for your comfort during breakfast, dinner and even some lunches.

The Machu Picchu Experience

Machu Picchu itself is nearly beyond words—a place so immense and so precisely built by the Incans, it is hard to imagine reproducing it nowadays. There are quiet courts and walkways, fountains, and other constructions created by the Inca people for both practical and astrological applications. Archeologists have explained many of these things, and others have yet to be deciphered—or discovered.

Our Machu Picchu adventure explores the area thoroughly, with plenty of time devoted to the area. You'll be armed with an excellent archeological overview of the ruins… and afterwards, there is time to go about on your own to further investigate and contemplate the meaning of the area at a relaxed and enjoyable pace.

For those hearty trekkers, the easy but steep ascent of Huayna (Wayna) Picchu is a satisfying optional challenge, which offers a great "reverse view" of the Machu Picchu ruins. Please note: we may not always make this option available to the group, depending on the trail and cable conditions that lead to the precarious summit. There have been fatalities and injuries recorded in the past on this short excursion. Sure footedness and a healthy respect for the exposure are required to make the ascent.

We invite you to join us, and a take a journey back in time—to view the incredible sights and views that Machu Picchu and Cusco can offer. It's an experience that will provide memories for a lifetime!

Background Requirements

Fitness: Most of the trek days typically require long hiking days, 6-10 hours of effort, with the bulk of our gear carried by porters. All mornings usually start early and the day's journey often takes until dinner time. Because of the trekking portion of this trip and the general high altitude of the area (10-13,000 feet), we recommend that all participants engage in a physical training program for at least six months prior to trip departure. All participants must consult with their family physician regarding their personal health and the additional demands of high altitude well in advance of the trip.

Experience: Participants should have solid day hiking experience over steep terrain. Overnight backpacking or trekking experience is equally important. High altitude experience is not required, but is beneficial, to confirm that your body can reasonably tolerate visits to 10,000 feet and higher.

Brand Spanking New

Trip Report on the 2015 Salkantay Trek
Story and photos by Tye Chapman

2013 Machu Picchu and Salkantay Treks
Story and photos by Peter Anderson

Trip Report on the 2012 Salkantay Trek
Story and photos by Kelly Ryan

Trip Report on the 2012 Machu Picchu Trek
Story and photos by Peter Anderson

Trip Report on the 2011 Salkantay Trek
Story and photos by Kelly Ryan

Dates and Prices

Classic Machu Picchu Trek ("Inca Trail")
July 19-28, 2016
Landcost: $2,950
Single supplement: $300
Group maximum: 15 trekkers

Permits are limited on the Inca Trail and are issued to all agencies first come first served by name and passport number only. Reservations are accepted starting at the first of the year so be sure to sign up in advance of the New Year to confirm your place on the program.

Salkantay Trek
July 10-19, 2016
September 1-10, 2016
Landcost: $2,850
Single supplement: $300
Group maximum: 15 trekkers

No permits are issued for the lesser traveled Salkantay route, so first of the year signups are not mandatory.

Highlights of All Treks

Trip highlights for all Machu Picchu programs include stays in first-rate hotels with all the amenities before and after the trek. All connections by private coach included. All meals included excepting select dinners in town as noted on the itinerary. The trek is fully staffed with an IMG lead guide, local lead guide and cultural expert, assistant guides, cook staff and porters. Horses are used for transporting personal and group gear on the Salkantay trek only.

More Need to Know
Current Time in Peru:
I want to compliment IMG for a great effort on our Machu Picchu excursion... The places we stayed, the quality of the guides, and the overall organization was top notch... I don't think my wife and kids could have had a better overall experience and clearly one that they will cherish for a long time. I purposely booked with IMG because of my experience with your team on Mt. Rainier, and you did not let us down. I am already thinking about a few other trips... and I cannot imagine using any other guide service than IMG.
~John M.
Overall the experience for me and my children could not have been better; we experienced the right proportion of exercise, history, culture and food in a magical corner of the world. The planning of our itinerary and execution of these plans was flawless. From the time we arrived until the moment we left, our travel was facilitated and an effort made to meet any of our requests... Thanks for all your efforts; you made this trip something that my children and I will remember always.
~Rob M.
I had a wonderful time on the trek! The places we stayed and ate in were top notch. The guides were great... Off the top of my head I can't think of anything that could/should be changed. Thanks again for providing a wonderful experience in Peru!
~Jason G.
The thing I like best about George's longer expeditions is how everyone comes together and becomes a tight knit team. It's like having a family away from home. George takes smaller groups, and I think that makes a big difference.
~Bruce G.
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