“If you want to see the ruins, hike the Inca Trail. But … if you want to see unbelievable, mind-blowing scenery,
the Salkantay Trek is the way to go.”
We start in the magnificent capital of Cusco, the gateway to the Sacred Valley. We explore, we acclimatize and then we hike the road less travelled into the heart of the Inca Empire. Aided by porters and horses, we’ll hike for 7 days through the stunning Andean mountains – through lush valleys, high peaks, magnificent rivers, orchid rich cloud forests, traditional Peruvian farms, and ancient Inca Ruins.
The mystical ancient city of Machu Picchu awaits us at the end… the holy grail for any visitor to South America.
September 25 – Oct. 7, 2019
September 25/26th – Arrival Day
(flight leaves Toronto at 17:45 and arrives in Cusco at 04:55am)
Welcome to Peru. On arrival at the Cusco airport, we’ll drive to the Sacred Valley, to the country town of Urubamba. Located at a significantly lower altitude than Cusco, Urubamba is an idyllic place to acclimatize. Cusco is at an altitude of 3,400m (11,154ft) so heading to Urubamba at the lower elevation of 2,900m (9,514ft) is advisable. We’ll overnight in a peaceful and beautiful retreat providing us with a convenient base from which to explore some of the surrounding sites in the Sacred Valley.
Friday, September 27: Tour of the Sacred Valley – 2,900m/9,514ft
One of the best ways to acclimate is on a tour of the Sacred Valley. About 15km north of Cusco, the Sacred Valley is a region in Peru’s Andean highlands that together with Cusco and Machu Picchu forms the heart of the Inca Empire. It’s an area of fertile farmland and Spanish colonial villages.
We’ll be picked up at 8:30am for a private, full day tour exploring some of the highlights including the Maras (home to the salt evaporation ponds), Moray, a visually stunning archaeological ruin, and the quaint village of Ollantaytambo – the best surviving example of Inca city planning. Take a step back in time and enjoy.
The tour will end in Cusco where we’ll stay in an historic colonial home.
Saturday, September 28: Tour of Cusco – 3,400m/11,154ft
We’ll have the morning to enjoy the charming colonial town of Pisac – its vibrant market and the spectacular Pisac Inca fortress perched high on a mountain spur. We’ll spend the afternoon getting to know Cusco, the former capital of the sprawling Inca empire. Our hotel is situated in the heart of the city making it a great vantage point from which to explore by foot.
A global village of sorts, Cusco is surrounded by stunning mountains, outstanding pre-Columbian architecture and ornate baroque churches. Our afternoon tour will include a visit to the imposing Inca ruins at Sacsayhuaman. In the evening, we’ll have a briefing to review the trek’s itinerary followed by a dinner celebrating the local cuisine.
Sunday, September 29: Salkantay & Inca Trail Trek, Day 1 – 11km
Overnight: Campsite, Soyapamapa – 3,800m/12,467ft
Our trekking guide, chef, and porters will pick us up from the hotel at 4:30am to drive 2.5 hours to the trail head (Marccoccasa, 3,300m). We’ll meet our horsemen and prepare for the day while enjoying a breakfast. We begin our hike with a gradual uphill climb of moderate difficulty, all the while experiencing the amazing views of the Andes and the lush green valleys. After lunch, the views and the temperature will change quite drastically as we get closer to the foot of the Humantay snow capped mountain.
Upon arrival at our campsite at Soyapamapa, we’ll be welcomed by our team and provided warm drinks and dinner.
Monday, September 30: Trek, Day 2 – 13km
Overnight: Campsite, Ichupata – 4,200m/13,779ft
Today’s hike will introduce us to the Alpine microclimate and amazing views of the Glacier peaks, considered by the Andean people to be the “Father” of the Mountains. Our morning hike will include a 2 hour climb to the most beautiful blue lake located at the base of the Humantay glacier mountain where it is believed the Inkas used to hold ceremonies for the God of Water.
We’ll say good bye to the Humantay peak as we start to enjoy the views of another higher and mightier mountain, the Salkantay. The temperatures will drop as we climb up to our second campsite at Ichupata (or Pampa Japonesa). This will be our highest campsite. The constellations at the night and the views promise to be memorable. Dress warmly as the night time temperatures could drop down to as low as -5.
Tuesday, October 1: Trek, Day 3 – 14km
Overnight: Campsite, 3,750m/12,300ft
Today’s trek will be the most challenging and rewarding hike so far. Our guides will lead us up the Inca Chiriassca pass (an altitude of 5,000m/16,400ft) in a slow and steady pace where we’ll be treated with hot coca tea and phenomenal views of the beautiful valleys and lakes. Hopefully sightings of the many condors and falcons will be had as we start our descent. After a delicious lunch in the middle of the Andes, we’ll make our way down through lush green valleys to our campsite in a little village of 10 families.
Wednesday, October 2: Trek, Day 4 – 14km
Overnight: Campsite, 3,300m/10,800ft
Today’s hike gives us a rare and special glimpse into the past as we hike on the same hillside paths used by traditional Peruvian farmers. We’ll pass through famous Inca ruins, stopping to learn about the history and admire the extraordinary. Lunch will be a celebration of sorts as we finally reach the classic Inca Trail and sit down to marvel at one of the most extensive and advanced transportation systems in pre-Columbian South America. In 2014, this road system received the designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The afternoon hike to our campsite will be all uphill with lots of opportunities to take photos of the mountain views, the enchanting waterfalls and the cloud forest.
Thursday, October 3: Trek, Day 5 – 16km
Overnight: Campsite, 3,600m/11,800ft (3,300m to 4,200 to 3,600 to 3,950 to 3,600m)
Today is our longest day but considered by many to be the most fascinating thanks to the many Inca Ruins along the way and the interesting hike through the cloud forest. We start the day on an upward climb to the Warmiwanusca Pass (also colourfully known as “Dead Woman’s Pass”). We’ll stop to enjoy the views before heading down on the rocky trail only to begin a second upward climb after lunch. Hummingbirds and orchids are everywhere as we make our way towards Runkurakay, a round shaped Inca ruin with superb views. It is believed that Runkurakay served as a watchtower because of its unique shape and strategic position overlooking the valley below. After reaching the second pass at 3,950m (12,900ft), we start our descent, passing lake Yanaccoha, a place of worship and ceremony for the goddess of water. We’ll notice a mark change in the ecology as we now traverse the eastern Amazon slope of the Andes and enter the cloud forest with the vegetation getting noticeably greener. We’ll stop to rest at the beautiful Inca ruins of Sayaqmarka, a tightly constructed complex on a mountain spur with incredible views.
A 30 minute hike after the ruins will bring us to our campsite called Cahquiccocha where an abundance of flowers and birds will make this campsite truly memorable.
Friday, October 4: Trek, Day 6 – 10km
Overnight: Campsite, 2,600m/8,500ft
An easy day! We’ll wake up to a picture-perfect scene of the Andes and the Pumassillo glacial peaks. During our 5 hours of walking today, we’ll visit 3 incredible ruins. The first set of ruins is the well-restored Phuyupatamarka site which contains six beautiful ceremonial baths with water running through them. The second set of ruins are nestled in the hillside of many terraces representing what one believes is an Inca agricultural station. Following an incredibly well-engineered flight of many hundreds of Inca steps, we’ll make our way to our final campsite, home to the exquisite little Inca ruin of Winay Wayna which is translated as “Forever Young”.
Our “semi tropical” campsite boasts one of the most stunning views on the whole trail. We’ll spend the afternoon here with a final happy hour and dinner. We’ll say good-bye to our porters who will be heading back to Cusco tomorrow while we continue on our journey to Machu Picchu.
Saturday, October 5: Trek Day 7 – 5km
Machu Picchu (2,430m/7,972ft) and Cusco
The day of TRIUMPH. This exciting day begins before dawn. We’ll hike for 2 hours along a winding trail that takes us through a fascinating, cliff-hanging cloud forest before reaching the Sun Gate (Intipunku), the penultimate site on the trail. Following tradition, we’ll enjoy our first glimpse of the majestic Machu Picchu while waiting for the sun to rise over the surrounding mountains. Our final triumphant descent to the Citadel will take about an hour.
After a tour of this great 15th century Inca Citadel, we’ll have time to marvel on our own. For those so inclined, we can hike Huayna Picchu, the towering mountain that sits directly behind Machu Picchu. A 45 minute, 360m (1,000ft) summit to the top, this non technical hike is one of the highlights of a visit to Machu Picchu. The views of the Citadel and surrounding landscape are extraordinary and well worth the climbing effort.
After a celebration lunch in Aguas Calientes, we’ll board a train to Cusco, a very welcome sight after a very incredible journey.
Sunday, October 6
A day of relaxation in Cusco. Depart to the airport late afternoon for flight to Lima.
Monday, October 7
Arrive in Toronto at 11:55am.
$4,800 USD + HST.
Please note that the cost does not include Airfare to/from Cusco and insurance (medical and cancellation).
December 1, 2018 Deposit $1,000 USD + passport information to secure permit for the Inca Trail
May 10, 2019 1st Payment $2,000 USD
July 10, 2019 Final Payment $1,800 USD + HST