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Important Inka Trail Information and Inka Trail Alternatives

Important Inka Trail Information and Inka Trail Alternatives

The Inka Trail Trek is one of our most popular trekking itineraries- for good reason! Not only is the landscape geographically stunning with snowcapped, jagged peaks and lush green valleys brimming with crimson and ivory orchids and hummingbirds of all sizes and colors, it is the road that connects the most Incan scared sites in the shortest distance with Machu Picchu as the ultimate finale! As the trekking season in Peru is ramping up, I would like to take the time to talk about some important information surrounding availability and additionally take a moment to present some alternative, and equally great hiking options to Machu Picchu.

Trail up to Dead Woman Pass

The hiking permits that the Peruvian government administers and regulates have been completely sold out for this year from April-August. There are still permits available for September-December but they are also going very quickly. For those wishing to procure permits to do the Inka Trail, Inka Trail Express hike and/or the Wayna Picchu Hike, the Peruvian government administers the permits and they regulate accessibility to the permits by requiring complete traveler information. Should you wish to sign up for one of our trekking itineraries please make sure to send us passport numbers, passport expiration, full names, DOB and nationality as soon as possible to confirm your trekking permits. It is ok to send us about-to-expire or expired passport information as we can still procure the permits with this. You will just have to bring both the old and new passports when you travel to prove that you are person that the permit was confirmed for. These permits are going quicker than we have ever seen in previous years so please, if you are interested in one of our treks to Machu Picchu, please send me an email or give us a call so we can get you signed up.

Incan Ruins

Mt. Veronica

If unable to travel September-December, I would like to point out some other stellar trekking options for this April-August:

1) Our Mountain Lodges Trek to Machu Picchu is a physical, cultural and spiritual journey, taking you along ancient footpaths through the high Andes en route to the legendary ruins of Machu Picchu. Accompanied by expert Peruvian mountain guides and horse packing crew, you trek in style from lodge to lodge along a spectacular route in the Cordillera Vilcabamba under towering snow-capped peaks dominated by Mt. Salkantay (20,574), the sacred Apu of local Quechua communities we encounter along the way. Like Inca royalty, you overnight in the comfort of well-appointed trekker's lodges with private rooms, enjoy Peruvian cuisine, soak in Jacuzzis and relax by a cozy fire. This route is a more spectacular high Andean trek than the popular Inca Trail Trek, and the last day passes over a protected remnant of another Inca Trail and ancient Inca city hidden in the cloud forest near Machu Picchu. Small groups of no more than twelve trekkers ensure an intimate experience amidst stunning mountain scenery.

Hiking on the Mountain Lodges Trek

Salkantay Lodge

2) If you are aiming for the same price point as our Inka Trail Trek, I would recommend our 9 day Salkatay camping trek.  The pre (days 1-3) and post (day 9) trek are the same as the Inka Trail Trek). This trek has fixed departure days of Thursday and Sunday.

Salkantay Camping Trek

Salkantay Trek camp

From Salkantay to Machu Picchu

Departing from Cusco, we drive north across Antapampa into the Apurimac watershed. Here, we begin our five-day trek across the Cordillera Vilcabamba, past Mt. Humantay and Salkantay into the headwaters of the Santa Teresa valley. Hiking down through cloud forests, we later ascend to the Pass of Paltallacta, offering phenomenal views of Machu Picchu from a different perspective. Hike into the Aobamba Valley and arrive downriver from the citadel, spend the night in Aguas Calientes at Machu Picchu Pueblo. The following morning we will visit the Machu Picchu ruins before heading back to Cusco.

Day 4 (continuing from Inka Trail Trek Itinerary Day 3) CUSCO / MOLLEPATA / SORAYPAMPA / SALKANTAYPAMPA

Today we head out over Tika-Tika pass with our fi¬rst glimpse of Mt. Salkantay and Humantay on the horizon. We then cross the plateau of Anta (Antapampa), an area that is considered the breadbasket of Cusco, important for grains and cattle and reach the pass of Limatambo with an amazing view of both mountains and a panorama of the lush agricultural valley below. We visit the ruins of Tarawasi with its long asymmetric Inca stonewall and continue on a paved road for a short while and turn on to a winding trail which zigzags uphill until reaching Mollepata at 2,900m (9,454ft). We continue on a narrower path for another hour passing Cruzpata, Oncopata and Checchicancha getting our ¬first view of Mt. Humantay close up, along with a view of Mt. Yanantay. The last part of the trail brings us to 3,900m (12,815ft) at Soraypampa where there are small settlements of cattle herders. We will then continue up to the Pampa, below Mt. Salkantay where we camp at 4,145m (13,599ft). (Trek: 3 hours). [BLD]


Leaving our campsite we head towards the terminal moraine. From here, the trail begins to ascend past boulders, to a slope which we traverse up to the Apacheta Pass at 4,636m (15,210ft). This is a great opportunity to see phenomenal views of the pass at Incachiriaska. We then continue down to a small lake below Mt. Salkantay’s ice chute set against the huge expanse of the moraine. The trail winds its way through the landscape downhill towards a large Wayrahmachay Pampa (3,919m / 12,858ft). We begin our descent all the way to the Santa Teresa River and arrive at our campsite (2,950m / 9,678ft). (Trek: 8 hours / 12kms). [BLD]


From our campsite we start the descent to Lucmabamba, through the Santa Teresa river valley. Here vegetation begins to be more lush as we descend deeper into the cloud forest. As we descend through the left side of the valley, we will reach a small road on the opposite side of the valley. After 2 hours walking, we will arrive to Playa Sahuayaco and from there, we continue 2 more hours down to Lucmabamba, where we stop for the day at our camping site. 2,048 m / 6,719 ft. (Trek: 4 hours / 7 kms). [BLD]


Today we begin our ascent to the pass of Q’elloqasa at an attitude of 2,875m/9,430ft. Traversing dense cloud forest with a soft symphony of birdcalls, we pass a pre-Inca site. From here we have the ¬first view from the distance of the southern face of Machu Picchu. We continue our descent to the junction of the Aobamba and Urubamba valleys and arrive at the hydroelectric station, where we will take a short train ride to Machu Picchu Village where we spend the night at Machu Picchu Pueblo. (Trek: 7 hours / 10kms). [BLD]


A half hour bus ride will bring us to the citadel of Machu Picchu for a guided visit as we walk through the different sectors of the hill-top citadel, taking us back in time and learning g about the aspects of Andean life coupled with astonishing views. Afternoon return to the village where the train will take you to back to Cusco. Overnight at Casa San Blas or similar. [BL]


Thank you and I look forward to arranging your next Peru trekking adventure!

Your friendly Peru program director,

Gretchen Traut

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