Cusco’s numerous, natural wonders have made it on everyone’s bucket list during the last couple of years; and if they’re not on yours, they definitely should be! From Machu Picchu to the Rainbow Mountains, this trip will fulfill your adventurous craving while also leaving you with years worth of insanely cool photos!
WHY EXPLORE CUSCO WITH GRASP THE ADVENTURE:
We've got countless reasons but here are some.
At Grasp The Adventure, our number 1 goal is to promote the spirit of adventure and the love of nature while forming bonds as powerful as the mountains we hike on. We sincerely view all the hikers that joined our previous trips as friends and family, this is why we do our best to keep them safe and happy at all times. So besides going on awesome hikes to jaw-dropping sights, you’ll also be making new, like-minded friends.
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu may be the main highlight of the trip, but it most certainly is not the only one. We will also visit The Sacred Valley in Cusco and the infamous Rainbow Mountains which will leave you in absolute awe. The best part is… it is all included in the initial cost that you pay. All you need to do is get to Lima and leave the rest to us, we will handle internal flights, airport transfers, hotels, food, treks, tours and even the guides’ and porters’ tips! You will however, have one free day in Cusco to explore the city, shop for souvenirs, rest-up from the Inca Trail or even go on a local cuisine binge, this is the ONLY day that is NOT included in the cost. Read on for further details on the trip’s inclusions and exclusions.
So what is so special about the Inca Trail and why does it need to be booked 6 months in advance? Well, firstly, it is important to note that the Inca Trail is the only trek to Machu Picchu which actually allows you to walk through the Sun Gate and into the Incan Citadel known as Machu Picchu. Any other route actually ends in one of the cities nearby, you will then have to take a train and a bus to get to the wonder’s entrance. Secondly, this trek is the actual trail that the Inca used to walk to get to Machu Picchu, this means that you will be trekking past countless Inca ruins during the 4 days and submerging yourself into their history through literally walking 40 km in their shoes. Not into history? Well don’t worry because the trail is also one of the most scenic ones as you hike past mountains, lakes and wandering llamas.
On top of everything else, we are partnering with the #1 company in Cusco for this trip to guarantee your utmost comfort and satisfaction. Ranked #1 on Trip Advisor, they have over 7300 reviews with an average score of 5/5!
IS THIS HIKE FOR YOU?
Remain calm and read on!
So you want to join but you’re also freaking out that you may not be experienced enough for this trek, well you really shouldn’t be. The great thing about the Inca Trail is that it requires absolutely no technical experience and is actually suitable for first time hikers. That being said, fitness is required to enjoy the experience. Moreover, although the distances involved are not that great (only 40 km in 4 days), the altitude at the highest point of the trek is 4200 m could cause problems for anyone (experienced or not).
The good news is that you have more than six months to increase your fitness, strengthen your cardiovascular system and prepare for this trek. We will even share a training regime with you to help you do so. Seriously, we are committed to doing whatever we can to ensure your safety and comfort; that is why:
We are partnering with one of the top, local companies in Cusco rated #1 on Trip Advisor, 5/5 score with over 7300 reviews
Certified mountain guides will lead the hike while porters transport the group’s belongings, camping equipment, food, mess tent, etc.
You will only be required to carry your day pack which will include whatever you may need during the hike, such as raincoat, snacks, camera and water
Professional chefs will be preparing your breakfasts, lunches and dinners with foods specific to the altitudes we’re at in order to minimize and avoid indigestion and altitude sickness issues
Trek Guides are all professionally trained and certified in First Aid and Wilderness First Responders (WFR)
PRICE INCLUSIONS & EXCLUSIONS
Our price includes everything from the moment you arrive in Lima to the moment you depart; except for the one free day in Cusco. This is left out to give each Grasper the freedom to explore the city based on their own interests. The hotels booked are all rated 8 and above on Booking.com, the team stayed in them in 2019 and can vouch for their high standard of comfort and quality.
Return Lima-Cusco flight with one checked-in luggage item
High standard Boutique Hotels (6 Nights)
4 Day, 3 Night Guided Inca Trail
Sacred Valley Day Tour
Rainbow Mountain Day Tour
Guides, chefs and porters for the hike
Tents, Sleeping Bags & Pads during Inca Trail
Mess tent for meals during Inca Trail
Purified drinking water during Inca Trail
Photography of all hikes
Tips for the guides, chefs and porters
One Grasper Merchandise surprise
3 meals per day, everyday, except for free days in Cusco (refer to itinerary)
Welcome & Farewell Dinner/ Reception
Training regime for hike
International flight to/from Lima
Peruvian Visa if required
Altitude sickness tablets (Diamox)
Personal Expenses (souvenirs, snacks)
Clothing (check packing list for details)
Optional activities that are not mentioned in itinerary
Extra hiking gear
INCA TRAIL RECOMMENDED PACKING LIST
Note: For the 4 Day Inca Trail, we will provide you with duffel bags to place your items in, the porters will be carrying these bags so the weight limit is around 7 kg (account for sleeping bag too). You will only have access to these bags at the campsite so make sure you carry your personal items in your day packs.
Original Passport (needed to check into Inca Trail)
Day Pack with rain cover
Water Storage (bladder or canteen)
1-2 wicking t-shirts (we’ll be giving you one Grasp The Adventure hiking t-shirt)
1-2 hiking pants
2-3 sets of undergarments
2-3 sets of socks
1 Fleece Jacket
1 down jacket
1 rain jacket
1 rain pants
Warm, winter hat
Scarf or balaclava
Waterproof plastic bags to put clothes in
Sandals or slippers or sneakers
Microfibre face towel
Microfibre body towel
Toiletries kit (soap, shampoo, conditioner, nail clippers, toothbrush, toothpaste, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, Fresh Buzz, toilet paper, hairbrush, feminine products)
Personal First-Aid (Vitamins, hydration tablets, sleeping pills, malaria pills, diamox)
Sleeping bag liner
CARE FOR THE PORTERS
As usual, we try to do our best to benefit the country we are visiting by only dealing with high standard companies that ensure high living standards for their porters and guides. Our partnership with Alpaca Expeditions started in 2019 due to their top notch services and high values. The owner of the company actually started off as a porter and is from one of the mountain tribes; that is why he dedicates a large portion of his profits back to these tribes’ wellbeing. Of course, it goes without saying that we always treat the entire team with love and respect. After all, as soon as we’re on the mountain, we will all be one Grasping Family! Please do contact me if you want to know more about what they do for their porters.
Note: Tips for the entire crew are included in the total cost of the trip and will be handled by Grasp The Adventure team, so you don’t need to worry about it. Tip amounts are calculated based on guidelines provided by the local company.
Day 1, Thursday: Arrival in Lima
Fly into Lima at your own time, if you arrive early, you’ll have some time to check out the city and some of it’s cool attractions.
Day 2, Friday: Fly into Cusco & Free Day in Cusco
After having breakfast at our hotel in Lima, we will head out to the airport and fly into Cusco. Since Cusco is at a relatively high elevation of 3,399 m, we will have a free day in Cusco to check out the city and do some souvenir shopping while also acclimatizing to this elevation. While each person is free to roam on their own during the free day, we will meet in the evening for the Inca Trail briefing before having the welcome dinner.
Day 3, Saturday: Inca Trail Day 1,Cusco – Piskacucho Km 82 – Llactapata- Ayapata
Time: 6-7hrs / Distance: 14km / Difficulty: Moderate/ Campsite Altitude: 3300 m
We will be picked up from the hotel at 4:30 AM and then drive to Km 82, arriving at about 7:00 AM. After a delicious breakfast prepared by our cook, we’ll go through the first Inca Trail checkpoint to begin our trek. Please make sure you have your original passport with you to enter the Inca Trail. The first 2 hours of the trek are relatively easy as we make our way to our first Inca site. Patallacta is an ancient Inca checkpoint for the approach to Machu Picchu.
From Patallacta it’s another 2-hour hike to our lunch stop. After lunch, we will hike for another 2½ hours until we reach the first night’s campsite at Ayapata (3300 meters). On this last stretch, we pass through 2 small communities. If you want to buy any energy drink, snacks, or essential items you may have forgotten such as batteries you can do so here. We’ll arrive at our campsite by 5:00 PM. After settling in for a bit, you can relax and have a hot drink and snack with your team of porters, chef, and guide. By 7:30 PM, your dinner will be ready. After dinner, you’re in for a well deserved sleep.
Day 4, Sunday: Inca Trail Day 2, Dead Woman´s Pass – Runcuraccay Pass – Chaquiccocha
Time: 7-8hrs / Distance: 16km / Difficulty: Moderately Difficult/ Campsite Altitude: 3600 m
Our porters will wake us up early with a hot cup of coca tea to get us ready for the day. We will have an early start since this will be our longest day. We’ll hike for roughly 4 hours to the highest pass of the trek, Dead Woman’s Pass (4215 meters/13829 feet). Upon reaching the pass, we’ll stop for a short break to enjoy the views before setting off again to descend to the next valley (Pacaymayu Valley – Hidden River). It’s another hour and a half down the side of the valley to our lunch spot, where we will have a chance to refill our water bottles. After lunch, we begin ascending again to the second pass of the trek. It’s 2 hours over the pass where we will stop at a small Inca site (Runcu Raccay) and see two huge waterfalls cascading down the opposite side of the valley. After the second pass, it’s another hour downhill hike to reach the magnificent Inca site, Sayacmarca (an otherwise inaccessible village).
We’ll stop here to rest and have a quick tour of the site. Afterward, we will be able to watch the sunset over the Vilcabamba mountain range. It’s then just another 20 minutes until we stop for the night at our second campsite Chaquicocha (Dry Lake, 3600 meters). After dinner, if you’re not too exhausted, we can do some star gazing, and we’ll point out the fascinating Inca constellations. In the magnificent Southern Hemisphere sky, away from all the artificial lighting, this sky is something to behold!
Day 5, Monday: Inca Trail Day 3, Chaquiccocha – Wiñaywayna
Time: 5hrs / Distance: 10km / Difficulty: Easy / Campsite Altitude: 2600 m
Completing Day 2 and beginning Day 3 certainly deserves a pat on the back! We will start early again, waking up at 6:30 am to begin what is commonly felt to be the most beautiful day of the whole Inca Trail. We hike for 2 hours along what we like to call “Inca flat” (gradual inclines) and begin to enter the jungle, known as the Cloud Forest. As we walk, we will have the opportunity to see Salkantay, the second highest snow-capped mountain in the Sacred Valley, and a fantastic panoramic view of the Vilcabamba mountain range. Towards the end of the Inca flats, we begin to make our way up to the last peak at Phuyupatamarka (3600 meters) from where we’ll have great views overlooking the Urubamba River. Down the valley, we get our first view of Machu Picchu Mountain, but the site itself is still hidden. From Phuyupatamarka it’s a 3-hour walk down a flight of steps to our last campsite, close to Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young). Wiñay Wayna is the most spectacular Inca site on the trail after Machu Picchu and the most popular campsite because of its proximity to Machu Picchu. During the descent, we visit 2 Inca ruins, Phuyupatamarka (Town in the Clouds) and Intipata (Terraces of the Sun). We arrive at our campsite around 1:00 PM to have lunch.
We will then relax so that you are ready for your final day at Machu Picchu. At around 4:30 PM our guide will give us a short orientation, and we will visit the Inca ruins of Wiñay Wayna for an hour and a half. Our guide will explain the significance of the site and combine all the information given during the trek. This way we will be fully prepared for our visit to Machu Picchu the following day. We like to spoil our guests as we enjoy our last feast with the porters and chefs. It’s an Inca Trail tradition to organize a ceremony in the evening to introduce the team to the tourists once again. This is to thank them for the great job done. It is advisable to sleep at a reasonable time to get up in the early hours of the morning to arrive to Machu Picchu at the crack of dawn.
Day 6, Tuesday: Inca Trail Day 4, Sun Gate – Machu Picchu – The Lost City Of The Incas
Wake up time is at 3:30 AM. We’ll eat breakfast at 4:00 AM and wait at the checkpoint to be one of the first to start trekking when they open the gates at 5:30 AM. We’ll wave goodbye to our team of porters and chef and then it’s “Forward On” to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku). From here we have spectacular views of the mountains and Machu Picchu in all its glory. We will reach the Sun Gate by 6:30 am, and then it’s just an hour trek down to reach the Lost City of the Incas. As we hike closer to Machu Picchu, the views of the city keep getting better! At about 7:40 AM we’ll reach the final checkpoint and enter Machu Picchu to begin our 2 hour private guided tour. After the tour, we’ll head down to Aguas Calientes with some time to explore the city and have lunch.
At 3:30 PM, we will make our way to the train station to catch the train departing Aguas Calientes at 4:20 PM. This will be a 2-hour train to Ollantaytambo, where a driver will meet us and drive us back to the hotel. Believe me when I tell you, you’re about to have one of the most enjoyable showers you had ever taken. If you still have some energy left in you, we will head out for a short walk around the city center and end the night with a dinner to celebrate our Inca Trail completion.
Day 7, Wednesday: Free Day in Cusco
This day is yours to recover and to check out the beautiful city of Cusco the way you like to! Try out an Inca Massage, go on a local cuisine tour or get all your souvenir shopping done. We do recommend buying a cool poncho though as they look awesome in the photos on Rainbow Mountain.
Note: Activities and meals (other than breakfast) on this day are not included in the price.
Day 8, Thursday: Sacred Valley Tour
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we will be taken on a road that winds around the mountains north of Cusco. On the way, we will stop at a famous point known as El Mirador (Lookout Point). From there, we will be able to see the Sacred Valley and gain some insight into the Inca history. The Sacred Valley was one of the main areas the Incas settled. There is an unusual abundance of fertile plains in this high area of the Andes. We will also witness vast contour terracing and irrigation channels left behind by the Incas.
Later on, we will drive towards the ruins of Pisac. Here, we will witness and learn about Inca culture. We will see amazing works of stone art and impressive agricultural terraces. After exploring, we will drive back to the lower town of Pisac to stop at a bustling handicraft market. After we spend some time walking around the market bargain hunting, we will meet for lunch at a local Andean restaurant.
After lunch, we will drive along the Urubamba River towards the town of Ollantaytambo. Once we reach Ollantaytambo, we will visit the ruins, an important area of Incan construction, built during the Inca’s heydays. This is an extraordinary Inca site because you can find rock formations representing the Inca god, Wiracocha. Afterwards, we will return to Cusco and get dropped off at the hotel.
Day 9, Friday: Rainbow Mountain
We will be picked up at 4:00 am for a 2½ hour drive to the trailhead. There, our chef will make a delicious breakfast, including coffee, hot chocolate, teas, bread, fruit salad, eggs, and hot drinks. Cusco’s elevation is 3300m / 11,300ft, and the trailhead called Phulawasipata is at 4200m/ 14,300ft. Cusco’s weather is usually quite cold, and the trailhead is even colder, so be sure to bring a warm jacket, scarf, hat, and gloves. After breakfast, we’ll hike about 2 hours uphill to the Rainbow Mountain range. The hike up includes short breaks where the guide will explain some important information about the mountains and the geography of the area.
Upon arrival to the top of Rainbow Mountain, we will have about 1 hour to explore the spectacular views of the surrounding valleys, mountains and the highest glacial mountain in Cusco – Ausangate, whose summit is at an elevation of 6,384m / 20,944ft. Make sure you get some photos with the llamas and alpacas at the top! After some time for photography, our guide will tell us some intriguing facts about this fascinating place – like why the colors?! A few last photos of this spectacular mountain and we will begin our descent. We do this a little differently than other groups. Instead of hiking the same route as they do, we hike to a lookout point to see the Red Valley and continue with our hike. This valley is the icing on the cake, and many of our hikers say that it is even nicer than Rainbow Mountain! It is about 2½ hours mostly downhill from Rainbow Mountain, to the end of the trail, which is near where we started the hike. Here we will enjoy a fresh meal prepared by our chef, which includes cold drinks, appetizers, soup and the main course. After lunch, it will be another 2½ hour drive back to our hotel.
Once again, we’ll be taking a short rest at the hotel before going out to walk around the city center, do some last minute souvenir and finally end our incredible adventure with a farewell dinner.
Day 10, Saturday: Cusco to Lima & Return Flight
Once again, we will take a super early flight out of Cusco in order to get to Lima in time for each one to catch their international flights back home. If you wish to extend your journey, I can happily share some tips of places to visit in the region. However, it is here that we say goodbye with heavy hearts as we venture back into the real world, after a successful 10 day escape. We may have been strangers before the trip but I guarantee we’ll end it as One, Big Grasping Family!