Classic Inka Trail
Departure from Cusco to train station on the train that heads to Machu Picchu. We get off at Km 104's station to begin the 2-day trek along the Inca trail that leads to Machu Picchu. After crossing the Urubamba river, we reach Chachabamba, a small archeological site worth visiting. After trekking uphill during two hours we reach a large archaeological site located in a beautiful natural mountain setting called Wiñaywayna. It is, perhaps, one of the most beautiful citadels of the Inca trail. After one hour we will arrive to the Intipunku, (Sun Gate), where we get our first glimpse of Machu Picchu. We finally cross the ridge that leads to our destination, and the full grandeur of the greatest archaeological discovery of modern times is revealed. We drive by bus downhill to spend the night at the hotel in Aguas Calientes.
We return to the citadel in the early light of dawn by bus, for an extensive guided tour. Then we take an exciting train ride, traveling in the first class tourist coach along the Urubamba valley back to Cusco and transfer to the hotel.
We climb up an Inka stairway and ascend again past the small Inca site of Runkuracay. As we reach the second pass, the landscape opens onto spectacular new views to the snowpeaks of the Pumasillo range. We descend to the ruins of Sayacmarca (Inaccessible Town), an intricate labyrinth of houses, plazas and water channels, perched precariously on a rocky spur overlooking the Aobamba valley. The Inca trail, now a massive buttressed structure of granite paving stones, continues along the steep upper fringes of the cloud forest through a colorful riot of orchids, bromeliads, mosses and ferns. At the third pass pinnacles topped with Inca viewing platforms overlook the archaeological complex of Phuyupatamarca (Cloud-level Town). Pausing to explore the wondrous maze of Inca stone towers, fountains and stairways that spillins down the mountainside here, we begin a long descent through ever-changing layers of cloud forest. An Inca stairway partly cut from living granite leads us finally to our camp by the ruins of Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young), the largest and most exquisite of the Inca Trail sites.
A very early morning hike takes us across a steep mountainside through lush, humid cloud-forest of giant ferns and broad-leaf vegetation. Suddenly we cross the stone threshold of Intipunku (Sun Gate) and encounter an unforgettable sweep of natural beauty and human artistry -a backdrop of twisting gorge and forested peaks framing the magical city of Machu Picchu.
We complete the final leg down the royal flagstone walkway, past outlying shrines and buildings and into the heart of Machupicchu, where we spend the rest of the morning with a guided tour of the highlights and some individual exploring among Machupicchu's multitude of hidden nooks and corners. In the early afternoon a bus takes us to the small town of Aguas Calientes, where we board our return train to Cusco.