AFTERNOON 1: Transfer to Campsite
We will pick you up at 3 p.m. from your hotel, where you will meet your Alpaca trekking team. From here, we will head in our private van for a 3.5 hour drive to the campsite in Soraypampa, located at 3,800 m.a.s.l. We will arrive just on time to take photographs of the sunset over the glacier peaks.
At the campsite, your guide will settle you in your tents before enjoying your dinner along with some hot drinks. Your night will be accompanied by the countless stars adorning the night sky.
** Because you will likely be checked out of your hotel before the departure time, the meeting point for this trek is at our office which is located very close to the main square.
**When you book this trek, please choose the day you want to start the hike (so Day 1). Departure is the night before where you will stay at our private camping site and enjoy your first dinner prepared by your Alpaca Expeditions chef.
Day 1: (Hiking Begins) SORAYPAMPA CAMPSITE – HUMANTAY LAGOON – SALKANTYA PASS – WAYRACPUNKO
After a good night’s rest, you will have early wake up to enjoy your breakfast before your trek. During this morning, there will be a short team introduction between all trekkers and the Alpaca Staff to ensure a positive, family-like experience. After the introduction, you will give your duffle bags to the muleteers for carrying.
The day´s hike will begin by visiting Humantay Lagoon. This will be a hike of approximately 1.5 hours along a steady uphill. Once at the lagoon, you will enjoy the serene views of the crystalline-blue water of Humantay Lagoon; often described by many as an ¨other-worldly´´ paradise perched on the skirts of Humantay Glacier. If the skies are clear, you will be witness to the first sun rays peaking though the snow-covered peaks, and if you are brave, you will also have the chance to touch the almost-frozen water so that you may stay young forever!
The advantage to visiting Humantay Lagoon in the early morning hours is the quiet surroundings with NO other trekkers besides those in your group. Due to the popularity of this location, this is not something everyone can enjoy!
After breathing in the beauty of such magical place, you will begin making your way back down to the starting point to continue with your hike to the lunch spot in Soyroccocha. This hike will be approximately 3 hours on gradually ascending terrain. On your way, you will pass places such as Salkantay Pampa and will enjoy the outstanding views of the surrounding peaks and snow-covered mountains. After lunch and a well-deserved rest, you will continue with your hike for about 1 hour more until Salkantay Pass at 4,650 m.a.s.l.- the highest point of the trek. Once here, you will be rewarded with hot drinks before continuing!
From Salkantay Pass, it will only be a remaining 3 hours of hiking downhill to our last campsite for the day, Wayracmachay. Upon arrival to the campsite, the trekking staff will have your tents set up and with your duffel bags ready. They will provide you with warm water to get washed up, so that you may change into something warm. We will have a happy hour with hot chocolate and coffee, followed by dinner. If the weather allows, you will get to enjoy the blue sky, along with a brief introduction to the visible Inca constellations.
Day 2: WAYRACMACHAY – CHAULLAY – CCOLLPAPAMPA LORETA (Private Campsite)
Your trekking team will wake you up early with a hot drink to help you start the day. Hopefully, as you open your tent, you will see the sunrise over glacier peaks and clouds, lifting from the green cloud forest. You will have time to pack up and enjoy a nice breakfast prepared by your trekking chef.
At around 7 a.m., you will begin the day´s hike by hiking for approximately 4 hours downhill until reaching the lunch spot at Ccollpapampa (2,700 m.a.s.l.). In this hike, you will begin to notice the micro-climate and fauna & flora changes. You will begin from cold, glacier views to warmer, lush, jungle surroundings. There will be many different species of orchids to see, as well as ferns and begonia flowers. Humming birds will be above you, a difference from the day before.
After lunch and a well-deserved rest, you will continue with your trek to the next private campsite called La Loreta at 2400 m.a.s.l. This hike will be approximately 4 hours on gradually downhill terrain. Along the way you will explore beautiful waterfalls, rivers, and again, flora and fauna. This will be another micro-climate called tropical forest, where local people farm coffee, passion fruit, papayas, oranges and avocados. Upon arrival to the campsite, you will be welcomed by your trekking staff and will have time to enjoy a free hot shower, hot Jacuzzi and perhaps even swim in our swimming pool. There will also be time to walk around our ecological garden to see some of our garden of coffee, avocado, chillies, tomatoes and pineapples. Dinner tonight will be at our building with views to the Salkantay River which you will hear below to help you fall asleep at night.
Day 3: LORETA – LA PLAYA SAHUAYAKU – LUCMABAMBA COFFEE FARM – LLACTAPATA (Camp in front of Machu Picchu)
After a delicious breakfast, you will get started on your shortest, but most interesting day of the trek. Today you will experience the most beautiful sights along your trekking route to Machu Picchu. You will explore the tropical forest and will have a visit to a local, organic coffee farm. At the farm, you will have the opportunity to explore some of the orange and avocado plantations and taste some of the freshly-brewed coffee. Also at the farm, you will have a brief introduction regarding the coffee in this region and its importance as the main farming product to all locals. As you will learn, the coffee in this region was introduced to the region after the Spanish conquest and most of the harvested coffee is exported to countries including the United States, Asia and Europe.
After the coffee farm visit, you will continue with your trek to Llactapata by hiking along a section of the Inca trail for approximately 2.5 hours. On your way to the Llactapata Inca site, you will see amazing views of the Santa Teresa valley. At Llactapata, you will get the first glance of Machu Picchu – including the main archaeological site, Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu Mountain. You will also have the opportunity to explore the Llactapata Inca site along with your guide and take photographs for the books!. From here it will be an additional 15 minutes downhill to your lunch and campsite area. This campsite is owned by a local family, and only Alpaca Expeditions has permission to stay there. You will find the campsite to be great place to enjoy the sunset and sunrise over Machu Picchu.
After lunch, you will have some free time to enjoy the views and relax from the hiking. Again, we will serve a lovely happy hour, with tea and coffee, and your chef will prepare a delicious meal for dinner. Once the stars come out, you can enjoy the Milky Way and the Inca constellations – just like the Incan astronomers did to predict the weather.
Day 4: LLACTAPATA LOOKOUT – WATER FALLS AT HIDROELECTRICA – MANDOR HIRAM BIINGHAM FARM – AGUAS CALIENTES
Your trekking team will wake you up early with a hot drink to help you start the day. You will get ready for today’s activities and enjoy your last breakfast prepared by your trekking chef. The day´s hike will begin with a 2 hour, downhill path, with views of Machu Picchu, until Hidroelectrica Station. The most impressive part of this area is the natural 300 meters high waterfall which generates the electricity for the region of Cusco. From Hidroelectrica Station, you will then continue to the famous Intiwatana (sun dial rock). According to history, this Inca stone used to work with the famous sun dial rock in Machu Picchu, during the winter solstice, which was the beginning of a new farming season for the Incas.
From the Intiwatana, you will continue to the train tracks, which have a nice path to walk on. The hike along the train tracks will be approximately 3 hours and will lead to the town of Aguas Calientes, located at the foot of the valley of Machu Picchu. This section of the hike will be interesting as it was the trail used by the American professor, Hiram Bingham, when rediscovering Machu Picchu. On his way to Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham met with local farmer Melochor Artaega, who eventually guided him to Machu Picchu. On your hike, you will hike pass Melochor Artaega´s farm, where you will see many species of flora and fauna, including the famous Peruvian national bird called Cock of the Rock, tucanets, propendolas, parrots and orchids.
Finally, upon your arrival in Aguas Calientes, you will enjoy your packed lunch. You will then go to your hotel to enjoy a hot shower and a visit to the famous, hot springs (10 soles, not included), of Aguas Calientes. In the evening, you will enjoy your final dinner with your trekking chef and say good bye to him.
Day 5: MACHU PICCHU – RETURN TO CUSCO
Today will be the most important day of your expedition. To get the most out of the day, we encourage every group to have an early breakfast before catching one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu (starting at 5:30 a.m.). The hotel will hold your bags for you while in Machu Picchu. This way, you will only be required to take your personal backpack with all essentials up to Machu Picchu. The bus ride from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu will take approximately 30 minutes.
Once in Machu Picchu, your guide will introduce you the beauty of Machu Picchu. You will head directly to a well-sought out location from where you will watch the sunrise and take photographs. Your guide will then guide you around the main sectors of the citadel, for a total of 2.5 hours. During this guided tour, you will learn some more about the history and culture of the Inca Empire. At the end of the tour, you will have some time to yourself or, if you arranged to hike Huayna Picchu* (must be booked in advance, as it sells out and costs $35 per person), your guide will show you where to begin this hike, which will take no more than 2 hours round-trip.
For your return from Machu Picchu, we recommend to begin heading back to Aguas Calientes town by no later than 2 hours prior to your train departure. Your guide will inform you of your train times prior to your return. The train return from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo will take approximately 2 hours. In Ollantytambo, our Alpaca Staff will be waiting for your right by the station´s exit door ready to bring you back to Cusco by car. The car ride to Cusco will be approximately 2 hours and will have you dropped off at your hotel in Cusco.
Machu Picchu Mountain may be hiked as well, instead of Huayna Picchu Mountain. This hike is more challenging and takes three hours minimum, round-trip (at an extra cost of USD $35 per person). You always have the opportunity to climb to the Sun Gate for free. This is a much easier walk of two hours, round-trip.
Briefing: The night before your trek, you will come to our office for your briefing. You will receive your duffel bag that will stay with your porters, while you hike. This bag should not exceed 7 kg/14 lbs and does need to include your sleeping bag and air mattress.
Professional Guides: All of our guides studied English and tourism at University. They all grew up in this region and have a true passion to teach others about their heritage. They are fun yet professional, and will ensure you are safe and happy.
Porters: We include a personal porter, who is responsible for carrying your duffel bag containing your personal items. There is no additional fee for this. We will give you your duffel bag at your briefing the night before, to be filled with the things you will need for the next night and day. You will not have access to your duffel bag until your arrive at your evening campsite.
Hotel: The alternative treks all end in, or before Aguas Calientes. The last night is spent at a hotel in the village, rather than camping. This 2 star hotel is included in the trek cost, and is based on a shared room. If you would like to upgrade your hotel, or prefer a single room, there will be an additional cost.
Transportation: All your transportation is included in this trek. You will be picked up directly from your hotel around 4 a.m., and brought to the start of the trek, to the trail head. Your guide will hand out your bus ticket to make your way down from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes, and you will be booked on the expedition train leaving that afternoon. If you prefer, you can upgrade your train leaving Aguas Calientes to the Vistadome train for $75 per person. Once you arrive to the train station, we will bring you back to your hotel in Cusco.
Equipment: Alpaca Expeditions has the best equipment. We use four man, Eureka, Timberline tents that are shared by only two people. You will have a spacious dining tent to enjoy your meals in.
Food: The Alpaca Expeditions chefs cook delicious meals that many previous trekkers have raved about. We honor all food restrictions. Be sure to remind your tour guide of any food restrictions at the beginning of your trek. Food is typically served family-style. You will enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner each day of the trek, along with a happy hour of tea and snacks. You will also be provided a snack each morning, for you to enjoy along the hike. Your last meal with your chef will be after breakfast on day four. Lunch the last day is not included.
Water: Beginning from your first lunch until your last breakfast, Alpaca Expeditions will supply all the water needed. This water will be boiled, filtered and then cooled, before distributing. You must supply your own water bottles or camel back. We recommend carrying about 3L worth. We will refill our waters at each meal.
First Aid: Every Alpaca Expeditions guide has received training in first aid from a physician. We conduct mandatory training sessions every February, which every single Alpaca tour guide must attend. Your tour guide will always have a first-aid kit for basic medical problems (traveler’s diarrhea, cuts, scrapes, etc.) and oxygen. We will get you off the trail as quickly and comfortably as possible, if needed, and ensure you get directly to a clinic for treatment.
Extras: We believe it’s the attention to small details that separates us from other tour companies. Every trekker receives a small pillow to sleep with, a foam mat for insulation, a day pack cover to protect their things while hiking and a rain poncho. We will work hard to create your best vacation.
Satellite Phones: Our top priority will always be the safety of our clients and our team. While we are prepared and all our guides are trained for most of the issues clients have on the mountain, being a phone call away from any doctor, hospital or friend helps everyone feel assured that they are safe. Radios, which all our guides have, are limited in how far they can reach, so Alpaca Expeditions has added Satellite Phones to every trek. Every guide will have a fully charged phone that can be used anywhere on the mountain to connect us anywhere in the world. And they can be used by our clients for non-emergencies as well. While they are not cheap to use, they are available just in case you need to check in on the puppy you left at home with grandma.
Rentals: Every trekker needs a sleeping bag, when camping. Inflatable air mattresses and walking sticks (with rubber tips) are optional, but encouraged. If you don’t want to bring any of the above, they are all available for rent:
Sleeping Bag: $25
Inflatable Air Mattress: $20
Walking Sticks (Pair): $20
Huayna Picchu: Huayna Picchu is the mountain that stands next to Machu Picchu. It is a 45 minute hike to the top. Going back down is quite steep, if you are scared of heights. This is done after your tour of Machu Picchu. The cost is $35 per person. Arrangements need to be made at least one month in advance, due to popularity. Since you are hiking the Inca Trail, you will experience a similar view from the Sun Gate. Please understand that weather is out of our control.
Day packs: Day packs are not provided by Alpaca Expeditions. You must bring your own. Be sure you don’t being anything too large, as you don’t want it to be too heavy while you’re trekking. Plus, Machu Picchu will not allow you to bring in a bag larger than 25L, so if you have a large backpack it will need to be stored before your tour. Only essentials are needed while trekking: water, snack, camera, sunhat, warm layer, rain layers, insect spray, sunscreen, and a first-aid kit.
Headlamps: It is strongly encouraged to bring a headlamp for your night camping. There will be no lights at the camping sites and it is hard to get to your dining tent or you bathroom tent without one. Flashlights are acceptable, if you don’t have a headlamp, but make some tasks more difficult.
Flights: Flying to Cusco can be tricky. Delays occur often and it is not uncommon for flights to be cancelled. Please be sure to arrive in the city at least two days before your trek start date. LAN Peru is the most reliable of the airlines. Avianca and Peruvian Airlines are acceptable companies, as well. You will not return from your trek until around 8 p.m. on the last day, so be sure your flight is not until the next day, when leaving Cusco.
Gratuities: Tipping is always appreciated and should be based completely on your satisfaction. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels.
Travel Insurance: This is not required, but always recommended. For those of you who live at sea-level, landing in Cusco will take an adjustment period. Most people need one or two days to adjust. In case you have a hard time adjusting to the altitude, it is suggested to have protection for missed tours.