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The High Inca Trail

from $2,779.00

Trek amidst Peru’s Cordillera Vilcabamba, then join the Inca Trail to Machu
Picchu

  • Reviews 26 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Guided
  • Activity Level Challenging
    7/8
  • Group Size Small Group
    4 - 16
All about the The High Inca Trail.

This trek spends a few days deep in the bewildering majesty of the Cordillera Vilcabamba before joining the classic Inca Trail for the approach to Machu Picchu. This high route skirts many of the great peaks and passes close to Mt. Salcantay (6271m) and its creaking glaciers. The trek continues through remote villages and crosses the spectacular Inca Chiriasqa Pass, and finishes by exploring the Inca temples and fortresses of Cuzco and the Sacred Valley.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

* All breakfasts, 8 lunches and 6 dinners
* 7 nights en suite hotels and 6 nights full-service camping
* All transport and listed activities
* Tour leader throughout
* Airport arrival and departure transfers
* Full porterage throughout trek
* Kitbag
* Inflatable sleeping mat while camping

What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • Sleeping bag (rent locally from US$35)

Highlights

  • Remote full-service camping trek through the beautiful Vilcabamba Range
  • Walk on the classic Inca Trail and enjoy a guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Spectacular views of Mt Salcantay (6271m) and its glaciers
  • Spend four nights in Cuzco, the old Inca capital
  • Explore the fortresses and markets of the Sacred Valley
  • 7 nights en suite hotels and 6 nights full-service camping
  • 7 days point-to-point walking with full porterage
  • Altitude maximum 4960m, average 3550m
  • Travel by private minibus and by train
  • Inca Trail Permit required – early booking essential
  • 10kg personal weight limit on trek
  1. Day 1 Start Cuzco (3400m); afternoon city tour.

    The trip starts in Cuzco (3400m) today. The group flights usually arrive late morning. The Inca capital – though small enough to be easily manageable – is among the most attractive cities in South America, with much of the centre comprising colonial-era buildings with Inca foundations, and it is full of interesting museums, churches and pre-Columbian sites. We will have a short walking tour of the city including a visit to the Qoricancha Sun Temple.It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (3,400m).There will be a welcome briefing in the hotel lobby this evening.*Hotel Koyllur / Warari (or similar)***

  2. Day 2 Full day walking tour of nearby ruins including Tambomachay and Sacsayhuaman.

    The hills above Cuzco city are dotted with some of the most interesting Inca ruins. We drive to the highest, Tambomachay, and return on foot to Cuzco via Puca Pucara, Qenco and Sacsayhuaman: an easy acclimatisation walk to get used to the altitude. An open-air picnic lunch is included during the hike near the spectacular ruins.*Hotel Koyllur /  Warari (or similar)*

  3. Day 3 Free day in Cuzco.

    Free day in Cuzco to relax and further acclimatise before starting the tour. A range of optional activities and sightseeing excursions can be arranged, including visits to Inca and pre-Inca sites south of Cuzco, or walks in the hills surrounding the city but we recommend taking it relatively easy in preparation for the start of the trek tomorrow.*Hotel Koyllur /  Warari (or similar)*

  4. Day 4  Drive to Marcocasa; trek to camp at Soraypampa.

    A few hours drive via the interesting Inca remains of Tarawasi (optional) takes us high to the hill town of Mollepata (2980m) where we make a brief stop, before continuing on to Marcocsa (3515m), where we will start our trek. We trek from here to our campsite near of Soraypampa (3910m) where we spend our first night under canvas. The total driving time is approx. 4 hours, and the walk will take around 5-6 hours of uphill and steady climbing along well-made tracks.*Full-service Camping*

  5. Day 5 Optional walk to Humantay Lagoon and climb up to base of Salcantay.**

    Start your day with an optional 3 hour (return) walk to Humantay Lagoon to see the magnificent water mirror in the middle of the Andes. Return for an early lunch at the campsite of Soraypampa (3910m), and then continue our ascent towards the massive bulk of Salcantay (6271m) which soon dominates our view. We camp at around 4400m in the high grassy meadow of Ichu Pata, below the south face and glaciers of the impressive peak.*Full-service Camping*

  6. Day 6 Cross Inca Chiriasqa Pass and follow glaciated valley to Pampa Cahuana.

    The high point of the trek and this morning’s goal is the Inca Chiriasqa pass at almost 5000m. Climbing more steeply now we walk close to the spectacular glaciers and ice walls of Nevado Salcantay. Passing through Pampa Japonesa, base camp for a Japanese mountaineering expedition, we finally top the pass and gain some excellent 360° panoramic views. Inca Chirisaqa means ‘the Inca fell ill from cold’, and the exposed situation makes it easy to see why. Descending from the pass, we drop down into the upper reaches of a broad valley where Salcantay reappears in a new profile. After passing a huge ridge of terminal moraine, once the snout of the East Salcantay Glacier, the river suddenly becomes dead straight, canalised by the Incas centuries ago. We camp alongside the canal close to the hamlet of Pampa Cahuana (3870m).*Full-service Camping*

  7. Day 7 Follow river to camp at Huayllabamba.

    Setting off from camp this morning, we follow the canal, which soon drops into a steep-sided valley. The path follows the side of this valley all the way to Paucarcancha, an Inca watchtower which guarded the Pampa Cahuana valley. We have time to explore this small site before continuing to the village of Huayllabamba (3100m) where we camp for the night.*Full-service Camping*

  8. Day 8 Join Inca Trail and cross Dead Woman's Pass (4215m).

    Today we join the main Inca Trail, the iconic trek to Machu Picchu. From the village of Huayllabamba, a long and steady climb takes us first through an area of cloud forest to the meadows of Llulluchapampa, then over the Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman) Pass at 4,215m. After quite a long, steep descent we camp in the scenic Pacaymayo valley (3600m).*Full-service Camping*

  9. Day 9 Over Runcuray Pass (3800m) to ruins of Sayajmarca and Phuyupatamarca.

    We start today with an easier climb, past the small ruins of Runcuracay, which takes us over the Runcuracay Pass (3800m), and from now on the Inca Trail becomes a clearly defined path made of flat boulders. We pass the ruins of Sayajmarca and suddenly enter cloud forest. At one point the trail passes through a short Inca tunnel before crossing onto the Amazon side of the continental divide. We normally camp on the ridge above the Inca site of Phuyupatamarca (3650m) to benefit from the views of sunset and sunrise, and to avoid the crowded Wiñay Wayna campsite.*Full-service Camping*

  10. Day 10 Down Inca steps to Wiñay Wayna and Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate.

    From the ridge, we embark on the infamous Inca steps: a two kilometre stone staircase taking us rapidly downhill amid a panorama of overwhelming immensity, with the peaks of the Vilcabamba range above, and the river thousands of metres below. After visiting the attractive ruins of Wiñay Wayna, we have an undulating walk through cloud forest high above the river to Inti Punku, the Sun Gate. From here we get our first full sight of Machu Picchu itself, with Huayna Picchu rising behind.Traditionally busy with groups of trekkers clamouring for photos, we plan our arrival at Inti Punku later in the day so we can enjoy unobstructed views of the magnificent ruins. Passing around the edge of the ruins, we exit the site and descend to Aguas Calientes for a well-earned rest, a shower and a comfortable bed for the night. Our trekking permits allow us one entry into the site, which we use for our tour tomorrow.There is usually time for an optional visit to the hot springs in Aguas Calientes, however, in recent years they have become over-crowded and the water quality can suffer as a result. *Hotel Inti Punku El Tambo (or similar)***

  11. Day 11 Guided tour of Machu Picchu; train to Sacred Valley.

    In order to beat the day-trippers arriving from Cuzco and reach the ruins as early as possible, a very early start is required to queue for Machu Picchu; only government-registered buses can make the 30-minute drive up the winding road to the site entrance and during high season (May-October) queues can be hours long. Machu Picchu is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world and what makes it all the more dramatic is its mountain backdrop of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it, the Incas left no records of it, and so Machu Picchu remained a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. New regulations for visiting Machu Picchu are now fully enforced; of the three possible visiting slots, Exodus will purchase the morning slot from 06:00 until 12:00 (unless unavailable), you will be limited to a maximum of four hours within the site and must be accompanied by a guide. There will also be three set routes to follow around Machu Picchu; Exodus selects the most comprehensive route. We catch an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo (1hr 30 mins) where we stay for the night.*Tunupa Lodge (or similar)***

  12. Day 12 Explore Ollantaytambo and Pisac; return to Cuzco.

    A day exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas, visiting the famous Inca fortress ruins of Ollantaytambo and Pisac which tower over the villages below them of the same name. We will also have time to look around Pisac Market, famous for its handicrafts, before returning by road to Cuzco.*Hotel Koyllur / Warari (or similar)***

  13. Day 13 Free day Cuzco.

    Today has been left free to relax or explore Cuzco further. There are a number of optional excursions available which your tour leader can arrange for you. If you still have the energy you could chose to mountain bike in the Sacred Valley taking in a 30-35km ride through Moray, Maras and then down to Sacred Valley through ancient communities, farming fields and amazing Andean landscape.. Alternatively you could try your hand at paddle boarding on Lake Piuray near the town of Chinchero. Or, if feeling more subdued, take it easy and watch the world go by in Cuzco’s Plaza de Armas.***Hotel Koyllur / Warari (or similar)*

  14. Day 14 End Cuzco.

    For land only travellers, the trip ends in Cuzco after breakfast today. Those who are travelling on the group flights will be taken to Cuzco airport for your overnight international flight to London.

tps
Where you stay

Hotels & Camping

The hotels normally used are indicated within the itinerary, however, accommodation may differ from those stated depending on your departure date. All of our hotels are small and locally-owned with en suite bathrooms and breakfast facilities. In Cuzco, all are located within walking distance of the central Plaza de Armas. Most hotels have a safety deposit box in the room but if not, there will be one at the reception.

Please note that central heating is very rare in Peru, even in good standard hotels. Most hotels provide plug-in heaters and spare blankets. Additionally whilst all of the hotels have a hot water supply, it can be temperamental when there is high demand.

A railway line runs straight through the centre of Aguas Calientes and whilst we try to allocate rooms away from it whenever possible, the trains might be heard from some rooms.

The trek is on a full-service camping basis with full porterage, meaning that our camp staff will erect and dismantle the tents for you, cook, and do all of the camp chores for you. You need only carry your daypack. There is a separate dining tent for meal times, as well as a toilet tent for use both in camp and during lunch stops. For the first part of the trek we stay in wild campsites, and on the Inca Trail, we stay in organised campsites jointly administered by the Regional Cultural Directorate and the National Parks Service. The tents have enough room inside for the kitbags. A bowl of warm water (to wash with) will be brought to your tent each morning and evening.

Should you wish to extend your stay in Peru, Breakaway can book extra nights accommodation in Cuzco for you either before or after the tour.

A limited number of single supplements (hotel and tent) are available on this trip; please request this at the time of booking. We recommend the early booking of single supplements.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 8 lunches and 6 dinners are included in the price of the tour.

Peruvian cuisine has developed a reputation for its flavours and originality and it’s well worth trying out a few of the local delicacies. Amongst these are ceviche (a spicy dish of seafood or fish marinated in lime juice), lomo saltado (a Peruvian take on a beef stir-fry) and various hearty soups such as the delicious quinoa soup. Other dishes include roasted cuy (guinea pig), alpaca steak, and to drink, the national beverage: Pisco Sour.

Drinking water is provided.  The tap water in Peru is not safe to drink; boiled and filtered drinking water is provided on the trek and elsewhere your leader will buy large water containers for you to refill your bottle from.

Hotel breakfasts are normally simple buffet-style affairs, usually including bread/toast and jam, cereal, sometimes eggs or a cooked dish, sometimes fruit, tea/coffee and fruit juice. Regrettably, we can not guarantee that wheat/gluten-free products will be available for breakfast in all locations – if you have an intolerance you may wish to bring your own breakfast food.

Where lunch and dinner is not included in Cuzco/Aguas Calientes we’ll visit a variety of cafes and restaurants.

During the trek, hearty breakfasts are served and good quality cooked lunches and dinners are provided, and usually consist of soup or a starter, a main course with meat/fish and some form of carbohydrates, followed by a dessert. Some snacks between meals are also provided. Bed tea/coffee is brought to your tent each morning and juice or hot drinks are provided with all meals during the trek.

This trip is graded as Challenging (level 5) – please refer to our activity level guidelines. There are 7 days point-to-point walking with full porterage, reaching a maximum altitude of approx. 4960m, average 3550m. More strenuous and at higher altitude than the classic Inca Trail, sections of this trek take us over difficult terrain underfoot, particularly on the descent from the high pass, which has a lot of loose gravel. The walking days are generally not long but there are some steep climbs and descents. On the main Inca Trail the paths are well maintained, but there are a lot of irregular stone steps which can be tiring on the knees, so we recommend walking poles.

Some nights can be very cold (below freezing), and you should note that over the last few years there have been a few occasions where heavy snowfall has closed the Inca Chiriasqa Pass (day 7). If this happens the leader will take an amended route to join the Inca Trail. If the snow is very heavy the group may retreat to Mollepata and then join the Inca Trail at Km 82 (the start point of the normal Inca Trail). This is not a common occurrence but you should be aware that it does occasionally happen. It is most likely to occur in July and August although is very unpredictable.

As this trip spends considerable time at altitude, we ask you to refer to the altitude warning within the Trip Notes. We spend three days in Cuzco (3400m) acclimatising before starting the trek.

Protest action/strikes are not uncommon in Peru, and while

these are generally peaceful, they can involve roadblocks and cause disruption to travel. Occasionally your leader may have to adapt your itinerary in response to this.

Walking hours stated within the itinerary are given as approximates only. Timings stated include lunch and photo stops and will vary depending on the pace of your group.

Inca Trail Regulations

An Inca Trail permit is required for this trip. There are a number of important regulations regarding the Inca Trail that we would like to make you aware of:
1. Spaces on the Inca Trail are on a first come, first served basis and we urge you to book as early as possible.
2. If you cancel your booking more than 8 weeks before departure and wish to transfer your deposit to another departure or another trip the transfer fee is £150 as we will lose the permit we have purchased. This is an amendment to our Booking Conditions. No transfers are possible within 8 weeks of departure.
3. Bookings can only be made if we are supplied with your full name, passport details, date of birth and nationality, exactly as per the passport you will be using to travel to Peru (this information is used to purchase your Inca Trail permit). If your passport details do not match those on your permit you will be refused entry to the Inca Trail by the local authorities.
4. Should the passport used to purchase your permit be lost, stolen or expire before your Inca Trail start date, you must purchase a new passport and notify Exodus immediately as we will need to apply to amend your Inca Trail permit. To do so, you must supply copies of both your old and new passports to Exodus in advance of travel and pay an administration fee of £25. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you make a copy of your passport at the time of booking.
5. Please be aware that these regulations may change at any time, and Exodus is not responsible for the decisions made by Peruvian authorities.
6. There is a possibility that the Peruvian authorities may increase the entrance fees to the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu and other major sights at any time. If they do so, we will inform you of this increase and the extra amount will need to be paid locally in cash in Peru.

Please Note: Whilst your departure date may be ‘Guaranteed’, your Inca Trail permit itself will initially be ‘On Request’. If travelling within the current year we will try to purchase your permit immediately upon receiving your booking. If travelling next year, we will apply for your permit as soon as they are released for sale. In either case, in the event that we are unable to get your permit we will contact you to discuss your options. 

New List of Regulations for visiting Machu Picchu (which apply from July 1st 2018).

The main points impacting your visit are the following:

  1. The tickets are valid only for one entry which means that you cannot leave the site and re-enter.
  2. Once you have done the chosen circuit with your guide, you cannot walk back to view anything already visited and once you finish the circuit, you will have to leave the site. You can no longer explore the site further after the guided tour.
  3. The two visit times for visiting the site, either 6am-12pm or 12-16.30pm.

These new regulations will affect how long you are able to spend at Machu Picchu.  In the past, after the guided tour passengers could stay longer to explore the site, this is not possible anymore. The alternative that we are implementing on our visits to allow you further time, is to explore the upper part of Machu Picchu (Sun Gate and Inca Bridge) before starting the guided tour.  The guided tour will be about 2 hrs in duration, and unfortunately at the end of it, you will need to exit the site.

Schedule of visit to Machu Picchu on this itinerary:

  • Early bus to Machu Picchu and explore upper part with the tour leader
  • Between 9-10am start the guided tour
  • Between 11.30am-12.30pm passengers leave Machu Picchu
Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 25/06/2020
4/5

The High Incas

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Camping on the ridge above Phuyupatamarca was fabulous. Although this one of the rare times that we saw other campers it was idyllic to watch the sunset and rise over the mountains, whilst throwing an eye back to Mt Salcantay, where we'd come from. This is also a site which will always make me laugh- I got involuntarily up close and personal with a bunch of llamas, which was quite an experience!!!
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Wilbert was a fun guide who was very knowledgeable about the history and culture of the Incas- and always up for a laugh!
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do read the trip notes - if you like your comforts then enter this in the knowledge that there will be days without showering- but you are well looked after with daily bowls of hot water, if you want them.

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
4/5

THE HIGH INCA TRAIL

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    As we performed a ritual thanking the mountains for a safe arrival at Chiriasqa pass at 5000m a condor appeared and flew just above us. Seeing Machu Picchu for the first time upon arrival at the Sun Gate. Being so close to Salcantay.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Maritza was a very competent leader capable of dealing with everything presented to her.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take at least two large packs of wet wipes, a spare battery for your camera, a good three season sleeping bag and Merino tee shirts and thermals. If you can squeeze it in then also take a pillow. I also recommend getting two or three dry bags from a camping shop to keep your clothes in when packing your duffle bag. Go at your own pace but don't stop for too long to catch your breath as you'll get cold.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A good diversity on this trip. The first half of the trek was totally deserted and extreme compared with the masses encountered on the Inca trail on the second half of the Trek. Yet both parts were thoroughly enjoyable for different reasons. The camping areas were in spectacular locations.

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

Great Trip

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Along with some great views and the Inca ruins, including Machu Picchu, we had breakfast on top of a mountain at sunrise. The guides, porters and horsemen are inspiring in a different way because of their hard work and fantastic support for the trekkers - they were second to none.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Willfredo was an excellent guide. He had great knowledge, could tell Inca "stories" and looked after us very well. He had some difficult decisions to take (snow blocking the pass, fire on the track, road closures etc.) but always came to the right conclusion in the interests of the group. He was very personable and everyone in the group liked him very much. Bruce was an excellent assistant on the trekking part of the trip, also demonstrating good knowledge and guiding skills.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes so you are clear about what is going to happen and don't ignore the altitude warnings. I take Diamox and it has worked for me on 3 separate trips but the effects of altitude are random so don't treat it lightly. As the notes suggest take dollars and change to Sol as you go - you can get dollars and sol from the local cashpoints at banks. If you are not a natural camper be prepared for some cold nights (proper sleeping bags etc. are essential), but it is worth a degree of discomfort to experience this part of the world.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a great trip - you will enjoy Cusco as much as the trek and, as with all trips like this, if you are not sure just book it! Provided that you can walk reasonable distances (up to 10 miles with no altitude) and are reasonably fit you should be able to enjoy this trip - there were several people in their 50s and 60s and everyone coped fine.

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

An amazing trip.

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Camping beside Salkantay, walking along the Inca Trail, seeing the Inca sites and, obviously, walking through the Sun Gate and seeing Machu Picchu for the first time.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Brilliant. Bobby, and the assistant guide Jose, were both excellent. Really passionate and knowledgeable about their heritage, very experienced so I felt well looked after (and safe!) at all times and were really great company.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take clothes for all weathers. We had hot, cold, snow and rain - all within a matter of hours on some days. Take walking poles. I don't normally use them, but they became my most favourite thing on some of the tougher days. Get some level of fitness. It's not essential, but might make some of the harder days a bit easier. Even if it's just a case of you being used to being on your feet for 6+ hours. Pack as light as you can - it'll make organising your bag a bit easier. Take a torch - essential for after dinner. Take books. Not necessarily for the camping as I was generally far too tired to read anything, but for the flights. Having something to read in between flights was helpful. On the trek, keep eating and drinking. It really helps with the altitude and to keep your energy levels up. I took snacks which was good, but you can buy stuff in Cusco before you go.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Book this trip. It's tougher than the Inca Trail but the effort was well worth it. You really feel like you've earned your views of Machu Picchu. I've done a few trips with Exodus now, and I think this may be the best one. The walking is tough but achievable, the views are amazing, the country is beautiful and people are lovely. OH! And the food was incredible.

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

High Inca Trail - Salcantay

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Talking to our guide, Wilbert Ramos, about his experiences and relationship with his country and, of course, coming through the Sun Gate at Manchu Picchu. There were inspirational moments every day, but these two stand out.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Wilbert was fantastic. He brought Peru and Incas alive through his passion for people, his knowledge of his country and its history and his genuine desire to ensure that everyone on the trek, from tourists to porters were looked after and had a good experience. I've been on a number of treks and his skills as a mountain leader and guide were some of the best I've ever seen.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you build up a good level of fitness before you go - you don't need to be able to run a marathon, but the fitter you are the more you'll enjoy it. Be open minded and mindful. Take the time just to sit out and enjoy where you are and what you are doing.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thanks for a fabulous trip. My first experience with Exodus and I was impressed that the company is perhaps one of the few that really delivers on its ethical promises, especially in the way it treats its staff. Well done, and I will be booking again.

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