About the challenge
From high remote mountain trails to the first magical sight of the legendary Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu, this is a challenging trek on steep trails climbing to 4200m in fantastic and diverse mountainous country. There is plenty of time built in to acclimatise to altitude as we enjoy exploring Cuzco, capital of the Inca Empire, and the surrounding Sacred Valley. Our trek takes us through lush cloud forest, green valleys and high passes, with breathtaking views of snow-capped Andean peaks. We have time to stop and explore fascinating Inca temples and settlements along the way, before our early-morning trek to the Sun Gate, with its famous viewpoint over Machu Picchu, from where we descend into the site itself.
Day 1: Depart New Zealand International Airport
Day 2: Arrive Cuzco
Morning arrival in Cuzco (3400m); transfer to our downtown hotel. After a trip briefing, the afternoon is free to explore the sites of this historic city, or simply adjust to the altitude by watching the world go by in one of the numerous cafés on the Plaza de Armas. Night hotel.
Day 3: Tambo Machay – Cuzco
Trek approx 5 hrs
Our first day’s trek takes us from Tambo Machay, an ancient ruin high in the hills above Cuzco. We pass some of the amazing Inca sites in the surrounding countryside as we walk downhill to Sacsayhuaman, the huge and impressive Inca ruin on the outskirts of Cuzco, before returning to our hotel. As well as beautiful scenery and fascinating ruins, today’s trekking offers excellent acclimatisation to the altitude. Night hotel.
Day 4: Cuzco – Km82 – Wayllabamba
Drive approx 3 hrs; trek approx 5-6 hrs
After a second night at altitude we should all be feeling ready for action! We leave Cuzco behind us, heading out along the Sacred Valley via Ollantaytambo to the Trail’s starting-point at Km82. The first half-day walk is fairly easy and on an undulating path which follows the Urubamba River for much of the way.
After lunch a gentle climb takes us to our camp at Wayllabamba. There are a couple of steep drops and climbs into gullies along the way, with great views of Mt Veronica standing at 5000m. We pass a couple of small places to buy cokes. The path is dusty but firm and there are no steps.
Night Camp (2916m).
Day 5: Wayllabamba – Pacamayo
Trek approx 8-12 hrs
Today we have the big climb – rising from 2700m to Dead Woman’s Pass at 4200m. This is a relentless and steep climb on narrow trails, first through grassland, then cloud forest (where some people start to feel the altitude), where the path is steeper and can be muddy. Eventually it opens out onto pasture where we will have lunch with snow-capped mountains behind us and a distant view up to the top of the pass, still several hours ahead. The final stretch to the top of the pass is well maintained with steps but the pace is slow because of the altitude. We descend 500m on steps to our evening's campsite at Pacamayo below the ruins of Runkurakay.
Night camp (3500m).
Day 6: Pacamayo – Winay Wayna
Trek approx 8-10 hrs
Now on the Inca Trail proper, the path is mostly steps which are steep in places and there are ruins every mile or so along the way. We have our second high pass at 4000m, again with steps leading up to the top and down the other side. The descent takes around an hour to Sayacmarca ruin (3600m), which is perched above more steps. From here the trail is very pretty, wide and easy-going with interesting fragments of cloud forest en route. The third pass is reached easily after passing through an Inca tunnel in the rock and a gentle climb. We continue on to the ruins of Puyupatamarca and then descend steep steps to our campsite at Winay Wayna.
Night camp (2640m).
Day 7: Winay Wayna – Machu Picchu – Cuzco
We start early and have a three hour walk to Inti Punku, the Sun Gate, along a beautiful stretch of trail, scattered with ruins and some steep flights of steps, with a few large drops down the side to the Urubamba River. We should arrive at Machu Picchu before the crowds arrive from Cuzco. We enjoy a guided tour around this extraordinary site, and then have plenty of time to soak up the unique atmosphere. There’s no rush to leave as we have plenty of time before meeting up in Aguas Calientes in the afternoon. Anyone who wishes can go down early to soak their aching limbs in the village’s hot springs. In the late afternoon we take the train back to Ollantaytambo and return to Cuzco by bus (approx 2 hours). Night hotel.
Day 8: Free to explore Cuzco
After a good night’s sleep and a relaxing lie-in we have the remainder of the day free to explore Cuzco or do any last-minute shopping. There may also be an opportunity to visit one of the local community projects we support, before meeting up again to celebrate our achievement at dinner this evening. Night hotel. (Lunch and dinner not included)
Day 9: Depart Cuzco
We board the morning flight to Lima and, depending on your flight schedule you may be able to explore the city before boarding your onwards flight (Lunch not included)
Day 10 & Day 11: In flight
Day 12: Arrive New Zealand International Airport
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes all accommodation as well as all flights and transport; internal air tax; camping equipment (except sleeping bag and sleeping mat); all meals except 3 as specified in the itinerary; Inca Trail trekking permit; entrance to Machu Picchu and all other sites visited as part of the itinerary. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, along with a local support crew of porters, guides, cooks and drivers.
It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement if charged by the airline, three meals as specified, tips for local crew, or international departure tax.
It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites or attractions, such as the hot springs. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Flights are booked separately, please contact Win Macmillan from NZ Travel Brokers on 64 7 345 8144 (landline) 64 274 763 010 (mobile) or via email firstname.lastname@example.org. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
We camp for 3 nights during the trek in two-man tents. The hotel in Cuzco is comfortable and clean with private facilities but please do not expect the same standards as you would in a tourist hotel in New Zealand!
All food is included when camping. The food is great and there is plenty of it. 3 meals as detailed in itinerary are not included.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice.
Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size), who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but an average-sized group in Peru would be led by two leaders and a doctor. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, porters, drivers and cooks. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers, cooks and porters do not always speak English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely.
Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.
Vehicles take the group to the start of the trek and pick us up at the end. All luggage, food, water and camping equipment is carried by porters.
Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. We will provide you with sturdy bags to carry your luggage on trail (the weight limit is 6kg). You should also bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
Terrain is varied as the path lies through valleys, cloud forest and over high mountain passes; paths are generally good but vary from wide, stony tracks to narrow paths that can be slippery or tangled with roots. There are lots of sections of steps, of varying condition. There are many steep sections both up and down, with very little flat terrain. This trek requires a good level of fitness. It is challenging mainly because of the altitude at which we are trekking. The trip is designed so that there is plenty of time to acclimatise to the altitude but you may still feel effects such as headaches and shortness of breath when trekking. You will trek approximately 40km on this trip overall. Because of the varied terrain and lack of accurate maps, it’s impossible to give accurate daily distances. It’s also much more useful when training to think about the hours you need to walk for! You may think that 40km sounds short, but it’s your time spent trekking each day and the terrain that you need to focus on! We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
Clothing & Equipment
We are travelling through remote mountains where we could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, We are always available if you need advice.
At 3400m, Cuzco is affected more by altitude than latitude, and is hot and sunny during the day (about 30°C) but chilly at night – a few degrees above freezing. May to September is officially the dry season but in the mountains it is unusual not to have some rain at any time of year.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential; it should be valid for at least six months after departure from Peru. There is currently no visa requirement for New Zealand citizens. Other nationalities should check entry requirements.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. A Yellow Fever certificate is necessary if travelling into the rainforest, as is protection against malaria. You should always check with your GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow trekkers and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!
Worlwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through. AITO, our Trade Association, has recognised the work we do in this area and has awarded us 5 stars as a Responsible Tour Operator.
Community Project Visit
We actively support several community projects in the areas local to our trips which you can visit on your free day. In Cuzco itself, we have links with a regional hospital and a ‘Children’s House’ project. The latter provides a safe place for young children from poor families, who spend most of their time on the roadside while their mothers eke out a living selling wares on the streets. It also offers support to older children, who spend much of their time when not at school caring for younger siblings. The programme gives these children access to toys, books and crafts, and also teaches them how to cook nutritious meals. Our main volunteering project is a Tree Planting Conservation Project in the Lares Valley. Trekkers on our last departure date of the year have the opportunity to join in with the planting. You’ll work alongside the local families taking part and share a community meal with them before spending the night out in this beautiful, untouristed area of the Lares valley. Cost for 2013 $275 and 2014 $300 per person (2014 prices subject to change) The price includes transport to and from the project, accommodation, all meals, a local English-speaking. Plus a $50 donation to the project (which will buy 50 trees)!
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating $10 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in New Zealand you can visit Carbon.org.nz.