Machu Picchu is one of the most iconic sights in South America, and the culmination of our magnificent Inca Trail trek through the Peruvian Andes. Join us as we trek this breathtakingly beautiful route through valleys and high passes, scattered with fascinating Inca ruins.
Trekking on Inca-paved paths and steps, our route takes us up through lush cloudforest to the demanding Dead Woman’s Pass (4200m). Continually climbing up or dropping down, our way is steep at times, and the altitude adds to the challenge. We finally come to the Sun Gate, which overlooks Machu Picchu, where your first magical glimpse provides an unforgettable reward for your efforts.
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.
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 country-side as we walk downhill to Sacsayhuaman, the huge and impressive Inca ruin on the outskirts of Cuzco. As well as beautiful scenery and fascinating ruins, today’s trekking offers excellent acclimatisation to the altitude. Night hotel.
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 (3000m).
Today we have the big climb – rising from camp all the way 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. From the top we descend on steps to our evening's campsite at Pacamayo, below the ruins of Runkurakay. Night camp (3500m).
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).
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, before meeting up in Aguas Calientes for lunch. In the afternoon we take the train back to Ollantaytambo and return to Cuzco by bus arriving in the evening. Night hotel.
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. Those looking for an adrenaline fix may wish to pre-book on to a White Water Rafting Activity (see extensions for details). Later this evening we all meet up again for dinner to celebrate our achievements. Night hotel.
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 communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They 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 medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.
We camp in two-man tents; these are usually expedition-style (ie sleeping room only). Camps are usually simple, in remote locations with great views! We have communal dining areas (usually with tables and chairs/stools) and toilet tents, and the local crew look after us very well. We stay in hotels (of a 2-3* standard or equivalent) at the start and end of the trip; standards may vary between different hotels, but they are generally clean and comfortable with good facilities.
Entry requirements vary depending on your destination and nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure your passport is valid, and any visas are obtained in good time. Check the FCO’s advice on entry requirements for your destination to be sure. To find out if you need a visa you can check your requirements using our partner, Visa Machine, website here; please ensure you allow plenty of time.
Your routine UK schedule of vaccinations should be up-to-date (especially tetanus). We recommend you check Fit For Travel for further details. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
If you are still to buy some kit don’t forget that Cotswold Outdoor, Snow and Rock, Cycle Surgery and Runners Need offer all Discover Adventure participants 15% off any purchases you make with them. Please ask us for the code if you do not have this already.
Travel Insurance is compulsory on our challenges; we strongly suggest that you arrange insurance cover as soon as your booking with us is confirmed. Should you need to cancel on medical grounds, you will need insurance to cover the costs involved (registration fee and any trip costs depending on cancellation date).
You should also ensure that you have adequate cover for the type of challenge you are taking part in as well as medical emergencies, evacuation and repatriation.
You can obtain a quote with Insure to Travel from our website here, or you may choose to take out your own travel insurance, just remember to let us know the policy number and emergency phone number!
For more information about travel insurance, please click here.
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 participants 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!