MOONSTONE TREK TO MACHU PICCHU 5D/4N
Explore the spectacular eastern extension of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. We follow the footsteps of the Incas who built a high route from their capital city of Cusco westward through the rugged cordillera, and filled their empire with amazing temples and royal residences. We camp high, and discover the beauty of tranquil Andean valleys with sublime views toward the 18,000-foot snow peaks of the Urubamba and Huayanay Ranges. We also explore amazing Inca stonework in the enormous 15th century quarry site of Kachiqhata. After dropping down into the Sacred Valley of the Incas we reach the royal Inca town of Ollantaytambo, with its remarkable Sun Temple. We travel to Machu Picchu by train for a full exploration of the famous city.
This little-known route is fast becoming one of our favorite alternatives to the better-known traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. During four hiking days you cover 35 km / 22 miles, starting at 3,224m / 10,575ft, and finishing at 2,840m / 9,315ft above sea level. You cross two high passes, with a maximum elevation of 4,625m / 15,170ft. While trail conditions are generally good, some steep trail sections require careful footing and good hiking boots with lug soles. Nevertheless, thanks to our careful pacing, dedicated guides and professional support staff, the trip is suitable for novices as well as experienced hikers.
Your trail duffel and the heavy camp gear is carried by porters or on horseback; you walk carrying only a day-pack. Cooks prepare wholesome meals with fresh ingredients and handle all the kitchen chores. You sleep warm and protected in high quality tents. Join the most reliable outfitter in the Andes for a trek you’ll never forget!
We pick you up at your Cusco hotel for a transfer by van west across the high Anta plain, following the route of the royal Inca Road which led from the capital toward the northern quarter of the empire. We stop first at the sacred Inca shrine known as Quillarumi (Moonstone in the Quechua language of the Incas), one of the finest of the carved rock huacas in the vicinity of Cusco. We continue to our trailhead by the Huaracondo River where it drains into the western edge of the plain, and meet our porters, who arrive from nearby communities. We commence trekking on a broad trail northward, above the west bank of the Huaracondo River. After an easy two-hour hike, we reach Huatta, a substantial pre-Inca fortress dominating the crest of a ridge at 3,855m / 12,645ft. Archeologists currently excavating the site are revealing burial sites and occupation levels from the Formative Period (2,500 years ago) on through the enormous fortifications of the 4th century Regional Development period; a scattering of late-period Inca structures seems like an afterthought on the top of the highest hill. The site is classic: a defensible ridge with dominating three-way views along intersecting valleys. After lunch we continue on our way westward into the range, and camp next to a rural school in the hamlet of Chiripahua at 3,750m / 12,300ft. (L / D)
Day 2: Chiripahua – Chancachuco
We climb gradually through fields and glades of the indigenous Chachacomo tree, in a landscape of pastures and small fields clinging to the steep mountainsides. Wherever there is water, we find an Andean family compound of adobe and straw. But there is little water in this mountain range – we are reminded hour by hour of how precious a commodity water was and is to the Andean people. We climb to a small glade at 4,400m / 14,432ft for a delicious lunch, then continue up to the col at the head of the valley. From our location atop the Accoccasa Pass (4,625m / 15,170ft) we enjoy breathtaking views of the immense snow peaks: the Huaynays to our west, the Urubamba range to the north. We enjoy an easy descent, to camp at 4,350m / 14,268ft in the broad valley of Chancachuco, facing the glaciers of the Huaynay Range. (B / L / D)
Day 3: Chancachuco – Huayrapunku/Kachiqhata Quarry
Toward the western end of the high valley, we follow the contours of a now-abandoned Inca aqueduct which transported water from the Chancachuco valley north to supply the otherwise-arid north-facing slopes above Ollantaytambo. This aqueduct once transported water across a sheer cliff face high above the Silque River. Today, on the mountainside above us we can glimpse traces of the original stonework, testimony to the extraordinary engineering in the project.
We reach our final pass (3,940m / 12,923ft) and visit a spectacular ridge-top Inca shrine called Huayrapunku (Gate of the Wind), with an astonishing view towards Nevado Veronica (5,682m / 18,637ft) directly across the valley. The site offers unsurpassed views to the terraces and temple site of the royal town of Ollantaytambo, over 4,000 feet below us. Constructed in the 15th century by the Inca emperor Pachacutec, the town was an important administrative and religious center.
We descend, past the curious Inca administrative site of Llaqtallaqtayoq, to our camp on a broad terrace at 3,525m / 11,562ft at the edge of the enormous Kachiqhata quarry. In the afternoon we explore the intricate quarry workings. From this steep talus slope beneath the sheer face of Cerro Yanaorco, immense red granite building stones were carved onsite and then skidded down to the valley floor, across the river, and then up to the sun temple site on the far side of the valley. We explore the ramps and work platforms around the largest of the stones. Orchids and other flowers are abundant in and around the quarry site, set high on the mountainside above the valley floor. (B / L / D)
Day 4: Kachiqhata Quarry – Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes
We descend on a broad Inca trail down through the lower quarry zone, and stop at a key hilltop, from where the worked stones were skidded down the steep slope to the Vilcanota River below. On the far bank, between the river and the Sun Temple, we can see several of these “Tired Stones”, which were abandoned half-way between quarry and temple. Chroniclers tell us that work on the temple site was suddenly halted when the Colla masons fled back toward their homes in the Lake Tiahuanaco area, just prior to the arrival of the Spanish invaders. We continue down, cross the river, and arrive finally at the famous Sun Temple in Ollantaytambo. We have time to explore the temple and the adjacent village, before catching a late afternoon train to Aguas Calientes. We check into a hotel for the night. (B / L are included; Dinner in Aguas Calientes is left to you)
Day 5: Machu Picchu – Cusco
We enter the site early in the morning for an in-depth guided tour of the ridge-top citadel of Machu Picchu. After our tour you will have free time to explore the site, or to climb Huyana Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain. We descend to Aguas Calientes for our return to Ollantaytambo, continuing by chartered bus to Cusco in late afternoon, arriving around 9:30PM. Transfer to your hotel. (B / L)
* People who want to visit Huayna Picchu must let us know as soon as they can, because according to new rules, there is a limit of people (400) per day that can climb it.
– 1st Turn 07:00 am : 200 people.
– 2nd Turn 10:00 am : 200 people.
Round trip transfer airport-hotel-airport
Round trip train ticket 1 expeditions, 1 vistadome
Professional English/Spanish Speaking guide
Private bus in and out to the beginning of the trail (Cusco-Quillarumiyoq)
Double Occupancy Tents
Camping Equipment: Bathroom tent, kitchen tent, dining tent, stools, tables and comfortable mattresses
Horses and Mules to carry our equipment
Coffee breaks in the afternoons
All meals during the trek
Vegetarian meals on request
Machu Picchu entrance fees
2 way bus ticket Machu Picchu
1 night in a hotel
Last lunch at Indio Feliz restaurant
First aid kit/Oxygen
What is not included?
We recommended that you bring:
Personal Sleeping Bag (If you dont have one you can hire from us)
Backpack and Daypack
Hiking shoes or boots
Water bottle, flashlight, hat, sun block, sunglasses
Warm/Thermal clothes, Raincoat
Chocolates, candies or other snacks
Camera + Film, Binoculars
Considering an extra night in Aguas Calientes? We can change the date of your train ticket to the following day. Hotel and other costs associated with returning to Machu Picchu the following day are additional to trek costs. Please also note that your entry ticket to Machu Picchu is valid for one day only, if you wish to visit the ruins on a second consecutive day you will need to purchase another ticket.
Aguas Calientes Extra Day Upgrade Package (optional)
With hikes that trek the traditional Inca Trail, the standard package has clients returning to Cusco at the end of the trek, and they don’t spend a night in Aguas Calientes. This package provides clients the opportunity to stay in Aguas Calientes for an extra night, visit Machu Picchu for a second day and then return to Cusco by the comfortable Vistadome train.
Cost: $195 per person on twin share basis. This price doesn’t change depending on the number of people in the group.
Second day’s entry to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, valued at $75
Bus up and down to ruins on extra day, valued at $24
1 night in a 3 star hotel, like Killa Inn Plaza Andina. These are nice hotels, well decorated, and clean.
With limited eating choices at Machu Picchu hunger tends to send clients to Aguas Calientes; by including the buffet lunch we find that clients can visit Machu Picchu early, then go to the buffet to try lots of different Peruvian (and Western) dishes, rest and go back for a second look at Machu Picchu.
Return in Vistadome train rather than Expedition train, which gives you the opportunity for a more varied timetable and to return in a nicer train, with big windows in the roof.
** Please contact us for a price for the same package but with 2 star accomodation and return in Expedition Train service **
Joing a group sign-up and save costs
Prices:Per Person 2021
2 people : US$850.00 per person
4 people : US$800.00 per person
6 people : US$750.00 per person
STUDENT DISCOUNT: $35 off per personStudent Discounts apply to anyone who has a valid GREEN ISIC card at the time of the trek or is 16 years old or younger. For those using an ISIC card to receive the discount, we do need to see a copy of the card at booking. For those booking children 16 years old or younger, we need a copy of their passport at booking time. Please send all to [email protected]
Under 15 years will pay as student: US$35.00
Under 7 years Discount: US$50.00
ADDITIONAL ITEMS:As you see in our Additional Items under Trip Overview, there are several optional upgrades you can include in this trip. Below is a quick list of prices, but check our Overview section for more details.
Huaynapicchu: $75 per person
Vistadome Train (One Way): $80 per person
Vistadome Train (One Way): $80 per person
Sacred Valley Tour:
City Tour: $
Maras Moray Tour: