INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU INTRODUCTION:
The famous Inca trail to Machu Picchu is a particular trek in the world. The trail sets out from the kilometer 82 of the Cusco - Quillabamba railway, and takes three to four days of tough hiking. The route runs through an impressive range of altitudes, where climates and eco-systems range from the high Andean plain down to the cloud forests. The trail climbs up through two highland passages, (the higher of the two, Warmiwañuska, lies at 4,200 m.a.s.l.) before reaching Machu Picchu through the Inti Punku or Gateway of the Sun. One of the attractions of the trail is that it winds carved granite Inca settlements (Wiñay Wayna, Phuyupatamarca), all of these surrounded by a breathtaking natural scenery. The forests abound in hundreds of species of orchids, brightly-colored birds and dream-like landscapes, the ideal complement to this indispensable hikers' route. Machu Picchu was connected in the past with the city of Cusco and the rest of the Inca empire by amazing trails, specifically designed for the use of the Incas in perfect harmony with the flora and fauna of the area. It has to be said that they had an absolutely wonderful knowledge of architecture and construction. Throughout the whole trail you can locate some shelters surrounded by gorgeous country sites and great views. Some of the trails lead you to a few archeologycal remains. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is known as the most famous and tough hiking circuit all over South America, because of the conjunction of different elements that it offers to its visitors
INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU ITINERARY:
First Day on Inca Trail: Cusco - Huayllabamba
An hour ride by private bus takes us to Urubamba and then to the Ollantaytambo village, where we stop for 30 or 50 minutes to organize the porters and have the optional breakfast, after which we continue to the 82 Km, the starting of the trail. During 5 or 6 hours we hike to the village. Includes: lunch, dinner and camping.(3,000 m .s .n .m.) (9 000 ft).
Second Day on Inca Trail: Huayllabamba-Pacamayu
A steeper climb takes us through the area of rain forest and up to Llulluchapampa and the valley. There are some very good views on the way to the Warmiwañusca Passage (4 200 m. s .n .m.) (13 700 ft.). That hike takes us 5 hours approximately. After the passage we steep down again into the valley of Pacaymayu.
Third Day on Inca Trail: Pacymayu-Wiñayhuayna
At 7:00a.m. we get along climbing to the second passage. Glancing from here we`ll look at the first pass and forward to the high snow capped mountain known as the cordillera Vilcabamba. By crossing to the other side of the Runcuracay passage (3,800m.s.n.m.)(12,900ft.), we quickly notice a change in the vegetation, since we have now crossed the continent divided between the highlands and the Amazon basin. The Inca trail itself by now has become more apparent: a defined path made of flat boulders descending into the valley where we`ll get at the ruins of Sayacmarca. After having crossed the dry lake, we enter in the rain forest; the trees are adorned with orchids, paradise flowers and flock of parrots can be see on the trail, with an unforgettable fowl lodge along the valley. At one point we had been passed through an Inca tunnel, before getting at the ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the third passage (3,600m.s.n.m.)(11,600ft.). Far away we get glimpses of Pumasillo and Salkantay and, thousands of feet below, once again the Urubamba river. Soon we can see the MACHU PICCHU huge mountain around it. The long dessert begins about 2 hours downwards the lodge of Wiñaywayna.
Fourth Day on Inca Trail: Wiñayhuayna-MACHU PICCHU
Finally we walk one hour to the Sun`s Gate after having watched the impresing view of Machu Picchu (new wonder of the world), and the full grandiose of the greatest archaeological remains ever revealed. We arrive at 6.00 a .m. before the majority of the tourists arrive, so we can appreciate in all its whole magnificence this magical citadel. Later we get the afternoon train from Aguas Calientes returning to Cusco.