- A great (and less strenuous) alternative to the Inca Trail
- Pass by beautiful waterfalls, Inca ruins, and enjoy great mountain views
- Learn about the local culture in villages along the way
- Tour the ruins of Machu Picchu on Day 4
- Get a different view of the fortress of Ollantaytambo
The Cachicata trek is a good option for anyone looking to escape the other crowded trails and interested in seeing Inca ruins as well as the natural beauty in the area. In four days, you'll hike valleys, visit waterfalls, see Inca ruins, and camp in the great outdoors. You will get a chance to view the snow-capped mountains (Apus) that are considered sacred to the locals in the region while hiking the trails. At the end of the trek, you will visit one of the most spectacular sites in the world: Machu Picchu.
Day 1: Cusco to Corimarca
As you leave from Cusco toward the Sacred Valley, you drive along a road to the Pachar Valley close to Ollantaytambo. You arrive at the starting point of your trek, Soqma village, after about 2 hours. This village is nestled in the beautiful Sacred Valley and consists of small houses and a local school. You begin your ascent, then climb the Perolniyoq waterfall, then visit Corimarca which is an ancient Inca ruin not far from the campsite. You will settle in and spend the night here.
Maximum altitude: 3,630m / 11,909ft
Minimum altitude: 2,900m / 9,514ft
Distance traveled: 3km / 1.86ml
Approximate walking time: 4 hours
Day 2: Corimarca to Chancachuco
Today will be one of the days you won't forget. It's a bit of a difficult climb, but entirely worth it. You will begin with a delicious breakfast, then start your hike to the high grassland, or Puna, then cross the mountain pass. With the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains of Veronica, Pachatusan, Ausangate, Chicon, Pumahuanca and the colorful fields of Chinchero as our backdrop, this gorgeous area provides you all the energy and motivation you require to keep going.
Later, lunch is enjoyed by a beautiful lagoon, a perfect example of the Inca hydraulic system, which provides the water to the stream you follow along. This will lead you to the campsite for the night.
Maximum altitude: 3630m / 11909ft
Minimum altitude: 4490m / 14730ft
Distance travelled: 10km / 6.21ml
Approximate walking time: 7 hours
Day 3: Chancachuco to Cachicata Community Camp
On this third day, you have an early start, with the Sun Gate, or Inti Punku, as our goal. This amazing Inca construction has one breath-taking view of Machu Picchu and is a great example of how hard working the Inca were in such precarious places. This is also another example of how the Incas selected places which had views of their surrounding protectors, or mountains, such as Veronica and Choquetacarpo.
As you hike down you will witness the quarry of Ollantaytambo, with remains of massive stones that they had worked on and which were destined for the temple in Ollantaytambo. As you hike along, you can also witness the mausoleums, or Chullpas, that still remain here. Your descent leads you along a trail to the Cachicata community and this is where you stay the night.
For the big day at Machu Picchu tomorrow, a good night's sleep is highly recommended.
Maximum altitude: 4455m / 14616ft
Minimum altitude: 2792m / 9160ft
Distance traveled: 10km
Approximate walking time: 7 hours
Day 4: Train to Aguas Calientes, Day at Machu Picchu
You will enjoy an early breakfast, then meet your private transport which will take you to Ollantaytambo train station. You then board the train to take you to Aguas Calientes, or Machu Picchu Pueblo. In this comfortable train, you can witness the landscape change from valley to high rainforest, wherein lies Machu Picchu surrounded by clouds.
Once you arrive, you will meet your expert guide, then take a 20-minute bus ride to the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (2400m / 7874ft). Your guide then leads you through a 2-hour exploration of the Citadel. After the guided tour, you will have time to explore more of the area which you didn't discover with your guide such as the Inca Bridge, Huayna Picchu, or Machu Picchu Mountain. Keep in mind that entrance tickets to both Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain are required before arriving, and you should purchase those in advance.
The trail for Huayna Picchu consists of many steep narrow steps (not recommended for people who suffer vertigo), and the height of the mountain is 2700 m. / 8858 ft. (the climb is 300 m). For Machu Picchu Mountain, it is a series of many Inca stairs on up for a high overlook of the Citadel opposite of Huayna Picchu. This hike takes roughly 2-4 hours round trip.
At the end of our visit, we will take the bus down to Aguas Calientes for lunch and then board the train to return to Ollantaytambo where our private transport will be waiting to take us back to the city of Cusco.