After meeting at the main square in Cusco (Plaza De Armas) we take local transport to one of the suburbs, San Jeronimo, about 40 minutes away and where we can buy any last minute snacks, then transporting the final leg to our starting point near the village of Huaccoto. We will trek around 30 minutes on undulating but relatively easy gradient until we grasp the altitude in preperation to the rest of the journey. From the village we have a further 45 minutes ascent to the pass and where we find a cross located. We then trek across a slight plateau to the other side of the pass 50 minutes further.
We then trek across a slight plateau for 50 minutes until the pass on the other side. From here, we get some of the most dramatic views of various peaks. the Sacred Valley from Pisac to San Salvador, as well as to get our first and very impressive view of our days final reach, the red-roofed church or 'Sanctuario de Huanca'. Before descending, there are some small ruins to investigate at the edge of the pass, then we drop down quickly into the Valley on this sacred trail to the sanctuary of 'Huanca', some 2 hours on.
We finish the trail at the impressive church around 4pm, where we have to transport 20 minutes to the pretty town of Pisac for some 'chill' time in the Plaza. Anyone wishing to visit the Pisac ruins need to go there and back between 4.30 and 6.30pm at an extra cost, otherwise feel free to find a café, check wifi or have a look at the souvenir market and plentiful shops before we continue in local transport to the village of Amaru tucked into the mountains above Pisac, around 25 minutes drive, where we eat a locally prepared dinner and sleep for the night.
Features: Historical trek route, small ruins, impressive views of the Sacred Valley, and the Sanctuary complex at the end is the perfect setting.
Nutshell: Some might find the first 1.5 hours tough especially as we are at the higher elevation of the day. Please acclimate accordingly before hand (i.e 2 days in Cusco or similar) and walk more slowly than normal on the up parts, all of this will be justly rewarded when the summit is reached. This day is what really connects us from Cusco Valley to Sacred Valley.
TO JOIN US: Joining us to start from here shouldnt be difficult. We meet at the main plaza in Cusco by the fountain at 9am.
After a simple home-cooked breakfast with our family, we shall move on to three magnificent mountain lakes found in the area. The first one is a lake known as Cocha ‘Kimsa’ (4050m) – shaped like a figure 8 and around a 1 hour slight uphill walk from Amaru village and comes with some elevated mountain peaks speckled around which gives it a very dramatic backdrop.
We can then walk on a further 40 minutes to the second lake Azulcocha or blue lake (4150m). We shall circumnavigate the lake giving photo-genic angles from all sides taking around 45 minutes to 1 hour to loop, before moving across to our highest point of the day and the third, smaller lake a further 50 minutes to get here on a tough little stretch of trail.
At just over 4400m stands lake Pumacocha and totally worth the effort in this little secluded area and photogenic spot. Afterwards, we double-back on the mountain path and divert another 1.5 hours down, around to the far side of Kimsa lake + 1 hour more back to the village on easy trail for late afternoon or early evening. THE NEXT MORNING, anticipate a return to Pisac at 9am or Cusco by 10am after a homestay breakfast. OR CONTINUE ONTO STAGE 2
Features: Fascinating and beautiful lakes, mountainous backdrop, impressive views of the Sacred Valley.
Nutshell: A remote and rarely trekked route, the chances of seeing anyone but local herders are almost guaranteed on this trekking day.
Today we start early with a drive up to below the ruins located. We trek up steeply about 350m from the drop off up on switch backs and 1.5 hours later we arrive to the lnka site of Huchuy Qosqo (small Cusco) with a magnificent view down to the towns of Lamay and Calca down the valley. We can spend the best part of 1 hour resting, snacking, then exploring and photographing these ruins (entry included) before we head on another 30 minutes along a high flank of the Sacred Valley eventually leaving it behind as we move inwards and upwards more gradually through the mountainside.
About 1.5 hours on from the ruins, we encounter the most delightful section of the trail through a Canyon of bridges and waterfalls and to the remote village of Pucacocha with traditional thatched roofs on the local houses that are made of mud-brick. Here we shall also encounter a small archaeological site and most likely have an early lunch. We climb from here, a further 45 minutes to 1 hour, to our summit for the day and a view of lake Qoricocha before descending all the way down to lake Piuray.
From the pass we cross a high plateau or table top for about 35 or 40 minutes, then we head down to the Lake in around 2 hours on part gravel road and partly rough overland trails descending to Lake Piuray and to where we reach our goal, the historical town of Chinchero, where our homestays are located.
IF LEAVING AT THIS STAGE, THE NEXT MORNING WE RETURN TO CUSCO AFTER BREAKFAST FOR AROUND 10AM OR YOU CAN CONTINUE ON TO STAGE 3
Features: Huchuy Qosqo – a set of ruins very few tourists take the time to see, Remote village Pucacocha that still namely uses thatched roofing, beautiful trail with bridges and waterfalls, amazing views of lake Piuray.
TO JOIN US: Leaving from Cusco Plaza at 8am to get to Lamay for 9.30am or you are already continuing from Stage 2.
In the morning we’ll set off from the market town of Chinchero around 10am, we shall see plenty of ruins and terraces initially then(at approximately 11am) head on a marked Inka Trail down into the valley..
The section of old Inka trail takes 3 hours and has some awesome views all the way into the Sacred Valley. The trail down is very good but involves a lot of steps so those with weak knees or a little unsteady should automatically have trekking poles with them.
Towards the bottom the trail begins to level-out and we walk through some lush woodland areas of cultivated Euculyptus trees before we finish at the rural town of Urquillos by 12.30 or |pm and head to the road to catch a local bus to Urubamba.
AFTERNOON FREE - we should take the opportunity to wash clothes but we can also go and explore the nearby market town of Urubamba or some hikes in the area as well as particaipate in a local workshop see below -
Features: Impressive views into the Sacred Valley, small Eucalyptus forests, ancient Inca trail, Chinchero Inka terraces.
Note: One of the most relaxed days on the route.
Nutshell: Pretty trail route on solid path (many steps though).
TO JOIN UP: those wanting to meet on this day need to get to Chincheros main square by 10am.
This afternoon we have the opportunity to experience some workshops. The ceremics demonstration is a hands-on experience where we learn local traditonal techniques and the opportunity to see some of the finished products by local potter Bernadino.
In the first part of the afternoon we walk approximately 1 hour on a level trail admiring the views of the valley and local farm houses by the river. a relatively flat walk then we then continue across on undulating land to the town of Maras for another 2.5 hours where we can stop for picnic and admire the views of the surrounding mountains from the pretty little plazita.
We cross over the Urubamba river by suspension bridge, then we then continue up a well-grooved rocky path up around 200 metres in 45 minutes more or less gradually approaching the magnificent salt terraces ahead of us. We shall admire the 3000 + rectangular shaped terrace-plots before walking further on.
We continue for around 45 minutes walking through the Salt terraces (salineras) and finish above them before continuing across uphill to the town of Maras for another 1+ hour and admiring the views along the way. Finally arriving to the pretty little plazita, where we transit 20 minutes by van to our homestay, the village of Misminay and where our families will proudly welcome us.
STAGE 4 - PART 2: HIKE MARAS TO MISMINAY OR OPTIONAL HORSE RIDING ($50 USD p.p)
3 options for 2 hours of traversing various farms. A. We go on foot. B. we can take horses. C. we can take a taxi for any tired legs.
Features: Simple farm villages, Salt terraces, Maras village, Misminay village
Nutshell: Most of the trail route on solid path – fantastic viewing!
TO JOIN UP: To join this day you would need to get to Chinchero main sqaure area by 9.45am and start trekking at 10am. Or ideally you are continuing from trek Stage 3 already
We need to get back from our homestays into the Valley. We most likely take transport to cover some ground
We then advance on foot from the village of Pachar through farms and over the railway tracks to a unique shrine known as the Ñaupa iglesia (or Huaca de Choquequilla) inside and outside of a natural cave. The stoneworks are extremely precise, finely cut and shrewedly placed, and have some connection with another world that can only be speculated. We walk another 45 minutes alongside the river Urubamba and get in to Ollantaytambo town for lunch to conclude our first part of the day.
We would start around 1pm from the main square of Ollantaytambo town. We need to climb about 2-2.5 hours to get to the small Inka fort of Pumamarka. Along the way we take a gradual path, steeper in some places passing through Inka terraces, a few river crossings and some remote farm-houses. With of course some splendid viewing!
Time to take in the views and have some snacks at the ruins. From there it is an easy 1 hour quick descent down zigzag pathways and steps to the village of Pallata in Patacancha valley and onto or homestay community of Huilloc or Patacancha around 1 hour or less if we get a taxi or local van.
AT THIS STAGE WE HAVE 4 OPTIONS -
Features: A small Inka fortress and lovely valley drop
Nutshell: Most part trail. Only tough part of the day is the first hour going up to the ruins.
Hostel in Cusco - 5 minutes from the main Plaza.
For those wanting some extra time in Cusco before or after trekking we can offer a decent place for a economical rate as little as 60 soles or 18 USD per night for a double room with private shower, breakfast and wifi. It is very near the centre of Cusco (5 minutes walk to the main square - Plaza De Armas), it also has a private garden area out back and courtyard. Please enquire for more details.