Trekking a hidden Inca trail with a small group, past stunning Andean peaks, turquoise glacial lakes, and remote Quechuan settlements; this is Peru at its most authentic.
Peru Trekking Tour Overview
A day of hiking in Peru will surely create indelible memories - 11 days of hiking and trekking on this adventure may change you forever. After several days of hiking to acclimatize to the altitude, exploring the rich cultural centers of Cusco and the Sacred Valley with just your group of family and friends (even just the two of you!), you'll trek on an unfrequented trail, clearing high passes and descending into gorgeous hidden valleys that are populated only by families living a traditional agricultural life - growing potatoes and raising sheep and alpaca. The trails you'll follow are those that have been used for centuries by these campesinos to move flocks and carry produce to trade in village centers. Your Inca Trail trek culminates as any trip to Peru should: following the classic Inca trail to the famed lost city of Machu Picchu.
Hidden Inca Trail Trek Itinerary at a Glance
Itinerary at a glance:
Days 1-2: Your trekking tour begins in Cusco, Peru (elevation 11,150 feet). Explore the great cathedrals of this ancient Inca and Spanish hub. Embark on an acclimatization hike (about 12,000 feet) past the Inca sites of Tambomachay, Q’enqo and Sacsayhuaman.
Days 3-4: Move to the Sacred Valley, defined by the Urubamba River, and explore the ancient sites of Pisac and Ollantaytambo (where the Inca's defended the valley against the Spanish invasion), immerse yourself in local culture, and visit festive markets.
Days 5-9: Trek a remote Inca trail through hidden valleys and over stunning high passes, meeting campesinos and their children, and discovering remnants of ancient Inca culture along the way. Be awestruck, as the Inca were, by spectacular views of the perfect snowcapped peaks of Mt. Verónica (17,550 feet) and Salcantay (20,550 feet). Your final day of trekking the Inca trail brings you through astonishing mountain scenery past the striking ruins of Wiñay Wayna, through Intipunku (the Gate of the Sun), and into the lost city of Machu Picchu.*
Day 10: Immerse yourself in the wonder of Machu Picchu, with a full day of exploration, including the serene hour of sunrise for those who wish to wake early. Return to Cusco by train for a celebratory dinner. Relax in the comfort of our well-located hotel.
Day 11: Depart from Cusco.
*Please note that Inca Trail trekking permits are limited and issued 'first come, first served,' so you are encouraged to reserve early.
Did you know?
Permits for trekking on any of the Inca Trail routes are strictly limited and can sell out as much as 6 months in advance for peak periods. Don't let you dream of hiking on this incredible section of Inca trail slip away for another year -- call us at 1-800-941-8010 and we can let you know current permit availability for your dates.
THE BOUNDLESS JOURNEYS ADVANTAGE
A passion for travel. Simply put, we love to travel, and that is woven into every one of our journeys.
- Unique, award-winning itineraries. Our flexible, hand-crafted journeys have received accolades from the world’s most revered travel publications.
- Insider connections. There is simply no substitute for traveling with a knowledgeable insider.
- Small groups. We tread softly, and our average group size is just 6-8 guests.
- Flexibility to suit your travel style. We offer both small-group departures and Private Collection trips, so that you can choose which works best for you.
- Customer service that goes the extra mile. There is no request that is too big – or too small – for our staff to handle.
- Sustainability. We are committed to traveling responsibly – striving to preserve traditions and cultures around the world, and to protect fragile natural habitats.
Our tours often fill months in advance, and our maximum group size is smaller than most tour operators. It's very quick and easy to reserve a trip. Give us a call at 800-941-8010 or complete the online Reserve a Trip form. We will confirm your reservation with a $500 per person deposit, payable by check or credit card.
Trip Rating (1 Easiest - 5 Most Strenuous)
Traveling to and From
Most Convenient Airport:
Jorge Chavez Lima - Calleo International Airport, Lima, Peru (LIM) for international arrivals, and Cusco Valazco Astete Airport, Cusco, Peru (CUZ) for domestic arrivals from Lima.
Meeting Time and Place:
12:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Hotel Novotel in downtown Cusco.
Departure Time and Place:
Cusco airport in time for your departing flights to Lima on the last day of the trip.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Trekking the Hidden Inca Trail is rated 4+, moderate to strenuous, on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The moderate acclimatization hikes on this trip are 3-5 hours at 8,000-12,500 feet, with occasional vehicle support. During the trek (four nights) we will have no vehicle support. The hikes during this time are more strenuous due to length (5-6 hours per day) and altitude (7,000-14,750 feet). The trails are generally in good condition, with some loose rocks, and the ascents and descents are mostly gentle, with rare steeper sections.
Preparing for this Trip
This trip requires an above average level of fitness. It is very important that you realistically assess your physical condition with regard to the demands of this trip. The more well-prepared you are for the activities on this trip, the more you will enjoy yourself! We suggest vigorously walking/hiking 3-5 miles, several times a week, for 4-6 weeks before the trip. If you live in a flat area, incorporate some stairs into your workout, or use a treadmill with varying incline capability. Consult your doctor before undertaking any new fitness programs. We encourage you to speak with our staff if you have any doubts regarding your physical match with this tour.
Our trek from Parpishu (located in a narrow canyon between Cusco and the Sacred Valley) to Machu Picchu covers approximately 28 miles over five days. The relatively short distances covered each day allow us to take our time to adjust to the altitude during the trek, which ranges from 7,000 to 14,750 feet at the highest point. The trek is designed so that we gain elevation and clear the highest point of the day in the morning. We'll then descend to a picnic spot. After a leisurely lunch prepared by our camp chefs, we continue hiking to our camp for the night. Our camps are always at a lower elevation than the highest point cleared that day to avoid complications that can occur when too much time is spent at high altitude.
We use high-tech, two-person, three-season tents for sleeping, and share well-kept toilet and dining tents. Upon arrival at camp mid-afternoon, your bags will be at your tent, and you will have time to relax before dinner. Hot water is provided upon arrival for washing. Tea and snacks are served in the afternoon, and dinner is usually at about 7:00 p.m. In the morning, we wake early, and our camp chefs bring hot water for washing, coffee, and coca tea to our tents. Breakfast is served shortly after, and you need only repack your bags before we leave camp for the day's hike.
We are supported in the trek by a team of pack horses and their handlers, or arrieros. They will carry our luggage, except for the items packed in your backpack (for example, water, camera, and an extra layer of clothing). The tents are set up and taken down each day by the camp staff, and they make their way ahead of us to the next camp so that everything is ready for our arrival in the afternoon.
Peru's geography is as diverse as its culture, with altitudes from sea level to over 22,000 feet. Our trip begins and ends in Cusco, which is situated at 11,150 feet, in the foothills of the Andes. After two nights, we move to the Sacred Valley, and our hotel is located at 9,350 feet. The trek begins on the fourth day, and elevations are noted along with each day's description. Our third hotel, in the town of Machu Picchu, is located at about 6,500 feet. Our hikes will take place at elevations of 7,000 feet to approximately 14,750 feet. There is time to move at a comfortable pace, allowing ourselves to adjust to the mountain air. Keeping well hydrated, avoiding excessive alcohol, eating frequent, light meals, and getting plenty of rest will help with any effects of altitude that you may feel.
The mountainous areas of Peru have pronounced rainy and dry seasons, which are more responsible for the prevailing weather conditions than seasonal temperature fluctuations. While the dry season lasts only from May through September, the most significant rains fall from January through March. Temperatures do not fluctuate as much, although nights do tend to be colder from May through September, and nighttime frost and some snow is possible at higher elevations in July. Any time of year, dressing in layers is a good strategy, so that you can shed or add layers as the day heats and cools.
The following are average temperatures in Cusco (in the mountains you can expect the low temperatures to be in the 20s):
May: 67°F 39°F
July: 66°F 34°F
Sept: 67°F 41°F
You may obtain more detailed weather information by visiting www.weatherbase.com.
When to Reserve
It is important to reserve your trip early, as the Peruvian government has a permit system which strictly limits the number of hikers on the trail at any given time. Permits can only be confirmed upon receipt of your deposit and passport information. If you dream of hiking into Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail, we suggest you plan at least 4-6 months ahead of time. Please contact our office with any questions regarding this important regulation.
When to Go
This Private Collection trip is available on request for any dates from April-December, when Peru is generally delightful for hiking. We avoid scheduling trips from January through March as this is the height of the rainy season. The Inca Trail is closed entirely during February for annual cleanup. That being said, the hillsides and valleys tend to be greener in April, May and June. Later in the dry season the fields turn golden, and the campesinos harvest their crops.
Trip participants have certain responsibilities to both Boundless Journeys and your fellow travelers. This includes understanding the conditions described in the trip itinerary and making sure it is appropriate for your interests and abilities, based on a review of the trip ratings, consultation with Boundless Journeys' staff, and perhaps your doctor. In addition, trip participants are responsible for preparing for a trip by undertaking the proper fitness training. At the guide's discretion, a participant may be asked to leave the trip if the guide feels that the person's further participation may be detrimental to the individual or to other trip participants. If you have any questions about the difficulty level of the trip you have chosen, please contact Boundless Journeys to speak with one of our Destination Managers.
Small group travel affords us the opportunity to seek out the most remote and exotic destinations on the planet. Often we are exploring these locales with just 6-12 guests. The nature of active group travel is such that not all participants have the same ability level or interests. Traveling at a pace that is comfortable for the entire group, with a spirit of flexibility and adventure are all part of this intimate experience.
Overview: Well-located Cusco hotel, fine historic country lodges (all private baths), and four nights full service camping with shared bathroom facilities.
Nights 1 & 2: Hotel Novotel
Built to incorporate an early 16th-century home, this well-located hotel in the heart of historic Cusco showcases the exceptional style of colonial architecture.
Nights 3 & 4: Posada del Inca
This country lodge is located on the site of a restored, 350-year-old monastery surrounded by the foothills of the Andes. Property features include a quaint chapel, restaurant, gift shop, and lounge.
Nights 5, 6, 7 & 8: Hidden Inca Trail Trek, full service camping
We use high-tech, two-person, three-season tents for sleeping, and share well-kept toilet and dining tents. Upon arrival at camp mid-afternoon, your bags will be at your tent, and you will have time to relax before dinner. Hot water is provided upon arrival for washing. Tea and snacks are served in the afternoon, and dinner is usually at about 7:00 p.m. In the morning, we wake early, and our camp chefs bring hot water for washing, coffee, and coca tea to our tents. Breakfast is served shortly after, and you need only repack your bags before we leave camp for the day’s hike.
Night 9: Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
Machu Picchu Pueblo, Peru
Highest rated hotel in Machu Picchu region (Travel + Leisure, "World's Best Hotels")
With Andean-style individual bungalows in a quiet riverside spot in the town of Machu Picchu Pueblo, this acclaimed hotel is renowned for its progressive sustainability programs. An impressive tropical garden showcasing a wide variety of native plant species, stone paths, and canals flowing with spring water create a special atmosphere.
Night 10: Hotel Novotel
Built to incorporate an early 16th-century house, this well-located hotel in the heart of historic Cusco showcases the exceptional style of colonial architecture.
Peru Trekking Detailed Itinerary
PLEASE NOTE: It is important to sign up early, as the Peruvian government has a permit system in place which strictly limits the number of hikers on the trail at any given time. Permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. If you dream of hiking into Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail, now is the time to reserve. There are alternative options if permits are not available at the time when you reserve. This will not affect our visit to Machu Picchu, just the hike to the ruins.
Arrival to Cusco; afternoon city tour
Walk – easy, 3 hours.
Tambomachay to Sacsayhuaman
Hike – easy to moderate, 3-4 hours on hiking trails; approximate elevation loss of 1,000’.
This evening you are free to independently explore Cusco, and your guide will be happy to make recommendations from the diverse and excellent eateries in the area, or you may choose to enjoy dinner at our hotel’s fine restaurant.
Kiswar Lake and Pisac
Hike – easy to moderate, 2-3 hours.
After breakfast we drive to the nearby town of Pisac and ascend into the foothills to Kiswar Lake. Here, a European NGO is working with local villagers to promote the preservation of dozens of types of potato seeds. We spend some time to learn about the project before a walk with spectacular views over the Sacred Valley. At the end of our walk, we’ll make our way to another village for a traditional Quechua lunch provided by a partnership of local women.
Later this afternoon, we arrive at our hotel for the next two nights, a charming country lodge on the site of a restored, 350-year-old monastery. If you like, relax with a Pisco Sour in front of the lodge’s fireplace before we gather for dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.
Mountain Village and Ollantaytambo
Hike – easy to moderate, 4-5 hours on dirt roads and trails; some steep stone stairs at ruins.
Tonight we enjoy a hearty dinner and a restful evening in preparation for our trek.
Posada del Inca, Yucay. All meals included.
Begin trek: Parpishu to Chilipahua
Hike – moderately strenuous, 5-6 hours.
Beginning elevation: 10,000’
Highest elevation: 12,800’
End/Campsite elevation: 11,500’
Chilipahua to Ancascocha
Hike – strenuous, 5-6 hours. Beginning elevation: 11,500’
Highest elevation: 14,750’
End/Campsite elevation: 12,700’
As we clear the pass, the landscape changes entirely. Before us lies a beautiful valley and the tumbling waters of the Rio Silque. After descending steeply from the pass, we enjoy a well-deserved lunch – perhaps homemade soup and freshly prepared salads – on the bank of the river. Local children often bring their flocks of sheep to graze nearby, and we enjoy the idyllic setting with them, watching for caracara hawks and majestic Andean condors circling overhead.
We next gently descend through pastureland populated by sheep, cows, and horses. These animals and the occasional inquisitive Quechua child are often the only witnesses to our presence. Looking north, we are treated to dramatic views of the snowcapped peak of Verónika, beautifully framed by the green valley.
We arrive to our waiting tents on the flanks of Mt. Huayanay (17,500’), whose glaciers hang above the valley floor, feeding the river running by our camp.
Ancascocha to Camicancha
Hike – moderate to strenuous, 5-6 hours.
Beginning/Highest elevation: 12,700’
End/Campsite elevation: 9,700’
By now we are accustomed to the morning chill disappearing by breakfast as the sun warms the mountains. Today’s hike is a bit easier, as we start trekking down through a narrow valley, full of red Masdevallia orchids, known locally as huakanki. Our trail threads across several bridges over a small mountain river.
As we make our way across fields of rocky scree, going up and down, we enjoy nearly constant views of impressive Mt. Verónika across the Sacred Valley. After lunch at a scenic resting spot, we continue to descend. We eventually enter a eucalyptus grove, captivatingly lush after days spent above tree line in the mountains. By mid-afternoon, we arrive at the tiny community of Camicancha, where we will camp tonight. Local children, as always, are eager to greet us and share some of their produce.
Full service camping. All meals included.
Camicancha to Piscaycucho
Hike – easy to moderate, 5-6 hours.
Beginning elevation: 9,700’
Highest elevation: 9,700’
End/Campsite elevation: 8,975’
Our trail follows the contours of the Sacred Valley, winding through eucalyptus groves and hillsides boasting impressive cacti. Everywhere, signs of the intense farming during Inca times can be seen in the many terraced fields.
By mid-afternoon, we reach our final camp site at Piscaycucho on the Urubamba River. Here, we may meet other trekkers and compare stories of our travels. We camp in relative luxury tonight, with complete indoor dining facilities, hot showers, and even a sauna to revive weary muscles!
Piscaycucho to Machu Picchu
Hike – moderately strenuous, 6-7 hours.
Beginning elevation: 6,259’
Highest elevation: 8,860’
End elevation: 7,970’
After 3-4 hours, the trail becomes more forested and we turn a corner to see the picture-perfect ruins of Wiñya Wayna before us. We take time to have lunch at the ruins, and marvel at the ingenuity of the people who created this complex village in such an unlikely place. From Wiñya Wayna, the trail begins to evoke a sense of history; ancient stone steps, pavements and complex retaining walls, still half covered with vegetation, surround us. A final steep ascent brings us to Intipunku (the Gate of the Sun), and as we come through the gate, the first unforgettable sight of Machu Picchu emerges below us. You have a few hours this afternoon to explore the lost city on your own or with your guide, or you may simply choose to find a quiet spot from which to soak in the splendor.
Late this afternoon we board a bus for a short ride to our award-winning hotel in the festive small town of Machu Picchu Pueblo, where we enjoy a feast in celebration of accomplishing our trek.
Sunrise at Machu Picchu; exploration of ruins; return to Cusco
Walk – easy, 2-3 hours, optional moderate hike to Wayna Picchu, about 3 hours.
For those who wish to rise early, a very special experience is in store this morning. We return to Machu Picchu before sunrise, so that we can quietly enjoy the ruins before the crowds begin to arrive later in the morning. There is plenty of time to learn more about the complexities of this mountaintop city, or you may choose to challenge yourself to a final hike up Wayna Picchu, the dramatic spire that rises in the background of every classic photograph of the famed citadel.
Departure from Cusco
After breakfast you are transferred to the Cusco airport in time for departing flights.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary to take advantage of weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these should the need arise.
When to Go
- Aug 31–Sep 10, 2014
- May 24–Jun 03, 2015
- Aug 30–Sep 09, 2015
2014 Land Cost
$4,595 per person
Single Supplements: (Free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.)
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement may be charged to participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. We have made every effort to eliminate or greatly reduce this cost for most of our scheduled small-group departures; however, these savings are limited to two single supplements per departure. Therefore, the first two single participants to reserve will receive the savings. This is not applicable to our Private Collection journeys.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 90 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary).* Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This does not apply to cruises in the Galapagos Islands. Please see these trip pages for more details.
- Expert leadership
- All accommodations
- Fully supported trek, including camping equipment, porterage by horse, and cooking staff
- All meals except one dinner
- All transportation during the tour
- Archeological site entrance fees
- Trekking permits
- All activities as noted in the itinerary
- Medical Evacuation insurance coverage
Please complete the following information to request a reservation. A trip deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your reservation (payable by check or major credit card). Once we receive your request we will contact you within one business day to confirm availability and answer any questions you may have.
About our guides
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work – the mark of a truly great leader – our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own.
Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Harry Cavero: Harry was born in the village of Calca in the center of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and began hiking the Inca Trail and exploring the Vilcabamba region when he was just seven years old. The son of a traveling teacher, Harry had the opportunity to travel extensively through the mountains and villages surrounding Cusco and near Machu Picchu.
Starting as an assistant guide at the age of 13, Harry has now been assisting and leading tours through his homeland for more than 20 years. In addition to guiding, Harry has worked with NGOs in support of Andean families who have few resources, and participated in anthropological projects studying the native communities of Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras to assess similarities with his native culture.
With a degree from the University of San Antonio Abad and official certification from the Polytechnic Guide’s School in Cusco, and a true passion for the cultures of the Andes, Harry is an ideal companion for exploring the mountains and villages of Peru.
Ruben Choque: Ruben grew up in the quaint and historic city of Cusco, and from a very young age was exposed to the rich cultural and natural heritage of his native country. Upon completing his university degree in Archeology and Tourism and a Masters in Business Administration, he pursued guiding, his ultimate passion. He has an intimate knowledge of the adventure travel industry in Peru and draws from his extensive experience not only as a guide, but from working in tour operations and as a consultant in sustainable tourism development. At present, Ruben brings to the table more than a decade of experience leading groups around Peru. He is dedicated to uncovering the unique cultures and landscapes of Peru through cultural, adventure and ecological tours.
What other guests have said about our Peru guides:
“Our trip was very special and it was made even more so by [our guide] Harry and our driver, Ever. Their knowledge and experiences made everything move smoothly. This makes enjoying the various activities and destination effortlessly enjoyable.”
– K.S, Kansas City, MO
“I arrived home last night and am still in a mental daze. The trip far surpassed my expectations. It was glorious! Everyone in our group agreed that our guide was central to making it all work. He is truly an amazing person. There is no praise I could give that would equal what he actually offers with his knowledge of the culture, his managerial capabilities and the spiritual connection with the land that he conveys.”
– J.C., Aspen, CO
Picture Yourself Here:
Scenic 5-days of trekking on a remote Inca trail to Machu Picchu, far from the crowds of traditional routes
Hiking in the Sacred Valley and through the market towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo with your expert, private guide
Traditional Quechua culture and historic Inca ruins, including a day at the lost city of Machu Picchu
Inca and Spanish city of Cusco, with beautiful cathedrals, fine dining, and a lively atmosphere
- Aug 31–Sep 10, 2014
- May 24–Jun 03, 2015
- Aug 30–Sep 09, 2015
You may also be interested in:
Prefer a group departure:
Inca Trail permits can sell out 4-6 months ahead for peak periods. Please plan well ahead to avoid disappointment!
What others have said...
- S. Berchier, Aurora, CO
Latest Blog Posts About Peru
Thinking of exploring Peru’s famed lost city of Machu Picchu this summer? Plan ahead – permits are going fast!
"On our Royal Rajasthan trip we were treated like royalty. From the incredible hotels, to feeling like a queen when the village children raced to see us…a wonderful enlightening experience."
- Kathy Larson, India: Royal Rajasthan