If you’re trying to get in multiple treks during your trip to Peru, or if you don’t have enough time to do the full, 4-day Inca Trail trek, check out the 2D/1N option that Alpaca Expeditions offers.
The first day starts with an early AM pick up near your hotel in Cusco, followed by a train ride to Ollantaytambo where we kicked off our 11km hike. We hiked up to the first major Incan ruin, Wiñay Wayna (“forever young” in Quechua) where we had lunch. This structure is beautiful (and steep!), overlooking the Urubamba River. After lunch, we headed further up to Intipunku (the “Sun Gate”), where we were able to get our first (and literally breathtaking) glimpse of Machu Picchu. Then we began our several km descent to Machu Picchu. We had a half hour or so to take pictures before boarding the bus that took us down to our hotel in Aguas Calientes. Our particular trek included a hotel stay and dinner in town at Restaurante Indio Feliz, though there’s a camping option as well.
The second morning began with a bus ride back up to Machu Picchu, where we had a 2-hour guided tour of the ruins. We learned all about the history of the Incas as well as what each part of the ruins would have been used for in its prime. Our group elected to add the Huayna Picchu hike onto our package, so after a bit of solo exploring, we headed towards Huayna Picchu to begin the trek up to the top. After hiking Huayna Picchu, we caught a train from Aguas Calientes back to Cusco.
Tips on Machu Picchu:
- You have to have a permit to hike the Inca Trail and/or visit Machu Picchu, and the laws recently changed such that you have to go with an authorized tour company
- Make sure you contact a tour agency well in advance of your trip to secure your permits (go with Alpaca Expeditions – their ratings are the best for a reason, trust me!) – only 2500 people are allowed into Machu Picchu every day, and permits go quickly
Tips on Huayna Picchu:
- If you are unfamiliar with Huayna Picchu, it’s the tall mountain in the background when you look at pictures of Machu Picchu
- if you’re scared of heights, be warned. While the trek up to Huayna Picchu has definitely gotten safer since friends of mine did it several years ago, there are still plenty of parts that will put your fears to the test. But the views from the top are so worth it – I promise!
- If you thought getting a permit to Machu Picchu was difficult, then Huayna Picchu will seem near impossible. Only 400 people are allowed each day to climb (there are 2 time slots, and 200 people are allowed in each)
- The total time to trek up and back Huayna Picchu is about 1.5 hours – you have to sign in and out, so if you aren’t done within 2 hours, they send a ranger up to find you (they take your safety pretty seriously!)
- If you think you’re going to want to document your trek, make sure you have a hands-free camera, like a go pro. You’ll have a chance at the top of the mountain to take photos, but you’re going to want to have both hands free for most of the trek
For more information on Alpaca Expeditions and all of the tours they offer, check here.