Traveling the Great Inca Road in the footsteps of the Chasquis.
For this adventure we immerse in the mystical world of Incan history and travel the Great Inca Road between the ancient sites of Choquequirao and Machu Picchu. Our journey follows in the footsteps of the legendary Chasqui runners who supported the vast Incan empire delivering communications along the 38,000km Inca Road. As we trek between these two lost cities we will have opportunity to view impressive landscapes, explore high Andean villages and travel through five climate zones – including Andean Puna and Cloud Forest where endangered condors are common. Along the way we will immerse in the Andean way of life and see the mountains through the eyes of these historic messengers.
Our journey is one of historical and spiritual significance, as we traverse along one of the most spectacular lengths of the Inca Road, between the great city of Choquequirao and the citadel of Machu Picchu.
Welcome to South America
We begin our journey in Santiago, Chile, where you will have an option to explore this fascinating city that rarely sleeps. Buzzing with the life and energy on every South American street corner, we make our way on Day Two to the captivating history and grandeur of Cusco, Peru, where you will uncover its past with a tour of the city’s historical precincts. We will enjoy a good rest in a luxury hotel and a free day to explore the city and rest before your Inca Trail journey begins in earnest on Day Three.
In the footsteps of legends
We begin our journey on the path between Cusco and Chiquisca, following in the footsteps of the heroic Chasquis. They were known as some of the greatest runners in history, capable of relaying messages at speeds of over 320km per day at altitudes above 13,000 feet. While these great athletes were endowed with incredible strength and stamina, they also had wisdom and a way of connecting with the land and its inhabitants that helped propel them along the steep mountainous terrain. For our journey, we will be supported by porters and mules, camping for 10 nights in four-season tents in established campsites, the first of which is in the ancient setting of Chiquisca.
Ancient and remote ruins
Waking up to spectacular views, we continue on Day Five towards Choquequirao, with our route traversing one of the most stunning sections of the Inca Road between the great city of Choquequirao and the citadel of Machu Picchu. Choquequirao is considered one of the most remote ancient ruins in the world and is currently visited by fewer than 70 people per day, which the Peruvian Government plans to change, with plans to build a road and tram system to the site. Currently the site is only accessible by a two-day walk across a 5,000-foot deep canyon.
Solitude in the clouds
Situated at 10,000 feet, Choquequirao is located in pristine cloud forest and features extensive waterways, temples and agriculture terracing as impressive as Machu Picchu. While the site is only 30% excavated, the energy of the site is profound and there are ample opportunities to find solitude as we explore the origins of this remote lost city. While at the site we will work with local shaman and participate in a traditional Despacho ceremony, giving gratitude to the spirit of Pachamama.
Flora and fauna paradise
Day Seven and we leave Choquequirao to travel towards Maizal. As we explore the rich history of the Andean people, we also discover the diversity of the land. Peru boasts the highest concentration of microclimates in the world and our journey takes us through five climate zones, including a rare cloud forest, which is home to one third of Peru’s birds, mammals and frogs. Here we will see an incredible diversity of flora and fauna, including bromeliads, orchids, butterflies, giant hummingbirds and the Andean condor.
Honouring the spirits
As we venture deeper into the Andean highlands, the landscape opens into high alpine Cordillera, as we pass near permanent glaciers and high villages. The mountains here are sacred to the Andean people and we honour these great spirits as we pass within view of the Apus Kiswar, Quriwayrachina and Pintuyu. Here we begin to appreciate the greatness of the Chasqui runners as we climb elaborate stone paths constructed centuries ago and still in use by local people today as they pass these steep mountains.
Supporting the local community
Day Eight and we descend Victoria Pass at 14,000 feet to discover the small village of Yanama where we will connect with the local people through the practice of Ayni as we participate in a service project to improve the local school. Day Nine takes us up through a majestic valley surrounded by high peaks, climbing to our highest point at 15,272 feet as we cross Yanama Pass. From here we get our first glimpses of Salkantay, the second most dominant peak in Peru, known as the Savage Mountain and the ruler of weather and fertility, and on to Collipaoampa.
Lush forests and hot springs
The climate changes quickly as we descend 7,000 feet from high alpine landscapes into lush tropical vegetation passing fruit groves and coffee plantations that have been present since Incan times. On Day Ten we have the opportunity to visit the hot springs near Salkantay before descending the Santa Teresa river valley, passing many small villages. We then venture back up into cloud forest to the ancient site of Llactapata. Here we will enjoy a beautiful moss covered forest and explore the ancient observatory which is perfectly aligned with Machu Picchu across the valley. Day Eleven and we are now within site of our final destination as we make our way down to Aguas Caliente, travelling through abundant forests filled with parrots and orchids. Upon arrival we will have opportunity for a soak in the hot spring and enjoy a fine meal as we explore this quaint village and relax in preparation for our visit to Machu Picchu the next day.
Ascent to the Temple of the Moon
Day Twelve is our chance to fully explore the magic of Machu Picchu. In the morning we travel up to the citadel and spend the day exploring this expansive site, connecting to its energy and learning the role this ancient ruin played in the Andean cosmology. While here we will have the chance to climb Huayna Picchu, the steep prominent mountain that defines the site, and hike to the more remote Temple of the Moon which few visitors experience. Here we will hold our final Andean ceremony. After a special overnight camp at one of the world’s most historic sites, we board our train back to Cusco to enjoy a comfortable hotel stay and final celebratory group dinner at one of the finer restaurants in Historic San Blas, before beginning our journey home.