1. How to get to Cusco, Peru
Most people will get to Cusco by air. Please remember that the Cusco airport is for domestic travel only. If you come directly from overseas through Lima, you must get your bags in Lima and re-check them for your flight to Cusco. Four airline carriers fly roundtrip between Lima and Cusco. That includes LATAM Airlines, AVIANCA Airlines, Star Peru, and Peruvian Airlines. They all offer similar schedules and in-flight service, but we usually recommend either LATAM airlines or AVIANCA. They tend to be the most helpful when unexpected flight cancellations or delays occur.
2. Does the Inca Trail go to Machu Picchu?
Yes, it is the ancient footpath of the Incas that goes from the Sacred Valley directly to Machu Picchu. It was created specifically for the Inca people to travel to Machu Picchu.
3. What is the best peak to hike for the amazing views of Machu Picchu?
There are three ways to get above Machu Picchu for those amazing pictures you see in books: the Sun Gate, Huaynapicchu and Machu Picchu Mountain (montaña). The Sun Gate is free for everyone to visit and takes about an hour from the bottom of the ruins to the lookout point. This is also where all Inca Trail trekkers enter to see Machu Picchu for the first time. The views are lovely from the gate, but not as high and a bit further than the other two options.
4. What is the difference between Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain?
Both Huaynapicchu and Machu Picchu Mountain are permit restricted hikes that must be done within a certain time. These permits/tickets will be secured by Alpaca Expeditions, but do need to be arranged a few months in advance of your trip. Both offer amazing views of Machu Picchu from viewpoints directly above. Machu Picchu takes about 3 hours to the top and is spectacular on a lovely day, but views are often restricted by clouds. Huaynapicchu takes 45 minutes to the top and is definitely the most popular of the three options. All views are amazing. Click here to watch a short video showing the difference between Machu Picchu mountain and Huaynapicchu.
5. How do I book an Inca Trail trek?
You can only book an Inca Trail Trek with a tour operator licensed to operate tours on the Inca Trail in Peru. The tour operator will reserve your trek dates and will secure the Inca Trail Permits necessary to hike on the Inca Trail. You first fill out a booking form that includes all details for you, and for any travelers going with you if you have a group. You will pay a $200 deposit per person. The deposits can be paid separately, as long as we have one booking form that we can use to track payments. Once we have all deposits and details, we will then book your permits. When permits are in our hands, we will send you your invoice and confirmation that everything is 100% set. All start dates, once confirmed, are guaranteed. We try to make booking as easy as possible at Alpaca Expeditions.
6. Can I stay in the Sacred Valley, Peru instead of in Cusco?
Ollantaytambo is the best place to stay other than Cusco. At 9,160 feet, it is a great option for acclimatizing to elevation, compared to Cusco at 11,152 feet. Also by staying in Ollantaytambo you get a little more sleep, as we will pick you up about 1.5 hours after the Cusco pick up time. You can only have your briefing in Cusco. So please arrange a time that works for you and our office team with your Alpaca Expeditions sales rep.
Of course, if you are ok with taking the same train out of Aguas Calientes that is part of your original itinerary, which is typically at 4:22 that evening, then there is no additional charge to move the train back a day. If you need us to secure your hotel or another visit to Machu Picchu, this will be an additional cost. If you do choose to spend one more night in Aguas Calientes (the town at the entrance of Machu Picchu), make sure you tell the Alpaca Expeditions office at least one month in advance, so your train ticket is purchased for the right day.
8. What is Huayna Picchu Mountain and where is it?
The Huayna Picchu Mountain is that gorgeous, picturesque mountain peak that is tucked up against the Machu Picchu ruins in all the best photos and postcards. Once you get to Machu Picchu, you have the opportunity to go beyond the basic tour of the Machu PIcchu ruins and also hike up the Huayna Picchu Mountain, next to the ruins. This hike will give you breathtaking views of the forests and valleys surrounding this ancient site as well as an aerial view of Machu Picchu ruins that is spectacular and cannot be seen any other way.
9. What is the Huayna Picchu hike?
The Huayna Picchu hike is climbing up a steep, long set of stone steps carved into the mountain side. The Huayna Picchu Mountain is 2700 meters/ 8858 feet. There is a cable to hold onto as you climb up the steps. The hike up Huayna Picchu is a truly challenging climb, and you’ll have 2 hours to do it. Permits are required and climbing times are specified on your ticket. You want to add on a ticket to climb Huayna Picchu when you reserved your trip to Machu Picchu, or as soon as you know you want to climb it. IT’s a very popular climb and tickets do sell out. Learn more about hiking up Huayna Picchu Mountain, also called Wayna Picchu.
10. Do I need a tour operator or a guide for the Inca Trail?
Yes! It is now illegal to hike the Inca Trail without an operator and has been like that since 2000. In order to hike, you need a permit, which only licensed operators can get – so you need to be specific. Other trails in the Andes can be done without a guide, but the Inca Trail can only be done with a licensed guide from a licensed tour operator. Learn more about why Permits and Guides are required on the Inca Trail and how the Inca Trail Permit System works.
11. How long does the trek to Machu Picchu take?
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has a multitude of trekking paths. On the other hand, it takes 3 to 5 days to complete the Classic Inca Trail path and, on average, 4 days and 3 nights to go to Machu Picchu. There is a quicker way to get to Machu Picchu if you’re pressed for time. The trailhead for this walk is at Kilometer 104, and it only takes one day to hike to Machu Picchu.
12. What is the difference between the short Inca Trail treks and classic Inca Trail treks?
The short, 2-Day treks on the Inca Trail are very different from 4-7 day trips, which we consider our classic full treks.
On the 2 day trip, you will have one day of hiking and one day at Machu Picchu. For your overnight stay, you can either enjoy comfortable hotel accommodations or sleep under the stars at a private campsite at the foot of Machu Picchu. Porters are not included, so you will also be carrying all of your own items for this trip. This trip is a great option for those who want to witness breathtaking sights of the Sun Gate, Machu Picchu and Inca Trail, but may not have enough time for the classic trek. It’s also a great choice for beginner hikers or families with younger children.
Our 4-day, 5-day and 7-day Inca Trail tours cover much more ground and expose you to more experiences on the Inca Trail. As you trek and camp, you’ll pass multiple archeological sites and unforgettable mountain views as you make your way to the Sun Gate and Machu Picchu. Our longer tours include several gourmet meals on the trail, porters to help carry bags, and comfortable private campsites. This tour is perfect for visitors looking for a challenge and an in-depth experience in the Andes.
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