Vilcabamba Trek to Machu Picchu 5D/4N

DESTINATION: Machupicchu
CATEGORY: Adventure Tour

In 1532 the Spaniards defeated the Incas. After their arrival in Cusco they named a new Inca, he was called Manco Inca, the youngest brother of the royal Inca. Manco Inca fought against the conquistadors in Cusco, he almost defeated the invaders but then he received a message from Pizarro that the Virgin Maria was coming from the sky to kill all quechuan soldiers who wanted to kill the Spaniards. So he decided to escape to a safe place for him and his people. He first fled to Ollantaytambo, he wanted to go to Machupicchu but it was too close to Cusco so he decided on Vilcabamba, a city far away from Machu Picchu which was very difficult to get to. Manco Inca and his army arrived in 1536 and founded the new capital of the Incas.

On this trek you will really appreciate the Andean culture because you will start the trek from the tropical forest and trek through the high Andes and cloud forest and eventually reach Machu Picchu. You will visit the site of Vilcabamba itself which is visited by just a few people, only by those who are doing this trek. You will see how the last Incas only in forty years were able to build the sun temple, moon temple and palaces. You will cross one of the most beautiful mountain ranges that we have in Cusco, you can to walk on the original inca trails and most importantly you will have a real Andean adventure!.

Cusco – Ollantaytambo – Santa Maria village. (By bus only)

We will leave Cusco at 12.00p m and head towards Ollantaytambo where we will stop to have lunch and buy the last things that we might need for the trek. After lunch we will drive 2 hours to PANTIACOLA PASS which is at 4.300 msnm. It is usually cloudy at this pass. From the pass we will drive down hill to SANTA MARIA at 1900 msnm. On the way we will have spectacular views and we will see some inca ruins as this was once an inca trail between Ollantaytambo and Vilcabamba. After a 45 minute drive from the pass, we will stop at a nice viewpoint and wait for the sunset. We will see an amazing landscape of the virgin cloud forest, the river in perfect form, and you can hear the sound of the waterfalls. After sunset, little by little we will descend into the tropical valley and see some crops including tea, bananas and coca leaves. By 6.30 pm we will arrive to Santa Maria where we’ll spend the night. We’ll take you to a beautiful hostel and have dinner in one of the local restaurants.

Day 1 : Santa maria Village – Huancacalle – Vilcabamba – Camp site

After an early breakfast at 7.00 am, we will take our private van and drive 3 more hours to get to Huancacalle. Along the way we will make some short stops to visit farmland so you can see plantations where Peruvians grow coffee, cocoa, achiote, bananas, oranges, mandarines, mangoes, pineapples, papaya and the green gold of the incas – coca. You will be able to pick up some goods to take with you. Some of the wildlife we will see include birds like quetzals, humming birds and the peruvian national bird. We will pass through several small villages before arriving to huancacalle (2900 msnm) by 12.00 am. Here we meet our arrieros (horse men) and will give them the duffle bags with your stuff to be taken to the camp, so you will just need to take your day pack. At 1.30 pm we will have our first lunch with the porters. After lunch we will walk 1 hour to get to the LAST CAPITAL OF THE INCAS – it’s just amazing! Here you will really see how the Incas fled from Cusco and why they chose this place. Afterwar you will walk another 30 minutes to get to the Religious part of this Inca site named ÑUSTACHISPANAN by the Spaniards. In reality this part of the site was the Sun Temple, Moon Temple and Water Temple. There is an amazing carved rock that mystifies archeologists. They have yet to understand the significance of the rock. We will spend the night very close to the LAST CAPITAL OF THE INCAS. This is where the final 4 Incas Manco inca, Sairy tupaq, Tito Cusi upanqui and Tupaq Amaru I ruled the Inca empire until 1572. The American professor Hiram Bingham was looking for the Last Capital of the Incas when he found Machupicchu, he mistakenly believed Machu Picchu was the last capital. From the white rock we will walk 25 more minutes and then arrive at our campsite (3100 msnm) by 5.30 pm. Your tents will already be set up and we’ll have Happy hour plus dinner. Then you will sleep like a baby alpaca.

Walking distance: 5 km (2 hours)
Campsite altitude: 3,100 meters high above sea level.
Considered: Easy day (only the inca site)
Area: High cloud forest
Weather: Warm and very humid

Day 2.- Llaulliyoc – asutiyoc– raccachaca ( modrerate day)

Hot coca tea will be brought to your tent to wake you up and then you have an early breakfast at 6.30am. On our second day we start the real hike heading gradually up an ancient Inca trail which hasn’t been restored by the national park. You will see some Andean grass growing on the trail and you will really feel like the Incas did, walking on this trail. This is the big difference between the classic Inca trail and the Vilcabamba route. Here, no other groups are walking with us so we can enjoy the nature: the beautiful flowers, orchids, the birds singing and the sound of the river. Along the way we will start to see some glaciers such as POMATA at 5.500 msnm. We will arrive to our lunch spot at approx 12.00am at an altitude of 4.000msnm. Then we will hike up to the first pass at 4.200 msnm. This is a perfect photo opportunity. We will walk downhill for 2 hours from the pass where we might see some falcons and Andean geese. We will pass a couple of lakes before arriving to place call Wasichayoc at 3.400 msnm. This is where we will meet the Pacchanta river where we will stop to take more spectacular photos. We will see some farmlands with crops including the Andean potato and cereals. We might come across some llamas and sheep. Once we meet the river we will follow it to our campsite, which we will get to by 5.30 pm. We will be camping at a village called RACCACHACA AT 3.600msnm. Here there are about 10 families who still live following Inca customs and traditions and all of them are quechua language speakers.

Walking distance: 16 km (7 hours)
Campsite altitude: 3,600 meter high above sea level
Considered: Moderate day
Area: High cloud forest and the Andes
Weather: Cold

Day 3.- Raccachaca – pumaccasa- mojon – mutuypata.

We will have an early breakfast and before hiking we will visit SIMONA’S traditional house to see how these people live up to 3.600 meters high above sea level. We’ll give some grass to the guinea pigs and some gifts to the kids. Here we will have an oportunity to gain some information about the tradition and customs of the local people. From the village, it will be a steady uphill walk which will lead us over 3 passes. The first pass is called PUMACCASA at 4.500 msnma. We will have some time at this pass and will see many of the sacred birds of the Incas, including the messengers of the Incas, the CONDORS. We will keep going on the Andean flat and will see two lakes, at the second pass (4.440 msnm). We will be on the border between Vilcabamba and Santa Teresa. From here we will walk another hour on the inca flat and see spectacular views. We will encounter more lakes, birds, Andean geese, falcons, condors and also the Andean gull. We will eventually reach the last pass at 4.450 msnm. if the weather is clear and there are no clouds, we will be able to see Machu Picchu Mountain at the bottom of the mountains. On our right side will be the PUMASILLO (pumas cloud) Mountain at 5.800 msnm. For the whole day we will have been crossing the Vilcabamba Mountain Range and we will continue to do so for the duration of the day. We will walk 30 minutes downhill until we reach our lunch spot called Mojon, which is set beside a lake at 4.400msnm. After lunch we will walk five and a half hours, which is mostly downhill. On the way, we will see more Andean geese, Andean rodents, or chinchillas, and we may come across black bears/spectacled bears. By 5.30 pm we will arrive at the campsite called MUTUYPATA at 2.900 msnm in the high jungle.

Walking distance: 18 km (9 hours)
Campsite altitude: 2.900 meters high above sea level
Considered: Top day
Area: All day in the Andes Mountains
Weather: Cold and chilly

Day 4 .- Mutuypata – hot springs- aguas calientes ( easy day)

We will wake up at 6.30 am and we’ll have breakfast before starting our walk. The whole day will be spent walking gradually downhill. We will be walking in the high jungle and the tropical forest, which will be exciting for those who are interested in flora and fauna. There will be no other people walking along the way to disturb the wildlife. On this day we will see unbelievable flowers, orchids, including the forever young orchid, begonias, bromelias, strawberries and the oldest trees in the cloud forest. We will also see fauna like parrots, quetzals, tanagers and many others which your guide will point out to you. We will pass by some plantations growing bananas, coffee, passion fruits and avocados. We will even pick some fruits for lunch. Finally, as we hear the sound of the CCASCCARA RIVER, we will reach the end of the trek at PUNTA CARRETERA at 2.000 msnm. We’ll say goodbye to our horsemen with a small ceremony and change to a van to drive for one hour to get the most beautiful hot springs. These are the best and hottest hot springs in the Cusco region, called COCALMAYO(1300 msnm). While you are enjoying the hot springs, our porters will prepare the last lunch we’ll have with them. We will have two hours at the hot springs, which will be plenty of time to relax your muscles after an exhilarating hike. At 2.30 pm, we will have lunch and say good bye to our porters. We will then take a van to the HYDROELECTRIC station so we can catch our train. The last train is t 4.30 pm and takes about 45 minutes to get to AGUAS CALIENTES. We will then take you to a hotel where you can take a hot shower. After your shower we will have dinner in a restaurant and go bed early to get some rest for Macchu Picchu.

Walking distance: 11 km (4 hours)
Campsite hostel: 2000 meters high above sea level
Considered: Easy day (only down hill)
Area: High cloud forest
Weather: Warm and very humid

Day 5.- Machupicchu ( the most important day for you )

We will wake up early to get to Machu Picchu when it opens. If the group is feeling active and wants to reach to Macchu Picchu by foot, it will take an hour and 20 minutes. Alternatively, we can take the bus which takes 25 minutes. When we arrive at Machu Picchu we will get tickets to hike Huaynapicchu Mountain, which has incredible views of the entire site. The citadel opens at 6.00 am, and your guide will take you to this spot to take classic post card photos. Not many people will be at Macchu Picchu, so we’ll wait for the sunrise before heading back down for the tour. You’ll have a three hour tour of Machu Picchu and then you will have plenty of time to explore by yourself. You can climb Waynapicchu, if you have a ticket, or you can go to the sun gate. Both are at the same altitude and have almost the same views of Macchu Picchu. You will then take a bus down to Aguas Calientes at about 1:30 pm. You can stay longer if you would like, but we will be having our last lunch in Aguas Calientes, and then we will have to take the train back. We typically take the 3.00 pm train. The train takes an hour and 30 minutes to get back to Ollantaytambo and then we will go by private bus back to Cusco. We will arrive in Cusco by 6.30 pm.
If desired, an extra night in Aguas Calientes town can be arranged. (Please let us know whether you would like to stay an extra night when booking your tour.)

Walking distance: One hour up hill to machupicchu
Machupicchu’s altitude: 2,400 meter high above sea level
Considered: the most important day
Area: High cloud forest
Weather: Warm and very humid


  • Pick up from your hotel
  • Bus transportation with a nice views to Santa Maria village
  • Transportation from Santa maria Village to Huancacalle the trail head
  • One night hostel in Santa Maria Village
  • Entrance fee to Vilcabamba Inca site and the guided tour
  • 2 person tents (large and comfortable)
  • Roll mattress (carried by the horses)
  • Dining and cooking tents with tables and chairs and crockery.]
  • English speaking professional guides (2 guides for groups over 10 people)
  • Full meals including 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners, evening happy hours plus snacks.
  • First-aid kit including emergency oxygen tank
  • Chef and cooking equipment and kitchen tent
  • Horsemen and horses (to carry tents, food, cooking equipment) plus duffle bags
  • Emergency horse in case anybody gets tired
  • Boiled water every day and hot water in your plastic bottle to sleep and water for washing
  • Transfer from the end of the trek to hot springs and to Hydroelectric station
  • Train from Hydroelectric station to Aguas Calientes
  • Back Packer Tourist Train from Aguas Calientes to Ollanta and transfer back to Cusco
  • Entrance fee to Machu Picchu Archaeological Complex
  • Guided tour of Machu Picchu with plenty of time to explore on your own
  • One way bus ticket from Machu Picchu to Aguas calientes village
  • Hotel in Aguas Calientes double or triple accommodation
  • Optional climb to Huaynapicchu if there is a room.
  • We include 7 kl of your stuff – we will give you a duffle bag at the briefing


  • Upgrade Vistadome trains
  • Tips for your guides, chef, porters, horsemen
  • The first lunch in Ollantaytambo and the first dinner in Santa Maria
  • Sleeping bag


  • Good backpack
  • Good sleeping bag (can be rented from the company)
  • Hiking boots
  • Walking sticks (can be rented from the company)
  • Warm clothes (temperature changes often – you might have 4 season all in one day)
  • 4 T-shirts, sun hat, 2 pants/trousers, gloves, 4 pairs of socks, rain jacket, warm jacket
  • Camera and extra batteries
  • Sunsceen and sunglasses
  • Insect repellent (non malaria mosquitoes)
  • Rain poncho (you can buy in Cusco or on the trek)
  • Toiletries , toilet paper, towel, bathing suit (if you want to go to the hot springs)
  • Sandals are recommended to change into during the evenings
  • Scarf
  • Water bottle (water tablets not necessary)
  • Personal medical kit
  • Original passports
  • Student card (if you are student you must scan it when you are booking)
  • Flashlight
  • Some plastic bags in the rainy season
  • Some snacks like energy bars