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Ancascocha Trek 5 days is a challenging trek recommended for people with a good basic level of fitness. We will have 5 long days of trekking during which we climb to a number of high passes, including the highest point at Huayanay at just over 4,650m (15,250 ft).
In order to make the most of the daylight hours ahead of us, we will pick you up early (4-5am) from your hotel to make the 2-hour drive to the trailhead at Soqma. Your trekking crew will have got up earlier though, and they will be there ahead of us with the horses, all ready to start.
It is not long (around 2 hours) before we reach our first major photo opportunity at the Perolniyoc waterfall. Cascading hundreds of feet into a pool below us, you will hear the waterfall long before you see it. For those feeling brave, there is an opportunity to take a short walk down to the base of the falls to cool off, or you may just want to enjoy the view from the lookout point. Either way, as with all of the major view points on the trek, we will have plenty of time to enjoy the views and take photos.
The sights keeps coming, and around 30 mins after leaving the waterfall we arrive at the ancient Inca site of the same name. Like something out of a glossy history book, the ruins sit perched on top of a cliff with incredible views of the surrounding valley.
Your guide will share some history of the site, and maybe discuss what you may have read about these engineering geniuses who lived 500 years ago.
Just before lunch, we need to make a steep ascent for around an hour to Rayan at 3,700m
(9,350ft). This will be your first opportunity to sample the incredible meals that our kitchen team are able to create on the mountainside
To reach the Kuychicassa pass (4,450 m /14,596 ft) it is a challenging 3 hours hike up! But as we walk through remote Fincas where generations of farmers have tended their livestock, as we pass wild Llamas roaming on the mountain, and as the climb reveals spectacular views across snow-capped peaks, perhaps your mind will be distracted from your aching muscles! Certainly, as we rest at the summit surrounded by the Chancachuco and Sacred Valleys, your effort will feel well rewarded.
We arrive at our campsite via an easy 45-minute downhill trail. Our team will have arrived ahead of us to prepare the site, and so you can immediately rest in your tent, or change into warmer clothing and lie back to watch the sky gradually fill with the most incredible display of constellations and shooting stars (clouds permitting!)
The evening finishes with a sumptuous group dinner, where we can relax and share stories of the day before retiring for the night to rest weary limbs.
Lowest Elevation: 3,205 m/ 10,512 ft
Highest Elevation: 4,450 m /14,596 ft
Distance to walk: 18 km/10 miles
Approximate walking time: 9 to 10 hours
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Area: Dry Mountain
Every day on our trek begins with our team gently waking you with a cup of fresh coffee or tea, and a bowl of hot water to wash with. We then take breakfast together, making sure everyone is suitably fueled for the efforts of the day ahead.
Hiking with views of Mt. Veronica in the distance, we start with an undulating path for around an hour along the banks of a quiet stream, before descending for around 2.5 hours to the remote community of Ancascocha. You may well marvel at the perfectly simple way of life of these communities.
Then, continuing uphill for about an hour, incredible views emerge of the nearby glacier and well-preserved Inca remains. Finally, we reach the beautiful crystal blue Ancascocha Lake where we stop for lunch.
Taking a deep breath, we make our climb to the highest point of the trek at the Huayanay Pass (4,650 m/ 15,250 ft). This is a challenging 2-hour ascent along a steep switchback trail, but we will take our time taking in the views of the lake and valley behind us as we climb to the summit.
Day 2 ends with a 3-4 hours descent. You will notice the change from barren mountaintop to the lush green vegetation of the lower valley. On a clear day we will have distant views of the classic Inca trail to Machu Picchu as well as the communities of the Quesqa valley. We will also pass the small Inca site of Incaracay.
Finally, reaching our campsite nestled in the Quesqa valley (3,850 m/12,628 ft) dinner awaits!
Highest Elevation: 4,650 m/ 15,250 ft
Campsite elevation: 3,850 m/12,628 ft
Distance to walk: 18 km/ 10 miles
Approximate walking time: 10 hours
Level of Difficulty: Challenging
Area: Dry Mountain
Day 3, and the hiking is almost all downhill!
After breakfast, we take a 2-hour path to the Inca site of Paucarcancha where your guide will provide a comprehensive commentary about the site. We then join a section of the Classic Inca Trail for around 5 hours until we reach Km 82 (the official start of the Classic Trail). Along the way we will be able to see the Inca site of Llactapata, and this is likely to be the first time that you will have seen other hikers on the trail (although they will all be going the other way!)
At Km82 we will have lunch, and say goodbye to our trekking team. Your guide will then take you by private local van to Ollantaytambo.
After checking into the comfortable hotel that we have booked, there should be time to walk around this charming town, sampling some local cuisine, or perhaps buying some locally made souvenirs from the Artesian street sellers.
We will dine together in the evening at one of the local restaurants in town (drinks not included) before retiring for a good night’s sleep, since Day 4 starts early!
Lowest Elevation: 2,792 m/9,158 ft
Highest Elevation: 3,850 m/12,628 ft
Distance to walk: 13 km/ 7 ½ miles
Estimated walking time: 7 hours
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
After an early breakfast at your hotel, we will collect you around 6 AM to transfer you to the nearby train station. The train journey is stunning and provides yet another unique perspective of the surrounding mountains and countryside. We carve along the valley floor in the early daylight for almost 2 hours until reaching Kilometer 104, and the start of the Short Inca Trail.
Our hike starts with a 3-hour trek up to the Inca site of Wiñay Wayna (‘Forever Young’) located at 2,680m (8,792ft). After catching our breath and enjoying the views, we then join the path to Machu Picchu. Arriving at the famous Sun Gate of ‘Inti Punku’ (2,720 m / 8,920 ft) we get our first breathtaking panoramic views of this spectacular site.
Taking plenty of time to take in the view, and take some incredible photos, we walk down the last portion of the trail to reach the ancient city itself.
Saving our tour of Machu Picchu for fresh legs and fresh eyes, we take the 25-minute bus journey to Aguas Calientes. After checking into the hotel that we have booked for you, you may want to wander around the town, or even visit the hot baths after which the town is named. We then regroup for dinner at one of the great local restaurants in town (drinks not included) before retiring for a well-deserved rest, and to prepare for our early start and Machu Picchu tour.
Meals: Breafast/Box Lunch / Dinner.
Maximum altitude: 2,720 m / 8,920 ft
Minimum Altitude: 2,040 m / 6,691 ft
Distance to walk: 13 km / 8 miles
Estimated walking time: 5-6 hours
The hotel we use provides a very early buffet or boxed breakfast so that we can be in the queue for the bus as early as the group would like. It is about 25-minute drive along the winding road to Machu Picchu, and on a clear day the sunrise can be spectacular.
As we enter through the gates of this new wonder of the world, you may well be breathless again – but this time from the views of one of the most famous sites in South America, if not the world. Your guide provides a 2-hour walking tour of the site, and then you are free to wander through the ruins yourself, perhaps finding a solitary spot to just sit, look and take in the spirit of the ruins!
If you have elected to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountains (ticket not included) you can begin the hike once your guided tour concludes.
Your guide will arrange the time for you to return to Aguas Calientes by bus in time to make your train connection back to Poroy or Ollantaytambo. From here you will travel by van to Cusco and back to your hotel. Arrival times will vary depending on traffic and connections, but should be around 8 pm.
Lowest Elevation: 2,040 m/ 6,691 ft
Highest Elevation: 2,440 m/ 8,052 ft
Level of Difficulty: Easy