The Inca Trail Discovery is a slight variation on the Classic Inca Trail. And it’s a fantastic alternative for families and those who prefer a more relaxed pace. Although the trek follows the same route, you’ll hike slightly shorter distances each day. What’s more, traditional campsites are avoided in favour of more secluded options.
Unlike the four-day Classic Inca Trail, the Discovery program takes five days. It includes three nights camping and one night in Aguas Calientes. The hikes average six to seven hours each day. And you will have plenty of time to explore the Inca sites along the way and soak up the surrounding scenery. On the fourth afternoon you will cross the stone threshold of Intipunku (Sun Gate), arriving at Machu Picchu after the bulk of the day visitors have normally left.
After a restful night in the town of Aguas Calientes, return to Machu Picchu the following morning for a guided exploration of the citadel. And if you wish, you can hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. After all, this is a once in a lifetime experience – why rush it?
If you like the idea of avoiding crowds consider one of the excellent alternatives in the Cuzco region. Choquequirao and Salkantay are fabulous options but attract far fewer tourists than the Inca Trail. Or if camping isn’t for you, why not try an excellent lodge-to-lodge option like the Lares Trail?
Get in touch with one of our experts today and find out which trek is right for you!
Arrive in Cuzco Airport and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to relax and acclimatise to the altitude. Your guide will meet you at your hotel this evening for a pre-trek briefing.
Depart through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the trailhead; trek to your camp near the terraces of Llaqtapata. (3-4hrs, 6km)
Continue up the Cusichaca Valley walking into the Andean community of Huayllabamba. The trail ascends steeply to a large Pampa below the first pass. (8hrs, 12km).
A steady walk up to the Warmiwañusca pass at 4,200m affords a magnificent view of our ascent. You will descend to Pacaymayo then trek up to the ruins of Runkuracay. From here, walk down to the site at Sayacmarca, passing a dry lake – a beautiful location overlooking the Aobamba Valley. Continuing along the trail, arrive at Phuyupatamarca (the village on the edge of the clouds). (8hrs, 15km.)
Explore the wondrous maze of Inca stone towers, fountains and stairways spilling down the mountainside at Phuyupatamarca then begin a long descent through ever-changing layers of cloud forest. An Inca stairway partly cut from living granite leads us finally to the site of Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young), the largest and most exquisite of the Inca Trail sites.
In the afternoon we follow the last stretch of trail across a steep mountainside through a lush, humid cloud-forest of giant ferns and broad-leaf vegetation. Suddenly we cross the stone threshold of Intipunku (Sun Gate) and encounter an unforgettable sweep of natural beauty and human artistry –a backdrop of twisting gorge and forested peaks framing the magical city of Machu Picchu. (5 – 6 hours, 11km)
Early this morning, board the mini bus for a second trip to the ruins with your entry and a tour included. As dawn breaks, watch the mist rise over the top of the mountain citadel, a truly unforgettable experience. Explore the ruins at your own pace before returning to Cuzco by train this afternoon.
Transfer from your hotel to the airport for your onward flight.