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Machu Picchu, Peru

Two Week Trip

May 15 - May 26, 2018 -- $2300 ★★★★★

In its declaration of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu as a World Heritage Site, UNESCO describes this archaeological gem as "among the greatest artistic, architectural and land use achievements anywhere." It's also a fantastic hiking destination! Tucked away in the Peruvian Andes at just under 8,000 feet, Machu Picchu provides hikers a glorious cultural masterpiece in a magnificent natural mountain landscape with unrivaled views (when it's not foggy!).

Constructed in the 15th century, Machu Picchu was an important religious, agricultural, and astronomical center for the Incan Empire until it was abandoned during the Spanish conquest a century later. The meticulously planned complex features some 200 structures intricately interwoven into the fabric of the beautiful natural environment, divided into an upper residential area and lower agricultural area of precise stone terraces, demonstrating the Inca's deep understanding of agriculture, archaeology, land use, and astronomy. Its location on the eastern slope of the Andes, at the juncture of the mountainous region and the upper Amazon basin, lends it an astounding diversity of microclimates, habitats, wildlife, and plant ecosystems.

On this trip, hikers will be rewarded with a visit to this great wonder of the world after an 8-day hike passing the much larger but far less-visited site known as Choquequirao. Having only excavated about one third of its ruins, archaeologists estimate the size of Choquequirao at 2-3 times larger than Machu Picchu! It is also thought to be one of the last sites of Inca resistance under the emperor Manco Inca against the invading Spanish. With a potential gondola being planned to provide easier access, now is the time to experience this well-preserved ruin before it is swarmed by tourists!

From the town of Cachora, we will ascend into the Andes and arrive at the hidden ruins of Choquequirao on the third day, taking time to visit the majestic temples and terraces and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and hopefully legendary Andean condors. Over the next four days, our hike continues over high mountain passes southwest of Machu Picchu, offering unique views of the famous ruins and rejuvenating baths in nearby natural hot springs, until we finally reach the town of Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu village). From there we will day-hike the ancient stone steps to the Citadel itself.


Weather is always an important concern when hiking. We will be hiking in a wide range of altitudes and climates, so we need to be prepared for daytime temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures as low as freezing. In addition, we must be prepared for rain, mist, and biting insects.

Trip Leaders

Dan Shafto
Rick Romine


$2300 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a hotel/motel room with another participant during the 5 front country nights. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Cusco, personal equipment, restaurant dinners eaten off the trail and any gratuities for guides.

Covered expenses include 5 hotel nights, 7 days of trail meals (all meals from lunch on Friday May 18th through breakfast Friday May 25th), ground transportation, insurance, 2 awesome Fitpacking guides, and local Peruvian guides and porters.


Due to variability of terrain, trail conditions, weather, and altitude, this hike will be extremely strenuous. We will be hiking between elevations of 3,500 and 14,240 feet, covering almost 10 miles many days, and ascending and descending many thousands of feet. One day in particular includes an ascent of 5,000 feet. Some trails will be narrow with steep drop-offs.

Important Notes

Due to the vicissitudes of operating in a foreign country, details about this trip may change.

From Friday 18th - Friday 25th, our Peruvean Guide Simeon will provide 4-person tents which are shared by 2 people each. These and all the food, chairs, tables, and blankets (or mats) are carried by horsepack.

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Guides for this trip
Important Note
Difficulty (Please Read)
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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Fly to Cusco, Peru (CUZ) elevation 11,200 feet.

Meet Fitpacking guides at hotel TBD.

Equipment shakedown

Trail mix distribution

"Before" measurements taken

Time permitting: Visit the Centro Histórico and Plaza de Armas.

Go out to welcome dinner at a local restaurant (Dinner not included in trip cost)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Second set of "before" measurements taken

Have breakfast near hotel (not included in trip cost)

Go on an acclimatizing day trip by bus to the town of Písac (9700 feet) in the lower Sacred Valley of the Incas. Tour the ruins of Písac. Eat lunch on hike.

Take a bus back to the hotel in Cusco.

Rest a bit before going out for group dinner (not included in trip cost).

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Have breakfast near hotel

Acclimate by touring various sites in Cusco.

Visit the ruins of Sacsayhuamán, known for their masterful stone craftsmanship (elevation 12,142 ft)

Have lunch in the historical center of Cusco. Visit La Casa Concha, which houses many Machu Picchu artifacts

Meet our local guide Simeon.


Go out for group dinner (not included in trip cost).

Friday, May 18, 2018

Cusco - Cachora - Chiquisca - La Playa Rosalinda

Store whatever frontcountry items we don't need for the hike at the hotel.

Depart hotel at 6am and take a bus 3.5 hours on the paved highway from Cusco to Cachora. Here we will begin our hike, descending down the valley of Cachora with a phenomenal view of Apurímac Canyon and the glaciated mountains, descending to the level of the Apurímac River, where we camp for the night (elevation 4800 feet).

Highest elevation today: 9700 feet

Distance today: 9.5 miles. Total: 9.5 miles.

Possible bailout: Cachora

Saturday, May 19, 2018

La Playa Rosalinda - Marampata

This is the most difficult day, as we ascend from 4800 feet to 10,170 feet. For that reason, we will leave camp around 5am, before the sun rises. There are local people here who offer horses for rent in case anyone wants to ride instead of hike. We will arrive to our camp at Marampata (9400 feet) around midday, then have lunch. In the afternoon we will day hike to the archeological zone of Choquequirao, lower sector and living quarters before hiking back to camp for the night.

Distance today: 9 miles. Total: 18.5 miles

Highest elevation today: 10,170 feet (Choquequirao)

Possible bailout: Cachora (about a 1-day hike)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Marampata - Choquequirao - Marampata

After breakfast we will day hike back to Choquequirao and visit the lower sector, terraces, and baths of the Inca. At midday, we will have lunch and a short siesta. After our rest, we will visit the upper part of Choquequirao, including the Temples of the Condor, the Llama, Aqllas, the High Priests, the Sacred Plaza, and the observatory, where we can view the mountainous landscape and typical Andean condor nesting areas. Return by the same route to our camp for the night.

Highest elevation today: 10,170 feet (Choquequirao)

Distance today: 2 miles. Total: 20.5 miles.

Possible bailout: Villa Los Loros Choquequirao Lodge (about a 1-day hike) or Cachora (about a 2-day hike)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Choquequirao - Maizal

Leave camp at 6:30am and hike down to a river crossing (elevation 6200 feet) around midday. Enjoy lunch by the river. During the afternoon, we will ascend to camp at Maizal, arriving in time for dinner.

Highest elevation today: 10,500 feet

Distance today: 8 miles. Total: 28.5 miles.

Possible bailout: Villa Los Loros Choquequirao Lodge (about a 1-day hike) or Cachora (about a 2-day hike)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Maizal - Yanama

After breakfast we will ascend to the highest point on our trek, the Yanama mountain pass, elevation 14,240 feet. Enjoy marvelous views of the mountains and the network of Inca trails. Have lunch at the pass, then descend a few hours to camp (elevation 12,630 feet).

Highest elevation today: 14,240 feet

Distance today: 6 miles. Total: 34.5 miles.

Possible bailout: Cachora (about a 2-day hike)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Yanama - Totora - La Playa Sahuayaco

After breakfast we will hike over varied terrain, ascending and descending a few hours until lunch. After lunch we will take a bus one hour before hiking down to camp. After setting up camp (elevation 11,000 feet), we have the option of descending to a nearby hot springs by taking a bus 1 hour there and 2 hours back. (Transportation and entrance to hot spring not included in trip price.)

Highest elevation today: 12,630 feet

Distance today: 5 miles. Total: 39.5 miles.

Possible bailout: La Playa Sahuayaco

Thursday, May 24, 2018

La Playa Sahuayaco - Intipata - Aguas Calientes

After breakfast we will ascend via an old Inca route to the archaeological site Intipata, where we will enjoy wonderful views of the sanctuary of Machu Picchu and have lunch. Then we will descend a couple hours to the town of Hidroeléctrica, and from there walk to Aguas Calientes (option of taking a bus instead). Enjoy a restaurant dinner (not included in trip cost) and hotel (included) in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Village, elevation 6700 feet).

Distance today: 6 (or 11) miles. Total: 45.5 (or 50.5) miles.

Highest elevation today: 11,000 feet

Possible bailout: La Playa Sahuayaco, Hidroeléctrica (Centro Médico EGEMSA), Aguas Calientes

Friday, May 25, 2018

Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco

We have the option of accessing Machu Picchu either on foot by ascending 1300 feet of very steep ancient stone steps, or by taking a bus up the windy road. If we wish to hike up, we will have a quick breakfast, store our heavy packs (yay!), and depart at 5 am to ascend to Machu Picchu (elevation 8000 feet) with a small daypack. If we wish to take the bus, we can leave at 5:30am.

Once inside the sanctuary, we will enjoy a 2-hour guided tour of Machu Picchu. We will then have a few hours to explore the ruins on our own. There is also the option of ascending one hour up the steep and exposed path to Wayna Picchu (elevation 8835 feet), from which one can see the Machu Picchu complex in all its splendor below. Special advance permits are required for this, so we'd need to arrange this ahead of time and spend less time exploring Machu Picchu itself.

Distance today: 3 miles. Total: 48.5 (or 53.5) miles.

Highest elevation today: 8835 feet

Possible bailout: Aguas Calientes

Descend by bus to Aguas Calientes, then take a train to Ollantaytambo (there are no roads!). From Ollantaytambo we will take a bus back to Cusco (elevation 11,200 feet) to conclude our tour.

Check into hotel TBD.

Go out for celebratory group dinner (not included in trip cost)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Check out of hotel

Depart Cusco Airport (CUZ) for Lima and home

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This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.