Vilcabamba Trek to Machu Picchu (5 Days)

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Tour Details

Vilcabamba Trek to Machu Picchu is an off the beaten track trek. It offers an experience of lifetime. On this five days trek from Cusco, you will be visiting the two prominent sites of Inca. 

Filled with interesting history at every turn. You will be discovering many astonishing facts on this trek with our qualified local expert. The five days trek takes you to the ruins of Vitcos where Manco Inca II was killed. You will also be visiting Rosaspata and Nustahispana (Giant White Rock). 

We can easily consider this as one of the best alternatives to Inca Trail. It is a combination of everything. You will be rewarded with sights of Inca ruins, typical flora and fauna of the region. You will also get an overview of the life of Incas and more. 

History of Vilcabamba:

Vilcabamba, the modern name is Espiritu Pampa was the last capital of Incas. It was founded in 1539 by Manco Inca II. After winning the battle of Ollantaytambo in 1537 against Spanish intruders, he moved to Vitcos Rosaspata. This was because of its closer proximity to Cusco. 

He was certain that the Spanish troops would attack Ollantaytambo again with much force. Which they did and the Incas lost the beautiful village to Spanish rulers. He then moved to Vilcabamba in 1539 and declared it as the capital of Neo- Inca state. 

Much like Machu Picchu and Choquequirao, the complex of Vilcabamba too is quite impressive. It was in 1572 when the Spanish troops, led by Spanish Viceroy Francisco de Toledo invaded. They captured the Inca emperor, Tupac Amaru, the last monarch of Incas. 

This marked an end to Inca civilization. Fearing more attacks, they abandoned the city and moved elsewhere. In 1911, the renowned American explorer, Hiram Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu. He was on a mission to discover Vilcabamba. 

Many archaeologists and explorers tried and some did discover a part of the last capital of Incas. However the major discovery was made after an extensive work by Vincent Lee. He gave a detailed information in his book Forgotten Vilcabamba in 2000. 

History of Machu Picchu:

Machu Picchu the renowned site of Incas was built during the rule of Pachacutec. It was built as his royal estate and was home to some 750 families. Most of them were working for the royal family. 

Unlike most royal estates which are passed in the line of succession. Machu Picchu was used just for 80 years and was later abandoned. This was upon the Spanish invasion. 

The citadel depicts impressive Incan engineering. The agricultural terraces here were built on a slope of the hill to protect the citadel from landslides. 

If you are inquisitive to know more about Incas we highly recommend this five days hike from Vilcabamba to Machu Picchu. 

Why Encuentros Peru Adventure?

On any treks with us, the one thing that will stand out is our passion for outdoors. We only employ certified local travel experts as tour guides. They have extensive knowledge and are passionate about the history of Incas. You will be having a fun-filled, safe and a memorable experience with us. 

On all tours, safety is of an utmost importance to us. We operate tours in small groups. This would let our guide explain things efficiently. Do check out our reviews on Tripadvisor.

This trek involves high altitude mountain passes. We highly recommend you to spend some time in Cusco to avoid altitude sickness.

Departure & Return Location

Cusco Hotel Transfer

Departure Time

0500 AM

Price Includes

  • Pick up from your hotel.
  • Transport from Cusco to the trailhead at the beginning of the trek in private car
  • Entry fee to Vilcabamba and Machu Picchu (Huayna Picchu $15 extra)
  • English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide (you will have an assistant guide for groups over 6 people)
  • Tents – 2 people in a 4 person tent which allows for greater comfort, and also storage of backpacks
  • Basic foam mattress
  • Toilet tent
  • Toilet paper, pack-in &pack out
  • Horses (for equipment and personal items) including horsemen. They carry camping equipment, food and kitchen utensils. We provide duffel bags at your briefing for your personal items (up to 7 kg/15lbs per person)
  • 1 emergency horse which can be ridden if you are feeling ill or if are a little slower
  • First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle
  • Bus up and down from Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu
  • Train ticket (Expedition service) from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
  • Private transport from Ollantaytambo to Cusco
  • 1 night accommodation in Aguas Calientes in a basic hotel
  • Cook and Cooking equipment (Assistants are provided for larger groups)
  • Meals (optional vegetarian food). Our professional cooks prepare meals that incorporate elements of the western diet and also traditional Peruvian delicacies. (Please communicate with your guide/cook during the trek if you have a preference for certain types of dishes) Salads, if served, are washed in boiled water.
  • Celebratory dinner in Aguas Calientes
  • Dining tent with camp tables and chairs & Kitchen tent for the cook to prepare meals

Price Excludes

  • Lunch and Dinner on the last night
  • Huayna Picchu entrance fee: if you would like to climb this mountain an additional fee of US $16 per personal applies Breakfast on the first morning
  • Entrance to the thermal springs
  • Sleeping bags – If you haven’t got a sleeping bag or you don’t want the hassle of bringing one all the way to Peru with you, then we have sleeping bags for hire
  • Any Private Expenses

Recommended To Carry

  • A light day pack with a change of clothes for the whole period of the trek – prepare for a vast range of changes in temperature
  • Sandals or plastic slip on thongs are also good to give your feet a chance to breath in the evenings if you wish to carry them.
  • Warm clothes, including jacket, fleeces, gloves, scarf and beanie/touk. Thermal clothing is also recommended, especially for sleeping
  • Sleeping bag (we can hire these to you)
  • Hat or cap to protect you from the sun, rain and cold
  • Sun block
  • After-sun cream or hydrating cream for face and body
  • Insect repellent – minimum recommended 20% DEET – although no malaria risk has been reported
  • Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, raw fruits, muesli, etc.
  • Non-disposable canteen (Nalgene type) and water for the first morning.
  • Your own medical kit with any special medications that you might require, paracetamol, second skin for blisters etc
  • Small towel
  • Swimsuit (if you wish to go to the hot springs)
  • Cash in soles and/or US$
  • Original passport
  • Rain gear (jacket and pants if available) or rain poncho (plastic ponchos can be purchased in Cusco)

Day 1Cusco - Abra Malaga - Huancacalle - Pillaupata

We will be picking you up from your hotel in Cusco at 0500 AM. Then in our private transport, we will be driving you through the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo. Here we will be stopping for breakfast. 

We will then continue driving upto Abra Malaga (Malaga Pass). This is the starting point of Inca Jungle Trek. You will have an enchanting view of the valley from here. 

Then it is a short drive down to Chaullay. It is a remote farming village. From here we will drive you on the Quillabamba road to Huancacalle. Here we will be serving you lunch. 

After lunch, we will be starting the Vilcabamba Trail. We will be visiting the renowned Inca sires, Vitcos Rosaspata and Ñustahispana (White Rock). Our local expert will be explaining the prominence of each site. 

Later in the afternoon, we will be hiking on the Qhapaq Nan (Original Inca Highway) to our campsite in Pillaupata.

Day 2Pillaupata - Asutina Pass - Racachaca - Hatunpampa

We will be waking you up to a hearty breakfast. Then we will start hiking to Asutina Pass (3915 metres | 12840 feet). Along the way, we will be passing through many flora and fauna. Our guide will be explaining the use of native plantations that we will be encountering along the way. 

From the pass, you will get a panoramic view of the whole area. We will be ten continuing the trek to Pillaukasa. This is another point in the trek which offers stunning views. Depending on how we progress, we will be camping for the night either at Racachaca or Hatunpampa.

Day 3Hatunpampa - Yanacocha Pass - Mutuypata

We will be serving you a nutritious breakfast. We will then start with an uphill hike for around three hours to Yanacoccha Pass (4420 metres). From here we will be descending a bit and then hike up to Tullutacana (3340 meters). 

We will then be continuing onward to Mujun Pass. It is at (3340 meters / 10,955 feet). This part of the trek is the most challenging of the five days’ experience. 

Hiking through the beauty and tranquility of nature, we will breaching Mutuypata. We will be camping here for the night.

Day 4Mutuypata - Yanatile - Hidroeléctrica - Aguas Calientes

We will start the day after a nice breakfast. Hiking through the lush tropical plantations we will reach a remote village, Yanatile. From here we will be boarding our transport. We will be then driving you through Santa Teresa to Hidro Eletrica station. 

We will be serving you lunch upon reaching. After lunch, you will be retracing the footsteps of Hiram Bingham III when he rediscovered Machu Picchu. You will be hiking for three hours along the railway lines to Aguas Calientes town. 

You will be staying in a comfortable basic ensuite hotel room for the night. Later at night we will be meeting at a local restaurant for dinner. Here our guide will be briefing on the following days tour. 

Day 5Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cusco

We will be starting the day quite early. You will be taking the bus to Machu Picchu citadel. Upon reaching, our guide will meet you. We will assist you in passing through the security control.

Once inside the citadel, we will be giving you a complete two hours guided tour of Machu Picchu. You will be visiting prominent sites like the main square, farming terraces, remains of temples and more.

After the tour, you will have some time to explore the citadel on your own. If you have booked to climb Huayna Picchu mountain, our guide will indicate the entrance. 

You will then be taking the bus back down to Aguas Calientes town. From here, you will be boarding the train to Ollantaytambo. Our local representative will be meeting you here and will drive you back to your hotel in Cusco.

2 Reviews
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Josiah C

Solo Traveller

I have recently returned from an amazing trip to Peru, walking the Vilcabamba trek to Machu Picchu. It was a wonderful experience, made all the more special by Encuentros Peru. They added a whole new dimension to our trek, with their tremendous knowledge of Inca history.

January 17, 2022

Caris D

Group Traveller

Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and organized and the trip couldn’t have been more amazing and perfect! I have traveled all over and have had various tour guide experiences and he is by far the best I’ve experienced! I highly recommend traveling with Encuentros Peru for any tours or adventures your planning in Peru!!!

December 18, 2021

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