Vilcabamba Trek, the last refuge of Incas
In the shadow of the Andes mountains, hidden underneath the forbidding vegetation of the Amazon jungle, lies one of Peru’s most incredible secret treasures: Discover Vilcabamba Trek. As the location of the last vestiges of the Inca Empire before its destruction by the Spanish, Vilcabamba is a place of special symbolic and historical importance. However, due to its abandonment in the dense overgrowth of the Peruvian jungle, its exact location was a mystery for much of the last several hundred years. Only in recent decades has the city of Vilcabamba been definitively identified as the site of inca spirits near the banks of the Chontabamba River, a tributary of the Urubamba.
- Day 01: Cusco – Km 82 – Llullucha Pampa
- Day 02: Llullucha Pampa – Chaquicocha
- Day 03: Chaquicocha – Wiñaywayna
- Day 04: Wiñay Wayna – Machu Picchu – Cusco
Highlights of the Vilcabamba Trek:
Vilcabamba trek is a less commonly attempted trek that takes you away from the crowds to some remote high-altitude trails and through gorgeous mountain terrain with stupendous views in the area where the Inca made their last stand. It takes in some important Inca ruins on the first day before heading high up into the mountains and crossing at least seven passes of over 4,000 m. This challenging trek is for the more adventurous spirits and is a good option combined with a visit to Machu Picchu on the final day.
- Visiting the important Inca ruins of Vitcos
- Less common trekking route with few other tourists
- Beautiful scenery and stunning mountain views
- Succession of impressive high passes
- Easy to visit Machu Picchu on the final day
DAY 01: CUSCO- HUANCACALLE – VITCOS
To start Vilcabamba Trek, We will pick you at 5:00 am in your hotel to then drive to Huancacalle in a private bus passing through Chincheros, Urubamba Ollantaytambo, from where there are huge blocks of snow along our route will climb up to the Abra Malaga which is 4170 m. Then descend through the villages of Alfamayu, Amaybamba, Huyro, Huayopata, Quintalpata finally reach Santa Maria small town, we crossed the Urubamba River to Chaullay. From this point begins the upward path that leads to Lucuma, the district capital of Vilcabamba, Subsequently Huancacalle to arrive where we rest and have lunch, after the lunch, we will visit Vitcos and Rosaspata which is half hour walk from Huancacalle.
DAY 02: HUANCACALLE – RACACHACA.
After an early breakfast, we will start to walk up to Asutina Pass, where we’ll stop for a delicious lunch. From there, we will descend until Racachaca, where we will find a nice view of the snow-covered peak of Lasoma and then we ascend to our second campsite at Racachaca.
DAY 03: RACACHACA – MUTUYPATA.
We will wake up very early to then climb again to Pumaccasa pass, where we can see Yanacocha Lagoon. Continue Vilcabamba trek, we go up to Mojon Pass, the highest pass in our trek. We’ll see the snowy peaks of Verónica and Salkantay and also the Huayna Picchu. We will descend until Mutuypata, where we’ll find the third campsite, in this day, the trek is difficult and we can appreciate many changes in altitude, but also beautiful lakes, snowcapped mountains, waterfall and Inca Trail route.
DAY 04: MUTUYPATA – YANATILE – SANTA TERESA
Wake up early, this day is hard day and we will begin to walk by the borders of Yanatile river and one stroll in the impressive eyebrow of forest to appreciate birds of the forest, medicinal plants, snakes, butterflies and exotic fruits. We will enter to the high jungle, and the temperature change. Also , we will pass by a canyon filled with roaring water and continue by coffee plants, fruits like handle, fragmentation hand grenade, papaya, avocado, mandarin, orange, banana. which will be able to take them and to enjoy their delicious taste, and also appreciated coca leaves plantations. Arrived to the Yanatalie Village, we will take the local bus to Santa Teresa.
DAY 05: SANTA TERESA – HYDRO – AGUAS CALIENTES
After breakfast you will walk for four hours until you reach the Urubamba River and have lunch by the hydro-electric station there.
Hydrolectrica is actually farther than Machu Picchu town on the train. It is mainly used by locals. There we follow trails leading us to Aguas Calientes town located at the foothill of Machu Picchu Mountain!. Walking along the train line is much more enjoyable than we anticipated as a wide path undulates beside the tracks. Almost the entire distance is shaded by jungle foliage, trees and flowers, the incline is very gradual. Arrived to Aguas Calientes and basic hotel.
DAY 6 – MACHU PICCHU (THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY FOR YOU!)
After breakfast we will board the bus which will take us to the biggest energetic center of the Incas, “Machu Picchu”. As part of our itinerary a proffesional tour guide will teach you about all the history of this mysterious and mystical place. We will visit the Sun Temple, Royal palace, Main Temple, Three Windows Temple and Sun Dial. It will be an unforgettable experience. After the guided tour, you will have free time to explore on your own.
If you have booked Huayna picchu, you will need to coordinate with your guide for Machu Picchu visiting depending on your scheduled time to the mountain, for people not hiking any of the mountains there are some other optional activities on your own (not included in the price):
- Visit the Sun Gate: You will have an opportunity to walk (approx. 2 hours up and down) up to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku) to see Machu Picchu from a different angle.
- Hike to the Inca Bridge: The Inca Bridge offers a dose of adventure for your next Machu Picchu visit. However in this case, the adventure is a little less strenuous, but a lot more death defying, not for people with vertigo.
- Train back to Cusco: In the afternoon you will return to the train station in Aguas Calientes for the trip back to Ollantaytambo. Upon your arrival to train station you will be transferred by car to your hotel.
- Pre trek briefing with your guide 1 or 2 days before the start of the trek
- Transport from your hotel in Cusco to the initial point
- Entrance to the archaeological site of Machu Picchu
- Bilingual Spanish-English professional guide
- Professional camping equipment (Professional tents Eureka!)
- Food during the excursion (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack / vegetarian option on request and it doesn’t have extra cost).
- A cooker
- Muleteers for all our camping equipment and personal belongings of the customers (maximum of 5 kilos per person)
- A rescue horse
- A first aid kit, oxygen
- Breakfast of the 1st day and lunch of the last day in Aguas Calientes
- Sleeping bag (If you do not have one, you can rent one in Cusco)
WHAT TO BRING?
It’s best to check with your tour provider to clarify what items you should and shouldn’t bring with you on the trek. The following items will usually be recommended:
- Walking shoes and socks
- Regular pants
- T-shirts (long-sleeved and short-sleeved)
- Trekking boots
- Warm sleeping bag
- Waterproof pants and jacket
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Warm hat and mittens
- Enough snacks and water for the duration of the trek
- Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness can strike at altitudes of above around 2000 –2400 m and there is no way to tell in advance who will be affected. Vilcambamba trek rarely descends below 2000 m. where most of the time trekkers remain above 3000 m, and topping 4400 m twice. This means altitude sickness is a very real risk. The only way to prepare for strenuous activity at high altitude is to spend a few days acclimatising without exerting oneself. It is highly recommended to spend two days in Cusco before attempting this trek.
While on the trek, please drink enough water, get enough food, bring altitude pills such as Diamox, and don’t exert yourself too much.
- Physical Fitness
This is a very challenging trek involving difficult, steep sections and high altitudes. Therefore, the Vilcabamba trek should only be attempted by those in good physical condition. If possible, it is advisable to attempt shorter hikes at lower altitudes to build up fitness and conditioning in the days before attempting the Vilcabamba Trek.
Frequently Asked Questions
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How difficult is the Vilcabamba
The Vilcabamba is considered a difficult trek. It’s the longest and most strenuous trek to Machu Picchu. However, the wilderness you trek through makes up for its difficulty. No technical skills are required.
What is the scenery like on the
The trail is extremely remote and beautiful. You will walk through subtropical jungle, several Inca ruins and pass through several snow-capped peaks.
Do I need permit to hike the
Do not allow is required to trek the Vilcabamba trail, but this trek ends at Machu picchu, so its necessary to keep in mid that you can only entry to Machu Picchu with you documents and your permit (entrance ticket)
Should I Book Vilcabamba Trek in advance?
The Vilcabamba trek is not a busy trek, but we still recommend booking at least 1 month in advance. But you can ask us at least 3 days before, to buy your Machu Picchu entrance tickets.