After breakfast we proceed to the Ollantaytambo station to board the train headed to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. Hikers disembark at km 104 where we begin our one day hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. After crossing the hanging bridge over the Urubamba River to Chachabamba we visit to this Inca site and then begin a three to four hour ascent to the spectacular ruins of Winay Wayna (“Forever Young”), an important spiritual site along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Besides being an area for cultivation of sacred crops such as the coca leaf, it is believed that Winay Wayna was used for cleansing rituals for travelers along the route, prior to their arrival into Machu Picchu. After Winay Wayna, the trail joins the classic route which other trekkers have been hiking over the previous three days. In the afternoon, the trail traverses along the contour of a forested ridge full of orchids and birdlife with dramatic views of the Urubamba River below. A final, steep and dramatic ascent up a final stairway brings you to the Intipunku, or “Gate of the Sun” where you will be rewarded with your first view of Machu Picchu.
During the first half of the day the sun behind us and around noon the sun is overhead and then moves to our front.
*Details about the One Day Inca Trail Hike
Starting elevation: 6259’ at Km. 104
Ending Elevation: 7970’ at Machu Picchu
Distance: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 2600’
Elevation loss: 890’
Time: 6 – 7 hours
From the Gate of the Sun the trail winds downhill before finally entering the sanctuary of Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is the best-known Inca site of the modern world, but little is known of its importance to the Incas. It is not mentioned in any of the Spanish chronicles and archaeologists can only speculate on its function. Though known to the Quechua peasants who lived around it, the modern world was unaware of its existence until Hiram Bingham ‘discovered’ it by accident in 1911. Over the years many archaeologists have studied it but information still remains sketchy. From the fine quality of its stonework, it is assumed that it once must have been an important ceremonial center for the Incas.
In the late afternoon you will ride the shuttle bus down to Aguas Calientes and check into one of the most tranquil and beautiful hotel properties in Peru – the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. The hotel consists of individual Spanish colonial buildings spread over 12 acres of pristine cloud forest bordered by the thundering Urubamba river and connected by pathways and free flowing water channels. The hotel grounds have been landscaped with native flowering plants of the region which has drawn many bird species including some rarely seen elsewhere in Peru. In addition to bird life, the hotel contains the largest native orchid collection in the world, over 300 species which flower in cycles throughout the year.
Note: As much as we recommend the Pueblo Hotel, you can request an optional upgrade at an additional cost to the Sanctuary Hotel, adjacent to Machu Picchu. The 1-day Inca Trail Express hike, entering Machu Picchu via the Gate of the Sun, is subject to permit availability. Book 6 months or more in advance during April-September.