Andes & Altiplano Trek

Andes & Altiplano Trek information and booking

from
$3390
  • Duration
    22 days
    Days
  • Group size
    8-16
    Persons
  • Difficulty
    Moderate
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Schedule Details

Summary
  • 22 day trip
  • 7 & 4 day treks
  • 12 nights hotel
  • 9 nights camping
Equipment Required
Specialist gear required include walking boots and day pack (a comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking).

Highlights

  • The splendor of Cusco with its churches, cathedrals, plazas, markets and cultural heritage
  • Walking in the beautiful Sacred Valley to view ancient Inca salt pans
  • Explore the stunning Andean wilderness with dramatic mountain views whilst trekking on remote trails, before joining the final day of the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
  • Visit Machu Picchu on two occasions and at the best times of day
  • Lake Titicaca – Island Homestay
  • Trekking the high Andean altiplano in the spectacular Condoriri region of the Bolivian Cordillera Real
  • Sightseeing in La Paz
  • 3 hearty meals a day on trek prepared by our cooks

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

Trekking in the Andes is an exhilarating experience, as anyone who has trekked with us would testify. After savouring the historical and cultural highlights of Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas, whilst taking our time acclimatising, we commence our trek. For seven days we explore the Andean wilderness following trails to the soaring heights of the Cordillera Vilcabamba and establishing camp beneath the awesome flanks of 6220m Salcantay. This stunning trail is less trodden than the busier Inca Trail and is highly regarded by past trekkers. On the final day we join the legendary Inca Trail for the dramatic post card view of Machu Picchu from the 'Sun Gate'. Machu Picchu is a startling reminder of the rich and vibrant Inca empire that once flourished in the 15th century. Travelling across the Altiplano via Lake Titicaca we continue into Bolivia and begin our four day trek in the spectacular Condoriri region. Surrounded by the flanks of the Cordillera Real (Royal Mountains) we explore this sensational valley before continuing onto the Spanish colonial style capital of La Paz to capture the cultural pulse of Bolivia.

What's included

  • 21 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 9 dinners
  • Airport transfers if arriving on day 1 and departing on day 22
  • Expert bilingual guide
  • Group medical kit
  • Private internal transportation
  • Gear pack including sleeping bag, fibre filled jacket and sleeping mat
  • Group camping equipment
  • Porters to carry personal gear
  • Sightseeing and site entrance fees as listed (including machu picchu entrance fee)

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Lima
You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel where you are free to rest in the hotel or just wander around Miraflores, the area of Lima where our hotel is located. Some of Lima's best galleries and shops and restaurants are found in this area. Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima is the oldest capital in South America, with a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture. If you have time to visit a museum we would recommend the Museo de La Nacion or the Larco Herrera Museum.
Day 2 Flight across the Andes to Cusco.
Early morning wake-up call (in some cases very early as most flights leave for Cusco early morning!) for breakfast and short drive to the airport for the flight to Cusco. You'll be met by your guide and transferred from Cusco airport to our hotel for a short initial briefing and then a few hours of rest, essential to initiate successful acclimatisation. In the evening you'll have a longer briefing to discuss aspects of the itinerary and in particular the trek.
Day 3 After breakfast we take a tour of the city and nearby ruins.
Every alleyway we enter or corner we turn brings another surprise or enigma in the form of the superbly constructed Inca walls or the more architecturally extravagant colonial churches and palaces. The city, once capital of the extensive Inca Empire, has seen many changes since Francisco Pizarro's men took the city with such apparent ease in November 1533. We also take a short drive to visit the monolithic walls of Sacsayhuaman, spectacularly set above the city. In the afternoon you may have time to explore some of the central parts of the city and a chance to look at some of the great varieties of local craft work on sale in open air stalls and shop.
Day 4 Drive and walk down into the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
We leave Cusco and head to the Chinchero Plateau from where we get impressive views of three mountain ranges. We then walk down through the remarkable Inca Salt Pans below Maras. We end up in the Sacred valley near a good restaurant where we can savour dishes made with locally grown produce. After a leisurely lunch we head for our hotel in the valley. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy beauty of this famous valley.
Day 5 Second day in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Another day in this beautiful place. The valley actually follows the course of the famous Urubamba River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River. During our time in the here we visit some of the enthralling citadels, fortresses and temple ruins that are found along the valley including the site at Ollantaytambo. The village itself is a fascinating mixture of Inca and Colonial architecture. If the weather is good and we have time we can enjoy some short walks in the valley - a good way to prepare for the trek ahead. The evening is spent preparing for the trek at our hotel in the heart of the valley.
Day 6 On the trail to Salcantay and Machu Picchu.
Early morning departure for the beautiful 5-hour drive north to the trailhead at Mollepata 11,200' (3,400m), where we meet up with the muleskinners and their pack animals. After a picnic lunch we start hiking (3 to 4 hours) steadily upwards towards our first night's campsite below Soraypampa 12,300' (3,750m). We also get our first views of Salcantay's sister peak - Humantay 19,700' (5,950m).
Day 7 Trek up the valley between Salcantay and Humantay.
Early in the morning we have a wake-up call with a cup of tea brought to our tent. A relatively early start to the day's hiking begins just after breakfast. Up to the lunch spot will involve about 3 hours of hiking steadily gaining altitude. We stop for lunch at Salcantaypampa 13,600 (4,150m), set at the foot of an enormous glacial moraine. Two or three more hours of steady hiking after lunch brings us to Ichupata 14,400' (4,400m), set on the flanks of the great 20,574' (6,271m) peak, Salcantay ('The Maker of the Skies') which dominates the skyline for most of the trekking days. This camp tends to be fairly cold because of its proximity to the Salcantay Massif, but since our pack animals and cooks will have set out earlier, we should find the camp already set up and a fresh pot of tea awaiting our arrival!
Day 8 Trek over Incachiriasca pass to Acobamba
After a hearty cooked breakfast we set off for the first and, at 15,970' (4,870m), the highest pass - Incachiriasca. Superbly set on one of Salcantay's ridges, this 'classic' mountain pass affords wonderful views of the dramatic surroundings. After a relaxing photo stop and rest at the pass, we start to head down to follow the ancient trail to our next camp set on a lovely little plateau at Acobamba above Sisaypampa.
Day 9 Descend to Paucarcancha and up to the village of Q'esca.
From the foot of Salcantay at Acobamba we descend the Pampacahuana valley with its small and primitive shepherds homes and its impressive pre Inca canal to the fairly extensive set of ruins at Paucarcancha set at around 11,000' (3,350m). After a short visit to this outpost of the Inca empire we start to trek up a beautiful hanging valley, through the village of Q'esca towards the Ancascocha Pass. We camp just above this small village – home to shepherds and potato farmers. (We might also consider staying higher up and taking an alternative route to Quesca) Camp.
Day 10 Trek over the Ancascocha Pass 15,400' (4,695m).
Another early morning as we say farewell to the Q'esqa valley and start climbing up to our second pass. Called Ancascocha Casa - this pass affords us superb views of three mountain ranges including the Vilcabamba, Vilcanota and Urubamba. From the pass we descend fairly steeply past two lovely lakes - from above we often see large trout in their deep waters - to the village of Ancascocha itself. We camp near this classic farming village.
Day 11 Descend to the Sacred Valley at Chilca.
From Ancascocha we head down a narrow valley whose rivers run right down into the mighty Amazon. As we descend the vegetation becomes less alpine and we start to encounter larger trees - a good chance to spot some of the most common Andean birds in this region - black throated flowerpiercer, great sapphire wing, rusty fronted canastero, creamy crested spine tail, and, if we remember to look up, the Andean condor - the heaviest flying bird in the world! Near the end of our days trek we reach Hatunrumiyoq which affords us perfect views of the large snow peak of Veronica - 19,500' (5,980m). We camp near the large village of Chilca. If time permits the cooks will prepare a 'pachamanca' - a traditional feast of meat and potatoes cooked in the ground.
Day 12 Train from Chilca to Kilometre 104 and trek into Machu Picchu.
After a good night's sleep at this lower altitude, and an early breakfast, we start the last day of the trek. Early morning trek down to railway at Chilca and then take the tourist train to Kilometre 104 on the railway line. From here we trek up to join the last few hours of the fabulous Inca trail to Machu Picchu. On the way we'll take time out to explore the recently cleared extensive ruins of Wiñay Wayna. Our walk today takes along an incredibly well preserved section of the trail all impressively set in high jungle. We finally reach Inti Punku (The Gateway to the Sun) awe-inspiringly set above the 'lost city' of Machu Picchu before heading down past great walls made of impossibly large stone blocks and staircases to the this monumental site. Your first view of the ruins really does take your breath away! After a brief 'first look' at the ruins, we head down by bus to our hotel in Aguas Calientes for a well deserved soak in the nearby hot springs (optional).
Day 13 Explore Machu Picchu then return to Cusco.
Today we start early to thoroughly explore these remarkable and truly enigmatic ruins. After a professionally led tour of the site we're free to explore the rest of the amazing sights. Mid-afternoon we depart from Machu Picchu for the extremely pretty train ride back to Ollantaytambo where we transfer to our vehicle for the drive back to Cusco. Here we transfer to our hotel for two nights.
Day 14 Cusco - free day.
A good day to relax, do your washing and re pack after the trek and perhaps a chance to do some 'tourist shopping', selecting from a great variety of expertly made craft work - including alpaca sweaters and hats, ceramics, weavings and traditional Andean instruments. In the evening we prepare for the next stage of our journey through the Andes.
Day 15 Overland journey to Puno and Lake Titicaca.
We depart early in the morning for the 6 to 8 hour journey by private vehicle to Puno set on the shores of Lake Titicaca at 12,630' (3,820m). The road takes us south along the great valley below Cusco and then as we head further south we start to climb towards the great continental divide at La Raya. To the east we see some of the strange peaks of the Carabaya Range. From the pass we descend quickly onto the vast dry altiplano with its isolated villages and herds of Andean camelid including the alpaca and vicuña. Our first glimpses of lake Titicaca remind us that this is hardly a lake - its more like a vast inland sea that also happens to be the highest navigable lake in the world! The fact that we travel by private vehicle means we can stop where we wish during this fascinating journey (this is a tremendous advantage over the many companies who use public transport for this unique drive). We spend our night at our hotel in Puno.
Day 16 Uros Islands, Copacabana and the Island of the Sun.
Puno is a typical high Andean town, set on the great altiplano that surrounds the lake and stretches all the way to La Paz. After breakfast we head down to the old lake port with its century old steamers still tied up at the wharf. From here we board small motor boat to cruise out to visit the famous Uros Islands. These islands often given the misnomer of 'floating islands' are in fact tortora reed mats that grow out of the shallower waters of the vast bay of Puno. The islands have for centuries been occupied by the small Uros community who continue their traditional methods of 'farming' and fishing the lake. We return to Puno and set off in a private vehicle for a spectacular 3 hour drive round the shore of the lake and into Bolivia to the town of Copacabana beautifully set right on the shores of the lake. Once again we board a small motor boat and head out to the mythical Island of the Sun where we spend a night in lovely little 'albergue' on the island. Before the evening meal we re pack our bags for the next part of our trek!
Day 17 Boat to Copacabana and drive to Tuni to start trek.
After an early wake up call and breakfast we walk down to the small quay and take our boat back to the shore at Copacabana from where we board our private vehicle for the drive via the straits of Tiquina (the narrowest part of the lake where our vehicle crosses by barge and we by small motor launch) to trailhead in the Cordillera Real at Tuni 14,100' (4300mts). We have a picnic lunch and while the camp staff load the llamas and mules with our camp gear we start walking along a lovely high trail to our camp near the shores of Lake Condoriri 15200' (4,630m). This must be one of the loveliest campsites in the Andes surrounded by huge glaciers and snow peaks.
Day 18 Day walks at Condoriri.
After a leisurely breakfast we spend the day on short day walks in the Condoriri area. Depending on weather conditions we might be able to trek up the side of one of the glaciers that head up to the peaks of Pequeño Alapamayo and 'No Name' Peak. In the afternoon we have a relaxing lunch at the lake near our camp.
Day 19 Trek to Leoncia Lake via two high passes
Today we wake early for breakfast and while the staff break camp we start climbing up to the first of two high passes - Condiriri Casa 16,730' (5,100m) & Leoncio Casa 15,740' (4,800m) - between Condoriri and one of Bolivia's highest mountains - the impressive Huayna Potosi 19,950' (6080m). The walking today can be demanding but we make sure that we start early to give us plenty of time to deal with walking at these high altitudes. We camp near the lake at Leoncio.
Day 20 Trek to Chacapampa and drive to La Paz
Our last day of trekking takes us down a lovely family with small farming communities. We often will come across small deep pits dug in the pastures - evidence. These are used by the local people to make moraya - a type of freeze dried potato. We end up in a deep green valley where we are met by our private vehicle for the impressive drive to La Paz. On the way we zig-zag up towards the great road pass at Zongo - one of the highest in the world where we get superb views of the flanks of Huayna Potosi. The last part of our drive is equally impressive as we descend sharply off the high altiplano into the great natural bowl that is the setting for the highest 'capital' city in the world - La Paz. We spend two nights in our hotel in this fascinating high altitude city.
Day 21 Morning walking tour of the city of La Paz.
We spend the morning in this fascinating city visiting its many local and tourist markets and one of its museums. The afternoon is free for you to explore the city. On the last evening after a farewell meal we can visit one of the superb 'peñas', live music clubs to watch a variety of excellent bands and soloists playing the magical traditional Andean instruments. La Paz has a reputation as the centre of Andean traditional music.
Day 22 Trip concludes in La Paz
After checking out of your hotel you will be transferred (if requested) to La Paz airport where your services end. If you are staying on in La Paz there is a chance to join an optional tour to the ruins of Tiahuanacu or the highest 'ski-resort' in the world at Chacaltaya.