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Vilcabamba trail taking you deep into the Cordillera mountains KANDOO |  Vilcabamba trail taking you deep into the Cordillera mountains
Vilcabamba trail taking you deep into the Cordillera mountains KANDOO |  Vilcabamba trail taking you deep into the Cordillera mountains
VILCABAMBA TRAIL TAKING YOU DEEP INTO THE CORDILLERA MOUNTAINS KANDOO | VILCABAMBA TRAIL TAKING YOU DEEP INTO THE CORDILLERA MOUNTAINS
Vilcabamba trail taking you deep into the Cordillera mountains KANDOO |  Vilcabamba trail taking you deep into the Cordillera mountains
Vilcabamba trail taking you deep into the Cordillera mountains KANDOO |  Vilcabamba trail taking you deep into the Cordillera mountains
VILCABAMBA TRAIL TAKING YOU DEEP INTO THE CORDILLERA MOUNTAINS KANDOO | VILCABAMBA TRAIL TAKING YOU DEEP INTO THE CORDILLERA MOUNTAINS
Vilcabamba trail taking you deep into the Cordillera mountains KANDOO |  Vilcabamba trail taking you deep into the Cordillera mountains

Highlights of the Vilcabamba trail


A tough hike taking you deep into the Cordillera mountains
Remote and quiet route with exceptional mountain views
Fascinating variety of plant and animal life
Finishes with a full tour of Machu Picchu
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About the Vilcabamba Trail to Machu Picchu

This five day trek takes you right off the beaten track and far into the jungle where the Incas made their last stand against the Spanish. As well as enjoying a wealth of flora, fauna, snow peaks and impressive valleys, trekkers visit some of the last domains of the great Inca empire, and trek along some excellent examples of the Qhapaq Ñan – the royal roads of the Incas.

The route runs through the sparsely populated Cordillera Vilcabamba, which looks much the same as when Hiram Bingham first explored here a century ago. This trek is not for the faint of heart or weak of legs, crossing three consecutive high mountain passes before descending into the jungle. The trek ends with a short walk or train ride from Machu Picchu.

Some of the days on this trek can be quite long and tiring. If you are unsure of your fitness we can easily extend this trek by an additional day.

Detailed Itinerary for the Vilcabamba trail

Day 1Arrival

We'll send a Kandoo representative to meet you at the airport in Cuzco, then take you to your hotel.  

Cuzco is well worth an afternoon's exploration, but remember that it is nearly 3 1/2 kilometres above sea level, and you'll need a bit of practice before you can exert yourself comfortably.

Day 2Acclimatisation day in and around Cuzco

Cuzco itself is one of the highest points of your entire trek, so it is a good idea to take a day to get used to the thin air. 

We will be happy to arrange either full- or half-day tours of the city (payable locally)

Day 3Drive from Cuzco to Huancacalle, trek to Pillaopata

We leave Cuzco at 4 am this morning to transfer to our trek start point, passing through the scenic Sacred Valley.  We stop for a break in the village of Ollantaytambo, before ascending up a steep winding road to reach the pass at Abra Malaga (4315m).  We descend down to Chaullay (1890m) before heading towards Huancacalle where we will have our lunch. From here we can trek to the archaeological sites of Vitcos-Rosaspata and the Ñustahispana (or White Rock). After hiking for a further hour and a half, we will reach our campsite at Pillaopata.

  • Elevation: From 3400 metres to 3100 metres
  • Trekking distance: 5 kilometres
  • Trek time: 3 to 4 hours
  • Highest point: 4315 metres (Abra Malaga Pass)
Day 4From Pillaopata to Racachaca

After an early breakfast we begin our trek up to the Asutina Pass (3915m) after which we descend quickly along well-preserved Inca Roads to Pillaukasa (3860m).  From here we have wonderful views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks of Lasoma as we leave the high jungle and arrive in the Andes.The views are everything you would expect, especially of Lasoma's snow-capped peaks!  We spend the night at Racachaca.

  • Elevation: From 3100 metres to 3800 metres
  • Trekking distance: 9 kilometres
  • Trek time: 8 to 9 hours
  • Highest point: 3915 metres (Asuntina Pass)
Day 5From Racachaca to Lajo

Day five is a demanding one. We'll ascend over three high mountain passes and descend through the valleys between.

Our first waypoint is Hatun Pampa at 3860 metres, then on to Yanococha Pass at 4420 metres. Next, a steep descent to Yanacocha lake and up the other side of the valley to Tullu Tacanca Pass at 4500 metres. The third pass is Abra Mojon, the highest at 45210m. Finally we will descend to our campsite at Lajo.

  • Elevation: From 3570 metres to 3800 metres
  • Trekking distance: 14 kilometres
  • Trek time: 9 to 10 hours
  • Highest point: 4510 metres (Abra Mojon Pass)
Day 6From Lajo to Yanatile, drive to hydro-electric station, trek to Aguas Calientes

It is back down into the jungle today through deep canyons which are planted with fruit, coffee and granadilla.

Once we arrive at Yanatile, we'll go via private vehicle to the hydro-electric power station, where we will set off again on foot to Aguas Calientes.

  • Elevation: From 3800 metres to 2050 metres
  • Trekking distance: 10 kilometres
  • Trek time: 6 to 7 hours
Day 7Tour of the ruins at Machu Picchu

Day seven sees us taking the bus to the ruins of Machu Picchu. We begin with a guided tour of the ancient city that lasts around 2 hours, after which you will have some time to explore on your own. If you are feeling energetic, you can climb Huayna Picchu, the mountain behind Machu Picchu. You will need a permit to climb the mountain, which must be booked in advance.

From Aguas Calientes we go to Ollantaytambo by train, then we'll take you to your hotel in Cuzco.

Day 8Departure

We'll take you to the airport via private transfer for your flight home.

FAQs about the Vilcabamba trail

Q1HOW DIFFICULT IS THE VILCABAMBA TREK?

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.

Q2WHAT IS THE DISTANCE OF THE VILCABAMBA TREK?

The rough distance of the trek is 30 miles or 48 kilometres.

Q3WHAT IS THE SCENERY LIKE ON THE VILCABAMBA TREK?

The trail is extremely remote and beautiful. You will walk through sub-tropic jungle, several Inca ruins and pass through several snow-capped peaks.

Q4DO I NEED A PERMIT TO HIKE THE VILCABAMBA TREK?

No permit is required to trek the Vilcabamba trail.

Q5SHOULD I BOOK IN ADVANCE?

The Vilcabamba trek is not a busy trek, but we still recommend booking at least 1 month in advance.

Q6WHEN IS THE HIGH SEASON FOR THE VILCABAMBA TREK?

The high season for the Vilcabamba is from May to September (dry period).

Speak with an expert Start planning your next adventure by contacting one of our team.
Sarah BW

Sarah Orson

Adventure Travel Consultant

Phone: +44 (0) 1283 499980

RB BW crop sml

Rachael Bode

Adventure Travel Consultant

Phone: + 44 (0) 1283 499982

SK BW crop sml

Sharon King

Adventure Travel Consultant

Phone: +44 (0) 1283 499981

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