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Vilcabamba Trek: Alternative Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (5 Days)

This is our favorite trek! If you are looking for something 100% off the beaten track but still want to visit the world famous Machu Picchu, then this is the trek for you.

USD $1,040.00

Per Person

Vilcabamba Trek: Alternative Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (5 Days)


  • Inca sites
  • Machu Picchu
  • Vilcabamba mountains
  • Diverse ecosystems


Trek through the valleys, jungles, and mountains of the Vilcabamba mountain range along an original section of the Inca Trail. Venture on this amazing journey that will take you from the last capital of the Inca to the world famous lost city of Machu Picchu! Our alternative Inca Trail to Machu Picchu will show you the sights and wonders off the literal and proverbial beaten path, giving you a unique perspective into the region.


5 Days/5 Nights


Day 1

Difficulty level: Easy
Start time: 5:00 am

Travel: 6 hour bus bus to Huancacalle
On one of the most beautiful bus rides in the area, we will be able to see various ecosystems as we head to Huancacalle. The ride also provides us with perhaps the best photo opportunities of the gorgeous Urubamba mountain range as well as the diverse flora and fauna. As we get deep into the cloud forest and the high jungle, you will see many birds such as hummingbirds and plants such as coffee, coca, and tropical fruit trees. In the afternoon we will visit the Inca complexes of Rosasapata, and Ñustah’ispana (“the white rock”).

Meals: Lunch on the way to Huancacalle and dinner at the campsite in the evening.
Accommodations: Campsite at Huancacalle (2,950 m).

Day 2

Difficulty level: Hard
Start time: 5:00 am
Travel: trekking all day
We will walk up the hill towards Hasut’ina pass (4,500 m). On this original, alternative Inca trail, we will have plenty of beautiful views of nature. We’ll also visit some local families in Racachaka village, and have the chance to visit our Ecotourism Project in Racachaka. We will Climb from 2,950 m to 4,200 m to the second highest point on the trail. Afterwards, we will descend to Racachaka.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner at the campsite. Lunch during the trek.
Accommodations: Campsite at Racachaka 3,600 m.

Day 3

Start time: 5:00 am
Difficulty Level: Very Hard- Strenuous

Travel: Trekking all day.

A steady ascent will lead us over 3 passes (over 4,500 m). From Mojon pass, we will have an incredible view of Machupicchu and the Urubamba mountain range. This climb will take us in really close to the snow-peaked mountains of  Pumasillo mountain (6,012 m) and  Sacsarayoc (6,026 m). Only spectacular views this day. Finally, we will take a 4 hour walk  down into the cloud forest to our 3rd campsite.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner at the campsite.  Lunch after the 3rd pass.

Accommodations: Campsite at Mutuypata at 3,200 m.

Other useful information: You can rent a horse from the local villagers to help you climb the mountains.

Day 4

Start time: 6:00 am
Difficulty level: Moderate

Travel: A combination of trekking, a bus ride, and a train ride.

This day mixes trekking with several other forms of transportation.  The landscape is very green as we enter into the lower tower of the high. We will begin the day with a 4-hour downhill walk which will take us to Yanatile where we will have lunch.  From Yanatile, we will take a 2-hour truck ride to Santa Teresa and Hydroelectric station. We will then hop on a train to Aguas Calientes where we will spend the night.

Meals: Breakfast at the campsite, Lunch during hike and dinner in Aguas Calientes.

Accommodations: Hotel in Aguas Calientes

Other information: In Aguas Calientes, you can relax and enjoy the thermal springs in town after a long day of trekking for just 10 soles.

Day 5

Start time: 5:00 am
Difficulty level: Easy

We will take the early morning bus to Machu Picchu. Once we get there, we will participate in a 2-hour guided walking tour around Machu Picchu. After the tour, you’ll have the option to climb 45 minutes to the top of Huayna Picchu mountain (2,720 m). Be sure to make your reservation ahead of time. This concludes our Vilcabamba Trek: Alternative Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Meals: Breakfast in Hotel in Aguas Calientes. Lunch in Aguas Calientes

Accommodations: You will be back in Cusco this evening and will need to arrange your own accommodation.

Other useful information: Your guide will give you your train tickets. The train usually leaves at 2:55 pm and arrives back in Cusco at 8.45 pm, but this is subject to change.  Alternatively, you can choose to stay an extra night in Aguas Calientes to visit the thermal springs and further explore Machu Picchu.

What’s Included

  • Professional, bilingual Tour Guide for the duration of your Vilcabamba Trek: Alternative Inca Trail to Machu Picchu trip.
  • Assistant Guide  (for groups of 9 or more people)
  • Transportation
    • bus to start of trail
    • tourist train back to Cusco
    • 2 bus tickets to/from Machu Picchu.
  • Entrance fee to Machu Picchu
  • *5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4-afternoon snacks (hot drinks, biscuits, and popcorn) and 3 dinners
    • dinner on day 4 and lunch on day 5 in Aguas Calientes are not included
  • Dining tent with tables and chairs
  • Cook + assistants (# of assistants depends on how many tourists are in the group)
  • 2-people per tent
  • Sleeping mattresses (one each)
  • Horseman and mules (to carry cooking and camping equipment and up to 10 kilos of tourist’s belongings)
  • 1 horse for emergencies
  • Trek Cleaner(s)
    • 1 for groups of 5 to 9 people
    • 2 for groups of 10 to 16 people
  • 1-night hostel accommodation in Aguas Calientes
  • Extra oxygen
  • First Aid kit
  • Porters to carry your personal belongings for the whole 5 days of the trek
  • Vegetarian/special diet options available

What’s Not Included

  • Sleeping bag rental– 5 season ($50.00)
  • Walking stick ($10)
  • Day packs ($30)
  • Hot springs in Aguas Calientes or Santa Teresa

What to Bring

  • Original passport and Student card (if applicable)
  • Sleeping bag (not included)
  • Walking boots
  • Waterproof jacket/rain poncho
  • Warm jacket
  • Hat and gloves
  • T-shirts
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Comfortable pants
  • Sun hat
  • Sun block
  • Insect Repellent
  • Toiletries
  • Personal medication
  • Camera and films
  • Flashlight with extra batteries (headlamps are useful)
  • Shorts
  • Walking stick
  • Band-aids and bandages
  • Sandals
  • Binoculars
  • Extra money
  • Bathing suit for hot springs in Aguas Calientes or Santa Teresa


Important Notes

Difficulty level: Strenuous. The Vilcabamba Trek: Alternative Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is high altitude and will include steep climbs and long days.

The train included in all tours is the Cerrojo backpacker. Train times will only be confirmed once the tour is paid in full. During the high season (June to September), the earliest train you could take is the 1:37 pm and the last train is at 9:20 pm. Train times are subject to change depending on Peru rail time table and availability. If organized in advance, the train can be upgraded to Vistadome (larger windows) for an additional cost. Additionally, we will organize the transport back to Cusco (by taxi or by bus).

Vilcabamba, Cusco, Peru

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Vilcabamba, Cusco, Peru -13.120199, -72.976321

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What Happens After I Book?

After you book your experience, you will receive a confirmation email from us confirming that your payment went through. You will then be connected directly to the tour operator, in case you have any further questions. We are also happy to answer any questions about the tour, or travel in general in your country of destination.

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