Private Alternatives to the Inca Trail With Latin Excursions
By ~ Eric-Sheets
We at Latin Excursions love Peru, adore the Inca Trail and know all too well that visiting Machu Picchu is one of the most rewarding travel experiences in the world. So, imagine avoiding the crowds and enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime tour on a remote trail in the company of a private guide–keep reading to find out how!
The classic Inca Trail is a truly iconic, unforgettable adventure that leaves its mark on everybody lucky enough to do it; four days of scenic hiking through the mountains, which culminates at the Lost City. However, alternative routes to Machu Picchu do exist, are just as spectacular and, importantly, get you nicely off the beaten track, meaning an even more intimate and exclusive experience away from the sometimes busy campsites of the main trail. Because we live and breathe this part of the world, we know all of the different Inca Trail options. The Ancascocha Trekis our favorite because it can be done privately, making it even more of a meaningful bucket list experience than any other in the region.
Being so remote, Latin Excursions is one of the few companies who offer private Ancascocha Treks for just your party; great news for anyone seeking a private Inca Trail of their own. In fact, National Geographic have placed the Ancascocha Trek in their top 25 list of Best Hikes in the World. Thanks to the ever-changing landscapes, rural Andean settlements and ancient ruins you encounter along the way, it is a well deserved accolade.
Setting off from Cusco, the trailhead proper begins at Soqma, a traditional Peruvian village, aiming for the blissfully isolated Chancachuco Valley. Day one of the Ancascocha Trail leads you past the Perolniyoq waterfall and little-visited Inca ruins of Corimarca, through thick forest and out onto open, scenic plains during several hours of picturesque hiking. At the end of the day you have a well-earned camp and warming meal at Qeuñacancha to look forward to, a great spot to admire the views and reflect on your first day of exploration.
Day two of this spectacular hike has you walking for a good 6 or 7 hours. Your effort will be richly rewarded with more Inca ruins along the way. Plus, find stunning views of Mounts Huayanay and Salkantay, as well as several mountain passes to enjoy. Undoubtedly though, a real highlight of the trail comes when you reach that evening’s camp at Ancascocha Lagoon, a high-altitude lake of deep blue waters and still more of those unforgettable Andean vistas.
Day three of your Ancascocha trek, we swap aerial views and steep climbs for remote settlements and river gorges, during a day of descents along gentler, tree-lined trails. As native foliage leads the way, this penultimate day of the hike takes you past Veronica Peak, across the Sillque River and further into the Urubamba Valley, getting ever-closer to Machu Picchu itself, though you will still not see a fellow tourist in sight!
Day four starts early with a short hike to Chillca to catch the jaw-dropping train ride to km104 where you will disembark to hike a section of the classic Inca Trail seeing more preserved ruins and finishing at the Sun Gate for your first view of Machu Picchu from afar. You then hike down to the Lost City of the Inca itself. Followed by a bus ride to Aqua Calientes and well deserved night in a hotel.
Day five you return to Machu Picchu for a full immersive experience spent exploring the warren-like passages, rooms, lookouts and temples. A private tour of this wonder of the world is the only way to do it. There will be plenty of time for discoveries before returning to Aguas Calientes by bus and onward to Cusco.
Adventure Travel FAQ – While this trekking experience is not for everyone, fit hikers will find it a challenging and rewarding experience. A majority of the hiking is done above 10,000 feet, reaching as high as 15,419 feet. The total length of walking is 36 miles, or roughly 8 miles a day.
How much do you carry while trekking? The trek includes pack animals to carry tents, food and cooking equipment and personal gear up to a maximum of 9 kg per person (including sleeping pad and sleeping bag). On day 4, we include a porter to carry guest’s personal belongings directly to your hotel in Aguas Calientes. So for the most part you carry just your box lunch and personal items in a day pack.
What is the food like? Your trek chefs have been trained by several institutes in Lima, Cusco and also by chefs coming from the NY Culinary Institute. They have learned the HACCP method and their operation ensures maximum hygiene. Above all, be prepared to have a superb culinary experience during the trek, including generous and delicious breakfasts, snacks, lunches, tea services and dinners that can be adapted to your very specific requests. Menus include a variety of Peruvian and international food and also cater for vegetarian, vegan and special dietary requests.
What are the accommodations like? During the camping nights, we include personal tents: 2 people in each 4-people-capacity tent, to allow for higher comfort and a safe keeping of backpacks. Our tents are 3-season, highly maintained to ensure an excellent performance in field. Hotel nights will be from a choice of our recommended lodgings in Aquas Calientes and Cusco.
From its secluded camp sites to the timeless views, beautiful mountain scenery and no shortage of ancient ruins throughout, Ancascocha, the alternative Inca Trail, really is one of adventure travel’s best kept secrets, to be enjoyed by the hearty few like yourself.