Gold Journey: Trek to Machu PicchuExplore the Andes on a trek to Machu Picchu, Peru

Intensity
6/10

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About the trip

Explore the spectacular trail to Machu Picchu! Follow the footsteps of the Incas who built a high route from their capital city of Cuzco westward through the rugged cordillera, and filled their empire with amazing temples and royal residences. You will camp high, and discover the beauty of tranquil Andean valleys with sublime views toward the 18,000-foot snowpeaks of the Urubamba and Huayanay Ranges. You will also explore amazing Inca stoneworks in an enormous 15th century quarry site of Cachiqata. After descending into the Sacred Valley of the Incas you will reach the royal Inca town of Ollantaytambo, with its remarkable sun temple. On your final day of the trek, travel to Machu Picchu by train for a full exploration of the famous city.

THE MOONSTONE TRAIL

This little-known route is fast becoming one of our favorite alternatives to the better-known traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. During four hiking days you cover 24 miles, starting at 10,575 feet, and finishing at 9,315 feet above sea level. You cross two high passes, with a maximum elevation of 15,170 feet. While trail conditions are generally good, some steep trail sections require careful footing and good hiking boots with sturdy soles. 

ROUTE PLANNING

True to the spirit of the Adventurous Journey, students will plan the backpacking routes and make decisions on campsites. 

ITINERARY QUICKVIEW

DAY 1

Welcome to Cusco

DAY 2

Experience Peruvian Culture

DAY 3 - 7

Backpack the Moonstone Trail to Machu Picchu

DAY 8

Final Day in Peru

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Info
Level 6/10

Pricing & Package

PRICE

4 students: $3,490 per person

5 students: $3,035 per person

6 students: $2,735 per person

7 students: $2,505 per person

8 students: $2,275 per person

9 students: $2,155 per person

10 students: $2,040 per person

11 students: $1,950 per person

12 students: $1,925 per person

13 students: $1,905 per person

14 students: $1,850 per person

15 students: $1,790 per person

16 students: $1,725 per person

17 students: $1,675 per person

18 students: $1,625 per person

19 students: $1,580 per person

20 students: $1,540 per person

SERVICES INCLUDE

  • Trip development, planning coordination and execution
  • Licensed and certified Discover Outdoors guides
  • All breakfasts in Cusco
  • Transportation from Cusco Airport to Hotel
  • Half day cultural tour in Cusco
  • All trail fees
  • Machu Picchu entry fee
  • Local naturalist guide and wranglers
  • Rail transportation from Machu Picchu to Cusco 
  • Basecamp support
  • Hotel accommodations on first, second and last nights
  • Camp cooking equipment
  • Tents
  • Airport transfers
  • Transportation throughout journey
  • Liability insurance
  • 3 day, 2 night practice journey (not including train tickets)

SEASONED GUIDES

You will be led by professional trail guides dedicated to providing safe and educational experiences. Our guides are trained in wilderness medicine and are seasoned leaders, demonstrating good judgement, technical expertise, and environmental consciousness. Our guides are ever aware of your needs and work hard to make your trip successful.

ACCOMMODATIONS IN CUSCO

During your first two nights, you will stay in a boutique hotel nestled in the heart of Cusco. Here you will experience the unparalleled sensation of living in a cozy, rustic Andean hotel where every detail is special. Located just a block-and-a-half from the Main Square of Cusco, the hotel is surrounded by restaurants and stores, providing easy access to the most important tourist attractions such as Koricancha Temple and the Cathedral of Cusco. The hotel provides all modern amenities such as internet access, full laundry service and traditional peruvian breakfasts.

Practice Journey

Test your knowledge and your gear on a local 3-day, 2-night practice journey. Choose from Harriman State Park or Fahnestock State Park to fine tune your teamwork and skills. Transportation to the journey is by train. Train tickets are not included.

Trip Planning

FLIGHTS

The ideal travel plan will have you taking the redeye on the evening the night before your first day of the trip, arriving in Lima the next morning. The first day is scheduled to be a relaxing day in Cusco while your body acclimatizes. Even if you choose to take a nap to make up for lost sleep on the redeye, your body will be getting used to the higher elevation. On the return flight, you can either book a flight in the morning of the last day to get home on the same day, or spend more time in Cusco and take the redeye back.

Once you book your flights, email Discover Outdoors your itinerary and we will coordinate your transfers.

PACKING

If you are unsure of what to bring, give us a call or send us an email. Our staff is happy to help ensure you are comfortably outfitted for your trip. 

WEATHER

Cusco has well-defined seasons. From June to September, while Andean winter days are typically sunny and warm, the temperature can drop to below freezing (27°F/-3°C) at night in our high camps. Rain seldom falls during winter. From January to March, the Andean summer months offer daytime temperatures to 85°F/30°C, milder nights (typically to 45°F/8°C) and plenty of rain. Despite some rain, December and April are among our favorite months for trekking, since the mountains are lush with summer flowers and you enjoy plenty of sunshine. Departures during Andean spring (October through December) and autumn (April and May) offer weather patterns intermediate between these seasonal extremes.

CLOTHING

Expect a wide range of temperature and precipitation on your program. In high mountain environments, you must be prepared for inclement weather at any time. Even at mid-day, if clouds obscure the sun, the temperature cools dramatically. By packing a system of thin, independent layers of clothing, you can easily add or remove layers to remain comfortable as conditions change throughout the day. Most trekkers leave camp in the morning wearing a cold-weather layer over T-shirt and shorts. At the first rest stop, after you have warmed up a bit, remove a layer and continue in hot-weather clothing until the temperature cools off later in the day. At all times, carry rain-gear in your day-pack.

A time-tested strategy is to plan your day-time trekking layers (which will get dirty, and which remain with you, either on you or in your daypack during the warmer parts of the day); and a set of clean camp clothes, starting with full-length thermal underwear. On arrival in camp, change from your trail clothes to your clean, dry camp clothes. In the morning, change into your trekking gear, and pack your camp clothes to stay dry.

Basic clothing list: underwear, socks, light hiking boots, sneakers for around camp, loose-fitting long pants or wind-pants, shorts, T-shirts, long-sleeved shirt, Polarfleece jacket, full rain gear, sun hat, bathing suit, gloves and ski-type hat.

OTHER GEAR

Essential: Day pack, winter-weight (rated to 20 degrees or zero) sleeping bag, one-liter water bottle (Nalgene or similar), headlamp or flashlight, sunglasses, sunscreen, toilet kit, insect repellent. 

Optional: pocket knife, sewing kit, iodine-type water purification pills, camera and film, binoculars, paperback book, snacks and/or energy bars. 

We will provide a heavy-duty, 4,100-cubic-inch trail duffel, Thermarest sleeping pad, tents and communal camping gear. The guide carries a hand-pump water filter; all drinking water is filtered and treated with iodine.

Weight Restriction: Packhorses carry up to 30 pounds of your personal gear. If your packed duffel exceeds 30 pounds in weight (including sleeping bag and pad) at the trailhead, you will have to transfer excess weight from your duffel to your daypack.

Rental sleeping bag: $35. We provide mummy-style, winter-weight synthetic-fill sleeping bags, with sheet liners. We launder the liners between each trek. If you are taller than six feet, please request an extra-long bag.

MEDICAL ISSUES

While no vaccinations are mandatory for entering Peru, and no official is likely to demand to see proof of your vaccination against any disease, some protection is prudent. Consult your physician or local travelers clinic for the latest recommendations. For general travel, the most common recommended vaccinations or boosters are against tetanus, typhoid/diphtheria, Hepatitis A, and polio. The World Health Organization does not recommend vaccination against cholera. If you are visiting the Amazon before or after your trek, ask about yellow fever and chloroquine-resistant malaria. Some countries (notably Brazil) require travelers to show proof of a valid Yellow fever vaccination when arriving from Peru.