Cordillera Vilcanota | Perú

12 Days

A cultural journey that will guide you through the remote corners of Cusco. From the jungle to the highlands. From the lakes to the glaciers. From Incas to Aymaras. An unforgettable trip. 

The Vilcanota mountain range is located in the Cusco region. A considerably long mountain chain, hundreds of kilometers in length, home to many well-known snow-capped mountains. The most sacred being the Ausangate (sitting at 6.384 masl.)

Vilcanota and its towering peaks are a frequent destination for trekking and andinism aficionados. On top of that, it is also a unique opportunity to get to know the real locals and their customs.  

Within the Vilcanota mountain range, you will find another highlight: the Quelccaya Glacier, the largest in a tropical area. We can also admire the immensity of Lake Sibinacocha, an incredible greenish-blue body of water of glacial origins. Considered a tropical paradise, due to its spectacular landscape; surrounded by immense mountains and snow-capped mountains such as: Janapapunta, Apucuchu, Misti Chumpe and Qelca. 

Our programs for the area are very diverse. Due to the proximity to Cusco and Archeological sites in Machu Picchu and Choquequirao, there are many options for hiking and cultural trips. “Discovering Cusco” is the most traditional, less challenging, spending more days in the area. “Deep Vilcanota” is a more demanding program, including high passes and ascents during the expedition days. 

The option presented hereby includes some altitude adaptation days and then a series of accents. However, do not hesitate to ask for a taylor-made experience!

Entry requirements

A valid passport is needed for entering Peru. Passports must be valid for six months beyond the date the traveler will exit the country. US passports-holders can stay for up to 90 days without a visa. 

We recommend that a photocopy of a passport should be made before international trips. Photocopies should be kept in a location other than the actual passport, for extra security. You should also leave a copy along with your emergency contact details. 

Travel advisories

Check if there is any advice/warning issued as well as the entry requirements for your destination with your embassy. 

Transfers in Perú

Transportation during the programme is, as stated before, by private bus services. 

Arrival at the airport

When arriving in Lima, follow the signs to the arrivals terminal/building. Head to the immigration and passport control desk. You’ll be granted an entry permit in accordance with your visit. Make sure you check the expiration date so that it covers your full stay in Peru . 

After picking up your luggage, you should head towards customs. If you have nothing to declare, you can simply proceed through the gate. If you have something to declare, be sure to provide your form to the customs officer so they can scan your luggage. Whether you do or do not have something to declare, bags may be randomly searched upon exit. Once through customs, look for your combination flight to Cusco. 

Money 

The official currency in Peru is the Sol. Check current exchange rates at www.xe.com before your trip. It is essential to bring cash for the trip. ATM machines are not always reliable or might have a low daily withdrawal limit. Usually, ATMs are easy to find both in Lima and Cusco, but they become increasingly scarce as we leave urban areas. 

Most restaurants accept credit cards, but many do not. 

Food in the mountains

All the meals served during the expedition are a mix of local and regional products. We are pleased to accommodate to your diet needs and/or allergies. 

We recommend packing your snacks of choice for those long days in the mountains. The Same goes for your favorite beverages. Eating well is key for keeping your strength up out in the wild. And to cope with the loss of appetite, the best you can have is a wide variety of food at your disposal, from sweet to sour and salty. 

Hotels

In Cusco, hotels offer all the amenities you might expect: room service, laundry, wi-fi, etc. Our hotel is close to main tourist attractions, unique stores and colorful markets. Plus, it offers a comfortable place to rest in-between activities.  

Camping

During our treks and climbs we will be camping. You may find yourself waking up in your tent with a hot cup of tea delivered with a huge smile on our face, or playing cards with your new friends in the dining tent during tea-time or even enjoying an excellent meal, specially cooked by our staff. 

Travel and rescue insurance

An insurance plan is mandatory to protect yourself from the unexpected. Check with your insurance company on the details about coverage and policies. Feel free to contact us for details or in doubt.

Location: Cusco, Perú

Duration: 12 days 

Dates: May to July

Requirements: Ideal – Experience in trekking and camping. Good physical condition.

Guides and Ratio:

12 people max.

  • Professional AAGM/UIMLA Mountain Guide
  • Local guide in Machu Picchu and Choquequirao
  • Accommodation in Cusco and transfers.
  • Chef
  • Passes to Machu Picchu, Choquequirao y permits from the communities.
  • All meals as noted on the daily itinerary (see exceptions)
  • Loads transportation in mules or horses
  • Emergency-horse
  • All shared gear for the expedition (sleeping tents, stoves and cooking gear, radio, etc).
  • Private transfers from Cusco
  • Satellite communication service
  • Flights and accommodations in Lima, Perú.
  • Transportation from Lima Airport
  • Meals besides what is included on expedition days
  • Personal gear (sleeping bag, layered clothing, boots, skis)
  • Traveler insurance
  • Tips
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Some unspecified item in this programme.

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Day 1: Cusco (3400m. / 11,1150ft.) – Chikisca (1900m. / 6,233ft.) – Santa Rosa

We depart from the hotel in Cusco (5:30am) to the city of Cachora (3100m. / 10,170ft). We’ll follow a trail to the lookout in Capuliyoc (2650m. / 8,700ft.). This is the place we’ll meet our Muleteers. We will also be able to take in some incredible views of the Padreyoc Snow Mountain (5775m. /18,950ft.) and the majesty of the Apurimac river Canyon. We’ll get set for a trek to Chikiska (1900m. / 6233 ft.) and then go down to “La playa”. One hour and a half later, we’ll reach our camp in Santa Rosa (1900m. / 6233ft.)

Day 2: Santa Rosa – Marampata – Choquequirao (3033m. / 9950ft.)

After an early breakfast, we’ll begin our ascent that will take us through a beautiful forest to “Marampata” (2850m. / 9350ft.). From here, we’ll continue our walk for an hour and a half until we reach the Archeological Site of Choquequirao (3033m. / 9950ft.), which we’ll visit all afternoon till dusk. We’ll get to witness areas such as: the main square, the qolqas, the ceremonial “ushnu/ushno”, agricultural terraces, and much more. 

Day 3: Choquequirao – Chikisca – Cocamasana (2350m / 7709 ft.)

We’ll leave very early to Marampata once again. We’ll take the trail down to cross the river and begin our climb to Chikiska. The ascent from the river can be quite scorching, so we’ll take it slow and take a break to enjoy the cool water. In the afternoon we’ll continue our way up to Cocamasana (2350m. / 7709 ft.)

Day 4: Cocamasana – Capuliyoc – Cusco

From our last camp site, we’ll go up for 3 hours to the Capuliyoc high pass where our shuttle will wait for us to bring us back to Cusco. 

Day 5: Inca’s Sacred Valley

We’ll pick you up early in the morning for the guided visit to the Inca’s Sacred Valley. This is a shared tour in which we’ll visit many picturesque communities, incredible terraces and remarkable archeological sites. 

The landscape is ruled by the massive peaks of the Vilcanota mountain range. Historically, this valley has served as a place for gathering and supplying agricultural products to the city since the Inca civilization. Nowadays, it’s famous for its corn, said to have the largest kernels in the world. We’ll also visit the Pisac and Ollantaytambo communities, from where we’ll take the night train to Aguas Calientes. 

Day 6: Machu Picchu / Huayna Picchu

Visit to Machu Picchu. The iconic Machu Picchu Citadel is the most famous and well preserved Inca site of the Andean region. It was rediscovered in 1911 by American explorer Hiram Bingham, and is considered one of the most extraordinary examples of landscape architecture in the world. The citadel sits above the 2300 meters above sea level mark and offers us a magnificent view of the valley surrounded by Urumbamba river. If we book the tickets in advance, we can climb to the Huayna Picchu, the best lookout in the area. After our visit to Machu Picchu, we’ll head back to Ollantaytambo by train and then to Cusco, by bus. 

Day 7: Day off in Cusco. After a few days of heavy walking, we will need a day to rest. We can use it for doing our laundry, resting a bit and visiting the beautiful city of Cusco. Careful not to drink too much at the bar! The next day is a long one!

Day 8:  Cusco – Upis (4400m. / 14432 ft.)

We leave from Cusco very early to catch a 4hs transfer to Tinqui. We’ll leave all of our gear in our muleteer’s hands and begin our walk to the first campsite. 

Day 9: Lake Ausangate Q’ocha (4600m. / 15088 ft.). In the morning, we’ll walk to the first pass of the day, Arapa (4850 m. / 15912 ft.) and then continue through the valley of Lake Jatun Puga Q’ocha. Later, we’ll go up to the next pass, Apuchata (4900m. / 16072 ft.) and its impressive view of Lake Ausangate Q’ocha, constantly fed by the Ausangate snow mountain. 

Day 10: Lake Ausangate Q’ocha – Abra Palomani (5200m. / 17056 ft.) – Suyrocochapampa (4500 /14764 ft.)
From our campsite by the lake, we’ll go up again to the Palomani pass, the highest spot of our hike. Then we’ll traverse the following valle for a couple of hours to our destination in our next campsite.

Day 11: Suyrucochapampa – Campa Pass (5050m. / 16568 ft.) – Pacchanta (4300 / 14107 ft.)

In the morning, we’ll walk through large rocky fields with the snowy peaks of Tres Picos and Puca Punta in sight. After we go past a very small community, the trail continues Northwest to the final pass of this trip, Campa pass. From there, we’ll walk down for a few hours until we reach the town of Pacchanta, where we’ll spend our last night together in a pretty hostel. At night, we can visit hot springs with incredible views of the Ausangate.

Day 12: Pacchanta – Cusco

On the last day of the trip, depending on your schedules, we can sleep as much as we want. After breakfast we’ll shuttle back to Cusco. The End.

The itinerary hereby presented is estimative. Do not hesitate to ask for a taylor-made experience!

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