The HUCHUY QOSQO TREK is a beautiful, short trail that ends in Machu Picchu.
If you have limited time this is an excellent and moderate alternative trek to take. Though the trek is shorter than most others, you see lakes, llama and alpaca herds, small local villages, views of the Sacred Valley, and views of snow-capped mountains. Huchuy Qosqo (Small Cusco) crosses the high altiplano north of Cusco City with lakes like Qoricocha (Golden Lake) and small villages of llama herders where life continues untouched by the modern world, and finishes at the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo, high above the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
There are beautiful views overlooking the Sacred Valley, with Salkantay’s snow capped peak dominating the western horizon. On the trail we will see small villages with mud brick (adobe) houses, and many locals still wear traditional dress. Minimum passengers necessary for trek departure: 2 people (1 person or private/custom treks possible with extra fee). Maximum trekkers per group: 10 people (special, private party groups can exceed maximum).
The Nitty Gritty Trek Details
Moderate, high altitude
Fairly quiet, can be a bit crowded in high season
When to Go
DAY 1: TAMBOMACHAY – PUKUMARCA
We leave Cusco at 6:00am for the 25 minute drive to Tambomachay (3,700m/12,139ft) in our private transport and will have snacks as we drive. We start our hike walking along part of an original Inka Trail used by Incan people to get to the Sacred Valley and probably to Machu Picchu. From this point you can observe panoramic views of Cusco and the Valley of Qorao. We will pass by ancient Inkan terraces before climbing to the first pass of the day (4,180m/13,714ft). As we descend we see beautiful green valleys before hiking up to the second pass (4,300 m/14,108ft)) and into high open country and Lake Qoricocha (Golden Lake). We descend 20 minutes to our lunch spot. After lunch we continue hiking to the highest point (4,380m/14,370ft) where we will have a view of Chincheros, the lake Piuray and snow-capped mountains Salkantay and Veronica. After hiking two more passes we walk downhill to Pucamamarca (3,980m/13,058ft) where we will camp for the night. Walking distance approximately 16 km/9.9 miles (8-9 hours hike).
DAY 2: HUCHUY QOSCO – LAMAY – OLLANTAYTAMBO – AGUAS CALIENTES
We wake up early at 6:00am, have breakfast, and begin our 1 hour hike to the recently restored Huchuy Qosqo ruins (3,450m/11,319ft). Along the way we see lots of flora and fauna as well as panoramic views of Lamay Valley and Calca, Willcamayo (the sacred river of the Inkas), and mountains such as Chicon, Pitusiray, Sawasiray, Waccaywilca and Veronica. Your guide will give you a 1.5 hour tour of the site and then you will have free time to visit and explore the complex on your own. Huchuy Qosqo was originally an administrative and military center, and included granaries called Collcas to store and preserve food, because it was also an important agricultural center. By 10:00 am we continue our hike for nearly 2-hours downhill where we will have lunch. After lunch our private vehicle will take us to Ollantaytambo where we will take the train to Aguas Calientes. After we arrive in Aguas Calientes your guide will take you to your three star Hostel where you can rest and freshen up before dinner. You can also visit the hot springs before or after dinner if you wish. Walking distance approximately 12km/7.5mi (5-6 hour hike).
DAY 3: AGUAS CALIENTES – MACHU PICCHU – OLLANTAYTAMBO – CUSCO
- Meals: Breakfast in the hotel, snacks on the tour
- Overnight: Not Included
- There are no bathrooms in the ruin site. There are bathrooms right outside the entrance, cost is 1 sol per entrance, and they provide a little toilet paper. If you leave close to the time your ticket expires it is likely they will not permit re-entry.
- You are allowed to take in a small backpack (under 20L)
- They are no longer allowing box lunches to be brought into the ruin site. We recommend bringing extra snacks (we provide snacks too) or going down to Aguas Calientes for lunch and returning depending on how much time you’ve booked in Machu Picchu
- They no longer allow plastic water bottles so please come prepared with water bladders/reusable water bottle(s)
- Please do not climb on or deface the rocks or leave trash/debris of any kind.
- Our recommendation is to add one extra time slot to allow for more time in the Ruin Site (with or without an extra hike).
Machu Picchu Entrance Times: in 2019 they changed to 3 time slots with only 2800 people allowed to enter Machu Picchu each day (down from 4000 in 2018)
- First Entrance: 6am to 10am
- Second Entrance: 9am to 1pm
- Third Entrance: 12pm to closing
- Note: there will potentially be 4-5 entrance times in future years
- Due to COVID19 – current capacity in Machu Picchu is has been varying based on outbreak numbers. Expect reduced capacity in 2021, extra hike closures, and difficulty obtaining time slots – we recommend booking early
HIKES WITHIN MACHU PICCHU
There are hikes within Machu Picchu that you can do on your own if you wish. The hikes that do not require an entrance ticket are The Inka bridge and the Sun Gate (where the Inka Trail ends with a view of Machu Picchu city), although these may become subject to permits and charges in 2021. Further, all permitted hikes are subject to closure due to weather, erosion, pandemic/epidemic, etc.
Wayna Picchu Mountain and Machu Picchu Mountain hikes both require a paid ticket and there are a limited number of spots (200 at 7am and 200 at 10am). If you want to hike one of these please let us know well in advance as these spots fill up very quickly. Please note we cannot guarantee you a spot for the mountains requiring tickets and that the trail is very steep and slippery and not for those afraid of heights or with vertigo).
We recommend the 10am time slot as Machu Picchu tends to be cloudy in the morning. You are only allowed to hike one of these mountains on a given day so if you would like to do both you would need to return the next day to hike the other one.
- Wayna Picchu Mtn Hike: most popular and well known. It is a slightly shorter hike than the other one and is the mountain you see in the famous shots of Machu Picchu. It is very steep and slippery in several spots. Some parts of the trail are extremely narrow stone steps/paths and in some areas there are only chains to hold onto. Other areas there are wooden ladders to ascend/descend over steep drops. From the top you can see the city from above on a clear day – and see how it was built in the shape of a Condor. This hike also has the Temple of the Moon if you choose to hike around the back to see this small ruin. This one takes about 50 minutes to hike up and 45 minutes down (not including time to explore at the top or Temple of the Moon).
- Machu Picchu Mtn Hike: this one is slightly longer and less steep than Wayna Picchu. It has stunning views of the ruin city, Urubamba river below, and snow-capped peaks in the distance. Fewer people do this hike so you’ll encounter fewer tourists. This one can take about an hour and ten minutes to hike up and about an hour back down. It is higher than the other mountain and has more areas on top where you can sit and relax.
INCLUDED ON THE TRAIL
- Pre-Trek briefing the night before the trek to go over the itinerary, meet your guide(s) and answer any questions
- Collection from your hotel in the morning or our departure point, Plaza Regocijo, (your choice)
- Private bus transport to the start of the trek
- Personal porter up to 8 kg/17.6 lbs to carry your overnight gear
- Dry bag in which to put your overnight gear so it won’t get wet or dusty on the trail
- 3 person, 4 season tents (2 people in large and comfortable Mountain Hardwear tent)
- One inch thick foam mattress pad
- English speaking professional guide
- Entrance ticket to Huchuy Qosco Archaeological Complex
- Dining tent with tables and stools.
- Full meals on the trek (3 meals per day, tea time every afternoon, and snacks on the trail)
- Dietary needs: able to cater to any dietary preference/need
- First-aid kit including emergency oxygen tank
- Chef and cooking equipment and kitchen tent
- Toilet, toilet tent, and toilet paper
- Horsemen and horses (to carry tents, food, cooking equipment, and your duffel bags)
- Hot water every morning and evening for hand washing purposes
- Boiled/purified water to fill your water bottle every morning and afternoon
- Round trip tourist train: Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu and back
- Round-trip bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and back
- One entrance fee to Machu Picchu Archaeological Complex (First entrance time: 6am to 10am)
- Guided tour of Machu Picchu
- Hotel (double room) in Aguas Calientes and dinner in a local restaurant
- Private transport back to your hotel in Cusco
NOT INCLUDED ON THE TRAIL
- Hotel before/after trek
- Lunch and dinner on the last day
- Sleeping bags and walking poles (poles must have intact rubber bottoms)
- Entrance to hot springs
- Extra hikes within Machu Picchu: Wayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain – please note if you choose this option we cannot guarantee a spot will be available. We recommend booking well in advance for these hikes.
- Extra time slot in Machu Picchu (in 2019 the government split the entrance ticket into three time slots. We include the first one 6-10am)
- Items of a personal nature and souvenirs
- Travel interruption & travel medical/evacuation insurance (required)
- Tip for your guide(s) are optional but highly encouraged if you enjoy your trek
PRICE AND NUMBER OF TREKKERS
A minimum of 2 trekkers required for this trek. Maximum of 10 trekkers in a group.
- Price for 6-10 trekkers: 670 USD per person
- Price for 3-5 trekkers: 730 USD per person
- Price for 2 trekkers: 875 USD per person
Private treks, single trekker, custom treks, large groups, and packages welcome! Please email us to customize.
COVID 19 PRACTICES
We take your health and that of our staff very seriously. We adhere to the recommended rules as outlined by the Peruvian Government, including border closures, trail closures, face-covering orders, quarantine orders, negative COVID19 test results, and the eventual need for proof of COVID19 vaccination. We have instituted a number of increased hygiene precautions for food preparation and treks/tours. Face coverings will be worn at all times by the guide/staff and are required of guests in towns and ruin sites and anywhere else it is mandated per Peruvian rules. Social distancing will be observed to the best of our ability, especially along the trail if you wish to remove face coverings while hiking. Increased hand hygiene will be practiced and temperatures checked daily. Anyone exhibiting COVID19 symptoms will need to self-quarantine.
Yes, we do cater to any dietary restriction. We have had many people join our trips who are vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, and have various other intolerances and/or allergies. Just inform us well in advance of your specific needs!
WHEN TO GO AND DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
Year round. This trek is rated a moderate/intermediate hike considering the high altitudes and length of walking especially on the 1st Day. It is recommended that you acclimatize in Cusco for at least 2-3 days before trekking.
WEATHER & WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR TREK
Weather on the trek and in Cusco
The weather varies a lot across Peru, having 28 climates and 84 of the worlds 104 ecosystems. Cusco is set high up (3,380 mts, 11,089 ft) in the Andean Mountain Range and the dry season (winter) is from Mar/April to October/November with the wettest part of the year (summer) being December through March. The weather for trekking is pretty much the same year round, with the main difference being the amount of rainfall. During the dry season, most days are dry and clear, but high-altitude mountains always have the potential for rain and/or snow so it is essential to come prepared for all types of weather regardless of the time of year.
The Huchuy Qosqo trek is high altitude, therefore the weather can be quite cold and unpredictable. The nights on this trek are usually around 20F/-7C. During the day it can get quite warm if the sun is out; anywhere from 60-75F/15-24C. Keep in mind, if the weather is rainy or cloudy it will be colder, and that the weather can change in an instant, particularly when up at the high-altitude passes. It is often quite windy at the top of the passes as well. As with any high-altitude trek you’ll need to bring plenty of layers to adjust to the fluctuating temperatures and conditions as well as appropriate sun/rain protection.
Cusco weather: Cusco is always very cold at night due to the high altitude. It is regularly around 40F/4.4C at night so bring a nice warm jacket for nighttime walking in town. It is warmer in Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley and Aguas Calientes as these areas are lower altitudes than Cusco and the trek.
What to bring: for your trek
Everything you need for the day should be kept in your daypack that you carry because all the items you leave with your porter will not be available to you until the evening at the campsite. It is recommended not to hike in cotton or jeans in the event of rain as cotton takes a very long time to dry. It is also recommended to bring true hiking boots or trail running shoes as regular running shoes do not get very good traction, especially when it has rained.
- Sleeping bags and walking poles (poles must have intact rubber bottoms)
- Recommend a sleeping bag rated for 20F/-7C or below for this trek
- Sleeping bag liner (for your sleeping bag if you wish)
- Mattress pad – while we provide a mattress pad, being rested is essential for a great hiking experience and we find that sleep habits are very individualized. Therefore we recommend bringing your own pad that you know you are comfortable sleeping on, as well as any other sleep items you might want to have (camp pillow, etc).
- Sunscreen: the sun is very strong in Cusco
- Sun hat
- Lip balm
- Hiking shoes/boots with good, grippy tread
- Optional: microspikes in case of excessive snowfall (rare)
- Hiking pants (or shorts) and shirts (layers)
- Layers – long underwear and/or warm sleep pants for cold nights
- Hand warmers if you wish
- Warm hat, gloves, scarf and thick warm socks (or you can buy a traditional Peruvian hat and scarf – they are beautiful!)
- Daypack and rain cover
- Rain gear – rain jacket and rain pants (optional for the pants), can buy an inexpensive poncho before the trek
- Cash for tipping porters (USD or Peruvian Soles are fine), cooks, horsemen, guides, buying items along the trail, for in town, emergencies, etc. Note: Cash should be in perfect condition (ripped, damaged bills of any kind are NOT accepted anywhere in Peru)
- Swim suit, flip flops, towel for any hot springs you may visit (not every trek/trip has this) if you wish to go
- Torch/flashlight/headlamp (and batteries)
- Insect repellent for the Machu Picchu portion of this trip
- Hand sanitizer and face covering (for COVID-19 Pandemic)
- Extra snacks if you wish (beyond snacks provided by us)
- E.g. if you have a favorite protein bar as Cusco doesn’t sell items like this
- First aid kit, including blister protection (though your guide will have one, you may wish to carry one of your own)
- Personal medication and toiletries you might want/need
- Camera, extra memory cards, batteries and solar panel/power bank
- Water bottle or water bladder to refill
- Passport (must be valid 6 months past your final travel dates for most countries)
- Copies of passport (keep copies separate, give to travel friends to keep, etc)
- Power plug adapter
- Travel lock(s) approved by TSA (or they cut them off – US only)
- Tickets, itinerary, emergency contact information
- Any medications you currently are taking or need/may need (see suggestions below)
- Small quick-dry pak towels and/or compostable wipes for a quick wipe down at the end of the day
What to bring: medications – medications are optional and depend on your specific needs
- Antibiotic for travelers diarrhea or UTI
- Antibiotic for a severe bacterial infection
- Medication for upset stomach/indigestion
- Medication for prevention of altitude sickness (requires a prescription from your physician and has contraindications for certain people and potential side effects)
- Anti-inflammatory medication (some people find this is useful for prevention of altitude sickness as well. Speak with your physician for more information)
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Anti-nausea medication for motion sickness/altitude sickness if needed
- Cold/flu medication
- General pain killer/fever reducer
- Vaccinations – recommend bringing all boosters up to date (MMR, tetanus, etc)
- COVID19 negative test result (currently within 72 hours of departure) and eventually will likely need a COVID19 vaccination card
We have blogged about what we bring and you can use it as a general guideline if you wish: What To Pack For Peru Trekking
View latest travel advisories and recommended vaccinations and medications for the regions you plan to visit. For Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu there are generally no vaccinations required. If you are going to the jungle or any other higher risk area you may need: yellow fever vaccine, medicine for malaria, typhoid vaccine, etc. Click here for updated info: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/peru.aspx NOTE: Please consider visiting your doctor several weeks before your trip to discuss any health restrictions you may have, medications he/she might recommend for you personally, and to seek more information about any vaccinations or medications recommended for Peru (or any of your other destinations). Additionally: speak with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter and/or prescription medications alone or combined.
WHAT TO CARRY - DAYPACK
On the trail you should carry a day pack with your camera, water bottle or bladder, snacks, hand sanitizer, face mask, cold weather clothing and rain gear or poncho in case of rain (unlikely in dry season – May to October) and anything you will need before dinner as horses do not walk alongside you. A recommended packing list is sent after you book the trip and can be found below under the “what to pack for your trek” tab. We will provide you with a dry bag for your overnight gear to be carried by horses. Your bag will be waiting for you at every campsite. Yes we do offer luggage storage and most hotels/hostels in Cusco also offer this service.
PAYMENT & PASSPORT INFO
Deposit: A 400 USD deposit will be charged to your card when you book the trek. This allows us to purchase time-sensitive items such as train tickets and entrance fees. This is non-refundable.
Payment of Balance: The balance of the trek is due 60 days prior to departure and will be auto-debited via the booking software system on that date. If you wish to pay early, or use a different card to the one you have on file, you may do so by clicking on the reservation number in your confirmation email and entering the pin that was provided to you in the original confirmation email. If you wish to make other arrangements (e.g. pay cash in Cusco), please contact us. Please note if you book your trip within 60 days of departure, the balance of the trek will be auto-debited the next day. If you do not wish this to happen please contact us.
Passport: We need a photo of your passport bio page in order to book the above items in your name (Peruvian Government Requirement). Please note that each traveler is responsible for knowing the re-entry rules for their country of residence/citizenship. Some countries require 6 months of passport validity beyond the final date of travel. Please ensure that your passport is up to date and meets your country and residency requirements. We can use an old/expiring passport to book your tickets but we will need a copy of the updated passport as soon as you receive it in order to update your tickets.
Visa’s: Most countries are allowed to obtain a visa upon entry at immigration. Very few countries require a visa to be granted in advance. Please note that each traveler is responsible for finding out and obtaining a visa prior to entry if required. Please also note that tourist visas are for 90 days or less (typically) and you must show proof of return travel.
Please review our booking terms carefully.
- The minimum number of trekkers required for departure is 6 for the price quoted online. If the minimum is not met within 2 weeks of departure, Killa Expeditions reserves the right to offer the 1-2 paid trekkers the option of 1) paying the difference to take a private trek, 2) transferring their payment to another trek with more trekkers booked, or 3) cancel the trek and provide a full refund. Please contact us with questions.
- At the time of booking only a deposit is charged. The trek deposit is required to secure your spot on a trek and is non-refundable. It is used to purchase non-refundable items such as train tickets, Machu Picchu entrance tickets, etc. The balance of the trek is due within 60 days of departure.
- Cancellations: Initial deposit is non-refundable. You may cancel your booking by notifying Killa Expeditions or Agent used and the applicable cancellation fees shall be determined based on when the request is received by Killa Expeditions or Agent. (a) Cancellation received 60 days or more before departure of the first Product to depart in relevant booking: 60% of the Product total shall be refunded to you (Inca Trail excepted where 25% of the Inca Trail product total shall be refunded to you). (b) Cancellation received 59-30 days before departure of first Product to depart in relevant booking: an amount equal to 25% of the total Product shall be refunded to you. (Inca Trail excepted where no refund is payable). (c) Cancellation less than 30 days before departure of first Product to depart in relevant booking: no refund shall be payable to you.
- Travel Medical Insurance: is required to depart on any trek (including emergency evacuation coverage and high altitude hiking). We also suggest travel interruption insurance in the event of inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances that may arise. Killa Expeditions is not responsible for losses incurred due to any travel interruption (ex: weather/natural phenomena, missed/delayed/canceled flight, acts of war/terrorism, pandemics/epidemics, strikes, etc.), passport, visa, family emergency, or illness/medical issues.
- Please be advised that due to COVID19 pandemic and any subsequent variants – there may be border closures, quarantine measures, changes in entry requirements, etc. We will do our best to change your trek to a different date if issues arise that are outside of our control on our end. Please note you may also be required to show proof of a negative COVID19 test within 72 hours of departure and potentially a vaccination card once vaccines are widely available. As these terms change we will alert travelers to the new regulations.
- For Full Terms and Conditions please see the policy linked at the bottom of our website in the footer. It is also available to read during the checkout process. https://killaexpeditions.com/terms-conditions-peru/
Helping Local Children or Andean People (Optional) Along certain treks we may encounter some local children and Andean people. If you wish to lend a helping hand you may bring some clothes, toys, books and school equipment (used or new), toiletries and other essentials, and new/sealed medication for a variety of ailments. You will be rewarded with their gratitude and beautiful smiles. Please do not give candy or sweets as they do not have access to dental/medical care and tooth decay can lead to serious illness.
For those who wish to help but take a trek that does not pass local people or villages you can leave your donated items with a Killa Expeditions representative and we will distribute them to one of the local communities that we support. You can also set up a day to visit a local community to donate your items personally! There are a variety of other ways in which to lend a helping hand to local communities (charity events, building schools, and much more). We support several local communities so if interested please get in touch!
WHY CHOOSE KILLA EXPEDITIONS?
ETHICAL, SUSTAINABLE, ECO-FRIENDLY Our mission is to provide exceptional treks, tours, and adventure trips with a strong commitment to environmentally responsible, sustainable, ethical, and socially conscious travel. During our trips, we make every effort to minimize negative impacts and maximize the benefits to the local people and natural environments we visit. We pay fair, livable wages, ensuring we hire and maintain the absolute best guides and support staff. We are committed to international sustainable tourism guidelines and have developed ongoing community projects and charity events supporting 4+ local Andean communities.
EXCELLENCE We pride ourselves on providing 5 star service before, during, and after your trip. Killa Expeditions is dedicated to excellent customer service and adventure experiences. We have been awarded the 2017, 2018 & 2019 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence!
QUALITY When trekking through rugged mountain terrain, at high altitudes, with unpredictable weather, it is essential to have the best equipment available. We provide Mountain Hardwear 4 season tents (3 season for Inca Trail due to warmer weather), extra thick mattress pads, dry bags for your overnight gear, and more, to ensure a safe and pleasant journey.
NO HIDDEN COSTS Our treks and tours are truly 5 star and all inclusive. We do not charge extra to “upgrade” as we offer the best option included in the price already. There are no hidden meal costs, we are transparent about all inclusions, and best of all no booking fees!
SMALL GROUPS Our groups average about 8 guests per departure, and are typically a mix of solo travellers, friends travelling together, and couples, all of varying ages, backgrounds and nationalities. Come prepared to make lots of new best friends. If you book a custom/private large group we provide 1 guide per 8 travelers, ensuring a small group feel and specialized attention.
GOURMET Only the best, quality ingredients are selected from local farmers. Our chefs prepare a specially designed menu to maximize energy and facilitate acclimatization. And the dishes, a mix of traditional Peruvian cuisine and contemporary cuisines, are delicious too! And yes, we cater to any dietary need.
PERSONALIZED We can customize any trek or tour to suit your travel, fitness, budget, and time preferences. Got a corporate or work shindig, charity group, or other major event you’d like to book a trek or tour for? Get in touch, we can arrange everything for you!
LEAVE NO TRACE Our trips leave behind nothing but smiles and footprints, as it should be.
REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE We love our planet, which is why we reduce, reuse and recycle. Our gear is reusable (no paper or plastic plates/cups/utensils), we buy local goods that do not come in paper/plastic wrapping, and we recycle everything we can. This is not the norm in Peru but we hope to help it become the norm one day soon!
PASSIONATE All of our employees are passionate about what they do. Who wouldn’t be with majestic mountains and never-ending vistas as your office! We are proud to offer our guides and staff the highest wages.
WE GIVE BACK We buy locally produced food, hire native tour guides, and book locally owned hotels and restaurants whenever possible. We hold numerous charity events throughout the year in various traditional Andean communities. Events often involve distributing food, drinks, daily essentials (such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, and more), toys for the children, shoes and clothes donated by many of our wonderful guests, and we are currently raising funds to finish building a school in the Willoc Community. Ask us about how you can help!
For further information about us please see the following links:
Equipment: learn about why we provide the best! https://www.killaexpeditions.com/our-equipment/
Our Team: meet some of our amazing guides! https://www.killaexpeditions.com/our-team/
Reviews – find us on Trip Advisor! Killa Expeditions Trip Advisor Page (Awarded 2017, 2018 & 2019 Certificate of Excellence)