Embarking on the Inca Quarry Trail to Machu Picchu, you step into a world steeped in history and culture. Simultaneously, you are surrounded by majestic landscapes that inspire awe at every turn.
This less-traveled route to Machu Picchu offers a unique perspective on the Incan civilization and the stunning Andean wilderness. The trek begins in the historical construction of Ollantaytambo, an archaeological gem and one of the best-preserved Inca sites.
You’ll traverse a series of high mountain passes, with the highest point reaching an elevation of 4,450 meters (14,600 feet). Here, the panoramic vistas of the Andean mountainscape are nothing short of breathtaking. However, the high altitude also brings the risk of altitude sickness, so it’s essential to acclimatize properly and stay hydrated.
Your trek will lead you through the Inca Quarry, an archaeological site that once supplied stones for the construction of Ollantaytambo. It’s an astounding testament to the architectural prowess of the Incas, offering a tangible connection to the past. Unlike the Classic Inca Trail, the Quarry Trail provides opportunities to explore these Inca ruins up close, often in solitude.
The trail to Machu Picchu is a journey through varying microclimates. You’ll encounter the dry season’s arid landscapes, only to be replaced by lush greenery in the rainy season. Keep in mind that the Lares Trek is an alternative route if conditions become challenging.
As you approach Machu Picchu, you’ll pass through the Sun Gate (Inti Punku). This is the traditional entrance to the city for those traveling on foot. From here, you’ll catch your first glimpse of the ancient city. With Huayna Picchu looming in the background, this sight will make the trek utterly worthwhile.
After your descent, you’ll reach Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. Here, you can rest and reflect on your journey before continuing to the world-renowned archaeological site.
In essence, the Inca Quarry Trail to Machu Picchu is more than just a trek. It’s a step back in time and a deep cultural immersion. Moreover, this adventure will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
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Cusco Hotel Transfer
Your journey on the Inca Quarry Trail to Machu Picchu begins bright and early in Cusco. We will pick you up from your accommodation at around 5:00 AM. From Cusco, you’ll travel to the small town of Huarocondo, known for its traditional bread ovens. There, you can enjoy breakfast and fuel up for the day ahead.
After breakfast, we will drive to Pachar. In Pachar, you’ll start the trek, heading towards the remote community of Corimarca. The path is a moderate uphill climb. It offers stunning views of the Urubamba Mountain range, helping the hours pass quickly.
By noon, you’ll reach Corimarca. Here, you’ll find an ancient Inca checkpoint that’s remarkably well preserved. You’ll have ample time to explore and learn about the site’s historical significance.
After lunch, you’ll settle into the campsite. The rest of the day is free for you to relax and acclimatize to the altitude. The first night on the Inca Quarry Trail is a chance to stargaze and experience the tranquility of the Andes.
Rise and shine to a new day on the Inca Quarry Trail. After breakfast at the Corimarca campsite, you’ll commence the second day’s trek at 7:00 AM. You will journey towards Queuñacancha, a site that houses ancient Inca ruins.
The trek is uphill, crossing the challenging Chancachuco pass. It stands as the highest point of the day’s trail, situated at a staggering 4,450 meters (14,600 feet). Here, you’ll be greeted by panoramic vistas of the Veronica Mountain and the Urubamba River. These sights are sure to take your breath away.
Descending from the pass, you’ll encounter a stark change in scenery. The trail leads you through a series of wetlands and pastures, home to llamas and alpacas. This change in landscape indicates your arrival at the Queuñacancha ruins.
You’ll arrive at Queuñacancha by late afternoon. Here, you can explore the archaeological site and learn about its historical significance. Afterward, you’ll settle in at the campsite, rest, and enjoy the tranquility of the Andes.
The third day of the Inca Quarry Trail to Machu Picchu begins at sunrise. After breakfast at the Queuñacancha campsite, you set off on the trail around 7:00 AM. The destination for today is the Inca Quarry of Cachicata.
This segment of the trek is a gentle descent, offering relief after the previous day’s challenging journey. As you hike, you’ll pass several small Inca ruins, a testament to the extensive network of the Inca Empire.
By mid-morning, you’ll arrive at the Cachicata Quarry. This archaeological site was a source of stones used in the construction of Ollantaytambo. You’ll see various chullpas (burial towers), abandoned stones, and building remains, offering a glimpse into the Inca’s stone extraction process.
Post exploration, you’ll descend further to the town of Ollantaytambo. Here, you’ll board a train to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. This train ride offers captivating views of the Andean landscapes and the Urubamba River.
Upon arriving in Aguas Calientes by late afternoon, you check into your accommodation. The evening is at your leisure to explore this charming town, nestled in the cloud forest.
The final day of the Inca Quarry Trail to Machu Picchu is a highlight. This is the day you reach the revered Inca citadel. Starting in Aguas Calientes, you wake up early, around 5:00 AM. We will be boarding one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu.
Upon arrival, you will see the ancient city unfold before you, with the towering Huayna Picchu in the backdrop. The sight is nothing short of mesmerizing, an image that leaves an indelible imprint on your memory.
A guided tour of Machu Picchu follows, giving you insights into the historical and architectural significance of the various sites. This includes the Sun Temple and the Room of the Three Windows. The tour takes about two hours, after which you have some free time to explore further on your own.
After immersing yourself in the grandeur of Machu Picchu, you take the bus back to Aguas Calientes. From there, you board a train to Ollantaytambo. Upon reaching Ollantaytambo, a private transport awaits to take you back to Cusco, marking the end of your memorable journey.
We trekked through breathtaking landscapes and encountered ancient ruins along the way, immersing ourselves in the rich history of the region. The well-planned itinerary allowed us to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of Machu Picchu at the perfect moment. For those seeking a transformative and awe-inspiring experience, I highly recommend the Cachicata Trek to Machu Picchu.