The Mysteries of Machu Picchu
Since its discovery in the early 20th century, Machu Picchu has taken off as a world destination, being named year after year as a best travel destination and one of...
Each time there are more different routes to get to Machu Picchu. The typical train ride to the foot of the Incan Citadel can be complimented with impressive hikes that last days throughout different areas of the region. One of them is Ancascocha, a demanding 5-day trekking 56 kilometers/35 miles long and close to 5,000 meters/16,404 feet above sea level to reach the marvelous destination: Machu Picchu.
If you like adventure, exploring basically virgin nooks and enjoy days in nature, this trekking is for you! Continue reading and find out all of the details.
Where does the Ancascocha trek begin?
The majority of travel agencies begin the Ancascocha trek in Socma, a small town situated in the middle of Valle Sagrado and less than two hours from Cusco city. Socma is located 3,205 meters/10,515 feet above sea level, so beginning the first day, you will be in contact with altitude. To avoid altitude sickness you can take soroche pills or coca leaves.
Which are the stages of the Ancascocha trek?
The majority of travel agencies that offer this hike divide the journey in five stages that can vary slightly depending on the tour. You will see landscapes you will never forget and explore Inca ruins that have been preserved for more than 500 years. Here is a summary of what awaits you during these days:
DAY 1: SOCMA – RAYAN
On this first day you will have to hike 8km/5mi and reach 3,700 meters/12,139 feet above sea level. One of the big surprises that awaits you on the way is the Perolniyoc cataract, a waterfall located in the middle of the Valle Sagrado, perfect to freshen up during the warm days. You will also find some culture here! Only a few minutes away from the cataract is the archeological site of Perolniyoc, legacy of the Inca culture.
After four or five hours en route, you will arrive to Rayan where you will spend the night and recharge your energy for the following day.
DAY 2: RAYAN – ANCASCOCHA
The second day is one of the hardest days of all of the Ancascocha trek. The route from Rayan to Ancascocha is 16 kilometers/10 miles and the highest point, Puka Kasa, is located 4,450 meters/14,600 feet above sea level. But do not be discouraged, we can assure you the views here are compelling!
Throughout your journey, the snow-capped mountains will be your companions and after approximately 10 hours of hiking, you will arrive to Ancascocha lagoon where you will spend the second and coldest night of the entire trekking.
DAY 3: ANCASCOCHA – QESQUA
After two days of walking non-stop your body will feel tired but the scenery on the third day will make you want to see more and more. During this 14 km/9 mi journey you will reach the highest point of the entire route: 4,650 meters/15,256 feet above sea level.
Besides dreamy landscapes, you will be able to admire the very famous Camino Inca, a trekking known worldwide by all of the hiking lovers, that goes through one of the routes the Incas created to reach Machu Picchu.
On this third day you will spend the night at Qesqua, a small community that lives in the middle of the Andes and where you will be able to learn customs and traditions of the area.
DAY 4: QESQUA – OLLANTAYTAMBO – AGUAS CALIENTES
After three days of practically no communication and surrounded by only nature, on the fourth day of trekking from Ancascocha to Machu Picchu you will return to civilization. The first stop of this 14 km/9 mi road will be at the striking Incan fort of Paucar Cancha, and further on you will come across the Willcaraqay ruins. Get the most out of your time to discover all of its hidden places!
After seven hours you will arrive to Ollantaytambo. If you have time, remember to visit its majestic ruins and its cobblestone pavement streets that have resisted since the Inca era. At Ollantaytambo you will take the Inca Rail train that takes you to Aguas Calientes or to Machu Picchu Town, the last stop before arriving to our World Wonder.
If you still have some energy in you, we recommend taking a stroll in this beautiful city with rivers and mountains.
DAY 5: AGUAS CALIENTES – MACHU PICCHU
What better reward after four exhausting days of hiking than to get to see one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Machu Picchu awaits you on your fifth day with hidden Inca history in each one of its buildings. Now is the time to have your eyes wide open and enjoy the breathtaking Inca Citadel. Enjoy!
To get back to Cusco the easiest and most comfortable way, we recommend hiring our bimodal service which takes you by train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo and from here, to Downtown Cusco. Click here for details!