DAY 1 - CUSCO / KM. 104 / CHACHABAMBA / WIÑAYWAYNA / MACHU PICCHU
We take the train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo
, following the Urubamba river to Km.104 of the railroad, where we alight and cross a footbridge to begin our hike at the Inca site of Chachabamba
After a brief visit to this lovely ruin with its water channels and fountains, we start the four-hour ascent that will take us past spectacular overlooks above the great valley, then below a lovely waterfall near the delightful site of Wiñay Wayna
We ascend through this largest and most exquisite of the Inca Trail
sites, passing its chain of ritual baths and elegantly curved terracing, and then joining the main Inca Trail
. We follow it across a steep mountainside and up narrow stairways through lush, humid cloud-forest of giant ferns and broad-leaf vegetation. Suddenly we cross the stone threshold of Intipunku
(Sun Gate) and encounter an unforgettable sweep of natural beauty and human artistry —a backdrop of twisting gorge and forested peaks framing the magical city of Machu Picchu.
We walk the last half-hour or so down the royal flagstone walkway, past outlying shrines and buildings and through the heart of Machu Picchu
, taking a bus to the small town of Aguas Calientes
where we overnight in a local hotel.