This Soqma Trek to Machu Picchu, is a beautiful mountain trek that combines a route well off the beaten tourist path with a visit to Machu Picchu. The route travels through several ecological areas and passes waterfalls, traditional Quetchua communities, and Incan archaeological site. It is relatively isolated, and you will probably be the only trekkers on the trail until late the fourth day, offering an excellent alternative to the crowded Inca Trail.
The itinerary below is a sample. Hiking times are an average and will vary depending on the group. Additionally, lunch and camp sites may change to meet the needs of the group and conditions.
The day before the trek, your guide will meet you at your hotel for an in-depth briefing. This provides an opportunity to ask questions and do any last-minute shopping before leaving Cusco.
Traveling by private van we cross the broad Anta valley with its quintessential small farms and communities, descend into the Pumatales valley, and arrive at the community of Soqma (3200m), where we meet our wranglers, horses, and mules. We begin our trek with a steady climb to a spectacular waterfall, which drops dramatically off a sheer cliff. Here we have our lunch and visit the nearby Inca site of Perolniyoc. After lunch we continue to climb to our camp site at 3800m. Surrounded by mountain views and visiting small local communities along the way, we experience the authentic spirit of the high Andes. 3200-3800m
After breakfast we make the steep climb across the puna, characteristic Andean grasslands, to the first pass at 4400m, from where we can see an imposing view of the majestic and sacred mountain, Wacaywillka (Veronica). After another slight climb, we begin to descend to the community of Chancachuco, where we will visit the family living in this isolated area. After lunch we continue to the community of Ancascocha, spectacularly located at the foot of the snow-capped Huayanay, where we will camp. 3800-4400-3800m
This is another day rich in alpine scenery as we continue up the valley above Ancascocha. We pass by an emerald lake, rich in wildlife including Andean geese, and rich grazing land to our highest pass at about 4600m between the peak of Moyok and the glacial-mass of Huayanay. Descending, we have lunch by a small waterfall surrounded by a variety of local flora. We spend the rest of the day following streams and steep cliffs, almost constantly surrounded by views of the Cordillera Wayanay, to our camp at the community of Quesca. 6 hours walking, 3800-4600-3700m
In the morning we descend the pastoral valley beyond Quesca. On the way pass the extensive ruins of Paucarcancha (also known as Incarajay), an Inca military site. We continue walking gradually downhill, passing through increasingly lush vegetation as we approach the village of Huayllabamba, one of the camps on the classic Inca Trail. We have our lunch and possibly meeting oncoming trekkers who are beginning their treks to Machu Picchu before continuing straight ahead to Patallacta, a large archaeological site with many terraces and buildings. We camp near the ruins and have time to explore this important site on the Rio Urubamba. 5 hours walking, 3700m-2300m
This is a peaceful day as we walk along the Rio Urubamba for an hour to the train station at km 88. From here we take the train to Aguas Calientes, where we will stay in hotel. In town you can relax or explore the many restaurants, discos, and markets, and visit the hot springs.
After enjoying the tourist amenities of Aguas Calientes and getting a full night’s sleep at a hotel, we catch one of the first buses to Machu Picchu in order to see the awe-inspiring view of the ruins at sunrise. After a two-hour guided tour, you will have free time to climb Huayna Picchu, explore the ruins, or simply relax. In the early afternoon we take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes where you catch the train to Cusco.
For more information on trekking with Apu Andino, see Trekking with Apu Andino.
Much of this trek is isolated and away from tourist infrastructure. Temperatures and weather can vary, from hot and humid to below freezing. Trekkers should be prepared for changes to the itinerary and to meet unexpected challenges with an open-mind and sense of adventure. Climbing Huayna Picchu is an excellent addition to a trip to Machu Picchu.
It offers superlative views, but is a steep climb that can take about three hours. Entrance to Huayna Picchu is limited and at scheduled times; visitors must sign up for a spot in advance. If you would like to consider doing the climb, it is important to book it in advance. It is possible to continue the trek along the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu from Huayllabamba instead of continuing down to the train station.
The Inca Trail is closely regulated. No pack animals are allowed and a maximum of 500 people per day are allowed on the trail. Permits can sell out months in advance. It is therefore important to book as early as possible if you would like to add the Inca Trail.