From Cusco you will be driven to the small village of Patabamba, situated high above the Sacred Valley of the Incas at an altitude of 3881 meters (12,733 feet). From this typical community we will follow the trail to the small village of Qenqo, where our route involves an ascent to a pass at 4061 meters (13,323 feet). Before beginning the descent into the valley beyond the pass, we will have plenty of time to enjoy panoramic views of the Urubamba mountain range.
Following the valley, we will pass the small village of Pucamarca, beyond which the valley narrows to form a dramatic gorge. Following the stream, we will emerge from this gorge with superb views of the Urubamba Valley far below, before veering to our left and heading down Inca steps towards the main entrance to the ruins of the Inca settlement known as Huchuy Qosqo. From the ruins, the large village of Lamay can be seen on the valley floor, far below.
Like the more accessible ruins of Pisaq, Huchuy Qosqo was once an administrative center, and its main structures retain their fine stonework, built in the Inca imperial style. The outer buildings of the site would originally have served as storehouses for the crops grown at this major agricultural production center. Soaring above Huchuy Qosqo, the jagged black crag of Pitusiray dominates the horizon, its peak rising to 5050 meters (16,564 feet) and ahead of us as we continue past the Inca gateway the white peak of Sawasiray stands high above the Sacred Valley at 5729 feet (18,791 feet)
We will make our descent into the Sacred Valley via a steep, zigzagging trail that will take us as far as the village of Lamay, crossing a bridge over the Urubamba River. In Lamay our private bus will be waiting to take us to Ollantaytambo (a 50-minute bus ride following the course of the river). The train to the village of Aguas Calientes, located below the ruins of Machu Picchu, leaves from Ollantaytambo.
Traveling time by road: Cusco – Patabamba: 34 kilometers / 21.1 miles (paved: 20 km / 12.4 miles; dirt road: 14 kilometers / 8.7 miles; 1 hour and 30 minutes
Total distance hiked: 17 kilometers / 10.5 miles; 8 hours
Altitudes: Cusco: 3400 meters / 11,152 feet; Patabamba: 3881 meters / 12,733 feet; Highest pass: 4061 meters / 13,323 feet; Huchuy Qosqo: 3765 meters / 12,352 feet; Sacred Valley: 3007 meters / 9865 feet