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Moonstone to Sun Temple

Explore the spectacular eastern extension of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This little-known route is our favorite alternative to the better-known traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. We follow the footsteps of the Inkas who built a high route from their capital city of Cuzco westward through the rugged cordillera, and filled their empire with amazing temples and royal residences. We camp high, and discover the beauty of tranquil Andean valleys with sublime views toward the 18,000-foot snow peaks of the Urubamba and Huayanay Ranges. We also explore amazing Inka stonework in an enormous 15th century quarry site of Cachiqata. After descending into the Sacred Valley of the Inkas we reach the royal Inka town of Ollantaytambo, with its remarkable Sun Temple. We travel to Machu Picchu by train for a full exploration of the famous city.

During four hiking days you cover 39 km/24 miles, starting at 3,224m/10,575’, and finishing at 2,840m/9,315’ above sea level. You cross two high passes, with a maximum elevation of 4,625m/15,170’. While trail conditions are generally good, some steep trail sections require careful footing, good hiking boots with lug soles, and trekking poles. Nevertheless, thanks to our careful pacing, dedicated guides and professional support staff, the trip is suitable for novices as well as experienced hikers. Your trail duffel and the camp gear is carried by packhorses; you walk carrying only a day-pack. Cooks prepare wholesome meals from fresh ingredients and handle all the kitchen chores. You sleep warm and protected in high quality tents. Join the most reliable outfitter in the Andes for a trek you'll never forget.

Weekly departures to Machu Picchu from May to October

8 days / 7 nights
Rated: Moderate

Day 01 THU. U.S.A-LIMA:

Depart USA. Overnight flight to Lima, Peru. (International air not included)


Arrive in Lima and after going thru customs and immigration continue to the domestic flight counters to check-in for flight to Cuzco. Upon arrival you will be met and transfer to hotel  Andenes de Saphi. Balance of day to rest and get used to the high altitude. See  City of Cuzco-Map


Morning at leisure. At 10AM meeting with the Inca trail outfitter for last minute recommendations -do's and dont's for the next exciting days (meeting is mandatory). Get ready ! (B)

DAY 04 SUN CUZCO INKA TRAIL Quillarumiyoq to Chillipahua
We pick you up at your Cuzco hotel and transfer by van west across the high Anta Plain, following the route of the royal Inca Road which led from the capital toward the northern quarter of the empire. We stop first at Izcuchaca, a bustling market town. We venture into the market building to enjoy the colorful scene.
A few minutes drive beyond Izcuchaca, we reach the sacred Inca shrine known as Quillarumiyoq (“Moonstone” in the Quechua language of the Incas), one of the finest of the carved rock huacas (sacred places) in the vicinity of Cuzco. Archeologists working at this site are revealing extensive terracing of a major ritual center.
We continue to our trailhead by the Huaracondo River where it drains the western edge of the plain, and meet our trail crew, who arrive from a nearby community. We commence trekking following a broad trail northward, above the west bank of the Huaracondo River. After an easy two-hour hike, we reach the first pass and Huatta, a substantial pre-Inca fortress dominating the crest of a ridge at 3,855m/12,645’. Archeological excavations have revealed burials and occupation levels from the Formative Period (2,500 years ago) on through the enormous fortifications of the 4th century Regional Development period. A scattering of lateperiod Inca structures on the top of the highest hill seems like an historical afterthought. The site is classic: a defensible ridge with dominating three-way views along converging valleys. After lunch, we continue on our way westward into the range, and camp at 3,750m/12,300’ next to a rural school in the hamlet of Chillipahua. 10.5km/6.5 miles (B,L,D)
DAY 05 MON INKA TRAIL Chancachuco
We climb gradually through fields and glades of the indigenous Chachacomo tree, in a landscape of sparse pastures and small
fields supported by terraced walls on the steep mountainsides. Wherever there is water, we find an Andean family compound of adobe and straw. But there is little water in this mountain range – hour by hour we are reminded of how precious a commodity water was and is to the Andean people. We climb to a small knoll at 4,400 m/14,432’ for delicious hot lunch, then continue up to the col. From our location atop Accoccasa Pass (4,625m/15,170’ – the highest point on the trek) we enjoy breathtaking views to immense snowpeaks: the Huaynays to our west, the Urubamba range to the north. We enjoy an easy descent, to camp at 4,350 m/14,268’ in the broad valley of Chancachuco, facing the glaciers of the Huaynay Range. 8.8 km/5.5 miles (B,L,D)
DAY 06 TUE INKA TRAIL Huayrapunku/Cachiqata Quarry
We trek westward, gradually descending the high valley, to the headworks of a now-abandoned Inca aqueduct which transported,water from the Chancachuco valley north to supply the otherwise arid north-facing slopes above Ollantaytambo. Inca engineers built this aqueduct across a sheer cliff face high above the Silque River.
After we descend through a flower-filled slot canyon in the valley wall, we enjoy views north towards Nevado Veronica (5,682m/18,637’) directly across the valley. On the mountainside above us we can glimpse traces of the original stonework, testimony to the extraordinary engineering in the project. We reach our final pass (3,940m/12,923’) and visit a spectacular ridge-top Inca shrine called Huayrapunku (Gate of the Wind), with more great panoramas. The site offers unsurpassed views to the terraces and temple site of the royal town of Ollantaytambo, over 4,000 feet below us. Constructed in the 15th century by the Inca emperor Pachacutec, the town was an important administrative and religious center. We descend, past the curiously arid and abandoned Inca administrative site of Llaqtallaqtayoq, to our camp on a broad terrace at 3,525m/11,562’at the edge of the enormous Cachiqata quarry. In the afternoon we visit a cave to pay our respects by making coca-leaf offerings to mummified human remains considered ancestors by the wranglers and trek crew. We also explore the intricate quarry workings. From this steep talus slope beneath the sheer face of Cerro Yanaorco, immense red granite building stones were carved onsite and then skidded down to the valley floor, across the river, and then up to the sun temple site on the far side of the valley. We explore the ramps and work platforms around the largest of the stones.
Orchids and other flowers are abundant in and around the quarry site, set high on the mountainside above the valley floor. 11.8 km/7.4 miles to camp, plus optional additional walking in the Inca quarry. (B,L,D)
DAY 07 WED INKA TRAIL Ollantaytambo/Machu Picchu
We descend on a broad Inca road down through the lower quarry zone, and stop at a key hilltop, from where the worked stones were skidded down the steep slope to the Vilcanota River below us. On the far bank, between the river and the Sun Temple, we can see several of these piedras cansadas (“Tired Stones”), which were abandoned half-way between quarry and temple construction zone. Chroniclers tell us that work on the temple site was suddenly halted when the Colla masons fled back toward their Moonstone to Sun Temple homes in the Lake Tiahuanaco area, just prior to the arrival of the Spanish invaders. We continue down to the village by the river,and visit a local chicheria, where you may sample chicha, the delicious lightly-fermented corn beverage which is an integral part of every Andean festival and social gathering. After crossing the
river, we walk into the village of Ollantaytambo. We have time to explore the temple and the adjacent village, and enjoy lunch at the home of a local family. In late afternoon we catch a train down the valley to Aguas Calientes. We check into a hotel for the night. 8 km./5 miles. (B,L)
DAY 08 THU Machu Picchu
We enter the famous “Lost City of the Incas” early in the morning for an in-depth guided tour of the ridge-top citadel of Machu Picchu. Those who wish to witness sunrise over Machu Picchu go up on the early shuttle bus and enter the site at daybreak. You have time for a thorough exploration of the remarkable site. We descend to Aguas Calientes for return to Ollantaytambo, continuing by chartered bus to Cuzco, arriving around 10.00PM with transfer to Hotel Andenes de Saphi (B)

Transfer to the airport for flight to Lima for connection with flights to USA. (B)




  • 5 day/3 nights + 1 night in Aguas Calientes on the Inka trail with Camping equipment, cooking gear, guide, porterage of up to 12 kg (25 pounds), porters, thermal sleeping pad, water filters and meals marked as B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner daily. • Hotel accommodations for 3 nights in Cuzco including room taxes, service charges and breakfast daily. (Hotels as mentioned in itinerary). • Meals as noted B= breakfast; L=lunch; D=dinner.• Transfers to/from airport and train station. •Tours as mentioned in itinerary. • English speaking tour guide. • Tips to airport and hotel porters. • Round trip  local airfare Lima-Cuzco-Lima.

• International airfare • Insurance • Tips to tour guide or bus driver  • Any other service not mentioned in itinerary. • BTG multi-site entrance ticket - most of our passengers purchase this ticket in Cuzco prior to commencing the trek, as it contains site entrances to many of the most popular sites in Cuzco and the Sacred Valley. The full ticket costs US$50 (as of Jan 1, 2012); separate site entrance to just the Ollantaytambo ruins are also available. Passengers who purchase the BTG ticket prior to the trek must bring this along on the trek in order to avoid having to purchase a separate entrance to the Ollantaytambo ruins. Site entrance costs are subject to change.• USA departure tax  • Lima and Cuzco $5.00 each and upon leaving Peru $30.00. • Personal equipment such as backpacks and sleeping bags. • Tips to guide and trek staff. • Insurance

Other Exclusions: personal trekking gear and sleeping bag, tips to guide and trek staff.

*Rates per person -share double (includes local airfare Lima-Cuzco-Lima)


Using hotel Andenes de Saphi in Cuzco (3 stars) 1,960
Using hotel Dorado International (4 stars) 2,068

International airfare is not included. (available upon request)


Single Supp. is $331.00 (Single occupancy for this program is very limited). FOR TRIPLE deduct $34 per person.  - RATES SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT ANY TIME.


From Miami $550-750, Atlanta $600-800, Los Angeles & San Francisco $700-900; New York $700-950; Seattle $800-990....Call your travel agent or Tara Tours at 1-800-327-0080.



US$300.00 at the time of booking.


60 days before departure. 


Prior to departure:  -at any time- $200 it is not refundable.... ;45 to 30 days US$350.00 penalty pp; 29 to 15 days 50% of total cost; 14 or less no refunds.

INSURANCE: Tara Tours Inc. strongly recommends that you purchased travel insurance. Insure America has designed a policy for Tara Tours clients. Cost for this program is US$93.00 to 125.00. Have your Travel Agent call Tara Tours Inc. for further information.

The Andean weather can be unpredictable, despite the sharp divide between dry and wet seasons. The dry season runs from May to October or November; the rainy season goes from December through April. Nevertheless, in the mountainous Cordillera Urubamba, showers can occur at any time of year. Therefore, even in the “dry” season, your day pack should always include full rain gear.

Day time temperatures can vary greatly, with daytime highs ranging from 10ºC/50ºF to 25ºC/75ºF and night time lows ranging from 10ºC/50ºF to a cold 0ºC/32ºF, though seldom much lower. Bring a swimsuit for bathing in the hot springs in Aguas Calientes.




For further information call your travel agent or 1-800-327-0080





305-278-4464    or   1-800-327-0080


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Last modifed: Feb. 09, 2016