The lost city ain’t so lost anymore. Everyone knows about Machu Picchu – for pretty good reasons obviously – and they usually want to get there one way: along the Classic Inca Trail. So since Peru’s serious hot property these days, the Peruvian government have slapped some restrictions on the classic trail. That means getting your hands on that permit is harder every year. Don’t worry though, we’ve got your back. Geckos is super excited to offer all our travellers a second route that’s just as incredible. But this is more than just a backup.
The Inca Quarry Trail has everything you’d expect from a Geckos trek in the South America Andes: it’s super safe, the scenery’s epic, you’ll hangout with the locals, and you’ll drop by the smaller and less known Inca archaeological sites.
Take this trek and you’ll hike for 26km and reach a maximum altitude of 4,450 metres above sea level. Another bonus of this trail – there are no permits required, so you don’t have to worry about restrictions around when you book your trip.
Inca quarry trail itinerary
Kick off the trek in the car, driving to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon. After checking out the site, drive to the starting point of the trek – Rafq’a. This is where you’ll meet the horsemen who’ll join you on the hike, and the horses that’ll carry your gear and camping equipment. That’s right, you get to walk to through the Andes with horses! You’ll walk for an hour before you reach the small community of Socma. Carry on to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout, where you’ll break to snack on all the goodies you brought along and snap some photos. Push on to the campsite (3,700m above sea level) – you should get there around lunchtime. Get some lunch, then set off to explore the Q’orimarca archaeological site, which used to be an Inca checkpoint.
If you’re up to the challenge of today, then you’re in for a real reward. Your 3-hour walk will take you to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (4,370 m). It’s valley views like this that make people say the Quarry trail actually beats the Inca for pure scenery. Then it’s a short walk before you stop for lunch. All fuelled up, hike to the mammoth Kuychicassa (approximately 2 hours), the highest pass of the trek (4,450m). It’s downhill from here (in the good way), descending down to the sacred site Incas called Inti Punku (which means the Sun Gate, although it’s not THE Sun Gate). You can see the Nevado Veronica mountain shooting into the sky from here. It’s magic. Then camp nearby at Choquetacarpo, which is about 3,600m above sea level.
Today it’s mostly downhill (yay!). You’ll walk past Kachiqata quarry (ah, that’s why it’s called the Quarry Trail). This is a rock quarry that the Incas never completed during the Spanish conquest. By midday you’ll be at Kachiqata town, then the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo, before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. You’ll spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s visit to Machu Picchu.
Today we take a very early bus (5:30am depending on weather conditions) along the winding road to Machu Picchu (approx. 30 minutes). In Machu Picchu we join the travelers who opted to hike the Classic Inca Trail option of this trip.
Take a guided walk around the ruins, then have some time to explore on your own. In the afternoon, head back to Aguas Calientes by bus, before boarding a train to Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo, return to Cuzco for a well-deserved shower and a pisco sour.
How does it work?
When you book a trip that includes the classic Inca trail, we do everything in our power to get you the permits.
Sometimes though, we might not be able to get them. If that happens you’ve got a few choices:
- Change to a different departure date
- Hike the Inca Quarry Trail
- Stay in Cuzco for 2 nights and travel to Aguas Calientes by train
- Get a full refund of your deposit
Why the Inca Quarry Trail?
For those in the know, this is actually one of the most beautiful walks in South America. Not only does it get all the adventurous Andean scenery you’d expect from a Cuzco region trek, but it also drops into three smaller and less known Inca archaeological sites.
75,000 people a year trek the classic. The Quarry? Yeah, not so much. But, boy are they missing out on this hidden trail. Keep it remote and let the landscape do the talking.
Say hi to a couple of local communities and get a better idea of what it’s really like to live in this part of the Andes.
Though it’s half the distance of the Inca Trail, this isn’t some walk in the park. Anyone trekking for three solid days over 3,500m above sea level needs a reasonable level of fitness. But most complete the Quarry Trail without any problems. It’s got that challenging element and sense of achievement that makes it all worth it at the end.
It doesn’t require permits. There’s no limit to the number of travellers that can hike this trek. So just book and go!
What do I need to bring?
You’ll find a complete list of what to pack for this trek in the ‘What to take’ section of the Essential Trip Information, or even on our Inca trail blogs. But, because there are quite a few downhill sections on this trip, you might find those snazzy hiking poles you’ve seen around helpful. If you want to use them, you can bring your own or just rent them in Cuzco.