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The Moonstone Trek

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highlights
  • Seldom walked trails and few other tourists (if any!)
  • Majestically perched Machu Picchu
  • Walk a section of the Inca Trail via Wiñay Wayna
  • Discover Cuzco with its distinct Inca-Colonial fusion architecture
The Moonstone Trek trip starts and ends in Cusco. It is a trekking tour that takes 9 days taking you through Cusco in Peru. The Moonstone Trek is a guided small group trip that includes accommodation, transport, meals and others.

The trek starts in a quiet, rural valley between Cuzco and the Sacred Valley and finishes in Ollantaytambo, only seven miles upstream from the start of the Inca Trail. It passes through seldom‐visited Andean villages, Inca and pre‐Inca ruins and heads onto a beautiful altiplano plateau surrounded by glaciated peaks. Most groups won't encounter any other tourists for the entire trek and the combination of stunning mountain scenery and wildlife, fascinating relics and real isolation is truly rewarding.
customer reviews about Exodus Travels
4.7 - Excellent Based on 4275 reviews
Review for another Exodus Travels tour
5 - Excellent
“A lot was packed into 4 fun-filled days taking in stunning scenery. Travelling on a comfortable bus, our brilliant guide Ibi made sure we got to take in Iceland and its history through our many stops.”
Review for another Exodus Travels tour
5 - Excellent
“We enjoyed the variety of the trip - completely different, magnificent scenery every day, comfortable hotels, good food (we're veggies and it can be a bit of a struggle in some countries), a really lovely group of fellow cyclists, a great leader, some challenging hills and lots of amazing descents. The bikes were excellent, safety was always stressed and the back-up team were great. There are always interesting situations in a developing country and these were solved efficiently - the most serious one on our trip was crossing a bridge that had collapsed five days before..... it all came well in the end. We've already booked our next Exodus trip!”
Review for another Exodus Travels tour
5 - Excellent
“This was a brilliant holiday. I've been on a number of Exodus trips before but this was my first cycling trip with Exodus. It won't be my last! We enjoyed good company, good weather and good cycling, with plenty of stops at interesting places, and we were very well looked after by Yiannis and Angelos.”
Set amidst hills in the altiplano, the Imperial City of the Incas, Cuzco (3,400) was the geographic, cultural and political centre of a vast empire which, at its peak, stretched from present-day Quito in Ecuador to Santiago in Chile. After the Spanish conquistadores invaded the city they started building on top of the Incan structures, resulting in unique architecture, a fusion of the Incan and Spanish colonial styles.

The group flight usually arrives around midday, giving time for a short orientation tour around the city or free time to wander the cobbled streets admiring the old houses, visiting its interesting museums, churches and pre-Columbian buildings, or to sit in a café and sample a coca-tea.

It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (3400m).

There will be a welcome briefing in the hotel lobby this afternoon/evening.

*Accommodation: Hotel Koyllur (or similar)*
Today has been left free for exploring Cuzco, one of South America's most beautiful cities. The Plaza de Armas is a fantastic spot for people-watching, and Qorikancha – the Sun Temple, located in the Santo Domingo Church and monastery, are worth a visit. The Mercado San Pedro is the place to try some local produce and there are many handicraft markets to shop for souvenirs such as alpaca jumpers and scarves.

Outside the town are more Inca ruins, notably the fortress of Sacsayhuaman where the Inca armies made their last stand against the Conquistadores. Cuzco is also the gateway to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and should you wish to visit the sites, your leader can help organise an excursion, including Pisac Market (optional).

If you fancy something more active then there are an array of other optional activities available from Cuzco including paddle-boarding on a lake, mountain biking, or a combination of via ferrata and zip-lining in the Sacred Valley.

*Accommodation: Hotel Koyllur (or similar)*
An early start as it's a very busy first day! We take a private minibus to the trailhead, stopping first to explore the nearby ruins from which the trek takes its name. This is a large site with several distinct Inca remnants, clearly of religious importance. As with the rest of the trek, we are most likely to have the site completely to ourselves. The Moonstone itself is a large carving on an enormous boulder, and its significance is not yet understood.

The trailhead is in a quiet, dusty valley and we soon climb high enough from the floor to enjoy some great views. At around lunchtime we stop to explore the imposing pre‐Inca fortress of Wata that straddles the trail. The ruin has not yet been accurately dated and pottery can often still be found lying on the ground. The path then traverses along a green side valley as we make our way above a few tiny villages before entering the village of Chillipawa, where we camp.

*Walk Profile: approx. 10.5km / 6‐7hrs walking*

*Full‐service Camping*
A long, steady climb with plenty of rest stops to aid acclimatisation takes us above the villages and into the high pampas ‐ rugged meadows of long grass. We normally stop for lunch shortly before the crest of the Accoccosa Pass (and the very rare Andean Flicker is sometimes seen (although often heard!). The last leg of the pass is on loose red scree, but the view from the top makes it all worthwhile: a broad, hidden valley surrounded by snowy peaks ‐ the Huayanay Range on the left, the Urubamba Range straight ahead and beautiful, triangular Mt Veronica (5800m) to the right. We have time to explore this plateau and experience walking in the high altiplano before returning to our camp for a well‐deserved hot dinner. The camp's isolation, well away from any settlements, results in spectacular night skies when clear.

*Walk Profile: approx. 8.8km / 4‐5hrs walking*

*Full‐service Camping*
We start after breakfast by following the stream from down this hidden valley into a narrow canyon. Rare polylepis trees grow here and we pass through a small grove as we leave the canyon. Our path then turns North and traverses very high above a deep and steep valley separating us from the Huayanay Mountains. This is probably the most spectacular section of the trek and we roughly follow a (now defunct) Inca aqueduct spectacularly carved out of the cliffs to take water from the hidden valley of our campsite to the Sacred Valley several miles away. At the end of the traverse we have a short but steep climb up to our lunch spot, a flat, ridge‐top meadow facing straight across the Sacred Valley to the snowy Urubamba Range.

After lunch we walk down to Huayrapunku. Meaning "Gate of the Wind", this is a ridge‐top Inca shrine oriented to Mt Veronica, of which it has a simply incredible view. A short walk brings us to our final campsite in amongst the granite stones of the Canchiqata Quarry. It was here that huge blocks were cut from the rose‐coloured granite before being dragged down the mountainside and across the river to the Sun Temple at Ollantaytambo.

*Walk Profile: approx. 11.8km / 5‐6hrs walking *

*Full‐service Camping*
Photographers are advised to wake up before dawn this morning, to watch the sun rise over the Sacred Valley from our campsite high above it. The sun's first rays catching the glaciers of Mt Veronica certainly makes the effort more than worthwhile. This is our last day on the trek and we descend from the pampas down into the lush valley floor along the enormous stone ramps on which the Incas dragged the stones. We cross the river and explore the huge Sun Temple complex to see where the stones ended and what use they were put to. 

*Walk Profile: approx. 8km / 2‐3hrs walking *

*Accommodation: Tunupa Lodge (or similar)*
Today we have a day walk along a section of the Inca Trail, starting early with a train from Ollantaytambo.  After showing our passports at the check point, we will pass by the archaeological site of Chachabamba and start our trek. The trail has impressive views of the valley and the Urubamba river, with orchids and begonias along the way and the sight of magnificent mountains all around. The trail passes the ruins of Wiñay Wayna where we will stop to explore and have our packed lunch. After visiting the attractive ruins of Wiñay Wayna, we have an undulating walk through cloud forest high above the river to Inti Punku, the Sun Gate. From here we get our first full sight of Machu Picchu itself, with Huayna Picchu rising behind.

*Walk Profile: approx. 11km / 6-7hrs walking*

*Accommodation: Intipunku El Tambo (or similar)*
In order to beat the day-trippers arriving from Cuzco and reach the ruins as early as possible, a very early start is required to queue for Machu Picchu; only government-registered buses can make the 30-minute drive up the winding road to the site entrance, and during high season (May-October) queues can be hours long. 

Machu Picchu is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world and what makes it all the more dramatic is its mountain backdrop of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records of it, and so Machu Picchu remained a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. 

New regulations for visiting Machu Picchu are now fully enforced; of the three possible visiting slots, we will purchase the morning slot from 06:00 until 12:00 (unless unavailable), you will be limited to a maximum of four hours within the site and must be accompanied by a guide. There will also be three set routes to follow around Machu Picchu; we select the most comprehensive route. 

We catch an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo (1hr 30 mins) and continue by private bus to Cuzco (2hrs 30 mins).

*Accommodation: Hotel Koyllur (or similar)***
For land only travellers, the trip ends in Cuzco after breakfast today. Those who are travelling on the group flights will be taken to Cuzco airport to catch the overnight flight back to London.
what’s included
Accommodation
  • 5 nights hotels in en suite rooms, 3 nights full-service camping with dining and toilet tents , 5 nights en suite hotels and 3 nights full-service camping
Meals
  • All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 3 dinners
Transport
  • All transport and listed activities
Others
  • 5 days point-to-point walking with full porterage
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min. age 16 yrs
  • Altitude maximum 4600m, average 3600m
  • Travel by private bus and by train
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Full porterage throughout trek
  • Exodus kitbag 
  • Inflatable sleeping mat while camping
what’s excluded
  • International Flights
  • Any international flights to/from Cusco are not included in this price. We always recommend that you arrive 1 day prior to your tour starting date.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel insurance is not included in this The Moonstone Trek tour. Travel insurance is mandatory to buy. We recommend purchasing it from World Nomads.
Get a PDF file with detailed trip information: Download Trip Notes for The Moonstone Trek
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Payment

A deposit of 180 USD is required to confirm this tour. The remaining balance will be charged 69 days before departure. For any departures within 27 October 2019 full payment is required.

Travel Insurance

The Moonstone Trek tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.

Visa

For this The Moonstone Trek tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.

CancellationNo additional cancellation fees apply for this The Moonstone Trek tour. You can cancel the tour up to 70 days prior departure and avoid paying the full amount, but your deposit paid is non-refundable. No refund applies for cancellations within 69 days of departure.
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