Inca Trail alternative: Huchuy Qosqo Trek – short but sweet

Best Hiking Guide to the Huchuy Qosqo Trek

Great Off the beaten track trek

The Incas constructed one of the most extensive and intricate road network leading to Machu Picchu for that period. This particular part goes through fertile valleys, towering mountains and passes through the seldom visited Inca city of Huchuy Cusco (directly translates to Little Cusco).

If you are strapped for time and would also like a cultural experience along the way, then The Huchuy Q’osqo (Oo-chee Cusco) trek is the perfect choice for you. We recommend an overnight at a homestay in the beautiful rural countryside. Sam travel and Orange Nation offer a 3-day trek that includes a homestay, Moray and Maras Salt Mines. Enjoy the penultimate part of the journey on a train to Aguas Calientes. Before catching the bus, the morning to explore the mysterious ruins of Machu Picchu.  

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Stunning views and ancient terraces

  This hike offers unparalleled beauty, peace and tranquility. The Andes treat you to stunning mountain landscapes with plenty of llamas and alpacas grazing nearby. The highest pass of the trek Pukamarca pass (4 200m/13 779ft) has magical panoramic views of the Vilcabamba Mountain Range and a serene crystal-clear lake below. Snowcapped mountain peaks like Mt Veronica, Mt Pitusiray, Mt Chicon and Mt San Juan are in full view for you to immerse yourself in. After, you descend through a canyon surrounded by big boulders. Adjecent is a river that steadily flows towards the valley. The trail itself is mostly carved with the same stone the Incas used in their architecture. Along the way, you will also past Inca remains, Inca bridges and sets of Inca stairs.

 It is a stunning path, and the river guide to you to bnbn bnb bnbnbn

your destination, the Huchuy Q’osqo ruins at  3600m.

Here you rest for the night at the welcoming home of a local, an experience not to be missed and a perfect show of hospitality as well as an insight into life in these remote parts. Inside your tiny adobe home, you will be surprised to find a humble flushing toilet. The family will also serve a warm and hearty homemade dinner.

The next day is spent exploring the ruins and the impressive terraces that seem to endlessly cling to the hillsides. From here it is on to Ollantaytambo to board the train to Aguas Calientes, and the next day Machu Picchu.

What you may expect to see in the Huchuy Qosqo Trek?

Best Time of the Year for the Huchuy Qosqo Trek to Machu Picchu

There are two main seasons in the Peruvian Andes:

But, When is the best time of the year to do Huchuy Qosqo Trek ?

The trek can technically be completed all year round, the peak trekking season to Machu Picchu occurs during the dry season and is busiest between May and September. So, the best time of year to do Huchuy Qosqo Trek is from the shoulder of wet months March/April all the way through to the shoulder of dry months October/November.

Huchuy Qosqo Trek Difficulty



Your guide will pick you up from your hotel at 6am and you will drive in our private transport to the village of Patabamba (3,800m/12,467ft), only 1 hour from Cusco. Once we arrive, we start our first hike uphill for the next 3 hours to get to the highest point of the trek (4,200m/13,779ft). From there, we have amazing views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains and valleys. We head down to the village of Pucamarca and spend time at the Inca ruins there. Then, we follow the original Inca trail into the Inca city of Huchuy Qosqo where we have time to explore before hiking to our guesthouse. Our guide will introduce you to your host family who will show us your room for the night, where you will have incredible views of the surrounding areas and the Inca city. In the afternoon, we will enjoy afternoon tea, and later have dinner with our host family! This evening, we will enjoy the endless stars, uninterrupted by city lights, and our guide will teach us about the Inca constellations.


We have a nice breakfast before our guided tour of the Huchuy Qosqo Inca City where you will explore incredible Inca buildings, sacred temples, farming terraces, storehouses and water system. After you have had time to see everything, we walk downhill for 2 hours to Lamay. Our private van will take us to Urubamba, where we will have lunch.  

Next, we head to the ancient site of MORAY, which is a unique site, built prior to the Incas for experimental farming. It has different levels of terraces carved into a huge bowl, much like an amphitheater below ground. Each terrace has a different temperature, depending on how deep it is in the basin. Archeologists theorize that here the Inca researched the optimal growing conditions for their crops. After you have time to explore the site, we continue driving towards the colonial town of Maras and to the Pre-Inca Salt Mines (Salineras). Thousands of saltpans have been used for salt extraction since before Inca times. A hot spring at the top of the valley discharges a small stream of heavily salt laden water, which flows into over 3,000 ponds and evaporates to produce salt. This is one of the few places in the world where you can find naturally pink salt! It is a quite beautiful the array of salt ponds carved into the mountainside.

Then, we continue to Ollantaytambo, where we will explore the quaint and authentic Inca City of Ollantaytambo. In the afternoon, we will take the train to Aguas Calientes and spend the night in our hotel.


After an early breakfast at your hotel, we are ready to get an early bus at 5:30am up to Machu Picchu just in time to witness the sunrise. It is a truly mystical site out of history and not something you’ll want to miss! After enjoying the sunrise your guide will provide a guided tour of Machu Picchu, which takes around two hours. You will see many of the most important parts of Machu Picchu Citadel during your tour. 

After the tour, those people that have booked in advance for the extra hike up Huayna Picchu will have time to hike it on their own. When they have had their fill of the incredible views of Machu Picchu, a bus back down to Aguas Calientes will be waiting. Upon arriving at Aguas Calientes lunch is waiting with numerous restaurants to choose from (lunch not included). Depending on your train departure time, there may be some time for shopping, or sightseeing.

The Expedition train will take you back to Ollantaytambo at 2:55pm or 3:20pm, following the spectacular Urubamba River. Close to Aguas Calientes, the canyon is narrow and the river has many beautiful sections of whitewater. Back at Ollantaytambo, your driver will meet you at the exit from the train station to take you back to your hotel in Cusco in our private van. You can expect to arrive at your hotel about 7:00pm.

What Should I Pack for the Huchuy Qosqo trek

Much like any other multi-day trek, you’ll want to pack as lightly as possible for the Huchuy Qosqo trek.

Usually, the tour operators will let you pack a small duffel with some extra clothes and toiletries. These get transported by mule from campsite to campsite. In addition, you’ll want to carry your own day pack with essentials like water, sunscreen, and clothing layers. We do recommend to take 30L hiking backpack.

Some list of what you must packed.

Traveller reviews

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Christian B

10/10 Amazing experience

If you’re thinking about which agency to use, look no further- Ray and Jimmy went well above and beyond and made this a memorable, safe, fun, and professional experience.

Ray is the most knowledgeable guide I’ve ever had in any country for any excursion - during both the Short Inka Trail and the actual tour of Machu Picchu, Ray’s expertise shined through in his ability to give us a detailed background on every aspect of the history, climate, nature, flora, animals.. anything!

Likewise, Ray and Jimmy were truly the friendliest, kindest hosts that I could have imagined our group having.

Thank you both so much and I will definitely book with you again if (when) I come back!

Jan 2023 • Friends
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Matt A

Awesome experience!!

Did the 2 day Inca trail with Ray and Jimmy they were great and knowledgeable. Ray not only guided us along trail to Machu Picchu but also was an excellent photographer and taught us the history. It was a group of 10 and we had a great time. Even everything going on in Peru, we always felt in good hands.

Jan 2023 • Friends

Short Inca Trial (2-Day)

This tour was the perfect experience for our (group of 10) short trip to Peru. The trail was sometimes challenging, but the views and history made it all worth it. Ray and Jimmy were our guides and imparted sooo much knowledge about the history of Peru, Inca, and beyond. I would definitely recommend!

Jan 2023 • Friends
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Daniela Rabito

It was perfect! On the first day we had a great time exploring the Sacred Valley and see the main attractions and learn about the history of this beautiful place.

I would definitely recommend the short Inka trail, I think it was the best way to get to know Machu Picchu and the surrounding area. We arrived at Machu Picchu when most of the crowd was gone and it felt really special.

Abril 2023
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Brittany Skulkety

You won’t regret booking with this tour company, especially if Liz Montesinos is your guide. My boyfriend and I did the 4 day Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain (private) tour. The tour covered everything; from transportation, hotels, meals, tickets and entrance fees, to stops at local places we would’ve never known to go or check out. We did a private tour because for us we felt this would help us get the most out of our time and experience in Peru

Dic 2022
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Best mix of adventure, history and nature: Sacred Valley & Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

4-day trekking option seemed too intense for us, but we still wanted to experience the entrance to Machu Picchu through the ancient Inka trail, so we opted for Orange Nation’s combination of Sacred Valley & Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I couldn’t be more happy about our decision.

Dic 2022
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We booked and paid the deposit to Orange Nation / Sam travel for the 4 day Inca Trail and Machu Pichu trip back in 2019. But we couldn't travel in 2020 and 2021 - but the company honoured our agreement and so we came back in 2022.

Dic 2022
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Brittany Nicole
icono recomment - Orange Nation recommends Orange Nation Peru

You won’t regret booking with this tour company, especially if Liz Montesinos is your guide. My boyfriend and I did the 4 day Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain (private) tour. The tour covered everything; from transportation, hotels, meals, tickets and entrance fees, to stops at local places we would’ve never known to go or check out. We did a private tour because for us we felt this would help us get the most out of our time and experience in Peru. This tour had so many incredible things and places packed into 4 days.

September 16, 2022
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Ray Besos
icono recomment - Orange Nation recommends Orange Nation Peru

My girl and i did the Machu Pichu trek tour with Orange Nation. It was seriously the most amazing experience that we'll never forget. Gorgeous views! The long trek was worth the amazing view. The tour guide was friendly and very knowledgeable. We considered other tours but chose Orange Nation because we liked the idea of smaller groups and this was definitely worth it. I will be using Orange Nation again next year when I come back to Peru!

November 29, 2018
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Juliet Julz
icono recomment - Orange Nation recommends Orange Nation Peru

Wow, what a wonderful trekking experience! My trip to Peru was amazing thanks to this awesome tour that i took with Orange Nation. I did multiple tours with this company. I'm a solo traveler and everyone in my group was always still friendly and did not make me feel left out. I loved going off the beaten track with this company. It's much better to pay extra to go off the path for the quality experience of this amazing guided tour They definitely helped guide us and gave us a quality experience with a small group and paid special attention to each one of us. I highly recommend using Orange Nation for your next tour in Peru!

November 29, 2018


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Orange nation

Has one of the most outstanding meal services. Our chefs have been highly trained to prepare the best peruavian and International food our treks. You should be prepared to not only have a superb trekking experience, but also a culinary one. "The food has been the highlight for all our hikers"

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