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Backroads Machu Picchu

This short and sweet Lares Trek shows off the beauty of the Andes. Marvel at high alpine lakes and lush countryside before reaching Machu Picchu.


Trip Highlights

  • Explore the bustling city of Cusco and the surrounding Sacred Valley

  • Trek up and over Pumahuanca pass (15,682 ft) in the Andean Mountains

  • Visit archaeological sites, and step through the Sun Gate at dawn to see Machu Picchu.


This itinerary is for private expeditions only. Pricing is based on group size. See pricing chart below. 

* See more on difficulty levels here.

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Day 1: Arrive to Cusco
Day 2: Day trip to Sacred Valley, Chinchero, Maras, and Moray
Day 3: Trek to Puyoc
Day 4: Trek to Cuncani
Day 5: Complete trek and travel to Aguas Calientes
Day 6: Explore Machu Picchu and return to Cusco
Day 7: International departures


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OneSeed made my dream of visiting the Sacred Valley one of the best experiences of my life! Our guide, Domingo, was welcoming, knowledgeable, approachable, and had a great sense of humor! He made our expedition feel like we were safe and well taken care of at all times.
I wouldn’t hesitate to book a trip with One Seed again and would definitely recommend your tours to friends and family! Keep up the good work bringing people together for such quality experiences.
OneSeed provided the most amazing experience for our group. Everyone was very encouraging and supportive of what we needed and provided the most amazing food every day. It was a beautiful, cultural experience and I think it could not have been done without the teamwork shown by the crew, we truly felt like a family.
— Hope M.

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Day 1:  CUSCO

Upon your arrival to the airport in Cusco, a OneSeed staff member will be there to greet you and take you to our partner lodge in the charming historic district of San Blas. The lodge is centrally located and only a few minutes’ walk from the Plaza de Armas, the beautiful and bustling town center. In the afternoon, meet your group to explore Koricancha, The Sun Temple in the center of Cusco.

Peak Altitude: 11,155 ft (3400 m)

Inclusions: Airport transfer; Koricancha tour; hotel accommodations  



Head to the Sacred Valley to acclimate to the altitude. Visit the village of Chinchero which overlooks the high peaks of the Andes. After lunch, check out Moray and its many concentric terraces. Before returning to Cusco, make one last stop in the charming town of Ollantaytambo. Return to Cusco around 6:30-7:00pm.

Peak Altitude: 11,155 ft (3400 m)

Inclusions: breakfast; lunch; hotel accommodations  

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Day 3: CUSCO TO Puyoc

Drive two hours to the trailhead in Pumahuanca in the morning. Head up the side of the valley toward the town of Puyoc. On the way, learn about the native flora and fauna and try to spot a viscacha or an Andean fox. Reach the campsite in the late afternoon.

Peak Altitude: 13,451 ft (4100 m)

Total Hiking: approximately 9 miles (12.8 km) / 6-8 hours of trekking

Inclusions: breakfast; box lunch; dinner; camping accommodations


Day 4: Puyoc to Cuncani

Get ready for the most spectacular day of the trek! Begin the morning with a two-hour hike to the top of the Pumahuanca pass (15,682ft) before the gradual descent. Make your way to Cuncani and pass the snow-capped peaks and serene mountain lakes. Learn a few Quechua phrases along the trail.

Peak Altitude: 15,682 ft (4780 m)

Total Hiking: approximately 8 miles (12.9 km) / 6-8 hours trekking

Inclusions: breakfast; box lunch; dinner; camping accommodations


Day 5: Cuncani to Aguas Calientes

Wake up early to visit a nearby house and meet the local family (and put your new phrases to the test). From Cuncani, pass several small communities that grow Quinoa and Tarwi. A bit further down the trail, take a relaxing dip in the hot springs of Lares. A bus will pick up the group from the hot springs to head to the train station. Take the train to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu.

Peak Altitude: 12,795 ft (3900 m)

Total Hiking: approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) / 3-4 hours trekking

Inclusions: Inclusions: breakfast; box lunch; dinner; hotel accommodations


Day 6: Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu to Cusco

After an early breakfast, take a 20 minute bus ride to Machu Picchu to explore the ancient site early in the morning before the crowds arrive. Join a two hour guided tour of the ruins followed by free time to explore on your own. In the afternoon, travel back to Aguas Calientes where you will board a train to Ollantaytambo (2 hrs) and then a bus to Cusco (2 hrs).

Peak Altitude: 11,155 ft (3400 m)

Inclusions: breakfast, Machu Picchu entrance permits, guided tour, train transport; hotel accommodations

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Day 7: Cusco

International flights depart.

Peak Altitude: 11,155 ft (3400 m)

Inclusions: breakfast; airport shuttle


  • trip cancelation insurance (highly recommended)

  • international airfare and meals during travel

  • extra snacks during trek (there will be lots of food!)

  • beverages outside of designated meals



  • medical/evacuation insurance for all participants confirmed 30 days or more prior to expedition start date

  • airport transfers on Day 1 and Day 7

  • 3 nights accommodation in Cusco

  • 2 nights camping on the trail

  • 1 night accommodation in Aguas Calientes

  • breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the trek

  • trekking permits and entry fees

  • guide & porter services

  • baggage transport (limited to 15 lbs/7 kg)

  • all ground transportation to/from trail


*All itineraries are subject to change based on local conditions and the judgment of the guide. We reserve the right to modify the itinerary due to medical considerations or the ability of participants as judged by the guide. For complete terms and conditions, see here.

Trip Extensions



You are responsible only for personal clothing and gear listed below. We'll take care of everything else. A gear check will be completed before you depart for the trail. This list does not include additional clothing/items you may want for travel or for your time off the trail. Any luggage not needed on the trail can be left at the hotel in Cusco during your expedition. See current weather conditions for Machu Picchu and Cusco, Peru.

Packing System: This expedition includes pack animals for bag transport. You are only responsible for carrying a daypack. A duffle bag will be provided for your carried bag. The 15 lb weight limit for porter transport should include your sleeping bag.

Carried bag weight limit: 15 lbs / 7 kg

Rentals Available: 

  • Sleeping Bag - $42 USD

  • Trekking Poles - $21 USD

  • Must be confirmed no later than 1 week prior to expedition start date (contact us to confirm)


Don't forget


We need you to have everything on the list below for our expedition to go smoothly, so there is no one item that is more important than another. Double-check your entire list and make sure to have/review these important items below.


Valid Passport

Your passport must be valid for 6 months after your arrival date in Peru.


Medical insurance card

Should anything happen, we can get you the care you need.


Required Vaccinations

It is important to receive required (or recommended) vaccinations before traveling abroad. Check the CDC's recommendations for Peru here.


The List (check it twice)

Trekking Gear

  • Change of clothes for Cusco - to be kept in storage during expedition

  • Down jacket

  • Fleece jacket or vest

  • Synthetic hiking pants (zip-away shorts are a great option)

  • Rain Jacket

  • Waterproof Pant

  • Synthetic long underwear (top and bottom)

  • Synthetic T-shirt

  • Wool or synthetic hat

  • Gloves

  • Waterproof hiking boots

  • Nylon-wool blend socks (3)

  • Sandals (for walking around the camp in the evening)

  • Day pack

  • Duffle bag to be carried by mules (provided by OneSeed)

  • Water bottles (1-2 to carry 2 liters)

  • Headlamp

  • Sunscreen

  • Sunglasses

  • Quick-dry towel

  • Personal toiletries and medicine

  • Sleeping bag (10º F)


  • Toilet paper in ziplock bag

  • Ditty Bag and extra ziplock baggies for toilet paper waste on the trail 

  • Insect repellent

Documents and Logistics

  • International flights booked and confirmed to Cusco

  • Flight information submitted

  • Passport valid for 6 months after arrival date (to be carried at all times)

  • Photocopy of passport

  • Medical insurance card

  • Cash for tipping guides, buying souvenirs, incidental costs, etc.

  • Note: Please bring crisp US bills. Many places will not accept torn, wrinkled, or worn bills

Other (optional)

  • Reading material for the trail

  • Hand sanitizer or wet wipes

  • Collapsible hiking poles (recommended – may be rented in Cusco)

  • Hotel reservations for extended time in Cusco (if applicable)

  • Guidebooks

  • Camera

  • Zip-lock bags for waterproofing passport and other valuables



Temperature (℉)


The Peruvian winter (June to September) and the late spring (April to May)/ early autumn (October) are the driest months and the best time to go to Cusco and Machu Picchu. However, you should still be prepared for rain. Rain is common throughout the year in Peru and it helps keep the countryside so lush. The rainy season in Peru begins in December and lasts through March and averages 4-6 inches/month. The dry season typically gets less than an inch of rain/month.

Machu Picchu is almost 8,000 feet above sea level and like any high altitude trek, the sun is very powerful during the day and the evenings cool down a great deal. Layers are essential in this climate because it keep you prepared for the quickly changing weather. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does it matter what time I arrive or depart?

If you arrive/depart at any time on the scheduled start/end dates of your trip (Day 1 and Day 7), OneSeed will arrange for airport or bus station transfers. If you plan to arrive before the scheduled start date or stay past the end date of your trip, you will need to coordinate your own airport transfer or purchase a trip extension through OneSeed.

Do I need a visa? And what about passport requirements?

  • Visas are not required for US citizens for tourist visits less than 90 days, but you will need a tourist visa (free upon arrival). Please keep your passport and tourist visa with you at all times during your expedition.
  • Check the latest Peru entrance requirements on the US Embassy website.
  • Your passport must be valid for six months after your country departure date. It should also have at least one blank page for any necessary stamps.

What happens if my trip is altered due to unforseen circumstances?

Per the Assumption of Risk and Liability Waiver Agreement, if your expedition must be altered at any point, you are responsible for any additional costs.Canceled flights and transportation strikes happen. We do our best to ensure that your experience is unaltered by handling the situation efficiently and smoothly. For complete terms and conditions, see here. We recommend reviewing optional trip cancellation and interruption insurance to cover expenses in these instances. Some instances that have come up are:

  • A twisted ankle one week before a trip
  • Power outages in the Atlanta airport leaving travelers stranded
  • Burst appendix!
  • Earthquakes or floods cutting a trip short


Talk to your physician and follow recommended CDC guidelines found here.


OneSeed will purify and provide you with water during your trek. Depending on the location, we use a combination of boiled water, UV purification, or bottled water when necessary.


  • Expect a fantastic culinary experience on the trail. You will generally be eating in a meal tent for breakfast, lunch, and dinner where your cooks always serve tons of delicious food. The morning may start off with tea or coffee being brought to your tent and end with a giant meal under the stars. Meals are a nice mix of Peruvian style dishes and western food that are high in carbohydrates and protein to keep you fueled up for the trek.
  • OneSeed is able to accommodate most allergies and dietary preferences. If you didn't include this information on your registration form, please email We recommend any vegan travelers bring extra protein bars.


You will be sleeping in tents while on the trail. Sleeping pads are provided, but be sure to bring a warm sleeping bag!


If you cancel 60 days or more prior to your scheduled departure for this adventure then you will be able to reschedule or be reimbursed the full cost of this adventure net the non-refundable deposit of $1000.00. If any cancellation is made less than 60 days prior to your scheduled departure for this adventure then you will lose the complete value of your experience.

If your expedition must be canceled by OneSeed due to circumstances outside of your control (e.g. natural disasters, weather, etc.), we will work with you to reschedule at no extra cost. If rescheduling is not possible, you will be reimbursed the total amount of your purchase less 20% of trip cost.

All discounted and promotional offers made through third-party partners are 100% non-refundable and non-transferable.


Tips are always appreciated. We have developed this blog post to act as a guide for tipping on your Peru trek.


Due to the altitude and length of daily travel, you will carry a daypack and mules will carry your pack up to 15 lbs/7kg. The 15 lb weight limit for porter transport should include your sleeping bag.


You will be staying at the same hotel before and after your trek in Cusco. Leaving an extra bag at the hotel during your trek is free of charge. Please keep in mind you are only allowed one carry-on and one checked back (under 50 lbs) for your domestic flight from Lima to Cusco.


Multi-day trekking expeditions to Machu Picchu require above average physical fitness. No technical skills are required, and first-time trekkers are welcome. We always recommend that travelers break in their hiking boots before the expedition. Taking training hikes that mimic the mileage and amount of time you will be trekking in Peru is recommended.


You will reach over 15,000 feet of elevation on high mountain passes during your trek. Hiking slowly, drinking lots of water, and self-care are all key to avoiding altitude sickness.


Weather is always unpredictable which is why we recommend a comprehensive packing list. A sunny warm day can turn on a dime and end in chilly rain. It never hurts to prep for both! Visit the terrain section above to see average temperatures and weather forecasts for Cusco and Salkantay Pass.


We always ask that you stay safe on the trail by drinking plenty of water, eating well, and communicating openly with your guide about any issues that arise. Be sure to take care of your belongings, be respectful of your travel companions, practice your Spanish with people you meet along the way, and respect the natural landscape that you're exploring.

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