Qoyllur Ritti Pilgrimage 5 days / 4 nights
The Qoyllur Ritti, “Snow Shine” or “Snow Star”, is one of the most relevant festivities in the Andean World. It combines the veneration of the Sun, of the Christian icons and of the portentous deities that inhabit the sacred snow-capped Apu of Ausangate.
Since the 1920’s, the Festivity of the Lord of Qoyllur Ritti, has become a massive religious event attracting milliards of people coming from different parts of Peru and abroad to ascend up to 5200m, where the famous Sanctuary is located, in the area of Ocongate within the province of Quispicanchis. An impressive multitude of pilgrims arrives at this point after an approximated 6- hour hike to venerate the Christ, which is painted in one of the rocks at the Sanctuary, and the sacred Apu of Ausangate.
The legend explains how the image impressed in the rock was the result of the friendship developed between a peasant named Marianito Mayta and a strange boy of extremely white complexion, which appeared to him in 1870. The little boy kindly asked the peasant to make a new dress for him. The peasant traveled to Cusco and visited the Bishop of the city, as he was the only one to have similar textiles than those dressed by the little boy. The suspicious Bishop ordered someone to follow Mayta, as he thought someone had stolen the holy dresses from the church and was giving a bad use to them. But when the priest arrived at Sinakara, an intense shine originated from the place where the little boy was standing, and when he tried to grab him, he became a Tayanca tree with the image of Christ in agony. The little Mayta peasant was buried below a stone in the same place of this apparition. This stone with the signs of Christ is currently venerated by all the pilgrims and is located in a sacred chapel in the same place.
The pilgrimage takes place once every year in the spectacular area of Ausangate, the Sanctuary being located at the base of Mount Sinakara, in an impressive spot, surrounded by breathtaking snow-capped mountains and glaciers. The Ten Nations or ten brotherhoods that belong to Paucartambo, Quispicanchis and Tahuantinsuyo provinces attend the event. Masses, ascents to Mount Sinakara and simulated battles lead to the cohesion of all the brotherhoods and make this a very special and colorful festivity, surrounded by the cold of the awesome scenery.
Our pilgrimage trek follows the long-established tradition and runs in five days, giving you the chance to live this very special event as a part of it.
Day 1 Saturday June 3rd, 2023: Cusco - Mahuayani
We leave the city of Cusco in a private bus, and drive along the Cusco – Puerto Maldonado highway in the direction of Tinki (3800m/12464ft) and Mahuayani, where we will arrive by 02.00 pm approximately. On the way we pass through Urcos, where we may spot a beautiful lagoon with the same name, continue on to Cattca, an agricultural and cattle raising community where we can appreciate the region’s spectacular views and finally cross Ocongate, capital of the district with the same name. We then continue on to Tinki, starting point for most treks in the Ausangate area, and finally Mahuayani (4600m/15088ft) after an approximated 5-6h drive. In the afternoon, we take the chance to visit the local market, before having dinner at our camp nearby.
- L, D
Day 2 Sunday June 4th, 2023: Mahuayani – Sanctuary of Qoylloritti
We wake up early and after our breakfast, we start our hike up towards the Sanctuary of Qoylloritti, located in a breathtaking spot, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. We slowly hike through an uphill trail along which we will encounter 14 crosses that are venerated on the way; the last one is already located at the Sanctuary. Upon arrival, we are accommodated at our camp and enjoy free time in the afternoon. The display of activities at the Sanctuary is impressive, as well as the number of pilgrims attending this festivity year by year. In the evening, we can attend the mass at the Sanctuary, being two ceremonies, one at 06.00pm and the other at 08.00 pm. Dinner and camp at the Sanctuary.
- B, L, D
Day 3 Monday June 5th, 2023: Sanctuary of Qoylloritti
This day is fully spent at the Sanctuary, following the activities of the pilgrims. We attend the “Alacitas” market in the morning. This is a very curious display in which one buys miniature goods such as trucks, houses, cattle, university titles and others, with money that is only valid during the Qoyllur Ritti festivity, according to one’s real wishes. The legend says that whatever you accomplish in this game will come true thanks to the power of the Lord of Qoylloritti. The Soul Mass at the Sanctuary atrium (10.00 am) is the next event followed by the “Pablitos” mass at 12.00 pm. The afternoon is reserved for other activities, for all wanting to join them: the procession of the Lord of Tayancani and the Virgin, several dancing performances, mass at the Sanctuary at 06.00 pm and the singing to the Lord at 07.00 pm. At night, after dinner, we enjoy the spectacular “Burning of Castles”, in which wooden constructions with fireworks are burnt, followed by the “Child’s Dance”. Afterwards, the pilgrims ascend to the snow-capped mountain and glacier to bring down the crosses to the Sanctuary.
- B, L, D
Day 4 Tuesday June 6th, 2023: Sanctuary of Qoylloritti – Yanacocha – Night Pilgrimage to Tayancani
After an early wake up, we pack our bags and get ready for the pilgrimage. We wait and attend the Blessing Mass at 10.00 am and at noon, we leave in the so-called “24 hour procession”, together with the rest of pilgrims. The procession leaves from the Sanctuary and runs through Calvario Machucruz, the lagoons in Kumukasa and Alqamarina sectors, until reaching Yanacocha, where we arrive at around 06.00 pm. We then sleep for 3-4 hours until 10.00 pm, when we start walking during the night towards Tayancani. Night hike.
Day 5 Wednesday June 7th, 2023: Tayancani - Cusco
After a spectacular night pilgrimage, we wait for sunrise and the impressive “Sun Greeting” ceremony (07.00 am) to descend to Tayancani and attend the Blessing to Sanctuary and village of the same name (08.00 am). We attend the mass (10.00 am) and then follow our hike up a mountain pass (2h) and then down to Ocongate (1h), where we have lunch. In the afternoon, we board our private transportation back to Cusco (5h), where we expect to arrive around 06.00 pm.
* Departure and arrival times are approximated.
- Price information
Price per person 2023
Prices per person depend on the group size, the larger the group the lower the price per person.
Please click here to check our prices, specifying:
- Early bookings: 5% on full program price for all bookings confirmed at least 6 months in advance. This discount may not be applicable in case a promotional price is offered
- Departure dates
- Group size
To suit group requirements
- What is included
- Pre-departure briefing
- Collection from your hotel in the morning and transfer in private transport to Mahuayani, starting point of the pilgrimage
- Tinki visitor fee
- Campsite fees
- Personal tents: 2 people in each 4-people-capacity tent, to allow for higher comfort and a safe keeping of backpacks. . The tents employed for treks around the Ausangate area are 4-season Eureka K2XT, highly maintained to ensure an excellent performance in field
- One inflatable sleeping pad per person
- One sleeping bag per person: our sleeping bags are -18ºC-comfort (0ºF), mummy form and include a sleeping liner. They are cleaned after every use and have a maximum usage of 30 trips
- One pillow per person
- Dining tent with tables and chairs
- Kitchen tent
- Toilet tent with biodegradable toilet facilities
- English speaking professional and official tourist guide (2 guides for groups of over 8 people)
- Chef and cooking equipment
- Pack animals (to carry tents, food and cooking equipment)
- Pack animals to carry personal gear up to a maximum of 9kg per person (including sleeping pad and sleeping bag)
- 1 emergency horse every 6 persons
- Accommodation for all our staff
- Meals (04B, 05L, 04D + daily morning snack + daily tea service except last day). Vegetarian or special menus are available at no extra cost
- One textile snack bag per person, to avoid the usage of plastic bags that contaminate our environment
- Filtered boiled water from lunch time on 1st day onwards
- Bio-degradable personal hand soaps
- Bio-degradable dishwashing detergents used by our kitchen staff
- Others: hot water every morning and evening for washing purposes / boiled water to fill in your water bottle every morning and night, and at lunch time if requested with enough time ahead
- First-aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle
- Private transport from Ocongate to Cusco, including transfer to your hotel in Cusco
- 24-h guest service: please ask for the emergency number available during your time of visit
- What is not included
- Breakfast on the first day
- Dinner on the last day
- What we recommend that you bring
- A backpack with a change of clothes for the whole period of the trek
- Rain gear (jacket and pants if available) or rain poncho (plastic ponchos can be purchased in Cusco)
- Strong footwear, waterproof trekking boots recommended
- Sandals or jogging shoes for a higher comfort while at camp
- Warm clothes, including jacket, fleeces. Thermal clothing is also recommended, especially for sleeping. A down jacket is especially recommended for this trek since it runs at high altitude and temperatures may easily drop below freezing in the evening and at nights
- Flashlight/headlamp and batteries
- Camera and batteries (batteries consume more quickly under cold conditions)
- Hat or cap to protect you from the sun, rain and cold
- Sun block
- After-sun cream or hydrating cream for face and body
- Toilet paper and tissues
- Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, dried fruits, muesli, etc. Please note that we do provide a daily morning snack and our meal service is very complete and well supplied. This recommendation applies for all clients being used to a specific snack, as it may happen that it is not included in our selection
- Water container and water for the first morning
- Optionally: water- sterilizing tablets in case you pick up water from streams or rivers along the route. Otherwise, we provide filtered boiled water, which is safe to drink and has not reported any health problem so far
- Small towel
- Cash in soles and/or US$
- Copy of original passport
- Optional: walking sticks or poles
- Optional services to be hired
- Massage sessions: US$70.00 per 1-hour session (US$60.00 per session if at least 2 sessions are booked). Our massage therapists have the highest recognition in Cusco and offer the following treatments: relaxing massage, stress-relieving massage, spinal column massage, energizing massage, Inca massage, altitude problems, aroma therapy, therapy with honey, therapy with glass, therapy with stones, foot reflexology, shiatzu, reiki and puddle of flowering. We recommend massage sessions before and after your trekking program. Services are at the hotel and are only available in Cusco.
- Appropriate clothing along this hike
Hiking pants and T-shirts are recommended during the day, complemented by sweaters, fleeces and waterproof jackets. It is very convenient to have light raingear available in the daypack (rain poncho or jacket and/or rain pants) as the weather changes easily and rains can suddenly occur. At night, very warm clothing is required along the whole route, down jackets, down sleeping bags and thermal clothes being very recommended. The rest of necessary implements are included in the “What we recommend that you bring” list.
Cusco’s climate is divided into two differentiated seasons: the rainy season, from November to April (the heaviest rainfalls occurring usually between January – March); and the dry season, from May to October. The dry season is colder, so temperatures can drop to below 0 degrees at night.
In the area surrounding the Sanctuary of Qoyllor Ritty, temperatures range from 10-20ºC during the day if it’s sunny, to 05-10ºC during the day if not sunny. Given the high altitude and remoteness of the campsites, temperatures drop significantly in the evening and especially at night, where they may get down to -10ºC or even lower. Warm clothes are therefore especially requested for this program.
- Why choose ENIGMA
- Because all our treks are only and strictly operated by Enigma and its very professional staff. Other agents claiming daily departures operate their treks jointly with other companies in service rotation. Hence, you book a departure with tour operator A, which risks to be finally operated by tour operator B without you knowing. ENIGMA has a quality of service and a high reputation, which is only possible by ensuring that only ENIGMA staff operates ENIGMA treks. Even if we only have a single traveler for a set departure date, this will be operated by us.
- Because we have and can prove an excellent treatment to our staff, including chefs, porters and wranglers. ENIGMA not only complies with the Porter Law and Regulation, but our wages are over the minimum requested by law and above the average paid by most of the tour operators, all our staff eats well and more than enough, they are provided with sleeping bags, thermal clothes, sleeping tents, trekking boots, thick rain ponchos, harnesses and lumbar support for their duty on field. Most importantly, they have a program ensuring them a minimum number of departures per month and hence, a minimum income per month as well.
- Because we are very careful to choose the best guides for each group. About 80% of our guides work exclusively for ENIGMA and are highly trained, have excellent language proficiency and communication skills and are regularly evaluated by the service reports each guest fills in after each service. We have special guides for special requests (ornithology, history and archaeology, flora and fauna and also generalist guides). All our guides have been trained in advanced first aid by the Sierra Nevada Outdoor Education / Wilderness USA. We also have guides proficient in several languages besides English and Spanish, including French, Italian, German, Chinese and Japanese. In all of our treks, not only on the Inca Trail, there will be a guide for every 8 guests with one of them being the head guide. This ensures a higher safety and attention to guests versus other operators.
- Because we have one of the best equipment in field, renewed every year, employing excellent brand and performance tents, surgical steel vaiselle for best hygiene, best water filters, therm-a-rest inflatable sleeping pads, orthopaedical foamy three-level sleeping pads, among others.
- Because we have one of the best meal services in field in the area: our chefs have been trained by several institutes in Lima, Cusco and also by chefs coming from the NY Culinary Institute. They have learned the HACCP method and their operation ensures maximum hygiene. Above all, be prepared to not only have a superb trekking experience but also a culinary one, including generous and delicious breakfasts, snacks, lunches, tea services and dinners that we can adapt to your very specific requests. Our menus include a variety of Peruvian and international food and also cater for vegetarian, vegan and special dietary requests (Atkins, Gluten-free, etc), all at no extra cost. ENIGMA is recognized for its gourmet meals, the quantity and quality of food, as well as for its outstanding menu design. This is another factor for a higher price as we take natural ingredients on the treks and prepare them in the field, we do not take prepared low quality food, the meals being an added experience in all of our programs.
- Because ENIGMA’s responsible operation makes sure to cause a low impact on the environment of the natural protected areas where it runs. We train all our staff in our environment policy and, for example, ENIGMA is so far the only Inca Trail Official Operator to run a yearly Inca Trail Clean-Up.
- Because we pay legal taxes (19% IGV or consumption tax) on all services contributing to the country’s growth and development. Further to this, we pay a 30% tax on all earnings. There are many tour operators who do not pay taxes and do not declare neither their sales nor most of their earnings, or declare them with a lower value, giving them this the possibility of lowering their prices through what to our eyes is an unloyal competition. Our policy will never be not to declare taxes.
- Because all of our Group Services have a maximum group size of 12, whereas most tour operators work with a maximum of 16 on the Inca Trail, since this is the authorized by law, or even higher on other routes. We have established 12 as a maximum since this increases the quality of our service, as there are definitely spots along the treks where being 16 makes it impossible to provide a personalized service and explanation.
- Also, our excellent treatment to our staff is not reduced in the low season: porter wages are maintained, same as guide fees, which is something highly appreciated by our staff, since some operators prefer to decrease prices and wages as they know the porters, guides and chefs do not have as many demand for work as in the high season. We have our own staff which is exclusive and do not like abusing in this way since, basically, the work they do and the quality of performance we demand has to be the same in the sunny or rainy season, whether you book ahead or in the last minute.
- Finally, because all in all and due to all of the above, we have very highly satisfied guests, as our numerous testimonials prove. In our Testimonials section of our website you may find reports dating from 2003 (when we started our operation) to today. The original reports are available at our office in Cusco.
We are aware other operators may offer the Inca Trail or other programs at a lower price. This does not mean they are offering the same program at a lower price: the level of service will not be the same. We understand price is definitely an issue but we kindly request our potential guests and clients to choose a responsible tour operator as otherwise, you risk to be indirectly promoting the exploitation of rural communities and the growth of informal and illegal operators that do not build on the country’s development and growth.
- How to make a booking
If you would like to make a reservation for this program, please go directly to the Booking Online section of this website.
- Once you have chosen your tour, please read the Booking Terms & Conditions, as your booking is subject to these terms.
- Then fill out and submit the Reservation Form that you will find in the Booking Online section of this website.
- In a maximum of two working days, you will receive an email from one of our travel consultants confirming or denying your booking.
- In case your reservation is confirmed, a money deposit will be requested to secure your reservation.
- Once we confirm the deposit reception, your booking is confirmed. A Service Confirmation Form will be sent to you including all the details of your program.
In case you have any doubts, queries or require additional information, please contact us, we will be very glad to assist you. Your request will be answered by return mail within a maximum of 2 working days.
- Booking terms & conditions
Once you have chosen your program, please read this terms and conditions as your booking is subject to the terms listed below. A contract is entered into once ENIGMA receives your booking form and deposit, and we accept and confirm the booking. Please note that travel arrangements are not confirmed until stated so in writing by ENIGMA.
Payment / Deposit
An appropriate deposit per person for the chosen program is requested at the moment of the booking. This deposit is non-refundable in case of cancellation by the client. The balance of the program has to be paid prior to departure in a date that will vary according to the program that you are booking and the indications that you will receive from your travel consultant.
Cancellation by Us
ENIGMA reserves the right to cancel a program in case any of the following circumstances occur:
Client’s failure to pay the due balance of 60 or 20 days (according the booked program) prior to the departure date. In this case, the client will not have any right for the deposit refund.
Force majeure: Impossibility to operate the program due to unusual or unforeseen circumstances outside ENIGMA’s control. Ie. Delays in departures on travel arrangements caused by technical problems, weather conditions, over-booking or closure of a hotel, strikes, riots, decisions by State Governments or Tourist Organizations altering the itinerary, the duration of the time spent in a city or even omitting a city or part of the itinerary due to the local situation. In such cases, ENIGMA will propose viable solutions to operate the program or comparable travel arrangements. If any of the circumstances listed above occur during the course of the tour, we reserve the right to alter the scheduled itinerary accordingly and no compensation will be paid. We will make every reasonable effort to provide you with the booked program arrangements but changes may occur. If they are significant we shall, if possible, inform you before the departure date.
Again, we will offer comparable alternative arrangements. All additional expenses derived will be at the expense of the client. Please note that ENIGMA will not be liable to reimburse additional expenses undertaken by the client in preparation for the tour, this including international tickets, used mileage awards and fees, cost of visas, immunizations, shots, among others.
Alterations by You
If the client requests any amendments to the initial travel arrangements once a booking is confirmed, no amendment fee will be payable unless the program changes its nature significantly. Upon request of additional services such as train tickets, domestic airfare, etc., ENIGMA will charge an additional $30.00 for each solicited service. If due to the amendment, ENIGMA should have to assume significant communication charges or other expenses, these would be payable by the client. If amendments are requested after the commencement of the tour, ENIGMA will do its best to implement them, but we cannot guarantee that it will be possible. In the event of such an amendment being made, the client will be liable for any cancellation/retention charges that may be levied for the previously booked service and for any costs incurred by ENIGMA in attempting to secure any revised arrangement.
Cancellation by You
In case of cancellation by the client, this should be notified to ENIGMA in writing. Please note that the program deposit is non-refundable. Such notification will only be deemed to have been given on receipt of your letter or e-mail, since we can only act on receipt. Please state the reason for cancellation as you may be covered by your insurance policy.
For Custom Programs:
If notification of cancellation is received more than 60 days before the departure, the client will only lose the deposit. For notifications received within 60 days of departure, cancellation charges are as follows:
60 to 31 Days: 50% of program price
30 to 16 Days: 75% of program price
15 to the Day of Departure 100% of program price
For Treks and Expeditions:
If notification of cancellation is received more than 30 days before the departure, the client will only lose the deposit. For notifications received within 30 days of departure, cancellation charges are as follows:
30 to 16 Days: 75% of program price
15 to the Day of Departure 100% of program price
For all cancellations within 30 days of departure, the unused trek permit will be returned as well as the return train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Cusco and the bus tickets from Machu Picchu to Cusco. Clients may be able to re-use the tickets by presenting them to the respective authorities and paying an additional amount, which varies depending on the ticket.
Cancellations received Fridays for program departures that weekend (Saturday, Sunday or Monday) will be treated as day of departure cancellation. We cannot give any allowance or refund for meals, rooms, excursions, etc. not taken, when these are included in the price of the tour. No refund can be made on lost, mislaid or destroyed travel tickets or vouchers. There will be no refunds made for cancelled or unused services whatsoever.
Any reimbursement expenses derived from a cancellation by you will not be assumed by ENIGMA.
Acceptance of Risk
Some of ENIGMA’s itineraries have been designed to provide participants with an exposure to the true nature of the environment visited. They therefore involve an element of personal risk and exposure to potential, which could result in physical or emotional injury, paralysis, death, or damage to the client, his/her property or to third parties. The client understands that such risks simply cannot be eliminated without jeopardizing the essential qualities of the activity and therefore assumes them as part of the tour. The client accepts that he/she is aware of his physical and health condition and that, under the knowledge of this he/she decides to undertake the abovementioned risks. The client excludes ENIGMA from any responsibility linked to any accident or injury that may occur associated to the clients’ health, physical condition or other.
Authority on Tour
At all times the decision of the company's guide or representative will be final on all matters likely to endanger the safety and well being of the tour group.
The client must at all times strictly comply with the laws, customs, and foreign exchange and drug regulations of Peru. Should the client fail to comply with the above, or should the client interfere with the well being of the group then the guide or company representative may order the client to leave the tour without recourse to any refund.
It is the responsibility of the individual traveler to secure the proper documentation prior to joining the program. The client must be in possession of a valid passport with at least six-month validity from the date of entry and all visas required for the whole of the journey. Any information or advice given by the company on visas, vaccinations, climate, clothing, baggage, special equipment, etc. is given in good faith but without responsibility on the part of the company.
The company shall not be liable for any damage or loss if the failure to carry out the contract is:
1. Attributable to the client
2. Attributable to a third party unconnected with the provision of the services contracted for and the event is unforeseeable or unavoidable
3. Due to unforeseen and unusual circumstances beyond the company's control, the consequences of which could not have been avoided even if all due care had to be exercised. The company will do its best to minimize the effects of matters outside its control, but cannot accept any liability for these matters which include political disputes, border closures, refusals of visas, industrial action, delayed flights, unforeseeable climate, strikes, war, civil disturbances, natural disasters, government actions, mechanical failures or any acts of God, among others. The client accepts to assume all extra costs derived by any of these factors.
ENIGMA directly operates part of the services included in a program but also makes arrangements with airlines, hotels and other independent parties to provide you with the travel services you purchase. We do take all reasonable steps to ensure that organizations providing services maintain our quality standards. However, these parties are independent suppliers over whom we have no direct full control.
ENIGMA can therefore not accept liability for negligence of the staff of these organizations. The participant waives any claim against ENIGMA for any damage to or loss of property, injury or death due to any act or negligence of any airlines, surface transportation company, hotels or any person rendering any of the services or accommodations included.
ENIGMA cannot be held responsible for any claim, losses, damages or delay of baggage or other properties, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment, upset and disappointment, distress or frustrations, whether physical or mental, resulting from the act or omission of any party providing the services. In the event of any service being withdrawn by any of our suppliers, ENIGMA shall have no responsibility beyond refunding all monies paid by the participant for that service.
When you travel with an airline, the conditions of carriage of that airline will apply. These conditions are the subject of international agreements and may limit or exclude liability. ENIGMA is not liable for any expenses or consequences resulting from flight delays, cancellations or missed connections, and such expenses shall be borne by the client.
Claims and Complaints
If a client has a complaint against the company the client must first inform the tour conductor, guide or company representative while on the tour in order that the guide/representative can attempt to rectify the matter. Any further complaint must be put in writing to the company within 7 days of the end of the tour.
Venue for all claims or disputes shall be exclusively in Cusco, Peru, whose courts, using Peruvian Law, shall have exclusive jurisdiction. Damage claims against ENIGMA shall be limited to the value of the particular item in dispute.
Any liability is limited to the full price paid for the tour. In all cases the company specifically excludes all liability for indirect, incidental or consequential loss or expense including loss of profits.
ENIGMA assumes responsibility for representations it makes, but not for those made by others and including, but not limited to, any employee of ENIGMA or any independent travel agent.
Payment for reservations on any ENIGMA program or tour shall constitute consent to all the provisions in the Booking Terms & Conditions set out herein and is binding on all tour and travel participants.