The Ultimate Travel Guide for Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of South America's most popular trekking routes. Every year, thousands of people from all over the world come to Peru to hike the trail and see the ruins of the ancient Inca citadel.

If you're thinking about embarking on this adventure, you'll need to know a few things. This article will give you an overview of what to expect on the Inca Trail, from the hike's difficulty to the best time of year to do the trek.

Overview

This legendary hike to the Lost City of the Incas requires no introduction. The Inca Trail hike is considered one of the best hikes in the world. It is a pilgrimage to a sacred city and a trek that can change how you see life.

Few places in the world will be so inspiring and unique as the Mount Kilimanjaro Trek, the Appalachian Trek, or the Tour du Mont Blanc. The Inca Trail hike has a bonus that makes it unique and one of the most remarkable treks; you will be hiking to a world-renowned destination, the Sacred Citadel of Machu Picchu.

During the Inca Trail, you are hiking not only to see Machu Picchu, but everywhere you stop for a break will have a breathtaking view; there are also several Inca sites full of history and mysteries.

What are the Inca Trails?

The Incas had the largest empire in the South American region; Tawantinsuyo (4 provinces of the sun) was the name of the civilization that originated in the Peruvian highlands in the early 13th century until the Spaniards arrived in 1532. At the height of the empire, they ruled over Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. To connect such a vast territory, the Incas built an extensive network of trails called Qhapaq Nan (Inca Trails).

Cusco was the capital, the center, and the most important city where the kings lived. All trails started from Cusco to the south, north, east, and west. The Inca Trails allowed the trading, communication, transportation of food, and the Inca Army's movement. The total length of the Inca Trail is approximately 40,000 km (25,000 miles), and it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is just a small portion of this vast trail network in the Tawantinsuyo. The total length is 26 miles (42 kilometers), and it was rediscovered in 1915 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham.

Why is the Classic Inca Trail Trek so famous?

The Inca Trail is one of the most amazing hikes in the world. This trek takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in Peru, culminating in a visit to the world-famous Machu Picchu. Below are a few reasons why the Inca Trail is one of the most amazing hikes in the world. 

  • The Classic Inca Trail was built during the Incan Empire's height. The Inca engineers employed advanced techniques and thousands of men to transport boulders and build stone-paved pathways and sacred archaeological sites. They carved mountains to anchor trails and cities.
  • After the Hispanic Invasion in 1532, Manco Inca II, the Rebel Inca King, escaped to Vilcabamba and destroyed all trails and bridges; this is why the Spaniards never found Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail.
  • Since the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu were lost for centuries, they have been wonderfully conserved, and travelers can now admire them.
  • Hiram Bingham discovered Macchu Picchu in 1911 and the Inca Trail in 1915. This discovery helped the Inca Trail trek become very popular.
  • Inca Trail is only accessible on foot. This is Peru's porter-only trek. The Porters are descendants of the ancient Chaskis, who relayed messages. This trek includes porters.
  • The Inca Trail hike culminates at the magnificent Machu Picchu citadel, one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world.

The History of the Inca Trail

  • During the Inca Empire's height in the 15th century, Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail were built by the great Inca emperor, Pachacuti, the 9th Inca King.
  • In 1532, the Hispanic conquistadors arrived in Peru and captured King Atahualpa in Cajamarca. The Inca king was executed.
  • In 1533, the Conquistador arrived in Cusco; Francisco Pizarro founded Cusco as a Spanish city on March 23, 1534. On April 25, 1534, Pizarro founded the city of Jauja as the first capital of the new colony (First Capital of Peru).
  • On January 18, 1535, Pizarro founded Lima city on Peru's central coast, called "The City of the Kings."
  • On May 6, 1536, the siege of Cuzco began with Manco Inca II's army against the Spanish conquerors led by Hernando Pizarro. The siege was from Sacsayhuaman fortress, lasted almost 10 months, and was ultimately unsuccessful.
  • In January 1537, the battle of Ollantaytambo took place between the troops of the Manco Inca king and the Spanish expedition led by Hernando Pizarro. The Inca army defeats the Spaniards. Despite this victory, Manco Inca's forces abandoned Ollantaytambo and sought refuge in the jungles of Vilcabamba, where he established a small, independent New Inca state until 1572. During the retreat, the Manco Inca directed that all trails, bridges, and towns be destroyed so that the Spaniards could not follow them.
  • In 1911, Hiram Bingham was in Peru searching for Vilcabamba, the last capital of the Incas, and by accident, he discovered Machu Picchu. Until his death, he believed that Machu Picchu was Vilcabamba, the last capital of the Incas.
  • In 1915, Hiram Bingham discovered the Inca Trail and performed excavations at all Inca sites. We hiked the Inca Trail in the opposite direction. He started at Machu Picchu and ended up at the beginning of the Inca Trail.
  • In 1983, UNESCO declared Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site; in 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the World's New Seven Wonders.
  • In January 2020, the Inca Trail was closed due to a landslide caused by the excessive rains; it was expected to be open in March 2020. However, due to COVID-19, it was closed until March 2021, when operations began at 50% capacity. 
  • In 2022, the Inca Trail was fully open, and 2023 is expected to be as busy as before the pandemic. 

Archeological Sites inside the Inca Trail

  • Salapunku

The first Archeological site after Km 82 is only visible from the other side of the river; Classic Inca Trail hikers will not visit this site. Travelers can only take pictures from the other side of the river. The site has great walls and a huge gate believed to be Machu Picchu's entrance from the Sacred Valley.

Hikers of the Inca Trail's slow version and the Ultimate Inca Trail will be able to visit the fantastic site considered the main gate to access Machu Picchu from The Sacred Valley.

  • K'anabamba

Also, Located on the opposite side of the river from the Inca Trail, this second archaeological was a resting place for travelers.

  • Llaqtapata

"We found evidence that some Inca chieftain had built his home here and included ten or dozen buildings in the plan. They were made of rough stones laid in clay with the usual symmetrical arrangement of doors and niches. It may have been built by one of Manco's captains" – Hiram Bingham, The Lost City of the Incas, 1912.

Llaqtapata was an Inca site on the south side of the Cusichaca River valley in Peru. The site consisted of terraces, buildings, and agricultural fields. Llaqtapata was connected to the nearby city of Machu Picchu by a network of trails. The Llaqtapata Inca Trail site is excellent for exploring the Inca culture.

  • Willkarakay

 Located in the upper part of Llaqtapata, with circular construction and a great location, it shows that it was used and uninhabited by religious priests.

  • Runkurakay

Located in the heart of the Inca Trail, the semicircular shape ruins were once used as a resting stop for more messengers and a religious place for the moon. The Incas used the Runkurakay as a resting place for travelers to Machu Picchu. The site consists of a series of stone buildings constructed by the Incas. The facilities at the Runkurakay Inca site include the main house, a smaller house, a storage building, and a series of staircases and terraces.

  • Sayakmarka

A unique archaeological site with a strategic location that controls all the cloud forest valleys below. This place was used for religious and military purposes. The main temple at Sayakmarka is dedicated to the sun god, Inti. The site is made up of a series of terraces, temples, and dwellings.

  • Conchamarka

It was located right below Sayakmarca and probably was home to a significant person or a high priest. It consists of terraces with large rectangular buildings at the top.

  • Phuyupatamarca

 "The city over the clouds" is located on a mountaintop above Machu Picchu Mountain. This place was an important religious place for water and the mountains. The site is situated at an altitude of 3,700 meters (12,100 ft) on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley.

The Phuyupatarmcar consists of a series of terraces, walls, and buildings constructed by the Incas. One of the most notable features of Phuyupatamarca is the Inca water system, which includes a series of canals and aqueducts that supply water to the site. The Incas abandoned Phuyupatamarca after the Spanish defeated them in 1533. 

  • Intipata

This site was an important agricultural in the thick cloud forest center. The terraces are perfectly adapted to the shape of the mountain and built to provide agricultural land for the Inca people and their animals. The Intipata terraces are located on a mountainside and are believed to have been built by the Inca people between the 15th and 16th centuries.

The terraces are made up of several layers of stone cut into the mountainside and designed to capture water from rainfall and channel it to the crops grown on the terraces. The Intipata terraces are an example of the engineering prowess of the Inca people.

  • Wiñayhuayna

Wiñayhuayna (Quechua: [wiɲaˈʝwana]) is an archaeological site in Peru located 6 kilometers (3.7 mi) from Machu Picchu. It is believed to be the gateway to the sacred city of the Incas and was possibly used as a Tambo or resting place for travelers. The site consists of a series of terraces cut into a mountainside, with stone walls and staircases leading up to a temple at the top. There are also several caves and tunnels in the area, which the Incas used for storage and as burial chambers.

  • Intipunku

Intipunku, also known as the "Sun Gate," is the main entrance to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. The name comes from the Quechua words inti (sun) and punku (door), and it is said that the Incas built this gate to align with the winter solstice sunset. The view from Intipunku is truly breathtaking - on one side, you have the majestic Andes mountains, and on the other, you have the ancient city of Machu Picchu, nestled in a verdant valley. If you're lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the sun setting behind the mountains, it's an experience you'll never forget.

  • Machu Picchu

 There is no greater joy than arriving from the Inca Trail at Machu Picchu. . The name "Machu Picchu" means "old peak" in Quechua, the language of the Inca Empire. Machu Picchu was built in the 15th century and was abandoned shortly after the Spanish conquest of Peru in the 16th century. However, it was rediscovered in 1911 by American explorer Hiram Bingham. Since then, it has become one of Peru's most popular tourist destinations. The site is accessible via a hike up the Inca Trail or by train from Cusco. Once at Machu Picchu, visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the history of this fascinating place.

Campsites along the Inca Trail

  • Mescay

The first stop on the Inca Trail. It's a small, family-run campsite where usually the groups will stay only for lunch or a 5-day tour camp. Mescay Village is a great place to stock up on supplies. Several small shops in the village sell hiking gear, food, and water. Our Inca Trail porters usually stop at this place to drink Chicha (corn beer) to re-energize. 

  • Tarayoc

Tarayok is the first campsite for tours like the Ultimate Inca Trail 5 days. The primary source of income for the villagers is tourism, as our porters have lunch in a Local restaurant. Also, our guests will have lunch at this place. 

  • Hatunchaca

Small village when the 5-day slow version Inca trail camp. It is a small community of about 80 people, most of whom are farmers. The villagers are friendly and welcoming, offering travelers campsites, showers, and shops. 

  • Wayllabamba

The last village in the Inca, this campsite is used for the 4-day Classic IncaTrail and the slow 5-day trek. The Wayllabamba village is the first stop on the Inca Trail. It is 3,000 meters above sea level and is the last village before beginning the four-day trek to Machu Picchu. The town is home to about 200 people who are mostly farmers. There are a few small shops in the village where you can buy snacks and drinks for the trek. The town has a school and a health center.

  • Ayapata

First and preferred campsite inside the Protected area of the Classic Inca Trail, located at 3300 meters inside the protected area of the Inca Trail. The camp is situated at an altitude of 3,300 meters (10826 feet) and is surrounded by mountain peaks and glaciers. Hikers can expect to find a basic campsite with facilities for cooking and sleeping in tents.

  • Lluluchapampa

The second campsite of the Ultimate Inca Trail. It is located at an altitude of 3,850 meters (12,631 feet), so it can be pretty cold at night. A small stream runs through the campsite, a good water source for cooking and washing. There are also some toilet facilities at the camp. The Lluluchapampa Campsite is a great place to spend a night before you make your final push to the summit of the Inca Trail. It is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, and you can see the stars clearly at night. Knowing that you have made it to the last campsite before the summit is also a sense of achievement!

  • Pacaymayu alto

The Pacaymayo alto campsite is the second-day campsite on the Inca Trail at an altitude of 3,650 meters. It is located in a valley between two mountain peaks. The Pacaymayo River runs through the camp, and several stone terraces are nearby. This is an ideal spot for wildlife watching, as the spectacle bear and Andean condors.

  • Chaquicoha

The second/preferred campsite of the Classic Inca Trail. The camp is situated at an altitude of 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. From this campsite, it is possible to enjoy the fantastic views of the Amazon basin and the peaks of the Vilcabamba Mountain range. 

  • Phuyupatamarca

The Phuyupatamarca campsite is located on a mountain above the Urubamba River at an altitude of 3,650 m (11,975 ft). It takes its name from the nearby ruins of Phuyupatamarca, which means "town above the clouds" in Quechua. The Phuyupatamarca campsite is a great place to rest and enjoy the stunning views of the Andes Mountains. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area, including a visit to the nearby ruins. The campsite has basic facilities, such as toilets and water. This campsite offers the best views and amazing sunrise and sunsets. 

  • Wiñaywayna

Wiñaywayna is the final campsite along the Inca Trail before hikers reach Machu Picchu. The name Wiñaywayna means “forever young” in Quechua, and it’s believed to be named after a flower that blooms in the area. The Wiñaywayna campsite is at an altitude of 2,650m (8,690ft), making it the lowest camp along the Inca Trail. From here, it’s a short hike to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku), which offers stunning views of Machu Picchu. 

  • Puente Ruinas

This optional camping site is at 2000 meters, next to Aguas Calientes town (Machu Picchu). This is the perfect campsite for the Short Inca Trail 2 days Camping. 

Best Inca Trail Tours To Machu Picchu

The Inca Trails to Machu Picchu are divided into 2; the Classic Long Inca Trail and the Shorter Version. You can book these tours from March to January every year. February is closed for maintenance.

The Classic Long Inca Trails usually sell out fast, and you need to book far in advance; the Short Version sells slower and is a great alternative if the first one is sold out. Both options allow you to Arrive at Machu Picchu through the Sungate or Intipunku.

See the list of the Best Inca Trail tours divided between the Long Version and the Short Version.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Classic Long Inca Trail Tours To Machu Picchu

The long Inca Trail to Machu Picchu starts at Kilometer 82 on the railroad from Cusco to Machu Picchu. During these tours, you will be camping in the mountain, and the Inca Trail Porters must carry all the food and equipment. The best long Inca trail tours are:

Classic Inca Trail 4 days and 3 nights: 

The Classic 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is the most popular itinerary. To be able to participate in this tour, you must book your tour far in advance. The Treks start with pick up In Cusco city or the Sacred Valley and a bus drive until Kilometer 82 in the village of Piskacucho, where the main checkpoint of the Inca Trail is located.

You can hike the Inca Trail only with a Licensed Inca Trail tour operator like TreXperience; you can not hike on your own; you must always travel with a tour guide, chef, and porters.

Tour details:

  • Duration: 4 Days / 3 nights
  • Depart: Km 82 – Piscacucho
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: March to January
  • Destination: Machu Picchu
  • Hiking Distance: 43 km – 26 miles

Itineraries of Inca Trail 4 days.

Option 1:

  • Day 1: Cusco – Km 82 – Llactapata – Ayapata 
  • Day 2: Ayapata – Dead Women’s Pass – Chaquicocha
  • Day 3: Chaquicocha – Intipata – Wiñaywayna ” The easy day”
  • Day 4: Discover Machu Picchu

Option 2:

  • Day 1: Cusco – Km 82 – Llactapata – Wayllabamba
  • Day 2: Waybamba – Dead Women’s Pass – Pacaymayo
  • Day 3: Pacaymayo – Phuyupatamarca – Wiñaywayna
  • Day 4: Discover Machu Picchu

Option 3:

  • Day 1: Cusco – Km 82 – Llactapata – Wayllabamba
  • Day 2: Waybamba – Dead Women’s Pass – Pacaymayo
  • Day 3: Pacaymayo – Chaquicocha - Phuyupatamarca
  • Day 4: Phuyupatamarca - Machu Picchu

Pros:
The 4 days Inca Trail will allow you to arrive at the Sungate or Intipunku early in the morning of day 4 and have a unique opportunity to see the sunrise from this spectacular place.

Cons:
This is the most popular itinerary, and campsites can be crowded. TreXperience Itineraries are designed so that you will always be hiking ahead of the crowds.

Slow Version Inca Trail Tour 5 days 4 nights

The 5-day Inca Trail tour follows the same route as the Inca trail for 4 days, but you will spend more time at each Inca Site. The Inca Trail slow version will allow you to explore the Inca Sites more, hike at your own pace, and camp in the less crowded campsites.

The Treks start at Kilometer 82; hike the Inca Trail with 3 nights of Camping plus one night in a 3-star hotel in Aguas Calientes.

Tour details:

  • Duration: 5 days, 4 nights
  • Depart: Km 82
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: Every day except February
  • Destination: Lost city of Machu Picchu
  • Total Distance: 43 km / 26 miles

Itinerary of Inca Trail 5 days:

  • Day 1: Cusco – KM 82 – Wayllabamba
  • Day 2: Wayllabamba – Dead Woman’s Pass – Pacaymayo
  • Day 3: Pacaymayo – Runcu Raccay – Phuyupatamarca
  • Day 4: Phuyupatamarca – Sungate – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes
  • Day 5: Machu Picchu (The Lost City of The Incas) – Cusco

Pros:
The 5 days tour allows you to hike the Inca Trail slower and enjoy each archaeological site more; you will be camping at exclusive campsites.

This tour allows you to arrive twice at Machu Picchu, once in the afternoon of day 4 to enjoy the sunset at Machu Picchu and once in the morning of day 5 to enjoy the sunrise.

Cons:
Fewer people are hiking this itinerary; therefore, few group tours are available. Group tour departures are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 travelers. If you are a solo traveler, contact us to join other travelers.

Ultimate Inca Trail Tour 5 days and 4 nights

Visit the most remote and isolated Inca Sites while traveling in small groups along the famous Inca Trail. The Ultimate Inca Trail tour will take you to places where other people don't arrive, allowing you to experience these beautiful paths with a few other travelers. 

The Trek start at Kilometer 82. Hike the Inca Trail with 3 nights of Camping plus one night in a 3-star hotel in Aguas Calientes.

Trip details:

  • Duration: 5 days, 4 nights
  • Depart: Cusco
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: All year round, except in February
  • Destination: Machu Picchu Citadel
  • Total hiking distance: 48 km – 30 miles
  • Type: Adventure tour

Itinerary of Inca Trail 5 days:

  • Day 1: Cusco – KM 82 – Wayllabamba
  • Day 2: Wayllabamba – Dead Woman’s Pass – Pacaymayo
  • Day 3: Pacaymayo – Runcu Raccay – Phuyupatamarca
  • Day 4: Phuyupatamarca – Sungate – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes
  • Day 5: Machu Picchu (The Lost City of The Incas) – Cusco

Pros:
The Ultimate Inca Trail has one of the most challenging itineraries on days 1 and 3; you will camp in isolated places with a few other travelers. 

This itinerary allows you to arrive at Machu Picchu twice: first on the afternoon of day 4 to witness the sunset and again on the morning of day 5 to enjoy the sunrise.

Cons:
As fewer people hike this route, there are fewer group tours available. The departure of a group excursion is guaranteed with a minimum of two participants. Contact us if you are a solo traveler interested in joining other travelers.

Salkantay Inca Trail 6 days and 5 nights

The most remote and challenging of the Inca Trail tours. The Salkantay Inca Trail trek combines the 2 most epic hikes in South America. Salkantay Trek + Inca Trail

This trek starts with a pick-up in Cusco city, then a drive to Mollepata to start the trek, visit Humantay Lake, hike around Salkantay Mountain, and join the Classic Inca Trail to arrive at Machu Picchu through the Sungate.

Tour details:

  • Duration: 6 days/5 nights
  • Depart: Soraypampa
  • Difficulty: Moderate – Challenging
  • Season: March to December
  • Destination: Machu Picchu
  • Hiking Distance: 70 km – 43 miles
  • Type: Adventure – Camping – History

Itinerary of Salkantay Inca Trail Expedition:

  • Day 1: Soraypampa – Humantay lake – Salkantaypampa – Ichupata (15 km / 9.3 miles)
  • Day 2: Ichupata – Sisaypampa – Canal Inca (13 km / 8 miles)
  • Day 3: Canal Inca – Wayllabamba – Ayapata (15 km / 9.3 miles)
  • Day 4: Ayapata – Warmiwañuska – Chaquicocha (16km / 9.9 miles)
  • Day 5: Chaquiccocha – Phuyupatamarca – Wiñaywayna (10km / 6.2 miles)
  • Day 6: Wiñaywayna – Machupicchu – Cusco (6km / 3.7 miles)

Pros:
Combine the 2 most popular hikes in Peru and arrive at Machu Picchu through the Sungate on the morning of day 6.

Cons:
This trek combines the 2 most challenging hikes to Machu Picchu. You need to be in good physical condition to complete the trek. Minimum 2 people to start the trek; solo travelers need to contact us to see available group tours.

Luxury Inca trail to Machu Picchu 4 days 3 nights

The Luxury Inca Trail to Machu Picchu trek takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in Peru. The trail starts at km 82 and winds through the Andes Mountains before reaching the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. You'll also enjoy luxury camping accommodations, gourmet meals, and guided tours of Inca sites and ruins. This is an unforgettable experience for any traveler looking to explore one of the world's most amazing archaeological sites.

Trip details:

  • Duration: 4 Days / 3 nights
  • Depart: Km 82 – Piscacucho
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: March to January
  • Destination: Machu Picchu
  • Hiking Distance: 46 km – 28 miles
  • Type: Adventure – Luxury Camping

Itinerary of Salkantay Inca Trail Expedition:

  • Day 1:Cusco – Kilometer 82 – Wayllabamba ( 12km, 7.4 miles) 
  • Day 2: Huayllabamba – Warmiwañusca – Pacaymay (10 km, 6.2 miles)
  • Day 3: Pacaymayo – Runkuracay – Phuyupatamarca (13 km, 8 miles)
  • Day 4: Phuyupatamarca – Machu Picchu – Cusco (6 km, 3.7 miles )

Pros:
Hike the Inca Trail with luxury camping equipment, massage, hot showers, and gourmet meals. 

Cons:
Available only on private tours. 

Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 

Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 2 days 1 night

The Inca Trail Short Version 2 days and 1 night, starts with pick up in Cusco or the Sacred Valley, drive to Ollantaytambo to take the Train to Km 104, and hike the 16 kilometers of Inca Trail to Machu Picchu through the Sungate.

During the first day, you can visit the Inca sites of Chachabamba, Wiñaywayna, Sungate, and Machu Picchu and spend the night in a 3-star hotel in Aguas Calientes.

On the second day, you can visit Machu Picchu Citadel and Inca Bridge or participate in extra hikes such as the Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain.

Tour details:

  • Distance: 16 km / 9.9 miles
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel
  • Considered: Moderate
  • Season: March to January
  • Destination: Machu Picchu

Itinerary Inca Trail 2 days:

  • Day 1: Cusco – Km 104 – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes
  • Day 2: Explore – Machu Picchu!

Pros:
Explore the best Inca Sites on Inca Trail and Arrive at Machu Picchu through the Sungate. You will be able to visit the great city of Machu Picchu twice; once to enjoy the sunset on the first day and once for sunrise and the second day.

Cons:
We have available tours only with the hotel option, so Camping is possible near Aguas Calientes next to the city; however, we do not recommend this option due to the noise.

Short Inca Trail 2 days with Camping

The Short Inca Trail, 2 days of Camping, is a great way to see Machu Picchu and experience an authentic camping experience. The trail is only 2 days long, so it's not too strenuous. You'll get to camp right below Machu Picchu and next to the Urubamba river, which is a great experience. The trail takes you through some stunning scenery, and you'll see some important Inca sites along the way, such as Wiñaywayna and Sungate. 

Tour details:

  • Distance: 16 km / 9.9 miles
  • Duration: 2 days, 1 night
  • Depart: In Cusco or the Sacred Valley
  • Destination: Machu Picchu
  • Considered: Moderate
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Type: Adventure – Cultural

Itinerary Inca Trail 2 days with Camping:

  • Day 1: Cusco – Km 104 – Machu Picchu – Puente Ruinas
  • Day 2: Explore – Machu Picchu!

Pros:
Hike the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 2 days and experience an authentic camping experience with walk-in tents, camping cots, and all camping equipment. 

Cons:
Minimum 2 participants to book and guarantee departure; solo travelers need to contact us to verify group availability. 

Weather in the Inca Trail

The weather in the Andes is unpredictable. You can be enjoying a sunny, and in a matter, it can turn into rain. Inca Trail is located in the Cloud Forest, a warm, humid mountainous area that divides the cold Andes with dense Amazon. No matter your traveling season, you must always be prepared for all seasons (sun, rain, wind, cold, and even snow at Dead Women's Pass).

When is the best time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

The best time to hike the Inca Trail – Many travelers frequently ask this question before deciding on a final date: Peru has 2 seasons – wet and dry – you can hike the Inca Trail all year round except February, which is closed for maintenance.

The wet or rainy season starts from November to April. The average daytime temperature is 18 °C (64 °F), while the night temperature can be around 9 °C (48 °F).

The dry or winter season starts from May to October; the average daytime temperature is 16 °C (61 °F), while nights are much colder, sometimes below 0 °C (32 °F).

Inca Trail in January

On average, January is the month with more rainy days; however, hiking the Inca trail can be a beautiful experience. After Christmas and New Year celebrations, Inca Trail gets a few visitors during January every year; this will make your trip memorable as you will be hiking with a few people.

  • Pros: Rains usually happen in the afternoon or for a couple of hours, and then the sun will appear. This is the season of orchids, rainbows, and spectacular pictures with mist and clouds. The least temperature variation between day and night is from 19°C (66°F) during the daytime to 7°C (45°F) during the nighttime.
  • Cons: Landslides can affect the trail, train delays, and flight delays.

Inca Trail in February

Inca Trail is closed all of February for maintenance; this month is the height of the rainy season. Machu Picchu is still open during February, and it is possible to hike alternative treks such as the Lares Trek, Quarry Trek, and Huchuy Qosqo Trek. Other tours like Salkantay Trek are available. However, we strongly suggest not going to the Salkantay area during February due to the risk of heavy rains and landslides.

Inca Trail in March

Inca trails reopen this month, and many travelers will hike to Machu Picchu. March is still inside the Rainy Season, but the weather will improve as the rains begin to subside. It is also important to consider that the February Inca Trail has been closed for maintenance, and all campsites, trails, bridges, and toilets have been repaired and cleaned.

  • Pros: Clean campsites, toilets, and new bridges. Semana Santa, or Holy Week, takes place in all of Peru and Cusco with various celebrations. Temperatures variations stretch between 17˚C/64˚F  during the daytime and  6° C/ 42° F during the nighttime.
  • Cons: Landslides are still at risk, as are wet trails and Campsites.

Inca Trail in April

The rainy season is over, and there are still fewer crowds in Machu Picchu compáring with the high season. During April, trails are not so crowded, and the vegetation is still dense from the rainy season, offering great views. Before entering the winter, April is the best time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

  • Pros: Warmers temperatures during the days, longer sun hours, clear sky nights, and the temperatures at night are not very cold. Temperatures variations stretch between 19˚C/66˚F  during the daytime and  5° C/ 41° F during the nighttime.
  • Cons: During the holy week in Peru can be crowded, and prices can increase in hotels and other sites. We recommend booking early.

Inca Trail in May

May is the beginning of the dry season and also the high season for tourism in Machu Picchu. This means long lines for the buses in Machu Picchu and more people on the trail. Despite the crowds, May offers incredible views of the mountains during the treks.

  • Pros: Sunny days with clear sky nights offer great day and night views. Temperatures variations stretch between 19˚C/66˚F  during the daytime and  3° C/ 37° F during the nighttime.
  • Cons: Long lines for buses to Machu Picchu, and you need to book tours and hotels long in advance. Nights become colder.

Inca Trail in June

June is arguably one of the best months to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu. This peak of the high season comes together with the biggest festival in Cusco," The Inti Raymi festival." Rains are scarce this month. However, it would be best to prepare for rain and sun while hiking the Inca Trail.

  • Pros: Sunny days with clear blue skies offer magnificent trek views. Temperatures variations stretch between 19˚C/66˚F  during the daytime and  1° C/ 34° F during the nighttime.
  • Cons: Crowds approach the maximum allowed per day, and the line to enter sites and buses is usually long. It would be best if you had sunscreen for day hours and good layers for nighttime.

Inca Trail in July

During July, all the attraction in Cusco is overcrowded, and in Machu Picchu, we reach the maximum of people allowed per day. The Inca trail is dry and sunny and offers wonderful views of the landscapes. The weather is very similar to June, with colder nights.

  • Pros: Sunny days with clear blue skies offer magnificent trek views. Temperatures variations stretch between 19˚C/66˚F  during the daytime and  0° C/ 32° F during the nighttime.
  • Cons: Attractions are overcrowded. You need to book hotels and tours long in advance.

Inca Trail in August

August is the end of the high season; however, this is the holiday season in the Northern Hemisphere, and most of the trails and Inca sites will still be with lots of visitors. July, this month will bring many European and North American travelers.

  • Pros: Sunny days with clear nights; however, unannounced rains may occur at any time during the Inca Trail. Rains can happen at any time, even in the driest months. August offers magnificent views during the treks. Temperatures variations stretch between 20˚C/68˚F  during the daytime and  3° C/ 37° F during the nighttime.
  • Cons: Crowds are still considered on all tours and Machu Picchu. Due to the high demand, most hotels and tours remain the same as in the high season's peak. Book your tours early.

Inca Trail in September

Although most days remain sunny and clear at the end of the dry season, the chances of rain increase, and you need to wear good rain equipment. During September also, the temperatures will increase significantly, becoming warmer during day time and nighttime.

  • Pros: Crowds are down on the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, and it is the last month of the year to enjoy the treks before entering the wet season. The temperatures you'll experience are from 21° C/69° F and lows around 5° C/41° F.
  • Cons: Rains can happen anytime and at night, and you must always be prepared with good rain gear.

Inca Trail in October

At the beginning of the wet season, however, you will still enjoy sunny days with fewer visitors in October, making this month a perfect time to visit and enjoy the solitude of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. October is the best time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu before the rainy season.

  • Pros: Good month to hike the Inca Trail before the rains, fewer visitors on the Inca Trail. The temperatures you'll experience are from 21° C/69° F and lows around 5° C/41° F.
  • Cons: Rains usually occur in the afternoon, so you must always wear good rain gear.

Inca Trail in November

Hiking the Inca Trail in November can be wet and muddy as it is officially the wet season; however, rains are not all day long, and there can be weeks with no rain at all. Also, there has been an increase in the weather from highs at 22° C/71° F and lows around 7° C/44° F. Travelers will be able to enjoy the green landscapes of the thriving flora.

  • Pros: Fewer visitors and spectacular views of the mountains; the temperature is warmer, especially at night, with a significant variation comparing months like June or July.
  • Cons: Hiking the Inca Trail can be rainy, which means wet and muddy trails and campsites.

Inca Trail in December

Due to the holidays, December started with fewer visitors at the beginning of the month and finished with a very crowded one at the end of the year. Inca Trail offers great views as the vegetation is flourishing:  the mist, rains, clouds, and rainbows give a mysterious touch to this iconic trek.

  • Pros: Great views from the flourishing landscapes, warm weather from 22° C/71° F, and lows around 6° C/42° F.
  • Cons: The campsite and trails can be muddy and wet, and the chances of landslides increase as we enter the heavy rainy season.

Inca Trail FAQs

Every year, thousands of people from all over the globe come to Peru to trek the trail and see the ancient Incan ruins. If you're considering taking on the Inca Trail, you probably have many questions. This article will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the Inca Trail to help you better prepare for your adventure.

How long is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a lengthy and challenging hike, but the rewards are incredible. The average person takes 4-5 days to complete the trek; the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu takes 4 days and 3 nights and covers a total distance of 46 kilometers / 26 miles.

Where does the Inca Trail start?

The Inca Trail starts at various points along the way to Machu Picchu. The Classic IncaTrail starting point is at Kilometer 82, about a 2-hour drive from Cusco. There are also other starting points further away from Cusco, like the Short Inca Trail 2 days tour that starts on Km 104.

How high Is Inca Trail?

Inca Trail is located in the Peruvian Andes and reaches a maximum height of 4200mt (13,800ft) above sea level at its highest point. The average campsite altitude is 3300 meters (10000ft).

What to pack for the Inca Trail?

One of the most common questions is what to pack for the Inca Trail. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, we recommend that everyone brings a few essential items.

First and foremost, you will need a good pair of hiking boots. The Inca Trail can sometimes be quite challenging, with steep climbs and rocky terrain. Good boots will help you stay comfortable and safe on the trail.

We also recommend bringing along some warm clothing, even if you are hiking during the summer months. The evenings can get quite chilly, so it's always good to wear a jacket or sweater when the temperature drops.

Finally, make sure you pack plenty of water and snacks. The Inca Trail is a long hike; you must stay hydrated and fueled throughout the day. Pack more than you think you need to be safe!

When is the best time to hike the Inca Trail?

The best time to hike the Inca Trail is typically from April to October, which is the dry season. However, during this peak season, Machu Picchu can be crowded. 

How to book Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

If you're looking to book the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, there are a few things you need to know. First, the Inca Trail is one of Peru's most popular tourist attractions, so it's important to book your tickets well in advance. The Inca Trail is open from March to January, so if you're planning on visiting during those months, make sure to book your tickets as soon as possible. February is closed due to mantainance. 

Inca Trail permits can be booked only through authorized tour operators like TreXperience; you need to contact a tour operator and verify the availability of tickets. 

How Many days in Cusco before the Inca Trail?

You should arrive in Cusco at least 2 days before your Inca Trail trek begins. This will give you time to adjust to the altitude and get acclimated. Cusco is a beautiful city with plenty to see and do, so take advantage of the extra time and explore!

Why Is The Inca Trail so Popular?

There are a few reasons why the Inca Trail is so famous.

First, it is one of the few trails that leads directly to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is also considered one of the most scenic hiking trails, with stunning views of mountains, valleys, and rivers. Finally, the Inca Trail is a great way to experience traditional Inca culture, as there are many ruins and sites along the trail that offer insight into this ancient civilization.

How challenging is the Inca Trail?

The Inca Trail is considered to be moderate to difficult. You should have a good fitness level before attempting the trail. The highest altitude reached is 4,200 m, so it is important to acclimate to high altitudes. There are some challenging sections of the trail, particularly the section known as 'Dead Woman's Pass, but with a slow and steady pace, most people should be able to complete the trail without too much difficulty.

Are there any age or fitness restrictions for the Inca Trail?

No, there are no age or fitness restrictions for the Inca Trail. However, we recommend you consult your physician if you have any medical concerns. Additionally, we recommend that an adult accompany children under age.

How do I get a permit for the Inca Trail?

To hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you must first obtain a permit from the Peruvian government. You can do this by contacting an authorized tour operator like TreXperience.


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Juan Coronel

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