The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a fantastic adventure that takes hikers through beautiful Peruvian Andean landscapes and deep into the history of the Inca civilization. Known worldwide as a journey through history, this trek leads to various well-preserved archaeological sites, surrounded by beautiful mountains, en route to the Machu Picchu citadel.

All About Inca Trail

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 explore the ruins of the ancient Inca citadel.

If you are considering embarking on this adventure, there are a few things you'll need to know. This article will provide an overview of what to expect on the Inca Trail, from the hike's difficulty to the best time of year to undertake the trek.

Overview

This legendary hike to the Lost City of the Incas needs no introduction. The Inca Trail hike is regarded as one of the best hikes globally, serving as a pilgrimage to a sacred city and a trek that can transform one's perspective on life.

Few places in the world are as inspiring and unique as Mount Kilimanjaro Trek, the Appalachian Trek, or the Tour du Mont Blanc. The Inca Trail hike possesses an additional feature that sets it apart as one of the most remarkable treks: it leads to a world-renowned destination, the Sacred Citadel of Machu Picchu.

What is the Inca Trail?

The Incas established the largest empire in South America. Named Tawantinsuyo, meaning 'four provinces of the sun,' this civilization originated in the Peruvian highlands in the early 13th century and lasted until the arrival of the Spaniards in 1532. At its zenith, the Inca Empire extended its rule over Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. To connect this vast territory, the Incas constructed an extensive network of trails called Qhapaq Nan, also known as the Inca Trails.

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

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

Why is the Classic Inca Trail Trek so famous?

The Classic Inca Trail Trek is famous for several reasons, including:

  • Built by the Incas over 500 years ago, this trail is a living history lesson. It’s a deep dive into the life and culture of the ancient Incas.
  • Expect to be wowed! You’ll encounter breathtaking mountains, lush forests, and ancient Inca sites.
  • It’s no walk in the park! The trail is tough with steep climbs and high altitudes, but finishing it feels like a real achievement.
  • Not everyone gets hike the Inca Trail. The government only allows 500 hikers each day, making it an exclusive adventure.

The History of the Inca Trail

During the height of the Inca Empire in the 15th century, the great Inca emperor, Pachacuti, the 9th Inca King, built Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail.

In 1532, Hispanic conquistadors arrived in Peru, capturing and subsequently executing King Atahualpa in Cajamarca. A year later, in 1533, Francisco Pizarro, a conquistador, arrived in Cusco, founding it as a Spanish city on March 23, 1534.

On April 25, 1534, Pizarro established the city of Jauja as the first capital of the new colony, marking it as the First Capital of Peru. Following this, on January 18, 1535, he founded the city of Lima on Peru's central coast, naming it "The City of the Kings."

The siege of Cuzco, led by Manco Inca II's army against the Spanish conquerors under Hernando Pizarro, began on May 6, 1536. Originating from Sacsayhuaman fortress, the siege lasted almost ten months but was ultimately unsuccessful.

In January 1537, the battle of Ollantaytambo occurred between the troops of Manco Inca and the Spanish expedition led by Hernando Pizarro. The Inca army defeated the Spaniards, but despite this victory, Manco Inca's forces abandoned Ollantaytambo. They sought refuge in the jungles of Vilcabamba, establishing a small, independent New Inca state, which lasted until 1572. During the retreat, Manco Inca ordered the destruction of all trails, bridges, and towns to prevent the Spaniards from following them.

In 1911, while searching for Vilcabamba, the last capital of the Incas, Hiram Bingham accidentally discovered Machu Picchu. Until his death, he believed that Machu Picchu was Vilcabamba. In 1915, Bingham discovered the Inca Trail and conducted excavations at all Inca sites. He hiked the Inca Trail in the opposite direction, starting at Machu Picchu and ending at the trail's beginning.

Machu Picchu was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983 and was voted one of the World's New Seven Wonders in 2007.

The Inca Trail was closed in January 2020 due to a landslide caused by excessive rains, with an expected reopening in March 2020. However, due to COVID-19, it remained closed until March 2021, when operations resumed at 50% capacity.

By 2023, the Inca Trail was fully open, and 2024 is anticipated to be as busy as the pre-pandemic times.

Archeological sites inside the Inca Trail Peru

  1. Salapunku: The first archaeological site after Km 82 is only visible from the other side of the river. The site has impressive walls and a vast gate believed to be the entrance to Machu Picchu from the Sacred Valley.
  2. K'anabamba: Also located on the opposite side of the river from the Inca Trail, this second archaeological site was a resting place for travelers.
  3. Llactapata: "We found evidence that some Inca chieftain had built his home here and included ten or a 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.
  4. Willkarakay: Located in the upper part of Llactapata, with circular construction and a great location, it shows that it was used and inhabited by religious priests.
  5. Runkurakay: Located in the heart of the Inca Trail, the semi-circular shaped ruins were once used as a resting stop for messengers and a religious place for the moon.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Phuyupatamarca: "The City Above the Clouds" is located on a mountaintop above Machu Picchu Mountain. This place was an important religious site for water and the mountains. The site is 3,700 meters (12,100 ft) above sea level.
  9. Intipata: This place was an essential agricultural site in the thick cloud forest. 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, believed to have been made by the Inca people between the 15th and 16th centuries, are located on a mountainside.
  10. Wiñaywayna: Wiñaywayna (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.
  11. 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.
  12. Machu Picchu: There is no greater joy than arriving at Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail. Built in the 15th century, it was abandoned shortly after the Spanish conquest of Peru in the 16th century. However, it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. Since then, it has become one of Peru's most popular tourist destinations.

 Campsites along the Inca Trail

  1. Mescay: The first stop on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is Mescay, a small, family-run campsite where groups usually stay only for lunch or during a 5-day tour. Mescay Village is a great place to stock up on supplies, with several small shops selling hiking gear, food, and water. Our Inca Trail porters often stop here to drink Chicha (corn beer) to re-energize.
  2. Tarayoc: Tarayoc is the first campsite for tours like the Ultimate Inca Trail for five days. The primary source of income for the villagers is tourism, with our porters and guests typically having lunch in a local restaurant here.
  3. Hatunchaca: A small village utilized during the 5-day slow version of the Inca Trail, Hatunchaca is a community of about 80 people, primarily farmers. The villagers are friendly and welcoming, offering travelers campsites, showers, and shops.
  4. Wayllabamba: The last village on the Inca Trail, Wayllabamba serves as a campsite for the 4-day Classic Inca Trail and the slow 5-day trek. At 3,000 meters above sea level, it's home to about 200 primarily farming inhabitants. The village offers a few small shops, a school, and a health center.
  5. Ayapata: The first and preferred campsite inside the protected area of the Classic Inca Trail, Ayapata is located at an altitude of 3,300 meters (10,826 feet) and is surrounded by mountain peaks and glaciers. It offers basic facilities for cooking and sleeping in tents.
  6. Lluluchapampa: The second campsite of the Ultimate Inca Trail, Lluluchapampa is at 3,850 meters (12,631 feet), and can be quite cold at night. A small stream runs through the campsite, providing a good water source. The campsite is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, offering clear night skies and a sense of achievement as the last stop before the summit.
  7. Pacaymayu Alto: Situated at 3,650 meters, Pacaymayu Alto is the second-day campsite on the Classic Inca Trail. Nestled in a valley between two mountain peaks, with the Pacaymayu River running through, it's an ideal spot for wildlife watching, home to the spectacle bear and Andean condors.
  8. Chaquicocha: Chaquicocha is the second/preferred campsite of the Classic Inca Trail, sitting at 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) and offering stunning views of the Amazon basin and the Vilcabamba Mountain range.
  9. Phuyupatamarca: Named "town above the clouds" in Quechua, the Phuyupatamarca campsite is perched above the Urubamba River at 3,650 m (11,975 ft). It offers stunning views of the Andes Mountains, basic facilities, and proximity to nearby ruins, making it a popular spot for enjoying sunrises and sunsets.
  10. Wiñaywayna: Wiñaywayna, meaning "forever young" in Quechua, is the final campsite along the Classic Inca Trail before reaching Machu Picchu. At an altitude of 2,650m (8,690ft), it's the lowest camp along the trail and is a short hike from the Sun Gate (Inti Punku), which offers stunning views of Machu Picchu.
  11. Puente Ruinas: Located at 2000 meters, next to Aguas Calientes town (Machu Picchu), Puente Ruinas is an optional camping site and the perfect choice for the Short Inca Trail 2 days Camping.

 

Inca Trail Tour to Machu Picchu | TreXperience

Weather in the Inca Trail

The weather in the Andes is unpredictable. One can be enjoying the sunshine, and in a matter of minutes, it can turn into rain. The Inca Trail is located in the Cloud Forest, a warm, humid, mountainous area that forms a barrier between the cold Andes and the dense Amazon. Regardless of the travel season, it is always best to be prepared for all types of weather: 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?

Many travelers often ask about the best time to hike the Inca Trail before settling on a final date. Peru experiences two seasons – wet and dry – and the Inca Trail can be walked all year round, except for February when it is closed for maintenance.

The wet or rainy season spans from November to April, with average daytime temperatures of 18 °C (64 °F) and nighttime temperatures around 9 °C (48 °F). The dry or winter season occurs from May to October. During this time, the average daytime temperature is 16 °C (61 °F), while nighttime temperatures can sometimes drop below 0 °C (32 °F).

Inca Trail in January

On average, January has more rainy days, but hiking the Inca Trail can still be a beautiful experience. Following the Christmas and New Year celebrations, the Inca Trail receives fewer visitors every January. This can make your trip memorable, as you will be hiking with fewer people.

  • Pros: Rain usually occurs in the afternoon or lasts for just a few hours before the sun reappears. This is the season for orchids, rainbows, and spectacular photos with mist and clouds. The smallest temperature variation between day and night ranges from 19°C (66°F) during the daytime to 7°C (45°F) during the nighttime.
  • Cons: Landslides can affect the trail, and there may be train and flight delays.

Inca Trail in February

The Inca Trail is closed throughout February for maintenance, as this month marks the height of the rainy season. However, Machu Picchu remains open during February, and alternative treks such as the Lares TrekHuchuy QosqoQuarry Trek, and Tour by Train to Machu Picchu are still possible. Other tours like the Salkantay Trek are also available. However, we strongly recommend avoiding the Salkantay area during February due to the risk of heavy rains and landslides.

Inca Trail in March

The Inca Trail reopens this month, and many travelers will hike to Machu Picchu. March is still part of the rainy season, but the weather will improve as the rains subside. It is also essential to consider that the Inca Trail has been closed for maintenance in February, during which all campsites, trails, bridges, and toilets have been repaired and cleaned.

  • Pros: Clean campsites, toilets, and new bridges are notable benefits. Additionally, Semana Santa, or Holy Week, takes place in Peru and Cusco with various celebrations. Temperature variations range between 17˚C (64˚F) during the daytime and 6˚C (42˚F) during the nighttime.
  • Cons: Landslides are still a risk, and trails and campsites may be wet.

Inca Trail in April

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

  • Pros: Warmer temperatures during the days, longer hours of sunlight, clear night skies, and the temperatures at night are not very cold. Temperature variations range between 19˚C (66˚F) during the daytime and 5˚C (41˚F) during the nighttime.
  • Cons: 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 marks the beginning of the dry season and the high tourism season in Machu Picchu. This results in 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 and clear night skies offer great views both day and night. Temperature variations range between 19˚C (66˚F) during the daytime and 3˚C (37˚F) during the nighttime.
  • Cons: There are long lines for buses to Machu Picchu, and it is necessary to book tours and hotels well 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 coincides with the biggest festival in Cusco, the "Inti Raymi Festival." Rains are scarce this month, but it would be best to prepare for both rain and sun while hiking the Inca Trail.

  • Pros: Sunny days with clear blue skies offer magnificent trek views. Temperature 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 lines to enter sites and board buses are usually long. It is advisable to have sunscreen for the day hours and good layers for the nighttime.

Inca Trail in July

In July, all the attractions in Cusco are overcrowded, and in Machu Picchu, we reach the maximum number of people allowed daily. The Inca Trail is dry and sunny, offering beautiful views of the landscapes. The weather is very similar to June, with even colder nights.

  • Pros: Sunny days with clear blue skies offer magnificent trek views. Temperature variations range between 19˚C (66˚F) during the daytime and 0˚C (32˚F) during the nighttime.
  • Cons: Attractions are overcrowded. It is necessary to book hotels and tours well in advance.

Inca Trail in August

August marks the end of the high season; however, since it is the holiday season in the Northern Hemisphere, most of the trails and Inca sites continue to have many visitors. Like July, this month attracts numerous European and North American travelers.

  • Pros: Sunny days with clear nights are common, but unannounced rains may occur during the Inca Trail. Showers can happen at any time, even in the driest months. August offers magnificent views during the treks. Temperature variations range between 20˚C (68˚F) during the daytime and 3˚C (37˚F) during the nighttime.
  • Cons: Crowds are still considerable on all tours and in Machu Picchu. Due to the high demand, the pricing for most hotels and tours remains the same as at the peak of the high season. It is advisable to book your tours early.

Inca Trail in September

Although most days in September remain sunny and clear, marking the end of the dry season, the chances of rain increase. Therefore, it is essential to have good rain gear. During this month, the temperatures will rise significantly, becoming warmer during both the daytime and nighttime.

  • Pros: Crowds are fewer on the Inca Trail and in Machu Picchu, making it the last month of the year to enjoy the treks before the onset of the wet season. The temperatures you'll experience range from highs of 21°C (69°F) to lows around 5°C (41°F).
  • Cons: Rain can occur at any time, including at night, so being prepared with good rain gear is a must.

Inca Trail in October

October marks the beginning of the wet season. However, you can still enjoy sunny days with fewer visitors, making this month a perfect time to visit and relish the solitude of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. Before the onset of the rainy season, October stands out as an ideal time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

  • Pros: October is a favorable month to hike the Inca Trail before the arrival of the rains, with fewer visitors on the trail. The temperatures you'll experience range from highs of 21°C (69°F) to lows around 5°C (41°F).
  • Cons: Rains usually occur in the afternoon, so it is essential to be equipped with good rain gear at all times.

Inca Trail in November

Hiking the Inca Trail in November can be a wet and muddy experience, as this month officially marks the wet season; however, rains don’t persist all day long, and there can be weeks without any rain. Additionally, there is an increase in temperature, with highs reaching 22°C (71°F) and lows around 7°C (44°F). Travelers will be able to enjoy the green landscapes and thriving flora.

  • Pros: The trail sees fewer visitors, and the warmer temperatures, especially at night, offer spectacular views of the mountains, with a significant variation compared to June or July.
  • Cons: Hiking the Inca Trail during this month can mean encountering rainy weather, resulting in wet and muddy trails and campsites.

Inca Trail in December

December begins with fewer visitors, but as the holiday season progresses, it ends up being quite crowded by the end of the month. The Inca Trail offers excellent views as the vegetation is flourishing; the mist, rains, clouds, and rainbows add a mysterious touch to this iconic trek.

  • Pros: Visitors can enjoy great views of the flourishing landscapes and experience warm weather, with highs around 22°C (71°F) and lows around 6°C (42°F).
  • Cons: The campsites and trails can be muddy and wet, and the risk of landslides increases as we transition into the heavy rainy season.

Best Inca Trail Tours To Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is divided into the Classic Long Inca Trail and the Shorter Version. These tours can be booked from March to January every year, with February being closed for maintenance.

The Classic Long Inca Trail usually sells out fast, so booking far in advance is advisable; the Shorter Version sells more slowly and is an excellent 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 and Short versions.

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:

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
  • 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.

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.

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 starts 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 with a few other travelers in isolated places. 

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, more occasional group tours are 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.

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 tour, 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 two most popular hikes in Peru and arrive at Machu Picchu through the Sungate on the morning of day 6.

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

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 exploring one of the world's most extraordinary 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. 

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 additional 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 can visit the great city of Machu Picchu twice, once to enjoy the sunset on the first day and once for sunrise on 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.

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 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 must contact us to verify group availability. 

Inca Trail FAQs

Every year, thousands of people from around the globe come to Peru to trek the trail and see the ancient Incan ruins. You probably have many questions about taking on the Inca Trail. 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 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. Other starting points are further away from Cusco, like the Short Inca Trail 2 days tour on Km 104.

How high is the 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 everyone bring a few essential items.

First and foremost, you will need a good pair of hiking boots. The Inca Trail can sometimes be 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 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, the dry season. However, during this peak season, Machu Picchu can be crowded. 

How to book the 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 booking your tickets well in advance is important. The Inca Trail is open from March to January, so if you plan on visiting during those months, 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 should I arrive in Cusco before the Inca Trail?

It would be best to arrive in Cusco at least two 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 many ruins and sites along the trail 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 for 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 get a permit from the Peruvian government through an authorized tour operator like TreXperience. Check out our Inca Trail Permits 2024 to get yours.

 


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