Where does the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu start?

The Inca Trail is a world-renowned hiking trail that leads to the lost city of Machu Picchu. The trail winds through stunning scenery and ancient ruins, making it one of the most popular trekking routes in the world. Trekkers typically begin their journey in Cusco, where they acclimate to the high altitude before the Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu.

From Cusco, one must travel to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, following the Urubamba River towards Machu Picchu. The trail passes through several traditional Inca villages and stunning archaeological sites before finally reaching Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is not an easy trek – it is often steep and challenging – but it is worth it! The sense of achievement you feel upon reaching Machu Picchu is unlike anything else. Book your trek well in advance if you plan to make the Inca Trail, as spaces fill up quickly!

where-does-the-inca-trail-start

Trekking the Inca Trail is an unforgettable experience, but it's crucial essential prepare before undertaking this challenging hike. This article will give you all the information on the different types of Inca Trail Tour and the starting point. 

Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 4 days trek

The Classic Inca Trail 4 day,s and three nights begin,s at the Piskacucho village, also known as 82 km, the marker Cusco-Machu Picchu train railway marker from Cusco. From here, the trail winds its way through the Andean mountains, following in the footsteps of the ancient Incas.

  • The first day of the trek is relatively easy, with a gentle ascent through the sub-tropical forest. The trail then emerges into the open for stunning views of the Patallaqta Inca Site. After a short descent, the trail flattens out and follows along the banks of the Cusichaca river Until the village of Wayllabamba, where most groups will camp.
  • On the second day, the trail becomes more challenging as it climbs steeply toward Woman's Pass. This section of the trail gets its name from the shape of the mountain. After a grueling climb, you are rewarded with breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains and alpine meadows. In the afternoon you w, will have to conquer another mountain called Runkuracay. 
  • The third day is easy and rewarding, where you will visit Phuyupátamarca, Intipata, Winay, and Wayna. This Inca site sits at an altitude of 2,650 meters and consists of terraces and temples. 
  • On the last day, you will arrive at Macat Picchu through the Sungate (Intipunku) and explore the ancient citadel. Later in the afternoon, you return on the panoramic trains back to Cusco. 

Itinerary of the Classic Inca Trail 4 days

  • Day 1: Cusco – Km 82 – LLactapata – Ayapata (14km, 6hrs)
  • Day 2: Ayapata – Warmiwañuska – Chaquicocha (16km, 10 hrs)
  • Day 3: Chaquiccocha – Phuyupatamarca – Wiñaywayna (10km, 6hrs)
  • Day 4: Discover Machu Picchu!

Trip 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
  • Type: Adventure – Camping

Slow Version Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 5 days

The Slow Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 5 days begins at the traditional starting point of the Inca Trail, KM 82 - Piskacucho Village. However, from the 2023 season, instead of crossing the Urubamba river to the left side, the hikers will need to continue along the right bank of the Urubamba, visiting Salpunku, K'anabamba, MachuQuente, until they arrive at KM 88 - Koriwayrachina Village where you officially enter to the Inca Trail. After lunch, you will visit Patallaqta and, finally, arrive at Hatunchaca village, where we spend will spend the night.

The journey is more leisurely, with longer days and shorter hikes. This is the perfect option for those who want to enjoy the Andes Mountains' incredible scenery and experience the Inca civilization's history more relaxedly. This slower version of the Inca Trail is perfect for those who want to take their time and enjoy all these incredible region offers. With longer days and shorter hikes, this trip provides ample opportunity to soak in the stunning scenery and learn about the fascinating history of the Incas.

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

  • Day 1: Cusco – KM 82 – Wayllabamba (13 km / 8 miles)
  • Day 2: Wayllabamba – Dead Woman's Pass – Pacaymayo (12 km / 7.4 miles)
  • Day 3: Pacaymayo – Runcu Raccay – Phuyupatamarca (12 km / 7.4 miles)
  • Day 4: Phuyupatamarca – Sungate – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes (11 km / 6.8 miles)
  • Day 5: Machu Picchu (The Lost City of The Incas) – Cusco

Ultimate Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 5 days

The Ultimate Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a variation of the 5-day trek. However, the number of hours we hike every day is longer. The pick is usually in Cusco city, then drive to Km 82; here, the team gets ready and continues down the right bank of the Urubamba River KM 88, Koriwayrachina Village. Here, the travelers will officially enter the Inca Trail. 

We came near the area where you can explore the Inca sites, including the Huayna Quente Inca site, which is impossible during the Slow version Inca Trail. 

Trip details:

  • Duration: 5 days 4 nig,hts
  • Depart: Cusco
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: All year round, except in February
  • Destination: Machu Picchu Citadel
  • Total hiking distance: 56 km – 35 miles
  • Type: Adventure tour

Itinerary:

  • Day 1: Cusco – KM 82 – Chamana (15 km / 9.3 miles)
  • Day 2: Chamana –Patallaqta – Huayllabamba – Llullluchapampa(13 km / 8 miles)
  • Day 3: Llulluchapampa – Runqurakay – Phuyupatamarca (17 km / 10.5 miles)
  • Day 4: Phuyupatamarca – Sun Gate – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes (11 km / 6.8 miles)
  • Day 5: Machu Picchu (The Lost City of The Incas) – Cusco

Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 2 days

The Short Inca Trail hike 2 days to Machu Picchu starts in the city of Cusco or the Sacred Valley; you will be picked up from your hotel at 4 am and driven to the train station of Ollantaytambo, where you board the rain to the start of the trail at KM 104 - Chachabamba. The first part of the hike is a gradual ascent through the lush jungle. You will see many different types of flora and fauna. After 4 hours of walking, you will reach the first archaeological site, Wiñaywayna. Here you will explore the great Inca site and have a box lunch.

The second part starts with a one-hour hike to the Sungate (Intipunku). From here, you will have your first views of Machu Picchu in the distance. You will continue hiking for another 1 hour until you reach Machu Picchu in the afternoon. The following day you will wake early and board the early buses to Machu Picchu. You will enter the site and have a guided tour of the ruins. You will then have free time to explore on your own before returning on the Panoramic trains in the afternoon.

Tour details:

  • Distance: 16 km / 9.9 miles
  • Duration: 2 days, 1 night
  • Depart: From Cusco or the Sacred Valley
  • Destination: Machu Picchu
  • Considered: Moderate
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel
  • Type: Adventure – Cultural

Itinerary: 

  • Day 1: Cusco – Ollantaytambo – Km 104 – Machu Picchu (16km, 8 hrs)
  • Day 2: Machu Picchu (The Lost City of The Incas) (3 hrs)

Salkantay Inca Trail expedition 6 days

The Salkantay Inca Trail expedition is a 6-day adventure that takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in the Peruvian Andes. You'll start your journey in Cusco, where you'll spend a few days acclimatizing to the altitude before beginning your trek. The Salkantay Inca Trail Expedition will start in the village of Soraypampa; for the first 2 days, you will be hiking along the Salkantay Mountain, visiting Humantay lake, and exploring the lush valleys and picturesque mountains. 

On the 3rd day, you will enter the Inca Trail from Paucarcancha Control point, located just 45 minutes from Wayllabamba, the first campsite of the Inca Trail. As you enter the Inca Trail, the trail becomes more challenging, with steep ascents and descents. But the effort is worth it, as you'll be rewarded with incredible views of the ancient city as you approach it from different angles. On the final day of the trek, you'll enter Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate and explore this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site before returning to Cusco.

Trip 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:

  • 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)
     

Recommended places to stay before the Inca Trail

There are many recommended places to stay before the Inca Trail. Below are some of the most popular options:

  • Ollantaytambo is a small town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is a great place to stay before starting the Inca Trail, as it is relatively close to the trailhead. There are many accommodation options in Ollantaytambo, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels.
  • Cusco: Cusco is the capital of the Inca Empire and is located just 3 hours from the Inca Trail. Many accommodation options are available in Cusco, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Cusco is also a great place to explore before starting the Inca Trail, as many Inca sites and museums are located in the city.

Best Hotels in Cusco city

There are dozens of great hotels to choose from in Cusco city, but we've narrowed it down to our top five picks. Whether you're looking for a luxurious 5-star property or a more affordable option, we're sure you'll find the perfect place to stay on our list.

  • Belmond Palacio Nazarenas - This ultra-luxurious hotel is situated in the heart of Cusco city, steps away from some of the most popular tourist attractions. 
  • JW Marriott El Convento Cusco - Another excellent option for luxury travelers, this Marriott property is located in a converted 17th-century convent.
  • Inkaterra La Casona - A more affordable option that doesn't sacrifice style or comfort, Inkaterra La Casona is a beautiful boutique hotel set in a colonial mansion.
  • Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel - Another excellent choice for those seeking 5-star accommodations, Palacio del Inka offers its guests everything from an on-site casino to a world-class spa. 

Best hotels in the Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley is a magical place. There are so many things to see and do, and the hotels in the area are some of the best in Peru. Here are our top picks for the best hotels in the Sacred Valley:

  • The Tambo del Inka Resort & Spa: This luxurious resort is located in the heart of the Sacred Valley and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The Tambo del Inka Resort & Spa has everything you want or need, including an on-site spa, five-star restaurants, and an outdoor pool.
  • The Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba: This beautiful hacienda is set on a working farm and offers guests a unique experience. You can participate in farm activities, such as harvesting crops, caring for animals, or relaxing in one of the hacienda's many gardens. The Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba also has an on-site restaurant serving delicious Peruvian cuisine.
  • The Sol y Luna Lodge & Spa: This secluded lodge is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the incredible views of the Sacred Valley. The Sol y Luna Lodge & Spa has a private infinity pool, a spa, and a restaurant serving gourmet Peruvian food.
  • The Sonesta Posadas del Inca Yucay: The Sonesta Posadas del Inca Yucay is a beautiful hotel located in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This valley is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in all of Peru, and the Sonesta Posadas del Inca Yucay offers guests the perfect base from which to explore it all.

Best hotels in Ollantaytambo

There are many great hotels in Ollantaytambo, but here are our top picks:

  • El Albergue: This hotel is next to the train station of Ollantaytambo, and it offers stunning views of the mountains and valley below. The rooms are cozy and comfortable, and the staff is amiable and helpful.
  • Pakaritampu hotel: Ollantaytambo is the perfect base for exploring this stunning region. The hotel offers a range of comfortable rooms and suites, all with private bathrooms, cable TV, and free Wi-Fi. There is also a restaurant on site serving traditional Peruvian cuisine and a bar where guests can relax with a drink. 
  • Sauce hotel: Sauce is a beautiful boutique hotel located in the heart of the ancient Inca town of Ollantaytambo. The hotel offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and is just a short walk from the main square and market.
  • Del Pilar: Located in the village of Chilca, this is the closest hotel to the Inca Trail.

Best place to stay after the Inca Trail

After the Inca Trail, we recommend you to stay in Cusco city; the airport and most day tours will start in Cusco.

Recommended Tours before and after the Inca Trail

Several different tours can be taken before and after the Inca Trail. Here are some of the most popular options:-

The Cusco City Tour is a great way to learn about the history and culture of Cusco, the gateway city to the Inca Trail. The tour includes visits to some of the city's most important historical sites, such as the Sacsayhuaman Fortress and the Temple of the Sun.

The Sacred Valley Tour is another excellent option for those learning more about the Inca civilization. The tour takes visitors through the beautiful Sacred Valley, home to many important Inca ruins, including Machu Picchu.

For those looking for a more adventure-filled experience, there is the Amazon Jungle Tour. This tour takes visitors into the heart of the Amazon rainforest, where they can learn about the unique ecosystem and see wildlife up close.No matter what type of tour you are looking for, there are plenty of options available to choose from to make your Inca Trail experience even more memorable.

Recommended tour before the Inca Trail

There are several recommended tours to take before embarking on the Inca Trail. These tours will help you better understand the Inca people's history and culture and appreciate the region's natural beauty. Also, these tours will help you to adapt faster to the altitude. 

  • Cusco City Tour. This tour will take you through the city of Cusco, which was once the capital of the Inca Empire. You will see some of the most important Inca sites in the city, including the Temple of the Sun, the Cathedral, and Sacsayhuaman.
  • Sacred Valley Tour. This tour takes you through one of the most beautiful valleys in Peru, which was once home to the Inca people. You will visit several important sites, including Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Chinchero.

These tours are excellent ways to learn more about the Inca people and their culture. They will also help you to appreciate the natural beauty of Peru.

Recommended tours after the Inca Trail

Here are some of our top recommendations:

  • Rainbow Mountain Trek: This trek takes you to one of Peru's most stunning natural wonders - Rainbow Mountain. Located in the Andes Mountains, Rainbow Mountain is known for its vibrant colors and breathtaking views.
  • Humantay Lake tour: Humantay Lake is a beautiful blue-green lake in Peruvian Andes. The lake is about four hours from Cusco and can be reached by car or bus.
  • Amazon Jungle Tour: For those looking for an adventure, an Amazon jungle tour is perfect. You'll see some of the world's most unique animals and plants and experience the rainforest firsthand.
  • Lake Titicaca Tour: Lake Titicaca is another must-see destination in Peru. Located in the Andes, this lake is home to floating islands, beautiful scenery, and traditional villages.
Juan Coronel

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