The Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu is one of South America's most popular trekking routes and is consistently ranked among the 10 best hikes in the world. During this 4-day adventure, you will encounter a perfect combination of history and natural beauty. Visit the ancient Inca sites and get to the Sun Gate (Intipunku) before sunrise to get the best view of Machu Picchu.
TreXperience organizes premium Inca Trail tours with personal porter, buffet meals, and Panoramic Vistadome trains included. We have group departures every day.
Classic Inca Trail hike 4 days 3 nights – Group Tour
Go out of your comfort zone and explore the Iconic Inca Trail hike; enjoy the natural wonders, visit the ancient Inca sites, interact with our local porters, and experience the best of Peruvian food while you meet new friends and arrive in Machu Picchu through the mountains.
Hiking the Inca Trail with TreXperience is discovering a new hiking and camping experience where simplicity becomes the experience of a lifetime. Come and join our fun small group tours to Machu Picchu with like-minded trekkers from all over the world, different ages, and genders. It’s perfect for solo travelers, couples, or groups of friends looking for inspiring and life-changing trekking experiences.
Why book with TreXperience?
- Food in the Inca Trail: Our chefs use fresh local products to provide the best Peruvian food. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.
- High-Quality Equipment: Kitchen tents, dining tents, toilet tents, tables, chairs, and Eureka! tents
- Transportation: We provide door-to-door service (from hotel to hotel).
- Trains from Machu Picchu: We are the only company that provides Vistadome panoramic trains to return.
- Safety and Security: All staff has training in First Aid and Mountain Rescue. We provide an oxygen tank, a first aid kit, and satellite phones.
- Our porters have the proper equipment and are paid fairly.
- Book with Confidence and Flexibility
- Stay in the best and least crowded campsites.
- Arrive at the Inca sites at exclusive hours.
- Enjoy the panoramic trains to return (Vistadome or 360 train).
Inca Trail 4 days 3 nights at a Glance
Day 1: Training day
Cusco — Km 82 — Patallacta — Ayapata (14km, 6hrs).- Depart your hotel around 4:30 a.m. and drive to Km 82 to start the Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu. The first campsite is 3,300m (10,826ft). We spend the night in comfortable tents.
Day 2: The Challenge
Ayapata — Warmiwañuska — Chaquicocha (16km, 10 hrs).- The most challenging and longest day of the 4-day Machu Picchu Trek. You'll pass through 2 mountains in 10 hours of hiking: the Dead Woman’s Pass, the highest point of the Inca Trail hike at 4,215m (13,829ft), and the Runkuraqay Pass at 4,000 m (13,123ft).
Day 3: The easy day
Chaquicocha — Phuyupatamarca — Wiñaywayna (10km, 6hrs).- One of the most beautiful and relaxing days. Today, you will only hike 6 hours through different ecological zones and visit the fascinating archaeological sites of Phuyupatamarca, Intipata, and Wiñaywayna (campsite) at 2,600m (8,530ft), just 2 hours from Machu Picchu.
Day 4: Discover Machu Picchu
Wiñaywayna — Machu Picchu — Cusco (6km, 2 hrs).- Wake up early to hike for 2 hours to Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate and enjoy your first and most amazing view of Machu Picchu. After exploring Machu Picchu, you will take the Panoramic Vistadome train and bus back to Cusco. Arrive at your hotel around 7:30 p.m.
Campsite locations might change depending on availability and the final campsite assignment.
- Safety briefing the day before the tour
- Complimentary luggage storage
- Hotel pickup and drop off
- All transportation during the tour
- Professional Tour Guide
- Return on the panoramic Vistadome Train or 360°
- Bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes
- Entry tickets to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
- All camping equipment (carried by the porters)
- Personal Porter to carry up to 7kg / 15lb
- Experienced chef
- 3-night camping in top-end, comfortable tents
- Eureka 4-person tents for every 2 trekkers
- All meals prepared with fresh local ingredients
- Drinkable water and daily snacks
- First-aid kit, satellite phones, oxygen supply
- Private portable toilets
- Pillow, sleeping pad, rain poncho, hand towels
- All taxes and booking fees
- Sleeping bag, air mattress, or trekking poles (you can rent them from us)
- Last day lunch after the Machu Picchu Tour
- Entry to Huayna Picchu Mountain (optional)
- Travel Insurance
- Gratuities for the staff
Full Itinerary of the 4 days Machu Picchu Inca Trail Trek
Day 1: Cusco — Km 82 — Hatunchaca — Ayapata
Start your Machu Picchu Inca Trail trekking experience with a pick from your hotel in Cusco around 4:30 a.m. If you stay in the Sacred Valley, like Urubamba or Ollantaytambo, the pick-up will be after 6:00 a.m. Next, travel for about 2.5 hours to Km 82 (Piscacucho village) to begin the 4-day Inca Trail Trip to Machu Picchu. We will stop at Ollantaytambo, where you will enjoy a delicious breakfast with amazing views of the Inca site and the mountains; you will also have the opportunity to buy some last-minute things for the Machu Picchu trek. Afterward, you will continue to Km 82 and arrive at the trailhead around 8:00 a.m. – first, meet your chef, porters, and tour guides. We will head to the checkpoint to present your passports and begin our TreXperience to the Legendary Lost City of the Incas.
After completing the checkpoint, we will begin the Inca Trail Trek; the first section is a relatively easy 2-hour hike to Patallacta, the first ancient site along the Inca Trail route. We will enjoy beautiful views of this ancient citadel surrounded by mountains and rivers from a unique, hidden location. Then, it will be a 2-hour hike to Hatunchaca village, which is in the heart of the Inca Trail Trek, where a team of porters and cooks will be waiting for a delicious lunch made using fresh local ingredients.
After a delightful meal, we will continue for another 2 hours to Ayapata, the first campsite during the Machu Picchu Trek, where you will arrive at about 5:00 p.m. You will find your tent, a snack, and a hot beverage waiting for you. Before tea time and dinner, you will have time to relax, arrange your bed, and take in the view of the mountains.
- Campsite Altitude: 3,300 m / 10,826 ft
- Highest Altitude: 3,300 m / 10,826 ft
- Hiking Distance: 14 km / 8.7 mi
- Duration: 6 Hours
- Meals: Breakfast, snacks, lunch, tea time, dinner
- Accommodation: Camping
- Difficulty: Moderate
Day 2: Ayapata — Dead Woman’s Pass — Chaquicocha
Our team will wake you up bright and early in the morning with a hot cup of coffee or coca tea in your tent. Today will be the most challenging part of the 4-day hike to Machu Picchu, and after breakfast, it will be a 4-hour hike to Dead Woman’s Pass (4215m / 13829ft), the highest point along the Machu Picchu Inca Trail Trek. At the summit, we will take time to enjoy a coca tea and appreciate the serenity of this location. At the same time, your guide completes a traditional offering ceremony to the Apus (local Gods). After enjoying the views, we will start a 2-hour downhill trek to Pacaymayo Alto Valley, where we will enjoy a well-earned lunch.
After lunch, the second mountain is an easier 2-hour hike to Runkuraqay Pass (4000m / 13123ft). We will take time to explore 2 Inca sites along the way: Runkuraqayay and Sayacmarca. The second campsite is Chaquicocha (dry lake, 3600m / 11811 ft.), where you can admire a beautiful sunset over the Vilcabamba mountain range before dinner. This campsite is the perfect place to stargaze with an unobstructed view of the constellations!
- Campsite Altitude: 3,600 m / 11,811 ft
- Highest Altitude: 4,215 m / 13,829 ft
- Hiking Distance: 16 km / 10 mi
- Duration: 10 Hours
- Meals: Breakfast, snacks, lunch, tea time, dinner
- Accommodation: Camping
- Difficulty: Challenging
Day 3: Chaquicocha — Intipata — Wiñaywayna
With the hard part of the 4-day Inca Trail tour well and truly over, you can relax and enjoy the most leisurely and exciting day of the Inca Trail Hike. Today’s route is extremely varied; it is only a 5-hour hike to the final campsite. Along the way, you will pass through several different ecosystems, experience the atmospheric cloud forest, and observe the magnificent panoramic view of Salkantay Mountain (the second-highest peak in Cusco). We will visit 2 Inca sites, Phuyupatamarca (City in the Clouds), with spectacular views of the Urubamba River, Machu Picchu Mountain, and Intipata (Terraces of the Sun).
At Intipata, you will have time to rest and take in the magical surroundings. We will reach the campsite at approximately 1:00 p.m. to have lunch, and then you can enjoy some free time to relax, unwind at the camp, chase llamas, or take a refreshing shower. Later in the afternoon, we will visit the Inca site of Wiñaywayna, where your guide will explain this fantastic location’s history. We will then return to the campsite for tea, dinner, and a special farewell surprise!
- Campsite Altitude: 2,600 m / 8,530 ft
- Highest Altitude: 3,600 m / 11,811 ft
- Hiking Distance: 10 km / 6.2 mi
- Duration: 5 Hours
- Meals: Breakfast, snack, lunch, tea time, dinner
- Accommodation: Camping
- Difficulty: Moderate
Day 4: Discover Machu Picchu — Cusco
On our final day of the Classic Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu, we have to get up very early to prepare for the highlight of your TreXperience! Visiting Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. We will go straight to the checkpoint and wait until it opens at 5:30 a.m. As the sky brightens, we will walk to the Sun Gate (Intipunku) for one hour, enjoying the stunning views. You can watch the spectacular sunrise over Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate on a clear day, which is truly an unforgettable sight. Next, we will start a final 1-hour descent towards Machu Picchu, arriving at the last control point around 8:00 a.m.
Your guide will take you on a 2-hour comprehensive tour of the most important sights of the Inca City. If you're up for an extra challenge, you can hike Huayna Picchu Mountain (tickets must be booked as far in advance as possible). After the tour, you will take the bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes for lunch and then take the panoramic train (Vistadome or 360° train) and bus back to Cusco. TreXperience Team will meet you off the train and safely return to your hotel in Cusco or the Sacred Valley. The approximate arrival time back to Cusco is around 7:30 p.m.
- Highest Altitude: 2,720 m / 8,923 ft
- Hiking Distance: 6 km / 3.7 mi
- Hiking Duration: 2-3 Hours
- Meals: Breakfast, snacks
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Ultimate 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Hike Packing List
What should I pack for the Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu? This is the most common question asked by Inca Trail hikers. When traveling to a new faraway destination like South America, you must prepare long before, especially when hiking to remote places like the Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek.
For your trip to Peru, you will bring one or two big pieces of luggage depending on how long you spend on your vacation. However, you will only take the necessary equipment for the 4-day Machu Picchu hike. You must leave most of your belongings in the Cusco hotel or TreXperience storerooms.
For the Inca Trail hike, you must reduce the gear you will take to a minimum. We recommend 5 kg (11 lb) in your daypack and 7 kg (15 lb) in your duffle bag. Remember that you are responsible for carrying your daypack at all times and must have all the necessary equipment for the day. Our strong porters will take the 7 kg duffle bag.
- Original passport: A copy will not be accepted; your passport must be valid for at least 6 months to enter and exit Peru. You'll also need to ensure that your passport has two blank pages for entry and exit stamps.
- Valid Student ID is required only if you have booked the Inca Trail tour as a student. Student cards must be issued by the university up to the age of 25, containing the following: university information, personal information of the student, photo of the student, and a valid date no later than December 31 of the year of travel.
- Hiking boots (light, comfortable, and broken in). Make sure your shoes are not too tight or too loose. They should provide enough room for your toes to wiggle without being too spacious.
- A good quality daypack (light, small, and cozy); you will need a comfortable backpack to carry all your supplies.
- A camel bag or water bottle(s) for at least 2 liters of water storage. Choosing a water bottle that will keep your water cold is essential.
- Trekking poles (you can rent them from us) Trekking poles are highly recommended for the Machu Picchu Inca Trail.
What to put in the daypack?
Below is a list of items we recommend you keep in your backpack for your Machu Picchu Hike. Remember, you will be carrying this with you every day of the trek, so bring a good quality daypack that is light and comfortable.
It is important to note that, due to local regulations, your backpack should not exceed 25 liters. All larger bags can not be taken into Machu Picchu and must be stored outside the gates. The 25 liters is not about the capacity of your backpack; it is about the size. If you have larger bags, you can bring them and make sure your backpack looks small for Machu Picchu.
- Hats and sunglasses are a must; the sun can be intense at high elevations, and you'll want to shield your eyes from the glare.
- Rain gear is essential, especially during the rainy season. Look for materials that keep you dry while allowing your skin to breathe, such as Gore-Tex or eVent.
- Warm layers (fleece or long-sleeved tops); a layering system, consisting of a base layer, mid-layer of fleece or down, and a waterproof shell layer, is needed for hiking the Inca Trail hike.
- Sun cream: Ensure you apply a high-factor sunscreen before heading out on the trail. Additionally, protect lips using lip balm with SPF protection!
- Bug spray: When selecting your bug spray, choose one containing DEET or picaridin to keep bugs at bay and allow you to enjoy your hike fully.
- Hand sanitizer: Carrying a small bottle with you throughout the day would be ideal.
- Toilet paper: There are plenty of bathrooms along the Inca Trail; take toilet paper inside a plastic bag.
- Personal medication includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines for common ailments such as headaches, stomachaches, and colds. Take also band-aids and moleskin.
- Camera, extra batteries: Note that the battery life of your electronic devices will be reduced at high altitudes. So, pack plenty of spare batteries for your camera, phone, and other devices.
- Head Torch, or headlamp, is vital equipment for anyone embarking on the Machu Picchu Inca Trail.
- Snacks, energy-pack granola bars, or trail mix that provide plenty of fuel without making you sluggish during a hike.
- Extra money for souvenirs, drinks, and tips (small change helps pay for using the villagers' toilets on the first day).
What to put in the duffle bags
TreXperience will provide you with a duffel bag to pack items you do not need to keep during the day. Our Porters will carry this bag for you throughout the trek. Please note that this bag should weigh a maximum of 7 kg (15 lb), including your sleeping bag and air mattress (if you bring/rent one). These 2 items weigh about 3 kg (2 kg sleeping bag and 1 kg air pad).
During the safety briefing, duffle bags will be available at our office the day before the trek.
- Sleeping bags (can be rented from us): Buy a sleeping bag that fits your height and weight, and remember to pack it in a waterproof bag so it stays dry on the trail. For the Inca Trail hike, we recommend sleeping bags rated at -10°C.
- Air mattress (can be rented from us); having an extra layer to sleep will make your hike more comfortable and enjoyable. We provide a foam mattress included on the Inca Trail tour.
- Shoes for the campsite. After long hours of hiking with boots, you may want to remove the heavy shoes and have something light to wear at the camp.
- Warm jacket: Temperatures can drop sharply at night, and you can put on a few warm layers when the sun goes down. Don't forget to pack a hat and gloves!
- 4 or 5 T-shirts (wicking T-shirts are best). A synthetic fabric like polyester or nylon is a good option, as it will wick away sweat and dry quickly. Avoid cotton shirts, as they will hold onto moisture and can cause chafing.
- 2-3 hiking pants/trousers: There are two main types of hiking pants. Cargo pants have large pockets on the sides of the legs, which are great for carrying extra gear. Convertible pants have legs that zip off at the knee, making them perfect for hot weather or changing conditions on the trail. Leggings work as well for ladies.
- 4 sets of undergarments, wearing a sports bra, and compression shorts will help keep you comfortable and prevent chafing.
- 4 sets of hiking socks, make sure the socks are made from a breathable material like wool or synthetic fibers. You don't want your feet to get too sweaty during the hike, which can lead to blisters.
- 1 Fleece: A fleece jacket or pullover is a good choice; you can layer it with other clothing if necessary. Be sure to pack a rain jacket as well, as the weather can be unpredictable on the trail.
- 1 Warm, down jacket for the coldest nights. The best jackets are made of down or synthetic insulation, keeping you warm even when wet.
- Quick-dry towel: A quick-dry towel is a must-have for anyone planning to hike the Inca Trail.
- Biodegradable soap is specially formulated to break down quickly and safely in nature, so it won't pollute the trail or harm any wildlife.
- Wet wipes: pack plenty of wet wipes! The trail can be dusty and dirty, so keeping your skin clean is essential.
- Toothbrush and paste: Make sure the brush and paste are small, compact, and for camping trips.
- Face moisturizer, the high altitude, and the harsh sun can take a toll on your skin, so it's essential to keep it hydrated.
- Power bank/battery charger: You should use your phone in airplane mode and have power banks with you; we recommend one of 20,000 MaH.
- Plastic bags to keep wet or muddy clothes separate
See a complete guide on our blog: Packing List for the Inca Trail
Price for the Classic Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu
Price per person:
- From US$ 750 - Adults
- From US$ 710 - Children and students
To book the Classic Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, you need to make an initial payment of US$ 200 per person; the remaining balance can be paid online or at our office in Cusco.
US$ 40 off per person
All travelers under 17 will have a $40 discount. If you are 25 years old or under when traveling, you can get the discount with your Student ID. Please send us an email to receive a code for the discount.
Valid Student ID for Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
To get the student discount, travelers should have a Valid ID with the following:
- 25 years or less at the time of entering Machu Picchu. Older than 25 can not enter as a student
- The ID must have the Name of the university, name, and photo of the student
- The ID must have a valid expiration date
Invalid Student IDs
Student IDs are not eligible for a discount when:
- Traveler is older than 25
- Expired ID
- Student ID without expiration date
- ISIC cards are not valid.
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Inca Trail Hike Frequently Asked Questions
How to book the Inca Trail Tour?
Booking the famous Machu Picchu Trek is easy with TreXperience; click on any BOOK NOW button, select your departure date, fill up the form with all details requested, including passport information, and finally submit the initial payment required to book the Inca Trail Trek.
Due to the permits' strict booking policy for the Inca Trail administered by the Peruvian Government, all Inca Trail bookings must be confirmed manually. Only after manual confirmation from our side will your tour be 100% guaranteed.
Can I store my luggage with TreXperience?
During the Machu Picchu Inca Trail, you will only take your daypack and a small duffle bag with 7 kg (15 lb). Your luggage must stay in Cusco. You can store it at the hotel or with TreXperience.
How can I reduce the risk of altitude sickness?
There are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of altitude sickness:
- Arrive at Cusco two days in advance so your body has time to acclimatize
- Avoid rapid ascent so your body has time to adapt to its new altitude.
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids like water and avoid alcohol consumption.
- At high altitudes, eat smaller and lighter meals
- Sleeping enough each night will allow your body to recover from exertion during the day.
If you start to feel symptoms of altitude sickness, descend to a lower altitude immediately and rest until you feel better.
What can I do in Cusco before the Inca Trail?
We recommend low-altitude tours or staying in the city of Cusco.
- On the first day, you can rest in Cusco and, if possible, explore on a guided Cusco City Tour in the afternoon.
- On the second day, you can take a full-day Super Sacred Valley Tour and, if possible, stay in Ollantaytambo. If you stay in Ollantaytambo, you will save a 2-hour trip by bus on the day of the Machu Picchu Inca Trail.
What are the recommended tours after the Inca Trail?
After the Inca Trail, we recommend resting for one day to recover if possible, and then you can explore more places in Cusco.
- Rainbow Mountain is the best day tour in Cusco after the Machu Picchu Inca Trail. This fantastic hike takes you to the colored mountain at 5200 meters and the Red Valley.
- Humantay Lake hikes is another classic day tour located at 4200 meters.
- You can travel to Puno by bus and explore the floating islands.
How long in advance do I have to book the Inca Trail?
Inca Trail is the most popular trek in South America; only 500 permits are sold daily, and this number includes porters, tour guides, chefs, and travelers. Make sure you book far in advance to get your preferred date.
For months like April, May, June, and July, we recommend booking the previous year before October: Every year, in the first months of October, the Inca Booking system will be open for the next year, and some dates will sell out immediately. It's essential to book before October the Inca Trail tours.
We recommend booking at least 6 months in advance for the high season and 3 months in advance for the slow season.
What happens if the Inca Trail is sold out?
Our team will contact you to offer alternative tours to Machu Picchu or dates if the travel date is sold out. It's important to note that submitting the payment does not guarantee an Inca Trail permit. You must always wait for manual confirmation from our team indicating that we have successfully secured the Inca Trail permits. This process could take around 24 hours; if weekend, the confirmation will be sent on Mondays.
How many people are allowed in each group?
The maximum group size is 16 travelers. However, this number is hardly met since it will depend on how many spots we sell before the permits are sold out. These are the general rules of the Inca Trail and apply to all tour operators.
The average group size is 8 to 12 travelers per group.
Is it better to have a group of 8 people or 12 to 16?
Some operators only offer groups of 8 people, saying guests will get personalized service. However, this is not the best option for the following reasons:
- Groups of 8 people or fewer will only be allowed 1 tour guide
- Groups of 9 or more will be allowed 2 tour guides.
As a tour guide and my personal experience, managing a group of 8 people alone is very challenging; if we have travelers of different ages and speeds, it will become complicated for 1 person to lead the group.
If there are 9, 10, or 12 travelers and 2 tour guides, it is easier to manage as 1 tour guide can be at the front of the line, and 1 tour guide can stay at the back. Hiking in a group tour during the Inca Trail, all travelers will walk at their own speed and only re-group at specific places for resting or guided tours.
When organizing a group tour is difficult to know how many people will be on a specific date. However, we will always aim to get the maximum to have 2 tour guides.
What equipment can I rent from TreXperience?
Sleeping bags, Trekking poles, and inflatable mattresses are not included during the Inca Trail. You can bring your own, or you can rent from us.
- Sleeping bag for $25
- Trekking poles for $20
- Inflatable mattress for $20
The prices are in USD for the whole trip. We provide a foam sleeping pad as part of the Inca Trail tour; the air mattress is optional if you want more comfort.
How long is the 4-day Inca Trail?
The total distance of the Inca Trail is 26 miles or 42 km long. The average person takes about 4 days to complete the entire trail, but if you're not used to hiking, you may want to give yourself an extra day or two. A Short Inca Trail option is also available if you don't have the time for an entire hike.
How high is the Classic Inca Trail?
- Cusco City is located at 3,399 m or 11,151 ft.
- The start point of the Inca Trail is KM 82 at 2,642 m or 8,867 ft.
- The average altitude of the Inca Trail is 3,000 m or 9,842 ft.
- Dead Woman's Pass is the highest mountain at 4,215 m or 13,835 ft.
- The second highest mountain pass is Runkuraqay at 4,000 m or 13,123 ft.
- Machu Picchu, where the Inca Trail ends, is 2,430 m 7,972 ft.
- Aguas Calientes town, where we take the train back to Cusco, is 2,040 m or 6,692 ft.
Where does the 4-day Inca Trail start?
The Classic Inca Trail starts in Km 82, Piscacucho (2,642 m or 8,867 ft), in the Ollantaytambo district, Urubamba Province. The main checkpoint is located on the right side of the Urubamba River. Once you cross the river, you enter the Inca Trail protected area.
The Short Inca Trail starts at Km 104, also called Chachabamba. This is the express Inca Trail for only 1 day, and you will visit Machu Picchu the next day.
When is the best time to hike the Inca Trail?
This question is often tough to answer. Inca Trail is Inca Trail, and you will be amazed even with the sun, rain, wind, cold, or any weather you might encounter on your trip. You must have the proper equipment and always be prepared for all types of weather. Inca Trail is located in the cloud forest, famous for having the most unstable weather in Peru and perhaps the world.
- The best months to hike and visit Machu Picchu are April to October.
- The driest months on the Inca Trail are May, June, July, and August. However, these are the busiest months of the year in Machu Picchu.
- The rainy season starts in November and lasts until March; however, it is possible to have whole weeks without rain.
- The Inca trails are closed during February due to heavy rains and maintenance.
When was the Inca Trail Built?
The Inca Empire built the trail in the 15th century, most likely between 1450 and 1500. This is based on archaeological evidence that has been found along the route, as well as historical records of the Inca Empire.
Why is the Classic Inca Trail Important?
After the Inca Trail's rediscovery in 1915, archaeologists explored the ancient route. They found many Incan temples, religious sites, and administrative areas, such as Patallacta, Runkuraqay Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, Intipata, Wiñaywayna, and Intipunku.
The vast number of Inca Sites, the remarkably well-preserved ancient Inca Trail, the secluded location of the area, the varied landscapes, the fantastic view, endemic flora, and fauna are a few of the reasons why the Inca Trail hike has become one of the most popular hikes in South America.
How many days before the trek do I have to arrive in Cusco?
You should arrive in Cusco at least 2 days before your Inca Trail trek begins. This will give you time to acclimate to the high altitude and settle before starting your hike. Cusco is a beautiful city with plenty of things to see and do, so you won't be bored while waiting to start your trek. Plus, if you have any last-minute gear or supplies you need to pick up, you'll have time to do that before heading out.
When is the Classic Inca Trail Closed?
The Classic Inca Trail is closed annually from February to March for maintenance. It is also closed occasionally due to bad weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Before you plan to trek the Classic Inca Trail, check the latest information on closures.
Which Inca Trail Trek is the best?
There are 3 ways to make the Inca Trail and arrive at Machu Picchu through the Sungate.
- The Classic Inca Trail 4 days and 3 nights are the most popular, and 90% of travelers will choose this option—only camping.
- The Inca Trail 5 days and 4 nights, 3 nights camping, 1-night hotel in Aguas Calientes.
- The Short Inca Trail, 1 day hiking the last part of the Inca Trail and the next day visiting Machu Picchu.
This trek has other variations and extensions, like the Salkantay Expedition, 6 days and 5 nights; however, it is always based on those mentioned above.
Where do I have to book Inca Trail Permits?
Only authorized local, registered tour operators like TreXperience can book the Inca Trail permits in Cusco City. You can not secure the permits and must travel with a tour guide, chef, and porters.
How to get Inca Trail Permits?
The Inca Trail permits are released during the first days of October for the following year. This October, 2023, we will book the permits for all 2024 seasons.
A few months might run out fast, like May, June, and July, so it is essential to get manual confirmation that the tour operator has secured the permits.
How hard is the Inca Trail?
Another tricky question! The Inca Trail is challenging but doable. You must be able to hike on uneven terrain for about 8 to 10 hours daily, sleep above 3,000 meters, and be able to go up and down the stairs on the trail.
If you are in average physical condition to handle this type of hike, you must practice regularly before coming to the Inca Trail, and you will have a wonderful time.
How much does Inca Trail Cost?
There are so many tour operators with reasonable prices when searching online; deciding which tour company you will travel with is always hard.
The most popular Inca Trail tours are:
- The average price on a 4-day Classic Inca Trail tour is 700 to 790 USD
- The average price on the Inca Trail 5 days trek is 950 to 1400 USD
- The average Short Inca Trail tour price is 500 to 550 USD
You can find better prices or options, but always verify what is included. Some tour operators do not have a personal porter or bus from Machu Picchu. TreXperience provides a personal porter and all transportation from start to end with panoramic trains.
Is the Inca Trail Hike Dangerous?
Any adventure trip you go on, there are always risks involved. Dangerous situations during the Inca Trail could be due to negligence or the force of nature. Following your tour guide's instructions is the best way to stay safe on the Inca Trail.
Can I Hike The Inca Trek Without a Guide?
You can not enter the Inca Trail without hiring a registered tour company. You must hike the Inca Trail with a tour guide, chef, and porters.
Inca Trail travel information
The Classic Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu is one of the most breathtaking adventures in the world! Built by the Incas in the 15th century, also called Qhapac Nan or Inca Trails, this extensive network of trails helped to connect their empire, which included Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.
Cusco was the capital city of the Great Inca Empire, therefore, the most important city. From Cusco, all Inca Trails started and connected to other locations across South America - these trails covered over 40,000 kilometers!
The Classic Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, which is well-known around the world, begins at Kilometer 82 - Piscacucho Village, located in Ollantaytambo district, Urubamba Province, in the Sacred Valley of Cusco, Peru.
The Incas built the Iconic Classic Machu Picchu Inca Trail in the 15th century. It is thought that the same people who built Machu Picchu also built the Inca Trail. The trail was used for trading between Cusco and the area around the Amazon region.
After the Spanish conquest, this trail was lost for many years with Machu Picchu, and it was re-discovered in 1911 by an American, Hiram Bingham III, during his expeditions to Peru, searching for the Lost City of the Incas. Today, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu are some of Peru's most famous tourist destinations.
The weather on the Inca Trail is unpredictable and variable. We have 2 seasons. However, you need to be prepared for all seasons when hiking to Machu Picchu.
- The wet season runs from November to March
- The dry season runs from April to October
The temperature during the Machu Picchu Trek varies significantly depending on the altitude and season; temperatures can reach as high as 80°F (27°C) during the day and drop below freezing at night, so hikers must come prepared for hot and cold weather conditions.
Hiking the Machu Picchu Inca Trail can be challenging due to its length and high altitudes; however, its rewards make the experience worthwhile. Its breathtaking scenery will impress anyone while feeling great satisfaction from having accomplished something big!
Inca Trail Altitude Map
Inca Trail permits:
To participate in the Classic Machu Picchu Trek, you will need to secure the permits long in advance. Every day, there are only 500 permits available, including porters, chefs, tour guides, and travelers.
Inca Trail length:
The Inca Trail trek stretches for about 26 miles (42 kilometers) from the Sacred Valley (Km 82), through the Andes Mountains, to the lost city of Machu Picchu.
Inca Trail compared with other tours:
The Inca Trail is one of the most popular trekking routes in the world, but if it is sold out, you might consider alternative treks to Machu Picchu. Below, you will find a fair comparison of the most popular tours.
Inca Trail vs. Salkantay Trek
When choosing a trek to Machu Picchu, there are two main options: the Inca Trail and the Salkantay Trek. Both tours offer stunning scenery and an unforgettable experience but have some key differences.
The Inca Trail hike is the classic choice for a Machu Picchu trek. It's the most popular option – it's an incredible journey that takes you through some of the most stunning scenery and journey through history. The Classic Machu Picchu Trek follows the ancient path of the Incas and ends with a spectacular entrance into Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate.
The Salkantay Trek is an excellent alternative to the Inca Trail. It's less crowded, more affordable, and still takes you through beautiful scenery. The highlight of the Salkantay Trek is Mount Salkantay, which, at 6,271 meters (20,549 feet), is one of the tallest mountains in Peru. The views from the summit are breathtaking! Another plus of the Salkantay Trek is that it ends with a visit to Aguas Calientes, where you can relax in the hotel before going to Machu Picchu.
Inca Trail vs. Lares Trek
Another great alternative Trek to Machu Picchu is the Lares Route, famous for being a more cultural trek and less intense than the Salkantay and Inca Trail.
The Inca Trail takes you on a 4-day hike directly to the great citadel of Machu Picchu. You will be hiking through the mountains, spending the night in isolated campsites, and arriving at Machu Picchu through the Sun gate; this is the only trek that actually allows you to arrive hiking to Machu Picchu.
The Lares Trek is a shorter, 4-day option that starts in the village of Lares and ends at Machu Picchu. While it doesn't have as many Inca ruins along the route, it's a great choice if you want to avoid crowds and learn from the locals. To arrive at Machu Picchu, you need to travel by train and stay 1 night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes.
Classic Inca Trail vs. Short Inca Trail hike
The original Classic Inca Trail 4 days is a long and challenging hike, but there is also a shorter version known as the Short Inca Trail. So, which one should you choose?
The Classic Machu Picchu Inca Trail is a 26-mile (42-kilometer) long hike and takes four days to complete. It starts at Km 82, in the Sacred Valley, and ends at Machu Picchu. Trekkers will pass through beautiful scenery along the way, including alpine forests, mountain valleys, and lush jungles. The trail also crosses several high-altitude passes, reaching a maximum elevation of 13,829 feet (4,215 meters).
The Short Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu is only 10 miles (16 kilometers) long and can be completed in just 1 day. It starts at Km 104 and ends at Machu Picchu. While this route doesn't offer the same variety of scenery as the longer Inca Trail, it still passes through some stunning landscapes, including cloud forests.
Inca Trail vs. Quarry Trek
For those travelers searching for unique adventures, there is another amazing trek called the Cachicata Trek or Inca Quarry Trail to Machu Picchu. The Cachicata Trek to Machu Picchu is a new but amazing route to Machu Picchu that few people know about or hike.
The Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, an epic trek many travelers want to complete, but few will dare. This trek is a complete experience combining adventure, camping, hiking, challenge, history, culture, and the amazing reward of arriving at Machu Picchu hiking.
The Quarry Trek is an excellent option If you're looking for a shorter, easier trek. It's only 20 miles long and takes you to some of the best viewpoints of the Sacred Valley. The Quarry Trek is also a great option if you want to avoid the crowds of the Inca Trail.
Inca Trail vs. Choquequirao trek
The Inca Trail and Choquequirao Hike are 2 of the most epic hikes to an ancient citadel in Peru. Both treks offer stunning views of the Andes mountains and the ancient Inca ruins, but there are some critical differences between the two.
- The Inca Trail is much more popular than the Choquequirao trek.
- The Choquequirao trek is more challenging but less crowded and offers a more authentic experience.
- The Inca Trail trek takes 4 days to complete, while the Choquequirao trek can be 4,5, up to 8-10 days.
Inca Trail Marathon:
One of the most popular events in the world is the Inca Trail Marathon. This race takes place in Peru and follows the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The marathon is considered one of the most difficult in the world due to the high altitude and rugged terrain. However, many runners find the challenge to be worth it for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Inca Trail Marathon is held every year in May or June. The race starts at KM 82 of the Inca Trail, about 2,000 meters above sea level. Runners then go through the jungle, mountains, and ancient ruins before finishing at Machu Picchu. The total race distance is approximately 42 kilometers.
Inca Trail elevation gain:
The Inca Trail elevation gain is around 3,000 feet (914 meters) from start to finish. The highest point on the trail is 13,828 feet (4,215 meters) at Dead Woman's Pass. Most of the elevation gain is in the first few days, with around 1,000 feet (305 meters) of ascent on Day 1 and 800 feet (244 meters) on Day 2. After that, the trial levels out somewhat, although there are still some ups and downs.
Inca Trail Reservations:
If you're planning to participate in the Classic Machu Picchu Trek, you'll need to make sure you have a reservation. This trek is one of the most popular hiking trails in the world, and it cannot be easy to get a spot.
- There is only one way to make a reservation for the trail. You need to book through an authorized tour company like TreXperience.
- When making your reservation, you must provide your passport information and choose a start date for your hike.
- It's important to note that the Inca Trail is closed in February.
- You should also try booking at least six months in advance, as spots fill up quickly.
- Once your reservation is secured, all left is packing for your adventure!
Inca Trail's highest point:
Dead Woman's Pass is a high mountain on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It is 4,215 meters (13,829 ft) above sea level and is the highest point on the Inca Trail. The pass gets its name from its resemblance to a woman lying on her back. The pass is a challenging section of the Inca Trail, with steep ascents and descents.
The short Inca Trail is an excellent option for those who want to hike the trail but are short on time. The trail is only 2 days long and is a great way to see some of the most incredible views of the Andes Mountains. The trail starts at Km 104, about 1 hour from Cusco by train from Ollantaytambo. From there, you will hike for about 4-5 hours to reach the site of Wiñay Wayna. You will enjoy a box lunch and continue the final stretch of the trail to Machu Picchu to the Sun Gate (Initupunku), from where you will have the first and most amazing view of Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail 5-day slow version is an excellent option for those who want to enjoy the scenery and take their time on the trail. The slower pace means you'll have more time to take photos, enjoy the views, and explore the ruins. This version of the trail is also a good option for those not as physically fit, as it is not as strenuous as the shorter versions. Book your tour early if you're planning on hiking the Inca Trail. Tours often fill up months in advance, especially during peak season (May-September).
Sun Gate or Intipunku:
Sungate, or Intipunku, is the official name for the entrance to Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail. The views from the Sun Gate are breathtaking, and it's incredible to stand at the top of Machu Picchu and take it all in.
Inca Bridge in Machu Picchu:
The Inca Bridge stretches across a deep gorge, which has a height of approximately 60 meters (200 feet). The Incas constructed the structure during the 15th century. It's not entirely clear what the Inca Bridge was used for, but it's believed that it could have served as a means for the Incas to traverse the gorge without having to go down into the valley beneath it.
It's possible that the bridge was built as a defensive structure to stop enemies from entering the citadel. The Inca Bridge at Machu Picchu is a remarkable engineering achievement that will impress anyone who sees it.
Training for Inca Trail:
Preparing for the Machu Picchu Inca Trail can be demanding. Below are some recommendations for enjoying this amazing hike.
- After booking the tour, start training and going on regular hikes
- Increase your physical activities gradually
- Walking or running for 30 minutes three to five days a week improves health.
- Fitness requires strong legs. Untrained legs may struggle in Vietnam's hilly terrain.
- Squats and lunges at home or mountain hikes will prepare you for your holiday.
Before hiking Machu Picchu, allow time to acclimate to Cusco's high altitude. The trail reaches 4,000 meters (13,000 feet). Preventing altitude sickness requires progressive acclimatization.
Inca Trail stairs:
The Inca Trail has different routes with varying numbers of stairs based on the path you choose. The number of trails changes every year due to maintenance and updates, so we can't give an exact number. We can provide an idea of what to expect on your trek by sharing feedback from past hikers.
Research on hikers who completed the Inca Trail found that they took around 5,000-7,000 steps. On average, a person takes 200 to 300 steps to walk one mile. This is equivalent to 120 to 190 steps for every kilometer. If you are going to hike the Inca Trail, keep in mind that you will come across many stairs! Don't be discouraged; the experience you gain here will be valuable.
Inca Trail facts:
- The Inca Trails are an ancient network of roads and trails spanning more than 4,000 miles through the Andes Mountains. The Classic Inca Trail connects Cusco with Machu Picchu.
- The Inca Trail was constructed over 500 years ago by the Incas and remains one of the world's premier hiking trails today. Covering 26 miles and taking four days to hike, the Inca Trail can be found in Peru's Andes Mountains at 13,000 feet.
- The Inca Trail is a rewarding hike with stunning panoramic views of mountains, valleys, rivers, and ancient ruins. But its trail has many challenges for hikers, such as narrow paths with steep ascents/descents as well as unpredictability weather conditions.
- Trekkers typically spend four days traversing their trail, though shorter and longer options may also be available.