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Machu Picchu Inca Trail Hike Overview

Embark on an unforgettable journey with Inkas Destination. Together, we will guide you through the historic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.This iconic trek to Machu Picchu is more than just a hike. It’s a passage through time, weaving through the Sacred Valley. The journey culminates in the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu, a world-renowned wonder.

Imagine starting your adventure in the vibrant Aguas Calientes, where the anticipation for the trail to Machu Picchu builds. As we hike the Inca Trail together, you’ll be following the footsteps of an ancient civilization. Every step will be revealing a new layer of history. 

The Inca Trail hike is a blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. It will be leading us through cloud forests, over high altitudes, and past intriguing archaeological sites.

We will ensure that you are well-prepared for this journey. Our packing list includes essentials like hiking boots, designed to tackle the rugged paths. We also provide suggestions to prevent altitude sickness, ensuring a comfortable trek. 

The Inca Trail permit is a crucial part of the adventure. We will manage it, as tour companies must secure these permits months in advance.

The Inca Trail Experience: Your Pathway to Machu Picchu’s Mysteries

Throughout the hike to Machu Picchu, we’ll encounter various challenges and joys. The trail spans approximately 26 miles (42 kilometers). The time to hike it varies, but we typically complete this exhilarating journey in four days. 

Along the way, we’ll experience the Sun Gate, an awe-inspiring entrance to Machu Picchu. It offers panoramic views that will leave you speechless.

On arriving at Machu Picchu, the culmination of our trek, the sense of achievement is unparalleled. Exploring Machu Picchu with our expert guides, you’ll uncover the mysteries and marvels of this ancient citadel. The guided tour will enrich your understanding and appreciation of this magnificent site.

Inkas Destination takes pride in its diverse offerings. We provide a range of Inca Trail tours, including the classic Inca Trail hike and alternative hikes to Machu Picchu. Whether you’re looking for a day tour or a more extended expedition, we have options. We will tailor the experience to fit your desires and abilities.

As we embark on this adventure together, we will navigate a variety of challenges. These include the logistics of the Inca Trail permit and the physical demands of high altitudes. Our expertise as one of the leading tour companies ensures a memorable and safe journey.

So, join us as we trek to Machu Picchu. This journey offers more than just a physical trek. It’s an exploration through history, culture, and the stunning landscapes of Peru. With Inkas Destination, your Inca Trail experience will be more than a journey; it will be a lifetime memory.

Machu Picchu Inca Trail Hike Highlights

🤝🏻 Meeting and briefing

Some days before the tour, our team will contact you via E-mail or whatsapp and will coordinate the meeting time at your hotel to provide you the all tour details and answer all your questions.

🏁 Starts from your accommodation in Cuzco at 04:00 A.M.

🔚 Ends to the center of Cuzco at about 7:00 P.M.

Day 01: Cusco – Ollantaytambo – Wayllabamba

🚶‍♂️ Walking distance: 9 km – 5.5ml.

🕗 Duration: 6 hours

📈 Maximum elevation: 3000m. – 9840ft.

📉 Minimum elevation: 2600m. – 8530ft.

⛺ Lodging: Wayllabamba

On the first day of your four-day Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, we will begin our adventure. This starts with an early morning pick-up from your hotel. Eagerly anticipating the journey ahead, we will travel by van to the trailhead at Km 82, Piscacucho. It is at an elevation of 2800 meters (9184 feet). 

Here, we will join our dedicated Quechua team — porters, cook, and your knowledgeable guide. They will be our companions throughout this exhilarating adventure.

After registering at the checkpoint, our journey begins. We will cross the turbulent Urubamba River, gazing at the snow-capped peak of Veronica (Wacay Willca). It towers at a stunning 5900 meters (19,356 feet). 

The first two hours of our hike are relatively easy, allowing us to ease into the rhythm of the trail. We’ll pause in front of the archaeological site Canabamba. Here, our guide will delve into the fascinating history of the Incas, enriching our understanding of this ancient civilization.

Post-lunch, our trek continues along the Urubamba River. We will be traversing flat terrain until we reach Miskay. 

From there, we will ascend to a viewpoint atop the mountain. It will offer us a breathtaking view of the impressive Inca city of Llactapata. It nestles at 2600 meters (8530 feet). 

Our journey then leads us through magical Polylepis forests to the quaint village of Wayllabamba. It is sitting at an altitude of 3000 meters (9841 feet). This village marks our first camping site where we will enjoy dinner and a well-deserved rest under the starlit sky.

Key Statistics for Day 1:

  • Distance covered: Approximately 12 kilometers (7.5 miles)
  • Highest altitude: 3000 meters (9841 feet) at Wayllabamba
  • Lowest altitude: 2800 meters (9184 feet) at Km 82, Piscacucho
  • Level of difficulty: Moderate, with a gentle introduction to the trail

This first day on the Inca Trail is a perfect blend of physical activity, cultural immersion, and natural beauty. It will be setting the tone for an unforgettable journey towards Machu Picchu.

💡 To keep in mind

Remember you will need to show your original passport in the Inca trail check point to enter to the trail, please do not forget it.
From the check point you have to carry all your luggage in case you think you need help, you can hire the services of an extra porter that costs USD. 140.00 that carries 15kl.

inca-trail-km-82

Day 02: Wayllabamba – Warmywañusca Pass – Pacaymayu

🚶‍♂️ Walking distance: 12 km – 7.4ml.

🕗 Duration: 7 hours

📈 Maximum elevation: 4200m. – 13779ft.

📉Minimum elevation: 3750m. – 12300ft.

⛺ Lodging: Pacaymayu

On the second day of our Classic Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, we will embrace our journey’s most challenging part. Yet, this part is also the most rewarding. After enjoying a scrumptious breakfast prepared by our talented chef, we will set out for a steep and lengthy ascent. Many consider this day the hardest, yet also the most fulfilling.

Our climb will span about 4 hours, taking us to the highest point of the trail, Warmiwañuska, also known as “Dead Woman’s Pass”. It nestles at an impressive 4,200 meters (13,779 feet). This challenging climb will take us through diverse ecological zones. These include the Andes and highlands, offering a chance to witness Peru’s varied landscapes and ecosystems.

Reaching the summit of Dead Woman’s Pass is a momentous achievement. The view from the top is nothing short of spectacular, showcasing snow capped mountains in all directions. The majestic sights of Salkantay will surround us. 

Additionally, the icy claws of Pumasillo and the Huayanay peaks of the Vilcabamba mountain range will be in view. These will be creating a truly unforgettable panoramic spectacle.

After taking time to absorb the breathtaking scenery, we will begin our descent. This 40-minute journey downwards brings us to our lunch spot, uniquely situated in the middle of the mountain. 

Post-lunch, the trek continues as we descend further into the valley. We will be reaching our campsite at Pacaymayu, which stands at an altitude of 3750 meters (12,300 feet). Here, we will enjoy dinner and rest for the night, under the serene Andean sky.

Key Statistics for Day 2 of Inca Trail Tour:

  • Distance covered: Approximately 11 kilometers (6.8 miles)
  • Highest altitude: 4,200 meters (13,779 feet) at Warmiwañuska (Dead Woman’s Pass)
  • Lowest altitude: 3,750 meters (12,300 feet) at Pacaymayo
  • Level of difficulty: High, with a challenging ascent and descent

The second day of the Inca Trail is a true test of endurance and spirit. However, the sense of accomplishment and the awe-inspiring views make it an incredibly rewarding experience. As we continue our journey towards the mystical Machu Picchu, we will undoubtedly cherish the memories of this day.

💡 To keep in mind

Always carry a wind jacket with you and as well as a rain jacket, normally in the pass it is very windy and depending on the season it can rain.

day-3-classic-inca-trail

Day 03: Pacaymayu – Runcuraqay – Sayacmarka – Wiñayhuayna

🚶‍♂️ Walking distance: 16km. – 10ml.

🕗 Duration: 9 hours

📈 Maximum elevation: 3915m. – 12841ft.

📉 Minimum elevation: 2700m. – 8856ft.

⛺ Lodging: Wiñayhuayna

On the third day of our Classic Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, we will begin with a delicious breakfast, fueling up for the day’s adventure. Our journey will take us through the scenic Pacaymayo Valley, where the beauty of nature unfolds with every step.

We will then embark on a 45-minute hike up to the Inca remains at Runkurakay. Here, our guide will highlight the most important parts of this ancient site. As we explore, we will be treated to the sight of two impressive waterfalls cascading down the mountain slopes. 

Our ascent continues for another 45 minutes to the Runkurakay high pass, situated at 3915 meters (12841 feet). This vantage point offers breathtaking views and a heartfelt farewell to the Andean landscape.

Next, our hike leads us downhill for about an hour to the Sayacmarca archaeological site. Here, we immerse ourselves in the rich Incan history, marveling at the ancient structures.

The journey then takes us ascending towards Phuyupatamarca, the final summit of the route, standing at 3650 meters (11975 feet). After a well-deserved rest and energy recharge, we will embark on a 2 and a half hour descent to the Intipata archaeological site. This fascinating location is just a 30-minute walk from our campsite at Wiñayhuayna, which lies at an altitude of 2700 meters (8856 feet). Here, we will enjoy dinner and spend the night.

Key Statistics for Day 3:

  • Distance covered: Approximately 16 kilometers (10 miles)
  • Highest altitude: 3915 meters (12841 feet) at Runkurakay high pass
  • Lowest altitude: 2700 meters (8856 feet) at Wiñayhuayna
  • Level of difficulty: Moderate, with a mix of ascents and descents

The third day of the Inca Trail is a mesmerizing blend of archaeological wonders and natural beauty, providing a deeper connection to the Inca civilization. As we near the end of our trek, the anticipation of reaching Machu Picchu grows, making this day an integral part of our unforgettable journey.

💡 To keep in mind

This day we enter the high jungle and in this part the tropical climate begins and that means that the mosquitoes will begin so for it reason we recommend you have to bring and use mosquito repellent.

inca-trail-trek-to-machu-picchu

Day 04: Wiñaywayna – Sun Gate – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes – Cusco

🚶‍♂️ Walking distance: 5km. – 3.11ml.

🕗 Duration: 2 hours 1/2

📈 Maximum elevation: 2700m. – 8856ft.

📉 Minimum elevation: 1950m. – 6396ft.

🚉 Train back: 1 hour 45 minutes

On the fourth and final day of our Classic Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, we will begin our day early. Our breakfast will be served at 4:00 am, setting the stage for an exhilarating day ahead. This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the culmination of our trekking journey.

After breakfast, we will register at the last checkpoint of the Inca Trail. Then, we embark on a 1 and a half hour walk to the Sun Gate, known as Inti Punku, situated at an altitude of 2700 meters (8856 feet). This moment is truly special — all your efforts from the past days are rewarded with the most stunning view of Machu Picchu, which also stands at 2700 meters (7872 feet). This is the time for celebration and reflection, as we’ve achieved a remarkable feat.

From the Sun Gate, a 40-minute walk brings us to the citadel of Machu Picchu itself. Here, our guide will delve into the fascinating history of the Incas, unraveling their mysteries. We will start our guided tour, exploring the most significant points of this iconic site. The guided tour lasts approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, after which you will have free time to explore Machu Picchu on your own.

Following our exploration, we will catch a bus back down to Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Town, sitting at an elevation of 1950 meters (6396 feet). Here, we will board a train to the Ollantaytambo station, located at 2800 meters (9148 feet). Upon arrival, our driver will be waiting to transport us back to Cusco, bringing our incredible journey to a close.

Key Statistics for Day 4:

  • Distance covered: Approximately 6 kilometers (3.7 miles)
  • Highest altitude: 2700 meters (8856 feet) at the Sun Gate and Machu Picchu
  • Lowest altitude: 1950 meters (6396 feet) at Aguas Calientes
  • Level of difficulty: Moderate, with a rewarding conclusion to the trek

This final day of the Inca Trail is a blend of awe-inspiring views, historical exploration, and personal achievement. As we conclude our trek, the memories of walking the ancient paths to Machu Picchu will remain with us forever, a testament to the spirit of adventure and discovery.

💡 To keep in mind

-In Ollantaytambo our driver will wait for you with a sign with your name and he will return you to Cusco.
-The last lunch is not included but normally the guide organizes with the group the last dinner in a restaurant that is coordinated with the group, before taking the train back to Ollantaytambo.

machupicchu-huaynapicchu-inca-trail

What’s included

   ✔  Informative briefing the day before we coordinate with you the time
   ✔  Pick up from your hotel in Cusco
   ✔  Private transportation from Cusco to Km. 82
   ✔  Professional cook
   ✔  Kitchen and dinner tents, mattresses, chairs, tables
   ✔  Two-person sleeping tents
   ✔  Porter for camp equipment
   ✔  Entrance ticket to Inca Trail
   ✔  Entrance ticket to Machu Piccchu
   ✔  Professional bilingual guide (English & Spanish-speaking)
   ✔  3 breakfasts / 3 lunches / 3 dinners
   ✔  Bus Down to Aguas Calientes
   ✔  Train ticket from Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo
   ✔  Bus transportation from Ollantaytambo to Cusco
   ✔  First aid kit and oxygen bottle

Not included

  ❌  First breakfast, last lunch
  ❌  Slepping bag (You can rent you if you do not have you own, cost is 15.00 dollars)
  ❌ Porter to Carry your stuff (optional)
  ❌  Walking poles

Group size

💡 Important to know

– Over the last years specially after Covid-19, the rules have been changing due to the increase in visitors to this route and these are some of the new regulations that must be taken into account:
After entering the Inca trail, the visitors will not able to extend their stay, the time is indicated in the entrance ticket within the established route.
– Only máximum 500 people per day will be able to access the Inca Trail, an amount that includes autorizad guides, cooks, and porters, in other words the total number of visitors is limited to approx. 200 tourists, for this reason we recommend making the reservation months in advance specially in high season April, May, Jun, July, August, September.
– Due to conservation and restoration reasons, the Inca Trail is close one month a year ( February), if the trail is close for any other event or circumstance client will be informed 30 days in advance, except in the event unforeseen event of force majeure, in this case, its applies without prior notice, but we will informed as soon we know of the event.
– All people to enter the Inca trail must identify themselves with their original documents at the check points of the Ministry of Culture.

Good to know in case that you want to spend 1 more day in Machu Picchu
From 2021, the Ministerio de Cultura (Peruvian Ministry of Culture) has created 4 types of official entrances to visit Machu Picchu those circuits were created in order to better organize the traffic of travelers inside Machu Picchu, reduce the risk of infection by COVID-19, preserve and protect the constructions of the archaeological site for the future.

Machu Picchu Solo (Circuits 1, 2, 3 or 4)
This ticket includes the entrance Llaqta of Machu Picchu (all citadel) (Circuits 1, 2, 3 or 4) this ticket sellout fast.

Machu Picchu Circuit 3 + Machu Picchu Mountain (U$D. 20.00 extra)
This ticket is the only one that has re-entry and first the guiding tour to Machu Picchu from the bottom part and after the guiding tour you go up the Mountain.

Machu Picchu Circuit 4 + Huayna Picchu Mountain (U$D. 20.00 extra)
Machu Picchu Circuit 4 + Huchuy Picchu Mountain
With these tickets you will receive the guided through the lower part of Machu Picchu about 1hour 1/2 until the check point of Huayna Picchu or Huchuy Picchu where you walk up the mountain on your free time.

The availability of entrance tickets to Machu Picchu is very limited and it is recommended to book as far in advance as possible. Especially if you are traveling in high season.

🚫 Cancellation policy

If you cancel more than 15 days before the start of the tour you will receive back 40% of the amount pre-paid in advance, After this time, or in case of no-show for the tour, you will not be entitled to a refund, this is because the Inca Trail has another type of organization unlike the other treks.

What to bring for the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu tour

   ➖  Passport
   ➖  Light clothing
   ➖  Warm clothing
   ➖  2 T-shorts
   ➖  Confortable walking shoes or boots
   ➖  Mosquito repellent
   ➖  Water bottle
   ➖  Waterproof raincoat
   ➖  Plastic poncho (specially in rainy season)
   ➖  Hat
   ➖  Sunblock
   ➖  Sun glasses
   ➖  Chocolate, candies and others snacks
   ➖  Camera
   ➖  Medication (in case you consider it necessary)
   ➖  Extra money but in Nuevos Soles (Peruvian national currency)

Map

inca-trail-4-days-tour-map

🙋🏻‍♂️ QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

How difficult is the Inca Trail?

It’s not the most challenging trek in Cusco, but you will be walking up hilland and downhill with lots of stairs, most of the hiking is on fairly well-defined inca trails, with ancient Inca stone .

In the walk you will cross 2 high passes over 4000m (13120 ft.) That have as a reward the impressive view of the entire valley and the entire route of the Inca Trail, the most difficult and longest day is the second day.

How can I avoid altitude sickness on the Inca Trail?

Altitude sickness is frequent for people who arrive from countries that are above sea level, so it is recommended to arrive one or two days before the start of the tour to acclimatize and not have problems during the tour, take often infusions of coca tea, the coca leaf is very good for altitude sickness as it provides more oxygen to the body helping to adapt to altitude quickly.

Can I walk the Inca Trail myself?

The Inca Trail is a tour which is highly regulated and people cannot travel on their own, it is necessary to take the services of certified agencies such as Inkas Destination since we can reserve and buy the tickets as well as see the availability on the date that you indicate.

What if there is no availability of spaces for the dates that I am interested in the Inca Trail?

If you do not find a space for the Inca Trail on the dates you request, Inkas Destinarion created other alternative Inca Trails as beautiful as the classic Inca Trail, some with different landscapes or heights, some of them are Inca Jungle TrailLares Trek, Salkantay trek.

When is the best time to do the Inca Trail?

To visit Machu Picchu we have two seasons: the high season that are from the months of April to October, which are the dry and sunny months that coincide with the holidays in Europe and the United States, and the middle and low season that are the months of November to January and March these months are of rain in which it is not known which day it will rain but the landscape changes and everything becomes more green and colorful.
The month of February is closed for maintenance.

What food provide along the Inca Trail?

In the tour is including three hearty meals a day. Typically buffet, you can expect breakfast to consist of fruits, cereal, eggs, local breads, pancakes and hot drinks.
Lunch will generally be salads, cheese, pasta style dishes, meats, chicken.
Dinner is soup, seasonal vegetables, meat, rice or pasta and bread with some local specialities.
If you are vegetarian, vegan or have allergies, please indicate at the time of booking so that our trained chefs take into account and prepare food according to your diet or need.

How far in advance have I to make the Inca Trail reservation?

the reservation of the Inca trail tou have to do as far in advance as possible, the government has limited the number of people allowed on the Inca Trail (the tickets are issued to about 200 trekkers per day plus 300 porters). Inkas Destination therefore recommend that you to make your Inca trail reservation as far in advance as possible as soon as you know the available dates, normally 3 or 4 months in advance mínimum, for the dates between April to August is high recommend to book 5 or 6 months in advance because it is hight toursim season.

Is necessary to use walking poles on the Inca Trail?

Many people like to hike with walking poles and in the inca trail is highly recommend to use, this as long as the walking poles will not cause damage to the stone path along the Inca Trail, these must be protected by rubber tips, rubber protectors can buy them in several shops in Cusco.
If you do not have the walking poles Inkas Destination can rent it (U$D. 15.00) a pair.

I am travelling alone, could I have my own tent?

If you are solo travelling and are willing to share a tent with a member of the same sex, then there is no additional cost. If, however, you would like your own tent you have to add U$D. 60.00.

How cold is the Inca Trail?

In the Inca trail temperatures can change quickly and radical, It depends of the month and season that you make the reservation, but the normal thing is that at night and early in the morning it is cold in the camps between 0 and 8 degrees Celsius and throughout the day the temperature improves and can reach up to 25 degrees Celsius This depending on the weather if it is cloudy or sunny, so it is advisable to always wear a rain jacket and a warm jacket.

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