The Inca Trail is the famous hike that ends in Machu Picchu following the same path and stone steps that the Inca royalty crossed to get to their royal state. Along the way there are many archaeological sites and farming terraces which were used for religious ceremonies, administrative duties, and for lodgings. There are also many ecological zones throughout the inca trail hike and a huge variety of flora and fauna.
About this activity:
Full Itinerary: Classic Inca Trail Hike To Machu Picchu
We’ll pick you up at your hotel sometime between 4:00-4:30 a.m. Our journey will take us through the enchanting Sacred Valley for approximately 2.5 hours. Our first stop will be at a local market where you can pick up any last minute items for the trek or enjoy a hearty breakfast.
Once you’re fed and ready, we’ll make our way to the first Inca Trail checkpoint. Remember to bring your original passport, as it’s required for entry. The first part of the hike, about 2 hours, is quite manageable. During this time we’ll make our way to the historic Inca site of Patallacta. This site served as an important checkpoint during the Inca era, a point of control on the route to Machu Picchu.
After Patallacta we’ll continue our journey and hike another 2 hours to reach our lunch spot. After lunch, we’ll continue for about 2 and a half hours until we reach our first campsite, Ayapata, at an altitude of 3300 meters. We’ll also pass through two quaint communities along the way. Feel free to pick up energy drinks, snacks, or any forgotten essentials like batteries.
We’ll arrive at the campsite at 5:00 p.m. You’ll have time to settle in, relax, and perhaps enjoy a refreshing drink and snack. A hearty dinner will be served at 7:30 pm to refuel you after the day’s trek. Afterwards, you can enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
Walking distance: 8.7 miles/14 km (6-7 hours)
Campsite altitude: 3300 meter high above sea level.
Considered: Moderate day (get used to the Inca trail)
Weather: Warm and windy
Your day will begin with an early awakening by attentive porters who will present you with a steaming cup of invigorating coca tea to prepare you for the journey ahead. The day’s itinerary includes a challenging 4-hour hike to the trail’s summit, Dead Woman’s Pass, at an elevation of 4215m (13828ft). At this vantage point, a short break will allow you to take in the panoramic splendor before beginning the descent into the adjacent Pacaymayu Valley, where a hidden river flows.
The next hour and a half will be dedicated to a descent along the slopes of the valley, culminating in a designated lunch spot, where we will have the opportunity to replenish our water supply. After this break, the trail climbs again towards the second summit of the trek. This two-hour climb offers moments to contemplate the tiny Inca enclave of Runcu Raccay, as well as the awe-inspiring spectacle of twin waterfalls that grace the opposite side of the valley.
After reaching the second pass, a descent brings us to the splendid Inca wonder of Sayacmarca, a village seemingly isolated by nature. Here we take a break for a brief exploration of the site and the opportunity to watch the sun set over the horizon. The day culminates at our second campsite, Chaquicocha, a highland area resembling a dry lake at 3600m. Energy permitting, the evening may include a session of stargazing and star spotting.
Walking distance: 9.94 miles/16 km (8-9 hours)
Campsite altitude: 3600 m or 11811 ft (chilly weather)
Considered: Top day (we will survive two passes)
Area: Andes and the cloud forest
Weather: Cold and rainy
The culmination of the second day and the beginning of the third deserve praise. Starting at 6:30 a.m., we embark on the most exquisite section of the Inca Trail. A two-hour stop over the “Inca Flat” reveals the cloud forest through gradual inclines. In the midst of this passage, the grandeur of the snow-capped Salkantay Peak and a sweeping panorama of the Vilcabamba mountain range unfold. From the Inca Flat, the climb to the final summit, Phuyupatamarka (3600 m or 11811 ft), offers a commanding view of the Urubamba River.
Descending into the valley, we catch a glimpse of Machu Picchu’s visage, though its full majesty remains shrouded. The ensuing three hour descent, replete with staircases, culminates in our final camp near Winay Wayna, poetically named “Forever Young”. A prologue to Machu Picchu, Winay Wayna stands as an unparalleled Inca wonder along the trail and a popular campsite due to its proximity to the iconic site. Along the way, we encounter two Inca remains, Phuyupatamarka (“City in the Clouds”) and Intipata (“Terraces of the Sun”).
Lunch will be served at our campsite at 13:00, giving you an afternoon of rest to fortify you for the impending climax at Machu Picchu. A guided talk at 4:30 pm enriches your insight, followed by an exploration of the Inca ruins at Winay Wayna, providing an hour and a half to absorb the quintessence of the site. This interval distills the knowledge of the trek and prepares you for your imminent sojourn in Machu Picchu the following morning.
Walking distance: 6.2 miles/10km (5 hours)
Campsite altitude: 2.600 meter high above sea level. (Chilly weather)
Considered: Easy day (Just downhill)
Area: High cloud forest
Weather: Warm and very humid
“AWAKENING THE PAST: A REVERENT ENCOUNTER WITH MACHU PICCHU’S ENIGMATIC GRANDEE
Starting at 3:30 a.m., our day begins with an early rise. Breakfast at 4:00 a.m. precedes our wait at the checkpoint, positioned to be among the first to leave when the gates open at 5:30 a.m. With farewells to our porters and cook, our journey moves toward the Sun Gate, Inti Punku, a vantage point offering panoramic views of the mountains and the resplendent Machu Picchu.
At 6:30 a.m., we reach the Sun Gate, a prelude to the final descent. Only an hour’s walk down a staircase, the lost city of the Incas unfolds before us. The approach to Machu Picchu unveils an ever enriching tableau, culminating at 7:40 a.m. at the final checkpoint, which leads us into the heart of Machu Picchu for a guided two-hour exploration.
Bus tickets will then be purchased to Aguas Calientes for 3-4 hours of independent exploration. A shared lunch at 13:30 concludes the trip, followed by train tickets to return to Cusco. A 30-minute pre-departure meeting ensures a cohesive trip to the train station. The intrepid can opt for an ascent of Huayna Picchu, a 45-minute climb to the top that offers unparalleled views of Machu Picchu. Pre-booking for $75 adds to this enchanting day, often praised as the most exhilarating and magical.
The return trip is by train to Ollantaytambo, where we’ll pick you up at the train station to facilitate your transfer to the hotel.
Walking distance: 3 miles/5km (2 hours).
Altitude Machupicchu: 2.400 m or 7874 ft.
Considered: Easy day (Just downhill).
Area: High cloud and tropical forest (requires a lot of water).
Weather: Warm and very humid.
Perfect for: Everyone who wants to experience this world heritage hike. Especially good for hike lovers, the inca trail offers many historical ruins as well.Level: Moderate to difficult, very important fitness levelDistance: 45.6 kilometers or 28 milesLimited Spaces: Yes. To protect the historic inca trail to machu picchu, the number of people allowed to hike the machu picchu inca trail each day is 500. For this reason, you should reserve your spot as soon as possible. During the high tourist season from April to September, permits can sell out 6-8 months in advance.Acclimatization: Since there is one pass that is at 4,215 meters (13,828 feet), we recommend spending at least 2 days in Cusco to acclimatize properly before your hiking inca trail begins. It is not necessary if you are coming from places 3,000 m or 8,000 ft. high.Duration: 4 days
FAQs Classic Inca Trail Hike To Machu Picchu
- Transportation from your hotel in Cusco to the start of the trek km 82 and back to your hotel.
- Permission for the Inca Trail and entrance to Machu Picchu
- Bus ticket down from Machu Picchu to Machupicchu village
- Train ticket on expedition service from Machupicchu village back to Ollantaytambo and bus to Cusco
- 4-season mountain tents designed for maximum comfort, Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map mattress provided free of charge (please note that if you do not hire an additional porter, you will need to bring your own mattress)
- Duffel bag that you can fill with up to 5 kg (15 lbs) of your personal gear that will be carried by the porters
- Other camping equipment, such as a kitchen tent manned by a professional kitchen staff, a dining tent with table and chairs, and a toilet tent
- Tour guide fluent in English, Spanish and Quechua. Our guides are equipped and trained to practice First Aid, administer oxygen if necessary.
- Full meals and snacks during the trek starting with lunch on the first day and ending with breakfast on the fourth day (the last lunch in Machupicchu village is not included). Our experienced chefs prepare amazing meals in the middle of the mountains and are also used to prepare Peruvian dishes and also for people with different dietary restrictions or lifestyles, so please let us know your preferences and we will make sure to meet your dietary needs.
- Professional chef and several porters who will carry the equipment.
- Breakfast on the first day and lunch on the fourth day.
- Sleeping bag and trekking poles (can be rented starting at 35USD and 20USD respectively)
- Additional porter to help carry your personal gear (can be hired)
- Gratuities for the guide, cook and porters