The Inca Trail is the most legendary and by far the most well-known hike in South America. If you’re moderately healthy, the Inca trail hike is the most wonderful way to get to the secret Inca city. After a night in Cusco, you’ll begin on the 44km path along the old Inca trade route that winds its way up through the Andes to the out-of-the-way, and practically out of reach, Machu Picchu. Hiking for three days continuous and traversing across the highest pass at 4200m, the Inca Trail is not for the weak, but it’s definitely an experience that you won't forget and a real climax of your Peru trip. The vistas across the peaks of the Andes are amazingly dazzling and it's hard to explain the blissfulness you'll get when you finish your three-day Inca Trail.
It's the most notable trek in South America – even the world – and a life-altering adventure. Trekking the Inca Trail through the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu is both difficult and magnificent. Four days of being chilly, aching and exhausted dissappear as the film ascends to show the rich green summits and terraced relics of the occult veryy old city.
If you want to see more of the Valley around Cusco at the end of your Classic Inca trail, have a look at our Sacred Valley tours. Please note that permits for the Inca Trail are limited, particularly from May to September so we strongly advise reserving well in advance. If there are no longer spaces available on the trail, do not fret, we offer an excellent alternative hike with the Salkantay trek or our shorter Lares trek.
Because of the amount of people wanting to do this hike, the Peruvian government has restricted the availability of the Inca Trail in order to protect the path. 500 people are now allowed on the trail per day, this includes about 180 tourists and the rest is staff (guides, cooks, porters).
Due to these restrictions, in order to avoid disappointment we advise you to make your booking more than 3 months in advance if you want to go between October to January and at least 6 months between the months of March to September, as this is the high season and permits are sold out quickly.
A piece of the 23,000 kilometer road (about 14,000 m) constructed by the Incas in South America. This is the most legendary route in Peru and likely the most impressive on the American continent. Each year over 25,000 trekkers from all over the world walk along the 43 kilometer road built by the Incas that leads to the astonishing fortress of Machu Picchu, buried in the Cusco jungle. The journey starts in the village of Pisqacucho, at kilometer 82 of the Cusco-Quillabamba railroad and takes 3 or 4 days of intensified hiking. This path involves an ambitious array of altitudes, climates and ecosystems varying from puna to cloud forest. The hiker will traverse across two high passes (the highest being Warmiwañuska at 4,200 m ASL), ending the hike with a bewitching entry to Machu Picchu via Inti Punku, the “Sun Gate”.
One of the main highlights along the trail is the ancient system of settlements made in granite rock by the Incas, like Wiñay Wayna and Phuyupatamarca, immersed in irresisitible natural surroundings. Scores of orchid species, multicolored birds, and dreamlike countryside provide the perfect scene for a path that all trekking fans should experience.
The total distance of the route is about 44km, it begins at km82 in Pisqacucho. After your briefing you begin your trek by crossing a bridge (the checking point), then walk along the left side through a tranquil eucalyptus garden.
Soon after, you will come across the archaeological sites of Llactapata and Patallacta. From there the trail continues to the left of the Kusichaca River Canyon where you will pass a bridge and see tombs, aqueducts, terrace roads and a canyon. You carry on until the small town of Wayllabamba and Inca aqueducts. In the afternoon we reach the village of Llulluchapampa. It takes about 7-8 hours to get to this point (17km). We will camp here on the first night.
The second day is the hardest but one of the most fascinating days, you reach 4,200 m, traversing the first and highest Warmiwañusqa Pass and later the second pass at 3,800 meters above sea level but also get to see more exciting sites, like Runquracay, the site is fenced with alcoves that might have been little resting locations, guard posts or ceremonial places, If feeling the effects of the altitude when crossing the first high pass its best to not stop or descend quickly to the valley of the Pakaymayu River, where you have lunch. Then you continue hiking through the valley to the Inca ruins of Runkuraqay and then climb up over the second pass – Abra Runkuraqay. After that you descend down to Yanacocha (The Black Lagoon) and then trek up a trail with stone steps to arrive at another cluster of distinct buildings. This location is called Sayaqmarka, a pre-Hispanic site with slender streets and buildings that stand at different levels; sanctuaries, patios, canals and an outside protective wall. From the top of the arch end, you can see various buildings that look like they once were temples and an astronomic watchtower with constant water supply and superior food storage.
Sayaqmarka is a location brimming with enigma and enchantment; the rough distance from Runkuraqay is about 5km. It takes about 2 hours. This site covers over 3,600 meters above sea level. There’s a wonderful trail and a tunnel traversing across the site. We camp at Chaquicocha.
On this day the trekking distance is 12km and it takes about 7-8 hours of hiking.
The third day is shorter, only 5km. We walk past beautiful subtropical vegetation and great archaeological sites. We get over the Phuyupatamarca Pass and just behind it are the Phuyupatamarca ruins which are better preserved than the ones we have seen up to now. A few km’s down a steep descent and via a cloud forest takes us to the last campsite at Wiñay Wayna Visitor’s center where you can purchase food and drink and use the restrooms.
The fourth day begins at 5am when we hike the last 4km to Machu Picchu. Pursue the path indicated which is plainly marked by the signposts (and be careful not to wander too near to the edge of the cliff). Cherish your time at the most valuable masterpiece of the continent. You have plenty of time to enjoy your visit to Machu Picchu. In the afternoon we take the train back to Cusco.
If you go straight from the town of Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes), its only 2km from Puente Ruinas station to Machu Picchu. It takes about 20 minutes to go down a narrow path which runs side-by-side to the rail line.