Hiking to Machu Picchu in Peru"Walking from one beautiful Inca ruin to the next is a mystical and enigmatic experience you will never forget..."
Machu Picchu's peculiar emplacement, high in the emerald green Andes, is characterized by a mystical cloud forest environment. This type of ecosystem is the habitat of unique species of flora and fauna, some of them threatened with extinction. The invaluable archaeological heritage of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu combines magnificently with the splendid natural surroundings.
In order to complete the Inca Trail, you need to have a reasonable level of fitness, age shouldn't be an obstacle. It is essential to be well acclimatized to the altitude. The maximum height above sea level along the way is 13779 feet above sea level (4200 masl). We recommend anyone coming from sea level to spend at least 2 days in Cusco before attempting the trek. Visiting the city of Cusco, the ruins of Sacsayhuaman and the gorgeous Sacred Valley of the Incas is ideal for acclimatization.
Once you have completed the inca trail hike and if a day can be squeezed in your itinerary, it is highly recommended to stay overnight in Aguas Calientes and return to Cusco on the fifth day, giving you more time to explore Machu Picchu and the surrounding area, hike the orchid trail, climb up to the top of Huayna Picchu or just wonder around...
This fully supported journey along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is the most popular trek you will find in South America. It is a small group adventure; you will be sharing your experiences with a variety of like-minded travelers. This is perfect for individuals, couples or small groups of friends. It is a great way to meet new people as well as seeing new places!
Inca Trail Tour Itinerary | 4 days - 3 nights
Day 1 (L)(D): Cusco - Ollantaytambo - Piscacucho - Huayllabamba
" Vámos! "
The adventure begins today in Cusco, Peru. Before leaving the hotel, make sure you are carrying your original passport and ISIC card if student. Travelers are collected at around 6:00 am. from their hotels and start a spectacular scenic drive through the mythical Sacred Valley of the Incas with beautiful views of the Urubamba river, picturesque Andean villages and the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo. Along the way we might stop at Urubamba or Ollantaytambo for last minute supplies, leg-stretching or to use the restrooms, before continuing to Piscacucho.
In Piscacucho, kilometer eighty two, you will get acquainted with the rest of the crew and the porters who will be carrying the camping equipment. This point is where our hiking trail begins, it is also the location of the first official Inca Trail check point. After clearing the gates and crossing a suspension footbridge across the Urubamba river, the trek begins with a gentle climb. Following the curse of the river, the first three hours are on relatively flat terrain. Superb views of the snow-capped peak of Wakay Willka known as Veronica can be observed as well as the Urubamba mountain range which divides the jungle and the Andes. You are now approaching the Inca fortress of Willka Raccay.
After lunch, you will continue hiking towards the extensive Inca settlement of Llactapata (Patallacta on some maps) and appreciate the impressive farming terraces of this complex. The Inca Trail follows the left bank of the river up to the village of Huayllabamba at 9840 feet above sea level (3000 masl) where you will enjoy dinner and camp for the night. :: Buenas noches amigos!
(about 5 hr. trekking 12 Km/7.5 miles)
Day 2 (B)(L)(D): Huayllabamba - Warmi Wañuska (Dead Woman's Pass) - Paqaymayu
" Si se puede! "
Early wake up call, with hot tea brought to your tent, in order to prepare for today's trek which is considered by many, the hardest. You need to complete a steep ascent reaching an altitude of 13779 feet above sea level (4200 masl) at Warmi Wañuska pass.
After breakfast, depart from the campsite at around 07:00 hrs. The uphill hike through Llulluchapampa will give you the opportunity to appreciate several species of birds (with luck you may see falcons, hummingbirds or black-chested eagles). From here the trail traverses a beautiful cloud forest full of Polylepis or Queñua trees before entering the puna, a zone characterized by treeless grasslands only found at this altitude across the Andes.
Walk at your own pace, stop as many times as you like, to catch your breath or to stretch a muscle. The last hard climb takes us right to the highest pass of the inca trail at Warmi Wañuska. Once at the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the Andes, the Huananay massif and the surrounding snow-covered peaks. You will also feel a great sense of accomplishment after conquering Dead Woman's pass. Remember to have a warm jacket and your beanie at hand when reaching this altitude as temperatures may drop drastically. After a deserved rest, continue traversing the slopes on the left side of the valley all the way to our campsite in Paqaymayu at 11811 feet above sea level (3600 masl). You will find toilet facilities here.
(about 6 - 7 hr. trekking)
Day 3 (B)(L)(D): Paqaymayu - Sayacmarca - Phuyupatamarca - Wiñayhuayna
" Que lindo dia! "
Possibly the longest day of inca trail hiking but one that will bring splendid landscapes and vistas. A perfectly scheduled cup of hot tea will follow the wake up call at around 06:00 hrs. Enjoy breakfast with your trekking comrades and prepare yourself to hike along well preserved Inca pathway, for the most part, being original.
Start with a steady ascent to the second highest pass at Runkuracay reaching 12400 feet above sea level (3780 masl) and passing through a circular inca control point that occupies a commanding position overlooking the spectacular Vilcabamba mountain range below. Catch your breath and realize the rest of inca trail is mostly downhill. Be careful with your knees as the descent from the pass to the ruins of Sayacmarca is very steep and you may feel the strain at the end of the day. It is recommended the use of trekking poles, additional gel insoles and perhaps an additional porter.
Take a pause at this archeological complex located at 11472 feet above sea level (3497 masl) for an in depth tour and explanation. The name Sayacmarca means "inaccessible town" and clearly describes the position of the site, perfectly perched on the edgy rocks.
The one of a kind Inca trail, now a monumental structure of granite stones, continues through ever-changing layers of cloud forest full of rare orchids, hanging mosses, bromeliads and tree ferns. Past the inca tunnel, a gentle climb will take you to the third pass at 12139 feet above sea level (3700 masl), offering incredible views of several snow capped peaks including Salkantay (20574 ft./6271m) and Veronica (18865 ft./5750m). Close to the pass you will find the impressive ruins of Phuyupatamarca (cloud-level town). A brief explanation of the mysteries of Inca architecture, before continuing along splendid paved Inca road to the impressive agricultural site of Intipata and up to the third and last campsite at Wiñayhuayna (forever young) located at 8856 feet above sea level (2700 masl).
Wiñayhuayna, named after a variety of pink orchid that grows here, is the last official campsite before Machu Picchu. The most impressive ruins until this point are located minutes away, even if you are tired after today's hike, it is a good idea to explore the Wiñayhuayna archeological complex or just rest...
(about 7 hr. trekking)
Day 4 (B): Wiñayhuayna - Intipunku - Machu Picchu - Aguas Calientes - Cusco
Today begins earlier than normal, after breakfast we say a farewell to the porters and set off on the trail by 04:00 hrs in order to get to Machu Picchu. This last part of the trail from Wiñayhuayna to Machu Picchu takes about one hour and a half of hiking and is clearly marked, but you will be walking in darkness. It is highly recommended to bring a head lamp. The path is narrow, traverses a lush cloud forest of giant ferns and brings an almost vertical ascent of about 50 steps to Intipunku, the gate of the sun at 8920 feet above sea level (2719 masl).
Suddenly all efforts up until this point are rewarded with an unforgettable sight. A backdrop of natural beauty, human art and forested peaks framing the magical city of Machu Picchu. You will have plenty of time to take photos of the Lost city of the Incas, from the classic postcard view and different angles around.A final short hike will bring us to the entrance and into the heart of Machu Picchu itself, where we spend the rest of the morning with a 2 hours guided tour and some more exploring on your own.
The shuttle bus ticket from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes is included, departs every 15 minutes and will be available for you to descend whenever you decide it is time to go, just double check your train schedule and be at the train station one hour before departure. It is recommended to upgrade your train to Vistadome service giving you more train departure times and superior seat comfort for the ride back to Cusco. Whichever train station you arrive (Ollantaytambo or Poroy) transfer from this location to Cusco will be provided.
(B)=Breakfast ; (L)=Lunch ; (D)=Dinner
Important note: Campsite allocations are subject to change depending on availability provided by the National Institute of Culture (government office in charge of the Inca Trail).
Please book in advance, check for inca trail permits availability here .
Inca Trail Tour Inclusions
- Pre-departure Inca Trail tour briefing, presented by your tour guides at our downtown Cusco office
- Collection from your hotel in Cusco and transfer to head of Inca trail at Km. 82 (trek starting point)
- Entrance ticket to the Inca Trail (Inca Trail Permit)
- Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu
- Three hours Machupicchu guided tour
- Visit different Inca archaelogical sites during the Inca Trail hike
- Bus ticket down from Machu Picchu complex to Aguas Calientes
- Return Expedition train ticket on Day 4 from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
- Collection from train station on day 4 and transfer to downtown Cusco
- Professional multilingual Inca Trail Tour guides and leaders
- Assistant Tour Guide (for groups of 9 or more people)
- Savvy cook and cooking equipment
- Well treated local porters (service to carry tents, food and cooking equipment only)
- 3 Nutritious Breakfasts
- 3 High-energy Lunches
- 3 Delicious Dinners
- Vegetarian food available upon request with no extra charge
- Snacks and boiled water
- Fresh tea kindly brought to your tent first thing in the morning
- Boiled purified water every day after breakfast to refill your bottles, from second day
- Clean and spacious 4P-capacity Tents - only 2 people per tent
- Comfortable Personal foamy pad (double foam), given to you at the beginning of the trek
- Dining and kitchen tent
- Portable camping tables and chairs
- 24 hours emergency oxygen assistance
- First aid equipment
- Bio-degradable personal hand soaps
- Bio-degradable dishwashing detergents used by our kitchen staff
- Accommodation, food, transport, permits and entrance fees for our porters and cooks
- Safe storage of your belongings at our office in Cusco while you are hiking the Inca Trail
- Specialized travel advisor assigend for you to customize the rest of your Peru Trip
- Complimentary FREE airport (CUZ) pick up, assistance and transfer to your hotel in Cusco + more info This transfer will not be available December 25th 2013 and January 1st 2014)
- Inca Trail Surviver Certificate signed by your guides
- High-quality service and support
- FREE Andean Beanie with Cusco or Aguas Calientes overnight addition
- Excluded in tour cost
- International round - trip airfare to and from Peru
- Airport taxes international (US$30.25) and local (around US$6.05)
- Tips and gratuities
- Sleeping bag
- Travel insurance
- Personal trekking gear
Group Service Price : 2013 Inca Trail trekking season
+ FREE Beanie details*FREE Andean Beanie with Cusco and/or Aguas Calientes overnight addition
- Student : USD 499.00 *
- Adult : USD 539.00
* International Student Identity Card (I.S.I.C.) required. + view detailsPlease send us a digital copy of your ISIC student card immediately after booking. Without this document we will not be able to apply the discount (a clear digital photo of the card will suffice).
* Prices are valid for 2013 trekking season only.
Important: 2013 Inca Trail Trekking season starts March 1st, 2013 and ends January 31st, 2014.
- Additional portering service : USD 108.00 + view details If you are considering bringing some photography equipment or other heavy accessories, or just simply don't want to carry anything, please request additional portering service (US$ 108) to carry your personal belongings, this way you will freely enjoy the hike. (This is highly recommended if you have never hiked over 10000 feet). Cooks handle all the kitchen chores. Working conditions of our porters is a very important issue for us, that is why we enforce inca trail regulations. Each porter is allowed to carry up to 20 kg (44 lb).
- Vistadome train upgrade : USD 60.00 + view detailsTransfer from Poroy or Ollantaytambo train station to Cusco is included when upgrading to Vistadome
- Huayna Picchu entrance ticket : USD 89.00
- Single tent supplement : USD 25.00
- Sleeping bag : USD 25.00 (per unit / 3 nights)
- Walking pole : USD 20.00 (per unit / 4 days)
- Aguas Calientes overnight: + view details Normally you return to Cusco the fourth day, but it is possible to arrange an additional night in Machu Picchu town (Aguas Calientes). Different types of accommodation are available as well as activities for the next day like climbing Huayna Picchu (could be done on fourth day), taking a hike along the Orchid Trail or visit Mandor waterfall. This also gives you the opportunity to return to the Machu Picchu Archaeological complex the next day and keep exploring...
If you request additional portering service, the additional porter will carry up to 15 kg (33 lb) of your belongings – the remaining 5 kg (12.5 lb) will be for the porter's personal belongings. Support inca trail porters as they do the hardest job.
Half porter service to carry up to 7 kg (15 lb) is available for USD 54.00
Please proceed to booking by clicking on the date you would like to start the Inca Trail hike.
The Inca Trail is closed in February for conservation projects.