Machu Picchu Inca Trail Hike – Classic Inca Trail

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Machu Picchu Inca Trail Hike Details
Classic Inca Trail

Embarking on the Machu Picchu Inca Trail hike is a journey into the heart of the Andes. It’s also a deep dive into the soul of an ancient civilization. With Explore Peru Guide, we will together experience the allure of this legendary trail to Machu Picchu.

Starting from Cusco, the ancient Incan capital nestled near the Sacred Valley, our adventure begins. Over four transformative days, we cover 42 kilometers (around 26 miles) on foot. This is not just any hike; it’s the quintessential Inca trail hike.

 It leads us through dense cloud forests, past shimmering lagoons, and up to the trail’s highest point. The ascent can be challenging, especially with the risk of altitude sickness. But fear not! We’ll provide essential tips and support to help acclimatize and ensure a smooth journey.

Historical wonders dot our path. We’ll encounter archaeological sites that provide a window into the Incan way of life. Many choose other routes to Machu Picchu, such as the Salkantay trek, but the Inca trail offers unparalleled historical richness.

But it’s not just about the hike to Machu Picchu. It’s about the stories we uncover, the challenges we overcome, and the breathtaking vistas we encounter. On day four, a defining moment awaits us: arriving at Machu Picchu. As dawn breaks and we pass through the Sun Gate, the majestic ruins of the Lost City unfurl before our eyes.

Keep in mind, undertaking this trail requires an Inca trail permit. Due to its popularity, we highly recommend securing permits months in advance. It’s a coveted experience and a testament to its significance. The Inca trail treks are among the world’s most celebrated, and for a good reason.

After exploring Machu Picchu, we’ll leave with more than just memories. We’ll have a profound connection to a bygone era. Additionally, we’ll gain an appreciation for the perseverance of the human spirit.

So, let’s prepare. Let’s have an adventure! And let’s rediscover history, one step at a time on the 4 day Inca trail with Explore Peru Guide.

Departure Time

04:30 AM

Machu Picchu Inca Trail Includes

  • Trekking Permits: All trekkers require permits to access the Inca Trail. We will handle the acquisition of these permits as part of the package.
  • Experienced Guide: An experienced bilingual guide who is well-versed with the trail, its history, and the surrounding environment.
  • Transportation: This typically covers transport from Cusco to the trail's starting point and return transportation from Aguas Calientes (the town at the base of Machu Picchu) to Cusco.
  • Accommodation: This is in the form of camping along the trail. The package would include tents and sleeping pads.
  • Meals: We provide meals during the trek, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Some might also include dining equipment like dining tents, chairs, and tableware.
  • Porters or Pack Animals: They help in carrying camping gear, food, and sometimes the personal belongings of trekkers (up to a specified weight limit).
  • Entrance Fee to Machu Picchu: This is the ticket that allows you to enter and explore the archaeological site.
  • Equipment: This includes things like camping tents, kitchen tents, toilet tents, and other necessary trekking equipment.
  • Briefings: Prior to the trek, we conduct briefings to prepare trekkers for what to expect.

Machu Picchu Inca Trail Excludes

  • Travel Insurance: Comprehensive travel insurance, which is highly recommended, is not a part of the package. This insurance should cover trekking activities, emergency evacuations, and medical treatments.
  • Personal Trekking Gear: Items like hiking boots, clothing, trekking poles, and personal backpacks are not provided.
  • Tips: Tips for guides, porters, cooks, and other staff members are not included. It's customary in the region to tip for good service.
  • Additional Snacks and Beverages: While main meals are typically provided, extra snacks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages can be purchased at an additional cost.
  • Entrance Fees to Optional Sites: This includes places like the Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, which require separate tickets.
  • Personal Porters: While porters for group equipment are included, you might have to pay extra if you want a personal porter to carry your personal belongings.
  • Extra Nights: Additional accommodation in Cusco or Aguas Calientes before or after the trek is not covered
  • Meals in Cities: Meals taken in Cusco or Aguas Calientes, apart from those during the trek, are not covered.

Inca Trail Packing List

  • Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots with good grip. The terrains can be uneven.
  • Light layers of clothing. The weather can change, so it's wise to dress in layers that can be added or removed as needed.
  • Warm jacket or sweater. Even if the day starts warm, it can get chilly, especially in higher altitudes.
  • Sun protection: Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat or cap.
  • Water bottle. It's essential to stay hydrated, especially when being active.
  • Personal snacks or energy bars. While some tours might provide snacks, it's always good to have your own, just in case.
  • Personal medications and a basic first aid kit.
  • Cash. For purchasing souvenirs, snacks, or any additional costs that might arise.
  • Camera or smartphone. The sites are picturesque, so you'll likely want to take photos.
  • Personal identification and a copy of your passport.
  • A small backpack or daypack to carry these items.

Day 1Embracing the Beginning

From the historic city of Cusco, we’ll begin our journey early in the morning. We’ll head to Piskacucho, commonly known as Km 82, marking the starting point of the iconic trail. Here, the excitement builds as the path unfurls ahead.

We’ll pass over the Cusichaca Bridge, with the Urubamba river flowing beneath. The trail runs alongside this river, providing you with a harmonious soundtrack for your hike. As we proceed, the ruins of Llactapata will emerge. 

These ruins serve as your first tangible connection to the ancient Incan civilization. Spend a moment here, soaking in the historical atmosphere and imagining the lives once led in these very spaces.

After your historical interlude, the trail winds gently upwards. You’ll gradually feel the rise in altitude but, with each step, the vistas become more mesmerizing. Your destination for the day is Ayapata, a quiet campsite where you’ll rest for the night. Here, surrounded by the tranquil embrace of the Andes, you’ll recharge for the adventures that lie ahead.

Quick Stats for Day 1:

  • Distance Covered: 14 kilometers (approximately 8.7 miles)
  • Highest Altitude: 3,300 meters (about 10,826 feet)
  • Lowest Altitude: 2,600 meters (about 8,530 feet)
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate

Remember, this is just the beginning. With each step, you’re not only getting closer to Machu Picchu but also connecting deeper with the spirit of the ancient Incas. Embrace the journey; it promises to be unforgettable.

Day 2Ascending the Majestic Passes

Rising with the dawn, we embark on what many consider to be the most challenging yet rewarding day of the Inca Trail. Today, we hike the Inca pathways that lead us to new heights, both in altitude and in experience.

Setting out from Ayapata, our first major milestone is the formidable Dead Woman’s Pass. While the ascent can be demanding, with each step we take, the Andes reveal their grandeur in new and breathtaking ways. Upon reaching the pass, we stand at the trail’s highest point, feeling a sense of achievement and wonder.

But our day doesn’t end there. After a brief moment of respite, we set our sights on the Runcuraccay Pass. Along the way, the ancient Inca ruins dotting the landscape serve as reminders of the civilization that once thrived here. We take our time to hike, ensuring we immerse ourselves in the history and significance of these archaeological marvels.

As the day progresses, our trail meanders downwards towards Chaquiccocha, our resting place for the night. Nestled amidst the mountains, this campsite offers us a serene retreat to recuperate, reflecting on the day’s adventures.

Quick Stats for Day 2:

  • Distance Covered: 16 kilometers (approximately 9.9 miles)
  • Highest Altitude: 4,215 meters (about 13,829 feet)
  • Lowest Altitude: 3,600 meters (around 11,811 feet)
  • Level of Difficulty: Challenging

As we rest under the starlit Andean sky, we can’t help but marvel at the journey so far. We’ve navigated the paths the Incas once walked, and tomorrow, we’ll delve even deeper into their world.

Day 3Delving Deeper into the Inca's World

As we greet the morning at Chaquicocha, the promise of the day ahead energizes us. The third day on this iconic trail is often celebrated for its striking combination of natural beauty and historical splendor.

Starting our journey, we wind through a section of the cloud forest, where the mist-kissed foliage and the vibrant flora encapsulate the magic of the Andes. As we make our way, the path gently descends, making today’s hike slightly less demanding than the previous.

Amidst our journey, the ruins of Phuyupatamarca beckon us. Here, we pause to soak in the vistas and contemplate the mysteries of the past. This site, with its intricate stone constructions and terraces, speaks volumes of the Inca’s architectural prowess.

Continuing our descent, the sound of the Urubamba River grows louder, guiding us towards our final destination for the day: Wiñaywayna. This terraced archaeological wonder, with its ceremonial centers and agricultural zones, stands as a testament to the brilliance of the Incan civilization. Here, we set up camp, with the anticipation of our final day on the trail building in our hearts.

Quick Stats for Day 3:

  • Distance Covered: 10 kilometers (approximately 6.2 miles)
  • Highest Altitude: 3,680 meters (about 12,073 feet)
  • Lowest Altitude: 2,650 meters (approximately 8,694 feet)
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate

As night envelops Wiñaywayna, we reflect on our journey thus far. With Machu Picchu on the horizon, we sleep with dreams of the Lost City dancing in our minds, eager for the revelations tomorrow will bring.

Day 4The Grand Reveal

The anticipation in the air is palpable as we rise at Wiñaywayna. Today, our journey culminates in the unveiling of the Lost City of the Incas. With every step, we inch closer to a dream many have yearned to realize.

Our first leg takes us to Intipunku, the famed Sun Gate. As dawn breaks, the first rays illuminate the ancient city of Machu Picchu below, a sight that leaves us breathless. The silhouette of the ruins against the backdrop of the towering Huayna Picchu is a memory we’ll cherish forever.

Descending towards the city, the magnitude of the Incan empire becomes evident. We embark on a 2-hour guided tour, exploring the vast complex, from the Room of the Three Windows to the Intihuatana stone. The mysteries of this citadel, perched amidst the Andes, unravel with every narrative shared.

Our time in Machu Picchu concludes as we make our way to Aguas Calientes. Here, amidst the hum of the town, we board our train back to Cusco, our hearts full of gratitude and memories.

Quick Stats for Day 4:

  • Distance Covered: 5 kilometers (approximately 3.1 miles)
  • Highest Altitude: 2,700 meters (about 8,858 feet)
  • Lowest Altitude: 2,430 meters (approximately 7,972 feet)
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

As we journey back to Cusco, the experiences of the past four days play in our minds. We’ve not just traveled a trail; we’ve journeyed through time, connecting with the spirit and legacy of the great Inca civilization.


How long is the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

The Classic Inca Trail is approximately 42 kilometers (around 26 miles) long and typically takes 4 days and 3 nights to complete.

When is the best time to hike the Inca Trail?

The best time to hike the Inca Trail is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. However, these are also the busiest months.

Is the Inca Trail tour difficult for beginners?

The Inca Trail hike is considered moderate to challenging. While beginners can complete it, it’s essential to be in good physical condition and to acclimatize to the altitude before starting.

How do I book the Classic Inca Trail?

Due to its popularity, it’s advisable to book the Inca Trail tour several months in advance, especially if you plan to travel during peak season. Only licensed tour operators can sell Inca Trail permits, so ensure you’re booking with a reputable company.

Can I hike the Inca Trail without a guide?

No, independent trekking on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is not allowed. You must join an organized group led by an official guide.

Is altitude sickness common on the Inca Trail hike?

Altitude sickness can affect travelers, especially those not used to high altitudes. It’s recommended to spend a few days in Cusco before the trek to acclimatize.

What sights will we see on the Classic Inca Trail?

Along the Inca Trail tour, you’ll pass various archaeological sites, lush cloud forests, and stunning mountain vistas before arriving at the majestic Machu Picchu Inca Trail end.

Are there other routes apart from the Classic Inca Trail?

There’s no official age limit, but the trek can be challenging, especially for young children and older adults. It’s essential to assess your fitness level and consult with our specialists about any age-related concerns.

What should I pack for the Inca Trail tour?

Essential items include comfortable hiking boots, warm and waterproof clothing, sleeping bags, a flashlight, sun protection, insect repellent, and personal medications. We will provide a detailed packing list upon booking.

6 Reviews
Sort By:RatingDate

Carlos M

Couple Traveller

With Explore Peru Guide, the journey was as enchanting as the destination. Their team’s attention to detail and genuine care for every traveler made our Inca Trail adventure perfect.

October 12, 2023

Nina W

Solo Traveller

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has always been on my bucket list, and Explore Peru Guide made it an experience of a lifetime. Can’t recommend them enough!

October 11, 2023

Ananya R

Family Traveller

Best decision ever to hike the Classic Inca Trail with Explore Peru Guide. Our guide’s knowledge and passion for the trail were evident, making our journey enriching and memorable.

October 4, 2023

Samuel L

Solo Traveller

From seamless logistics to delicious meals on the trail, Explore Peru Guide exceeded all expectations. Their dedication to preserving the trail’s history and environment is commendable

October 4, 2023

Mia and Rob

Couple Traveller

Unforgettable experience! Explore Peru Guide’s expertise shines throughout the journey. We felt safe, informed, and utterly captivated by the Inca Trail’s magic.

October 3, 2023