The Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu is a must-do for adventurers from all over the world. This legendary path winds through the beautiful Andes Mountains, leading directly to an age-old marvel surrounded by breathtaking views at every turn.

With Ultimate Trekking, your Inca Trail adventure becomes even more unforgettable. We organize daily group departures, with personal porters to carry your luggage, and enriching experiences. After hiking the Inca Trail and exploring Machu Picchu, ride the Panoramic Vistadome Train to Return.

Trek details

Duration
4 days - 3 Nights
Activities
Hiking - Camping - Adventure
Difficulty
Challenging
Maximum Altitude
4214 m - 13829 ft
Destination
Machu Picchu
Group Size
Average 12
Overview

The Classic Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu is one of the most popular hikes in South America and is often listed as one of the top ten hikes in the world. On this 4-day adventure, you will encounter the perfect combination of history and natural beauty. Visit the ancient Inca site and get to Intipunku (Sun Gate) before sunrise to see Machu Picchu.

Highlights:

  • Arrive at Machu Picchu through the Sungate
  • Stay at the best and least crowded campsites
  • Enjoy the best of Peruvian cuisine
  • Return on the panoramic trains (Vistadome or 360°)

Inca Trail at Glance: 

Day 1: Cusco — Km 82 — Llactapata — Ayapata

  • Departure from your hotel at 4:30 AM; drive to Ollantaytambo for breakfast.
  • After breakfast, drive to Km 82 and start a 4-hour hike to lunch.
  • Visit Patallacta, Willkarakay, and local villages.
  • After lunch, continue for 2 more hours to Ayapata campsite.
  • Meals: Breakfast, snacks, Lunch, tea time, Dinner
  • Distance: 13.5km / 8 miles
  • Campsite Altitude: 3,300m / 10,826ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Day 2: Ayapata — Warmiwañusca — Runkuraqay — Chaquicocha

  • Start with a 4-hour hike to Dead Woman's Pass.
  • After the highest, descend for 2 hours to Pacaymayu for lunch.
  • After lunch, conquer the second mountain, Runkuraqay Pass.
  • Visit Runkuqay, Sayacmarca, Conchamarca Inca Sites.
  • Campsite at Chaquicocha (3,600m / 11,811ft)
  • Meals: Breakfast, snacks, Lunch, tea time, Dinner
  • Distance: 16km / 10 miles
  • Difficulty: Challenging

Day 3: Chaquicocha — Phuyupatamarca — Wiñaywayna

  • After breakfast, hike for 2 hours to Phuyupatamarca
  • Start a 3 hours hike down to the cloud forest
  • Visit Phuyupatamarca, Intipata, and Wiñaywayna Inca sites.
  • Meals: Breakfast, snacks, Lunch, tea time, Dinner
  • Distance: 10km / 6 miles
  • Campsite at Wiñaywayna (2600 m - 8530 ft)
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Day 4: Wiñaywayna — Machu Picchu — Cusco

  • Early 2-hour hike to the Sun Gate and Machu Picchu
  • 2 to 3 hours guided tour of Machu Picchu. 
  • After the tour, head to Aguas Calientes and return to Cusco.
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Distance: 6km / 3.7 miles
  • Final Altitude: 2,430m / 7,972ft (Machu Picchu)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Full Itinerary
Day 1: Cusco — Km 82 — Llactapata — Ayapata

After picking you up from your hotel around 4:30 AM, we will head to Km 82, arriving at approximately 8:00 AM. On the way, we will stop at Ollantaytambo to enjoy breakfast in a local restaurant; then, we'll proceed to Km 82 and pass through the checkpoint to begin our journey to Machu Picchu (ensure you carry your original passport). The initial two hours of the trek are quite manageable, leading us to our first Inca site, Patallacta. This ancient city exemplifies the Inca's diverse lifestyle and offers stunning panoramic views.

Leaving Patallacta, a two-hour hike takes us to Hatunchaca, located on the heart of the Inca Trail, where we'll enjoy lunch. After lunch, a 2-hour hike brings us to Ayapata (3,300 m/10,826 ft), our initial campsite on the legendary Inca Trai. We plan to reach the camp by approximately 5:00 PM, allowing time to prepare the beds in the tent, clean, and enjoy tea time with beautiful views. Dinner will be served later, followed by a well-earned night's rest.

  • Campsite Altitude: 3300m – 10826ft
  • Highest altitude: 3300m – 10826ft
  • Distance: 13.5km – 8 miles
  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Meals: breakfast, snacks, lunch, tea time, & dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
Day 2: Ayapata — Warmiwañuska — Runkuraqay — Chaquicocha

Wake up with coffee or coca tea in your tent and prepare for our trek's toughest day. After breakfast, we'll hike for 4 hours to reach Dead Woman's Pass (4,214 m/13,829 ft.), offering stunning views of the high mountains. Next, we descend for two hours into the Pacaymayu Valley, where we'll enjoy lunch prepared by our trekking chefs. After lunch, we'll ascend again for 2 hours to the Runkuraqay Pass (4,000 m/13,123 ft.) and then walk for another 2 hours to our Chaquicocha campsite.

Along the way, we'll explore ancient sites like Runkuraqay and Sayacmarca. After a full 10-hour day of hiking, we will finally arrive at the Chaquicocha campsite (3,600 m/11,811 ft.) just in time to witness a beautiful sunset over the Vilcabamba mountains. If you're still feeling energetic, the clear night sky offers a great opportunity for stargazing.

  • Campsite Altitude: (3,600m / 11,811ft)
  • Highest altitude:
  • Distance: 16km / 10 miles
  • Duration: 10 hours
  • Meals: Meals: Breakfast, snacks, Lunch, tea time, Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Difficulty: Challenging
Day 3: Chaquiccocha — Phuyupatamarca — Wiñaywayna

On this relaxed day, our five-hour journey to the campsite covers diverse ecosystems and enters the cloud forest. We'll enjoy views of the majestic Salkantay, Cusco's second-highest peak in the Vilcabamba range. Arriving at Phuyupatamarca (3,600 m/11,811 ft), we're greeted with stunning Urubamba River and Machu Picchu Mountain vistas. Then, we will descend for 3 hours to Wiñaywayna (Forever Young). On the way, we will explore two notable Inca sites: Phuyupatamarca (City in the Clouds) and Intipata (Terraces of the Sun), each offering spectacular views of the Andes.

We're expected to arrive at our campsite around 1:00 PM, ready for lunch and rest. The afternoon is dedicated to relaxing, chasing llamas, showering, and visiting the Inca site of Wiñaywayna for a thorough exploration. Later, we'll return to our campsite for tea and dinner. 

  • Campsite Altitude: (2600 m - 8530 ft)
  • Highest altitude: 3600m – 11811ft
  • Distance: 16km - 10 miles
  • Meals: Breakfast, snacks, Lunch, tea time, Dinner
  • Distance: 10km / 6 miles
  • Campsite at Wiñaywayna (2600 m - 8530 ft)
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
Day 4: Wiñaywayna — Machu Picchu

On our most important day – the arrival at the legendary Lost City of the Incas – we wake up very early. After breakfast, we will head to the checkpoint and wait until it opens at 5:30 AM, when we will start our 1-hour hike to the Sun Gate. We will have a fantastic view from this site, and Machu Picchu is just an hour’s hike downhill. Around 7:30 AM, we will arrive at the final control point to begin our 2-hour guided tours. Later, you can explore Machu Picchu alone or climb Huayna Picchu Mountain (which must be booked as far in advance as possible). Your guide will explain how to take the bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes for lunch and return to Cusco by the panoramic Vistadome train and private van, dropping you off at your hotel.

  • Final Altitude: 2,430m / 7,972ft (Machu Picchu)
  • Distance: 6km - 3.7 miles
  • Hike Duration: 2 hours
  • Guided tour of Machu Picchu:  2-3 hours
  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Included

  • Pre-departure briefing
  • Pick up from your hotel in Cusco or Sacred Valley
  • All Transfers Included during the four days
  • Permits to Inca trail
  • Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu
  • Duffle bags for your personal stuff 7 kilos
  • Personal Porter to carry your stuff (Max 7 kilos)
  • Porters to bring food and equipment
  • Trekking chef to prepare your meals
  • Professional tour guide
  • Bus ticket from Machu Picchu
  • Panoramic Trains to return (Vistadome or 360)
  • 4 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 3 dinners.
  • Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
  • Camping equipment (tents, chairs, tables, pillows)
  • First aid kit, Oxygen tank, satellite phones
  • All taxes and fees included

Not Included

Important to know about this tour

  • Permits are based on availability. All booking needs manual confirmation
  • Veg, vegan, and all dietary restrictions available on request
FAQs

What will I see on the 4-day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu?

On this four-day hike to Machu Picchu, you will pass through several distinct environments, including lush cloud forests, rugged mountain terrain, and ancient Inca ruins such us Patllacta, Willkaracay, Runkuraqay, Sayacmarca, Conchamarca, Phuyupatamarca, Intipata, and Wiñaywayna. Each day introduces a new setting, culminating in a breathtaking first view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate early in the morning on the final day.

Is the Machu Picchu trek tougher than other Peru hikes?

The Classic 4-day Machu Picchu trek is challenging, primarily because of its long distances and high altitudes. However, other treks in Peru, such as those in the Cordillera Blanca, can be equally or more challenging. These treks often involve steeper climbs and more extreme weather conditions.

What are the camping conditions like on the Inca Trail?

While camping on the Inca Trail, you will stay at designated campsites that are basic but equipped to meet hikers' needs. These sites include toilet facilities and designated areas for tents. Your tour operator will typically set up tents and provide all necessary camping equipment, ensuring a comfortable experience in the outdoors.

Which parts of the Classic Machu Picchu hiking trail have the best views?

The trail is known for its stunning landscapes throughout, but the views from Dead Woman’s Pass, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, Initipata, and the Sun Gate are particularly spectacular. They offer panoramic vistas of the Andes and, especially, the Sun Gate, which offers the first magical glimpse of Machu Picchu.

What should I pack for the Classic Inca Trail?

When packing for the Classic Inca Trail trek, it's important to bring essential items to help you stay comfortable and safe during the journey. Here are some general recommendations:

Clothing:

  • Comfortable hiking boots with good ankle support
  • Moisture-wicking socks (2-3 pairs)
  • Hiking pants (2-3 pairs)
  • T-shirts (2-3)
  • Long-sleeved shirts (1-2)
  • Fleece jacket or down vest
  • Waterproof jacket and pants
  • Hat for sun protection
  • Gloves for warmth

Equipment:

  • Daypack (25-30 liters)
  • Sleeping bag (rated for at least 0 degrees Celsius)
  • Sleeping pad
  • Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries
  • Trekking poles
  • Water bottle or hydration system
  • Personal first aid kit with blister treatment, pain relief medication, and any necessary prescription medications
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Insect repellent
  • Wet wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Personal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)
  • Quick-dry towel

Optional:

  • Camera and spare batteries/charger
  • Binoculars
  • Snacks (e.g., energy bars, trail mix)

It's important to remember that porters will be carrying most of your gear, so it's best to pack light and bring only the essentials. Additionally, the weather can be unpredictable in the Andes, so it's important to be prepared for changing conditions. Be sure to check with your tour operator for any specific gear recommendations and requirements.

What's the best time of year to trek in Machu Picchu?

The optimal time for trekking to Machu Picchu is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. During these months, you’re less likely to encounter rain, and the paths are generally drier and safer to navigate.

How does the high altitude affect hiking Machu Picchu?

The high altitude can make breathing difficult and can lead to altitude sickness. It's important to acclimate yourself at a high altitude for a few days before starting the hike to reduce the risk of illness.

When should I book my Inca Trail hiking trip?

It's advisable to book your Inca Trail trek several months in advance, preferably at least 6 months, especially if you plan to travel during the peak season from May to September. Permits can sell out quickly during these months, so early booking is essential to secure your spot.

What animals might I encounter on the hike to Machu Picchu?

The region is home to a variety of wildlife, including the rare spectacled bear, Andean condors, llamas, and numerous species of birds and smaller mammals indigenous to the Andean mountains.

Will I learn about local culture during my Peru Machu Picchu hike?

Throughout the hike, your guide will explain the rich history of the Incas and the archaeological significance of the ruins you pass, providing insight into the ancient and modern cultures of Peru.

What kind of meals are provided on the Inca Trail trek?

The Machu Picchu trek's meals are designed to be high-energy and include a variety of local and international dishes prepared by the trek staff. Expect a mix of soups, rice dishes, pasta, cereals, meats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

How does the 2-day Inca Trail compare to the 4-day Inca Trail?

The 2-day trail is shorter and doesn’t cover as much of the historic route or ancient sites as the 4-day trail. It's better suited for those who have less time or prefer a less physically demanding experience, but still want to enjoy the essence of the Inca Trail.

How should I prepare for the Machu Picchu hike?

Physical preparation should include cardio and endurance training. Familiarize yourself with hiking and, if possible, spend some time at higher altitudes to acclimate your body. Ensure you have all necessary gear and discuss any medical concerns with your doctor.

What safety measures are there on the Inca Trail hikes?

The trail is monitored for safety with guides trained in first aid and emergency response. Groups are equipped with radios and satellite phones, and the route includes checkpoints for added security.

What expertise do guides bring to the Inca Trail hiking tours?

Guides on the Inca Trail are experts in local history, culture, and geography. They are also trained in guest safety and environmental preservation, making them invaluable companions on your hike.

How many hikers are there in each group on the Inca Trail tour?

Typically, tour groups are kept small, usually consisting of 10 to 16 people, to ensure a more personalized and manageable hiking experience.

Is a guide required for the Machu Picchu trek?

Yes, a guide is required by law for hiking the Inca Trail. This regulation helps preserve the trail and ensures that all hikers receive the historical context and safety oversight necessary for such a trek.

What are the sanitation facilities like during the Machu Picchu hiking trips?

Sanitation facilities along the Inca Trail are basic; most campsites have toilet blocks and handwashing stations. These facilities are maintained regularly to ensure hygiene and comfort for all hikers.

Can I combine my hike with a visit to Rainbow Mountain?

Ultimate Trekking can arrange to combine your hike with a visit to Rainbow Mountain. Due to the distance and altitude differences, this requires additional days and planning. Contact us to get a special deal.

How environmentally friendly are the hiking tours of Machu Picchu?

Ultimate Trekking operates under strict environmental guidelines to protect the area. This includes limiting the number of hikers, managing waste responsibly, and educating guests on the importance of conservation.

Do most hikers complete the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

The majority of hikers complete the trail, although it can be physically demanding. Proper preparation, acclimatization, and pacing are key to a successful trek.

Are there age restrictions for the Machu Picchu hike?

There are no formal age restrictions, but the physical demands of the trek make it suitable for individuals who are relatively fit and healthy. Children and older adults should be well-prepared and physically capable of completing the hike.

What's the difference between private and group tours of the Inca Trail?

Private Inca Trail tours offer a tailored experience with flexibility in timing and pacing, and personal attention from the guide. Group tours are more cost-effective and provide an opportunity to meet and interact with fellow travelers

What makes sunrise and sunset special on the Machu Picchu trail?

Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular on the trail, offering dramatic lighting over the landscape and ruins, creating perfect photo opportunities and unforgettable moments

How long is the entire Inca Trail to Machu Picchu trek?

The complete Inca Trail trek covers approximately 26 miles (42 kilometers) and is traditionally completed over four days, ending with the arrival at Machu Picchu.

Who helps us on the Inca Trail and what do they do?

Along the trail, you’ll be assisted by a team of porters, cooks, and your guide. The porters carry camping gear and supplies, cooks prepare all meals, and the guide leads the way and provides information about the sites.

How are the porters and guides treated on the Inca Trail trips?

Ethical tour operators ensure that porters and guides are treated well, with fair wages, proper gear, and reasonable working conditions. This support helps them to perform their roles effectively and sustainably.

Why do some hikers not complete the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

Reasons for not completing the trail may include physical exhaustion, altitude sickness, or underestimating the trail's difficulty. Adequate preparation and realistic expectations are crucial.

Have there been any recent changes to the Inca Trail regulations?

Recent changes often involve adjustments to permit allocations, improved safety regulations, or measures to protect the environment and archaeological sites further.

What feedback do people give after hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

Most hikers express immense satisfaction with their experience, citing the physical challenge, the beauty of the landscape, and the depth of cultural history as highlights of their adventure.