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Hike the Inca Trail

Last updated: 18 March, 2024

Plunging valleys dripping with waterfalls, snow-capped peaks looming overhead, Inca ruins cresting high mountain ridges surrounded by hummingbird-filled cloud forest – and the mist rising off Machu Picchu itself, warmed by the rising sun; the Inca Trail truly is one of the world’s greatest treks. 

But it’s no walk in the park. The four-day route follows an ancient Inca road for 43km; rising and falling over passes and valleys and reaching a maximum elevation at the ominously-named Dead Woman’s Pass at 4200 metres. It’s breathy, muscle-aching work, but the views of lost Inca ruins and spectacular scenery make it an unforgettable experience. 

The standard trek takes four days; however, some operators offer the option of five days on the trail. This allows for a more leisurely pace and time to linger and explore some of the Inca ruins along the way.

Logistics

Price from: ££377
Minimum age: 18
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: 4-5 days

Getting there & doing it

A permit is needed to trek the Inca Trail and numbers are limited to 500 people a day (including porters), so it’s important to book months in advance if possible. The trail can only be tackled using a licensed tour operator, who will make all arrangements for you, including transport from Cusco to the start of the trail.

Food and drink are provided, but check with your operator what items you should pack. Porters can be hired to carry your backpack, though you can opt to carry your own if you prefer.

Don’t underestimate the challenges of walking 43km at altitude. It’s a challenging hike, but doable with reasonable fitness. Parts of the trail are very steep, but no climbing is involved. It’s a good idea to try shorter hikes around the Sacred Valley first.

When to do it

The Inca Trail is accessible to permit-holders from March to January. It closes in February for conservation projects. 

The driest months are June-August, but the trail is often booked far in advance then. The May, September and October, shoulder seasons are better and it’s warmer than June to August. 

During the rainy season (November to March), trekking becomes sticky and wet, with views obscured by clouds. The Inca Trail is closed for maintenance for the entire month of February.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Inca Trail 4 days to Machu Picchu - Panoramic Train

  • Cusco

The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 4 days 3 nights is considered one of the world’s oldest pilgrimages and is consistently ranked among the ten best hikes on the planet. Over 4 days you will be hiking an ancient trail that was lost and reminded untouched together with Machu Picchu for hundreds of years. Why book with TreXperience? • Travel with an authentic Local Tour Operator • Authentic camping experience with tents • Support social projects that help the education of children • Fare wages & proper treatment to porters and staff • Arrive at the archeological sites at exclusive hours • Return on Panoramic trains (Vistadome or 360°)

Price $798

Min age 3

Rating 4.98 / 5 [2922 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 2D/1N

  • Cusco

Travel confidently with Alpaca Expeditions, Peru's #1 Tour Operator! The Short Inca Trail tour is perfect if you are short on time but still want to experience a full day of hiking on the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Hike with expert, indigenous guides through the vibrant rainforest & visit the ancient Inca archeological sites of Wiñay Wayna on your way to the Sun Gate entrance of Machu Picchu. Your adventure starts at KM104 instead of KM82 on the Inca Trail. Then we will take you to your hotel in Machu picchu town at night, at last enjoy a guided tour of Machu Picchu by an professional expert guide on day two.

Price $550

Min age 5

Rating 4.99 / 5 [888 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Inca Trail 2-Day Machu Picchu - Panoramic Train

  • Cusco

Explore the Short Inca Trail hike 2 days and visit Chachabamba, Wiñaywayna, Sun Gate (Intipunku), and Machu Picchu. Enjoy the sunset in Machu Picchu on the first day with few people around, and arrive early on the second day to witness the amazing sunrise. The Short Inca trail is available every day with Panoramic Vistadome trains included. Highlights: • Travel with an authentic Local Tour Operator • Hike the Classic Inca Trail in 1 day to Machu Picchu • Arrive at Machu Picchu twice at exclusive hours • Return on the Panoramic trains (Vistadome or 360 train)

Price $598

Min age 3

Rating 4.97 / 5 [695 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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4-Day Trek to Machu Picchu Through the Inca Trail

  • Cusco

Enjoy this trek to Machu Picchu, which is the only one to take you along the original Inca Trail, and reach the Sun Gate before sunrise. Along the way, you will enjoy incredible landscapes and changing environments. This is a spectacularly rich experience in the Andean Mountains in which you will immerse yourself in the Inca culture as you hike 26 miles (43 kilometers) through the heart of the beautiful Andes. Please note that Inca Trail Trek permits (INCLUDED in your booking) sell fast, so we recommend booking in advance. If there are no more permits at the time you book the trip, we will suggest you an alternative hike to Machu Picchu, or you can get a full refund.

Price $784

Min age 7

Rating 4.84 / 5 [348 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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4 Day - Inca Trail to Machu Picchu - Group Service

  • Cusco

This 4-day trek will give you the chance to go back in time and experience the long journey the Incas took along the Inca trail. Enjoy four days filled with exciting adventures exploring what Cusco and the Sacred Valley have to offer. A guided walking tour in Machu Picchu is included.

Price $805

Min age 8

Rating 4.97 / 5 [293 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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