Classic Inca Trail, 4 days – 3nights
Inca trail to Machu Picchu, 4 days – 3 nights
Stone-paved Inca Trail
Important info: Due to the high demand of the Inca Trail hike, permits are selling out quickly. We recommend booking well in advance for the high season (May to September) even up to six months in advance. Only 500 people are allowed onto the Inca Trail per day, including tourists, guides, cooks and porters, so a total of 200 tourists have access to the Inca Trail daily.
Price as of 2017:
US$550 – regular price
US$520- ISIC card
Let us lead you on the Inca Trail, a wonderful stone-paved path (about 70% of the journey) toward the ancient Inca City of Machu Picchu, passing through a few more archaeological sites along the trail and several beautiful ravines. This is going to be a challenge for you, but certainly not impossible! After finishing the entire journey, you will feel the satisfaction of having accomplished rigorous exercise and a fantastic adventure.
This hike begins along the Sacred Huillcamayu River (Urubamba River), considered by the Incas to be the Milky Way on Earth. You will be surrounded by peaks of over 4000 m (13123 ft) and several species of cactus and native trees. Always heading to the north-east of the Amazonian high jungle, you will first pass by a native forest inhabited by one of the biggest hummingbirds in the world (more than ten species of hummingbird are present in this region). Ascending to 4215 m (13828 ft.) at the highest point, you will witness llamas and deer grazing on the hills, as well as some glaciers along the way. Hiking both up and downhill to the jungle, this forest lays between the highlands and the Amazon basin, so its landscape is impressive. Where the stone-paved Inca Trail crosses the slope of the mountains, you may catch a glimpse of the spectacled bear and more than 20 species of orchids along the pathway (there are about 250 species in total), as well as a few species of endemic birds (about 350 species in total). All in all, it is a truly spectacular view of colorful flowers and cliffs.
Machu Picchu, the Seventh Wonder in the World, is located in a unique landscape, a microclimate of clouds rising up from the Amazon basin which surround the ruins due to the extensive heights of the mountains. This region has moisture and rainfall even during the dry season (during which time it rains once a week at least). The Incas chose this location carefully. The mountains and the river below are related to the ancient principles of the Incan cosmology. Along the trail to this magnificent site, you will feel as though you are traveling back in time, understanding firsthand how the Incas venerated the natural environment around them.
This astonishing hike takes four days and covers approximately 42 km. After walking through the Machu Picchu citadel, you will take a train back to Cusco in the afternoon.
Departure: Every day, though you need to book well in advance-up to 5 – 6 months at high season (April through September)
Duration: 4 days and 3 nights
Distance: 42 km (26.25 mi.)
Modality: Trekking, adventure and cultural
When to go: Best season from April to September
Location: Andes mountain range
Day temperature: 10 °C to 24 °C
Night temperature: -3 °C to 10 °C
Important note: At least 2 days of acclimatization are required. During these days, you can do the Cusco city tour and the Sacred Valley tour.Departure: Every day, You need to book well in advance, 3 – 4 months at high season (April through September)
Classic Inca Trail, 4 days itinerary:
Day 1: Cusco – Ollantaytambo-Piscacucho (Km 82) – Patallacta – Wayllabamba
Hiking the easy day
We’ll pick you up at 5:30 am to take a bus to Ollantaytambo, lasting about an hour and 45 minutes. Upon arrival, you have about 30 minutes for breakfast (not included – US$ 12) or to buy the last things you will need for the Inca Trail (bottled water,coca leaves,rain poncho,etc.), before continuing by bus to Piscacucho for another 45 minutes. The starting point of the hike is at 82 km of railroad track and an altitude of 2700 m (8858 ft).
Here, you’ll meet the cook and the porters. After passing by the checkpoint and showing your passport, you’ll hike gently for around 2 hours along the Willcamayu River, where you’ll have a nice view of the Veronica glacier (5850 m-19193 ft.) in the background before beginning the real hiking up to the first Inca Citadel called Patallacta (a town of terraces with about 100 rooms). You will eat lunch in an comfortable dining tent, sitting on small chairs and tables to enjoy the specialty of our cook, a soup and two main dishes. After this, you’ll continue up and down to Wayllabamba (3000 m-9824 ft) where our tents will be ready with a comfortable bed! This journey takes up to 5 hours and is considered the easy day (10 km-6.1 mi.).
Meals: Lunch, “happy hour” and dinner
Day 2: Wayllabamba – Warmiwañusca (Dead Woman’s pass) – Pacaymayu
No pain, no game
Before having breakfast, you have the chance of enjoy the views of the mountains to begin the more difficult hiking up! We´ll head through a native forest along a ravine up to the highest point, the Death Woman pass (4215 m-13828 ft.), which takes no more than 5 hours all the way up! A nice group picture will be taken at the top, with the backdrop of the majestic view of the Guayanay glacier to the East. From there, you will descend two more hours to the campsite of Pacaymayu (3600 m-11811 ft.), where lunch will be ready. This site is similar to the microclimate of Machu Picchu.
This day you’ll pass through two ecological zones, the Andean-alpines and the cloud forest. We’ll have a free afternoon to rest after the most difficult day (11 km-6.8 mi.)–you are already half way there!
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, “happy hour” and dinner.
Day 3: Pacaymayu – Runcuracay – Sayacmarca – Phuyupatamarca – Wiñaywayna
Hiking in the cloud forest
On the longest and most beautiful day, you’ll ascend to the first Inca site of Runcuracay (egg-shaped building). Here begins the original Inca Trail to the second pass (3950 m-12959 ft.), descending to Sayacmarca (inaccessible town, 3600 m-11811 ft.), which is built at the border of the jungle. You will witness the cloud forest, which consists of lush green vegetation, mosses, and lichens. The trail cuts through the mountain with views of magnificent cliffs, and we stop to have an early lunch at Chaquicocha (dry lake-3500 m-11482 ft.).
We follow the stone-paved path all the way up and down to reach the third pass of Phuyupatamarca (cloud level town, 3600 m-11811 ft.). Here, you catch an amazing view of Machu Picchu mountain to the front and the Salkantay glaciers behind. You now begin the descent to the round-shaped Inca site of Phuyupatamarca to head down almost one thousand meters and over 2500 stairs to Wiñaywayna (forever young,2650 m-8694 ft.), the last campsite.
For some people this day is very difficult as well, with a total of around seven hours of hiking. Seven Incan sites can be seen facing the glaciers and unique scenery of rivers with colorful native plants inhabited by birds and small mammals.
Just five minutes away from the last campsite lies the impressive Incan site of Wiñaywayna, so we recommend you to get at least one shot. Though some tourists do not go at all due to tiredness, it is widely agreed to be the most beautiful Incan site before reaching Machu Picchu.
This day is about 16 km (9.94 mi.) of hiking, with three hours uphill and four hours down.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, “happy hour” and dinner.
Day 4: Wiñaywayna – Sungate – Machu Picchu
The fifty “gringo killer” steps
On day four, you will wake up early in the morning at 3:30 am to have breakfast. Afterwards, you’ll start hiking up and down at 5:30 am about one hour before getting to Intipunku (the Sun Gate – 2720 m-8923 ft.), where you will have the first sight of the Machu Picchu ruins! Still at distance, you’ll spend 15 minutes taking pictures before descending to the citadel another 40 minutes to reach your goal.
Take your time to enjoy the sunrise (between 6:20 to 7:25 – it depends on the season). Unfortunately, during the rain season it is mostly cloudy (December to March).
MACHU PICCHU (Old Mountain) lays in an impressive location, surrounded by the Urubamba River, which was considered its protector during the Incas’ time. You’ll experience the beauty of this ‘Lost City of the Incas,” which has a diverse set of theories surrounding its origin due to a lack of historical records, though we do know it was built by Pachacuteq during the mid-15th century as a royal state. You will spend two hours walking through this ancient city and learning much more about the history and cosmovision of the Incas who constructed the magnificent site.
Huayna Picchu mountain.- If you want to climb up to Huayna Picchu mountain which appears in the background in the classic picture of Machu Picchu, please let us know at booking to check availability, this climb is very popular please book it in advance too, it is about US $85 extra not included in the regular 4 days trek ticket.
It is only allowed 400 people a day for climbing to Huayna Picchu mountain!!, one group of 200 people is leaving at 7:00 – 8:00 am and the other 200 at 10:00 – 11:00 am so please it is better to go in the second group because sometimes this place is cloudy in the morning.
Machu Picchu mountain.- If you want to climb up to Machu Picchu mountain located by Machu Picchu, please let us know at booking to check availability, this climb became popular recently please book it in advance too, it is baout US$80 extra not included in the regular 4 days trek ticket.
It is only allowed 400 people a day for climbing to Machu Picchu mountain!!, one group of 200 people is leaving at 7:00 – 8:00 am and the other 200 at 9:00 – 10:00 am so please it is better to go in the second group because sometimes this place is cloudy in the morning.
Afterwards, you take a bus down to Aguas Calientes town for lunch and go to hot springs (US$3 entrance fee) or visit the handcraft market in town as you wait for the train service.
The way back to Cusco takes 4 hours in total so it is about 2 hours by train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo and 2 more hours by bus from Ollantaytambo to Cusco.
We will leave Machu Picchu at 4:00 pm at the latest and take a bus down to Aguas Calientes to have time for eating and shopping in town. From there, you will take the two-hour train at 18:20 back to Ollantaytambo, where a bus will be waiting for you. It is about two more hours by bus to Cusco.
You will arrive to Cusco at 10:30 pm. As you will need about four hours to get back to Cusco from Aguas Calientes, if you would like to arrive earlier in the evening in Cusco, we recommend taking a train at 14:55 from Aguas Calientes. Please indicate your preferences regarding this issue.
“OUR PROMISE IS TO PROVIDE YOU A COMFORTABLE HIKE, ASSURING THE BEST EXPERIENCE OF YOUR SOUTH AMERICAN TRIP! NEW EQUIPMENT, SMILING PORTERS, EXPERT COOKS, AMAZING FOOD AND PROFESSIONAL GUIDES WILL MAKE THIS HIKE UNFORGETTABLE FOR YOU.
WE RECOMMEND TRAINING FOR THIS TREK, AS IT IS DIFFICULT BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE
WE RECOMMEND DOING EXERCISES FOR 30 DAYS, JOGGING, WALKING AT HOME PRIOR TO THE HIKING AND ACCLIMATIZING TO THE ALTITUDE FOR AT LEAST TWO DAYS IN CUSCO.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL DEPENDS ON YOUR FITNESS AND ACCLIMATIZATION”.
What is included?
-“Walking tour in Cusco”, 1 or 2 days before your trek.
-Pre-departure briefing, 1 or 2 nights before the trek, introduced by your guides.
-Tourist bus from your hotel to km 82, where the hike begins.
-Professional bilingual guide (English and Spanish).
-Assistant guide (groups of over 8 people).
-Entrance fee for the Inca trail and Machu Picchu.
-Boiled-cooled water since day 2 at breakfast time.
-3 breakfast, 3 lunches, 3 afternoon snacks (happy hour), 3 dinners, 3 snacks for walking (day 1 breakfast and day 4 lunch are not included).
-Dining tent, tables and chairs.
-Cook and cooking equipment.
-Four-person tent for two people.
-Porters to carry groceries and camping equipment.
-Bottled oxygen and first aid kit.
-Bus ticket from Machu Picchu down to Aguas Calientes.
-Train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo (Expedition service, notice at 18:20) and bus from Ollantaytambo to Cusco.
-No extra cost for vegetarian food on request.
Optional services not included:
-Upgrade of train service to Vistadome Class at 16:22, US$ 35.
-Upgrade of train service to Expedition Class at 14:55, US$ 20.
-Renting of sleeping bag – 3 seasons, US$20.
-Walking poles – US$20 each pair.
-A personal porter carrying up to 16 kilos of your belongs – US$ 160 (recommended for those who’d like to enjoy a lighter walk. A porter can be hired between 2 people as well).
-A half porter carrying up to 8 kilos of your belongs – US$ 80 (recommended for those who’d like to enjoy a lighter walk).
*if you require an extra porter or a half porter, you must advise us at booking time in order to buy a ticket for the porter.
-Single tent supplement – US $30.
-Extra night in Aguas Calientes – US$60 (2-Star hotel)
-Ask for discounts:
If you are a student (US$40 -ISIC card only, send a copy at booking), teenagers up to 15 years old (US$40), children up to 7 years old (US$80).
*Size of the group: Min. 2 people, max. 8 people.
-Shorts (during the day it is normally warm, so take some sun screen).
-Walking poles with rubber tips.
-Plasters and bandages.
-Bathing suit (hot springs at Aguas Calientes).
What do You need to take?
-Original passport (ISIC card if applicable). You must bring the passport or ID you used for booking. If you get a new one, it is essential to bring a copy of the old one at least or send us an email with a scanned copy of the new one to update the Inca Trail permit. Otherwise, you will not get into the Inca Trail.
-Travel insurance is essential.
-A comfortable backpack (you will carry your personal belongs, sleeping bag and mattress too) or daypack if you hired a porter (we’ll provide you with a duffle bag).
-Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, raw fruits. Our meals are very complete and well supplied, but you will realize after walking a couple of hours that you need to bite into a cookie!
-Sleeping bag for temperatures of at least 0 C or 32 F (not included – you can rent it from us).
-Waterproof gear, rain poncho (just in case during the dry season too).
-Warm jacket and warm clothes (temperature varies from 0 to 24 C – 32 to 75 F ).
-Hat, gloves, and sunglasses.
-Sun protection cream (35 SF recommended).
-Insect repellent (20% DEET – no malaria has been reported).
-Water purifying pills.
-Personal First Aid kit.
-Camera and charger to use it at 3rd night.
-Flashlight and spare alkaline batteries.
-We recommend packing your belongs in plastic bags due the rain and a waterproof cover for your backpack.
-Extra money (300 soles or $110, though it is better to only bring soles. There is an ATM only in Aguas Calientes).
*IMPORTANT: To qualify as a student, you must have a valid ISIC student st card and send a copy at booking.
*Advise us about any allergy or personal health condition (asthma, etc).
TO HOME TO TOP HOW TO BOOK
Inca Trail hike, 4 days map
Profile of the Inca Trail trek, 4 days
Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, 4 days FAQ’s.
How long is the Inca trail and how many hours do we hike per day?
The Inca Trail is 42 km (26 miles) long. Campsites along the Trail are assigned by the INC (National Institute of Culture) and for this reason it is difficult to determine the distance to be covered each day. However, you can expect to walk between seven and nine hours per day for the first three days and approximately two hours on the last day. Hours walked will vary with the fitness level of each hiker.
How difficult is the Inca Trail?
The Inca Trail is considered a moderate hike. There are many Incan staircases to walk up and down, and the altitude may affect some individuals. We recommend purchasing a light aluminum walking poles while in Peru as it will help with your balance and reduce the load on your knees. We ask that you not use a metal tipped walking stick as it can harm the fragile environment along the trail.
Is altitude sickness common? And how high is the Inca Trail?
It’s impossible to predict who will be affected by altitude. Your ability to adapt to high altitude is determined by your genetic makeup and has little to do with fitness or health. Most people will have no problems as long as they take the time to acclimatize properly. A full day spent in Cuzco (3249m), taking it easy and drinking plenty of water, is usually enough for most people. The highest point you will reach while hiking the Inca Trail is 4200 meters. You will sleep at 3600 meters for one or two nights.
Is it possible to skip the Inca Trail even if the tour includes it?
Yes! If you do not wish to hike the Inca Trail please advise us at the time of booking (it is very difficult to make these arrangements once you have already confirmed). If you choose not to hike the trail, you will spend two nights in Cuzco and then take the train to the town of Aguas Calientes for the third night. You will rejoin your group at Machu Picchu for your included tour of the site.
When do we reach Machu Picchu and how much time do we spend there?
The time at which you will reach Machu Picchu depends on the campsite assigned for your third night on the Trail. Many groups will reach the sun gate at approximately 6:30 am (the hike begins at approx. 5:30 am) and will enter the site 45 minutes later, but this cannot be determined in advance. After a bit of time to catch your breath and freshen up after the hike, you will receive a two-hour guided tour followed by some free time to explore the area on your own before the group travels by bus to Aguas Calientes, from where we catch the train back to Ollantaytambo and then a bus back to Cusco. Train schedules vary.
Do porters carry our luggage while on the Inca Trail?
Inca Hike can help you to hire an extra porter US $150 (16kg Max) or half porter US $75 (8 kg Max) for the entire trek.
Sleeping bag (not included) it can be rented from us (cost of US$ 20). Sleeping foam camping mattress are included. Sleeping bags and sleeping mattress are part of your personal stuff you must carry.
Items not required while on the trail can be stored safely at your hotel in Cusco. If you hired a porter, all you will be required to carry is a daypack containing items you will need during the day (water, camera, sunscreen, rain poncho, etc.).
How cold does it get on the Inca Trail (will I need to bring hats and mittens)?
The altitude means it can get quite chilly, especially during the Andean winter (May – September) when the temperature can drop to below zero degrees (Celsius) at night. It can still be cool at other times of the year, so we recommend bringing thermal underwear and a warm sleeping bag. You can purchase warm, inexpensive and locally made hand-woven mitts and gloves in Cusco.
What type of accommodation is used on the Inca Trail?
Four-person tents are used to accommodate two same-sex travellers for three nights. There are a few places where permanent, but very basic toilet facilities exist, and when they are not available, our team will set up portable toilet tents. Trekkers are provided with a bowl of hot water (and a hot drink) every morning in their tent.
Is a sleeping bag and mat included?
Sleeping bags are not included, so we recommend bringing a compact three-season sleeping bag. A popular alternative is to rent a sleeping bag in Cuzco, which can be rented from us. They are clean, warm and cost approximately US $ 20 (for all four days). Some renters may choose to bring a sleeping bag liner or sheet. A foam camping mattress is provided or you can rent a self-inflating Therm-a-rest mattress from us at an additional cost of US $ 20.
Is purified water available on the trail?
Bottled water can be purchased on day 1, however we discourage trekkers from purchasing bottles as it increases the amount of garbage that must be packed out. We recommend that you bring a refillable water bottle, as boiled water will be provided in the morning at breakfast, at lunch and every evening after dinner.
What type of food will we get on the Inca Trail?
Our cooks prepare excellent high-energy meals appropriate for a trek of this nature. The menu usually includes pasta, rice, chicken, fresh fruit and vegetables and a variety of oatmeal, eggs and other breakfast foods. Vegetarian alternatives are available upon request at the time of booking.
How much should I tip the guides and porters?
Tipping is at your discretion but always appreciated. A good rule of thumb is anywhere from $8-10 dollars per day for the porters.
What are the requirements to hike the Inca Trail?
To hike the Inca Trail with INCA HIKE you must be over the age of 08, with moderate level of fitness, and hold a passport that is valid for up to 6 months after you return to your home country.
Bookings must be made as far in advance as possible. To be able to ensure a spot on the Inca Trail we recommend that you purchase your trip at least 3 months in advance in low season (between November and April) and at least 6 months in advance in high season (May to October).
We cannot guarantee the availability of a permit by following these guidelines, however your chances of obtaining one are much greater.
We require the following information for the purchase of an Inca Trail Permit.
1. Passport full name (exactly as it appears on the passport).
2. Passport date of birth.
3. Passport nationality.
4. Passport number.
6. Date of passport expiration – Must be valid for the date of travel.
Any attempts at modifications result in a loss of the permit and any money paid.
A limited amount of permits are available each day for hikers in an effort to preserve the trail.
When is the High Season on the Inca Trail?
Hiking the Inca Trail is popular all year, however May to September is considered the ‘high’ season. This means that permits can be sold out many months in advance, so it is especially imperative to plan ahead for hiking during these months.
The cost of ‘high season’ Inca Trail tours is slightly higher than the rest of the year, however if you book before February, you can save money by taking advantage of our offers.
How early do I need to book my Inca Trail tour?
Permits to hike the Inca Trail can be sold out for many months in advance, particularly in the high season. We recommend booking as early as possible.