Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 2020/2021

This is the big one and one of the best treks in Peru! The Inca Trail winds its way along ancient Andean paths and goes past mysterious Inca ruins high in the mountains before finally, reaching the enchanting monument of Machu Picchu itself, nestling on its lofty perch. It is deservedly one of the most famous treks in South America and is the highlight of almost any trip to Peru. Here is the information you need for a successful and memorable trek.

Inca Trail - 22 Trips with 33 Reviews

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Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

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4 day trekking trip in Peru, visiting Huayllabamba, Pakaymayu and Wiñay Wayna. Read More
  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Operator Condor Expeditions
  • Activities Trekking
  • Accommodation Hotel, Tent & Camping
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  • Age Range5+ years old
days04 From US$ 690 View Tour
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  • Oct 02
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Inca Trail Express

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7 day trekking tour in Peru, visiting Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Inca Trail. Read More
  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Operator Intrepid Travel Active 1 day ago Premier This operator is consistently delivering tours which receive customer ratings above 4.5 on average.
  • Activities Trekking & Walking tours
  • Accommodation Hotel, Camping & Tent
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  • Age Range15+ years old
days07 From US$ 1,190
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Inca Trail, Titicaca & Nazca

of 10 reviews
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Absolutely amazing trip, wonderful guide and brilliant companions. The journeys are long but the s ...
  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Operator Exodus Travels Active 23 hours ago Premier This operator is consistently delivering tours which receive customer ratings above 4.5 on average.
  • Activities Trekking & Adventure
  • Accommodation Hotel, Camping & Villa
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  • Age Range16+ yrs
days15 From US$ 3,549
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Inca Quarry Trek to Machu Picchu 3D/2N

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3 day explorer trip in Peru, visiting Carr Cachicata, Aguas Calientes and Cusco. Read More
  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Operator Bamba Active 23 hours ago Premier This operator is consistently delivering tours which receive customer ratings above 4.5 on average.
  • Activities Explorer & Trekking +2 more
  • Accommodation Camping, Tent & Hotel
  • Transport Train & Bus
  • Age Range18+ years old
days03 From US$ 780 US$ 741
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  • Oct 03 10+ seats left
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Inca Trail & Amazon Adventure

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12 day explorer trip in Peru, visiting Lima, Cusco and Ollantaytambo. Read More
  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Operator Intrepid Travel Active 1 day ago Premier This operator is consistently delivering tours which receive customer ratings above 4.5 on average.
  • Activities Explorer & Trekking
  • Accommodation Hotel, Camping, Lodge & Tent
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  • Age Range15+ years old
days12 From US$ 2,685
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  • Dec 05 10+ seats left
  • Dec 07 Only 9 seats left
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Inca Trail Express from Lima

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8 day trekking tour through Lima, Cusco, Ollantaytambo and 3 other destinations in Peru. Read More
  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Operator Intrepid Travel Active 1 day ago Premier This operator is consistently delivering tours which receive customer ratings above 4.5 on average.
  • Activities Trekking & Walking tours
  • Accommodation Hotel, Camping & Tent
  • Transport Train, Private Vehicle, Plane, Flight & Bus
  • Age Range15+ years old
days08 From US$ 1,530
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  • Dec 04 10+ seats left
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Inca Trail Extension

of 1 review
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6 day getaways and short breaks trip in Peru, visiting Cusco, Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. Read More
  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Operator Intrepid Travel Active 1 day ago Premier This operator is consistently delivering tours which receive customer ratings above 4.5 on average.
  • Activities Getaways and short breaks
  • Accommodation Hotel, Camping & Tent
  • Transport Train & Bus
  • Age Range15+ years old
days06 From US$ 913
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  • Dec 01 10+ seats left
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Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: 4-Day Group Tour

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4 day trekking tour in Peru, visiting Ayapata District, Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayna. Read More
days04 From US$ 619 US$ 557
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  • Oct 02
  • Oct 03
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Empowering Women on the Classic Inca Trail 2019 - 2020

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4 day trekking trip through Ayapata District, Chaquicocha, Wiñay Wayna and 6 other destinations in Peru. Read More
  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Operator Action Peru Treks
  • Activities Trekking
  • Accommodation Tent, Hotel & Camping
  • Transport Train, Bus & Van
  • Age Range8+ years old
days04 From US$ 690 View Tour
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  • Oct 20
  • Oct 21
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Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu 4D/3N (Start Trek on Day 1)

of 4 reviews
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One of the best tours I've ever signed myself up for! The trek was quite challenging but once you ge ...
  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Operator Bamba Active 23 hours ago Premier This operator is consistently delivering tours which receive customer ratings above 4.5 on average.
  • Activities Trekking
  • Accommodation Camping & Tent
  • Transport Bus & Train
  • Age Range18+ years old
days04 From US$ 788 US$ 749
SavingUS$ 39
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  • Bookmundi Savings (5%):- US$ 39
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Inca Soul Experience 6 Days / 5 Nights

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6 day adventure tour in Peru, visiting Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu. Read More
  • Tour Type Private Tour
  • Operator Classic Inca Trail - Inca Soul
  • Activities Adventure & Trekking +1 more
  • Accommodation Hotel
  • Transport Train, Bus & Van
  • Age Range5+ years old
days06 From US$ 1,259 View Tour
Next Departures
  • Oct 01
  • Oct 02
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Inca Encounter

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10 day explorer trip through Lima, Puerto Maldonado, Cusco and 3 other destinations in Peru. Read More
  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Operator Intrepid Travel Active 1 day ago Premier This operator is consistently delivering tours which receive customer ratings above 4.5 on average.
  • Activities Explorer
  • Accommodation Hotel, Camping, Lodge & Tent
  • Transport Private Vehicle, Plane, Flight, Bus & Train
  • Age Range15+ years old
days10 From US$ 3,195
SaveUS$ 160
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  • Jan 03 10+ seats left
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Inca Quarry Trek to Machu Picchu 4D/3N

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4 day explorer tour in Peru, visiting Choquetacarpo, Aguas Calientes and Cusco. Read More
  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Operator Bamba Active 23 hours ago Premier This operator is consistently delivering tours which receive customer ratings above 4.5 on average.
  • Activities Explorer & Trekking +2 more
  • Accommodation Camping, Tent & Hotel
  • Transport Train & Bus
  • Age Range18+ years old
days04 From US$ 835 US$ 793
SavingUS$ 42
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  • Brochure Price:US$ 835
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Machu Picchu Lodge to Lodge Adventure 6D/5N

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6 day trekking tour through Sacred Valley, Chinchero District, Abra Malaga and 4 other destinations in Peru. Read More
  • Operator Eco Quechua Lodge
  • Activities Trekking
  • Accommodation Lodge, Hotel & Eco Lodge
  • Transport Train, Private Vehicle & Plane
  • Age Range5+ years old
days06 From US$ 2,290 View Tour
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  • Oct 01
  • Oct 02
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Inca Trail Reviews

5 - Excellent
Based on 33 customer reviews
Good tour! Reviewed Tour: Amazon & Inca Trail - 11 days
5 - Excellent
  • Judy
  • From Australia
“Had a fabulous tour. Very happy I decided to explore South America. Lots to see and lots of new inputs and perspectives. Expectations were high after reading the itinerary and happy that the tour guide managed to deliver on those expectations as well. Well done. Will soon book another tour!”
Excellent Reviewed Tour: Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu 4D/3N (Start Trek on Day 1)
5 - Excellent
  • Anonymous
  • From United States
“Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was just incredible! The hike isn't too easy because of the altitude and it's 3 days of solid uphill, so we'd recommend this to people who are relatively fit and who love walking, history and incredible views! When we reached the sun gate and saw Machu Picchu at last, it was very emotional for all of us!! Thank you to the bamba team for everything.”
Excellent Reviewed Tour: Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu 4D/3N (Start Trek on Day 1)
5 - Excellent
  • Anonymous
  • From United States
“One of the best tours I've ever signed myself up for! The trek was quite challenging but once you get to the Sun Gate and see MP for the first time, you forget every aching muscle! The views are just magical. Our porters were so positive and fun and the food provided was absolutely amazing!! I will be recommending this to everyone back home.”

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Overview

The Inca Trail involves four days of hiking along an ancient path high in the mountains and passes several sets of Inca ruins along the way. The most challenging section is crossing the infamous Dead Woman’s Pass at 4,200 metres (on the second day), after which the trek becomes somewhat easier and more enjoyable. After descending through mystical cloud forests and taking in more Inca ruins, trekkers finally arrive at Machu Picchu on the fourth day.

Highlights

  • Chance to trek one of the most famous trails in South America
  • Great feeling of achievement for having conquered Dead Woman’s Pass
  • Visiting several enigmatic sets of Inca ruins along the way
  • Magnificent mountain scenery and mysterious cloud forests
  • Arriving at Machu Picchu itself after a tough four-day trek

Lowlight

  • Very popular and overcrowded
Map of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Overview map of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Inca Trail Facts

  • Trek Difficulty: The Inca Trail is a challenging hike that usually involves four days of walking through tough, mountainous terrain. Much of the trek is above 3,000 m and reaches a maximum of 4,200 m.
  • Trek Duration: 4 days are standard. 5 days or 2 days variations are available.
  • Remoteness: Very remote with no road access and few settlements.
  • Maximum Altitude: 4,212 m at the Huarmihuañusca Pass (Dead Woman's Pass).
  • Accommodation Type: Tents at campsites along the way. On the two-day trek, you sleep in a hotel in Aguas Calientes.
  • Best Season: Dry season (April to October) when the paths are dry. The wet season (November to March) will leave the trail muddy and wet, increasing the risk of slipping. There is no ‘winter’ and the trek can be attempted year-round except in February when the trail is closed for maintenance. 
  • Start / End Locations: Cusco. Transportation usually includes a combination of minibus and train.
  • Permits Required: Yes. To preserve the trail, permits are limited to 500 per day including porters and guides. In practice, this means that only 200 tourists are allowed on the trail each day. Permits are released in January for the whole year and sell out quickly, especially for peak season – it is imperative to reserve well in advance. Permits can only be obtained from government-approved tour operators and all visitors must be accompanied by a guide. Each permit is registered to one passport and is non-transferrable. Trekkers must carry their original passport and permit with them. There are checkpoints along the Inca trail where documents are inspected. Admission to Machu Picchu must be reserved in advance as well.

4D / 3N: The Classic Inca Trail Itinerary

Day 1: Cusco - Huayllabamba
Drive from Cusco to kilometre 82 (2,600 m) for the start of the trek. A gentle ascent of 400 m to the Inca ruins at Llactapata is followed by a descent to Huayllabamba and the first camp.

Day 2: Huayllabamba - Abra Huarmihuañusca - Paq’aymayo
A steep ascent to the highest point of the trek, Abra Huarmihuañusca (Dead Woman’s Pass at  4,212 m), is followed by a descent to the second camp at Paq’aymayo (3,600 m). This is the hardest day.

Day 3: Paq’aymayo - Wiñay Wayna
This is the most pleasant day and it starts with a climb past the ruined Runkuracay staging post up to the second pass, followed by a descent to the ruins of Sayaqmarka, meaning ‘town in a steep place’. Another ascent leads to the third pass, Abra de Phuyupatamarka (3,650 m), and through bewitching cloud forest scenery, before descending to the camp at Wiñay Wayna for the third camp on the Inca trail.

Day 4: Wiñay Wayna – Machu Picchu – Cusco
A final hike to Intipunku, the ‘Sun Gate’, and the first views of Machu Picchu from above. Trekkers descend to Machu Picchu for a grand Machu Picchu tour before returning to Cusco by train and bus.

2D / 1N: A Shorter Inca Trekking Itinerary

The shorter version of the hike starts at kilometre 104. From here, trekkers hike to the archaeological site of Chachabamba (2,250 m) and then on to Wiñay Wayna. Next, they continue to Intipunku for sunset views of Machu Picchu before heading to Agua Calientes by car where they spend the night in a hotel. The second day involves a tour of Machu Picchu and transport back to Cusco.

5D / 4N: A Longer Inca Trail Itinerary

A more leisurely five-day version gives hikers the chance to avoid the crowds and stay at quieter campsites. It also allows more time to acclimatise and daily distances covered are shorter.

Typically, trekkers travel to kilometre 82 and then walk to Llactapata on day one. The second night’s camp is at Llulluchapampa and Abra Huarmihuañusca is tackled on day three. The third camp is at Phuyupatamarka and on day four, the trek reaches Intipunku. The camp is near Machu Picchu at Puente Ruinas. Day five includes a tour of Machu Picchu and then transport back to Cusco.

Other Alternative treks to the Inca Trail

Alternative treks are available for those who don’t manage to book a place on the Inca Trail, or for those wishing to avoid the crowds. A popular choice is the tough five-day Salkantay Trek which crosses the Salkantay Pass at 4,600 m and later affords majestic views of Machu Picchu from above. Another option is the challenging Choquequiro Trek taking from 4 days to 9 days, where the 9 days itinerary crosses the Yanama Pass at 4,668 m as well. Especially the 9 days Choquequiro trek requires a high level of fitness. A third option is the Lares Trek, shorter and easier than the Inca Trail and requiring no permits. This trail see fewer trekkers compared with the Inca Trail.

Safety Considerations

Altitude sickness

Altitude sickness can be a problem at altitudes of above 2,000 - 2,500 m and it is recommended to spend a few days in Cusco to acclimatise before attempting the trek. Early symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache and dizziness. Anyone displaying these symptoms should immediately descend to a lower altitude.

Physical fitness

You don’t need to be super-fit to complete the Inca Trail but a good level of physical fitness is required. Up in the mountains, if you struggle to keep up with the group, you will spend the whole time suffering and you won’t enjoy the trek. You can prepare for the trek by eating healthily and, if possible, attempting some easier hikes.

It may be commercialised, regulated and crowded but the Inca Trail is still the quintessential Machu Picchu trek. Few can forget their first glimpse of those spectacular ruins from the Sun Gate high above, and the feeling of having conquered this classic Andean trek is something that will stay with you forever.

Machu Picchu has seasonal weather, please do check up on the best time to visit Machu Picchu before planning your next trip to Peru.  

Good to know

Since there is a limited number of permits per day, the Inca Trail is fully-booked practically every day of the year so there is no best time to beat the crowds. The Trail is closed every February for cleaning.