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 - 25 Trips with 33 Reviews

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Classic Inca Trail 4 Days to Machu Picchu

of 7 reviews
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After dreaming about this trip for 2 years (our trip planned for 202 got postponed because of the pa ...
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Activities Trekking & Natural landmarks sightseeing +3 more
  • Accommodation Camping, Hotel & Tent
  • Transport Train
  • Age Range 8-70 yrs
days04 From US$ 730 View Tour
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  • Mar 01
  • Mar 02
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Trekking the Inca Trail: 5D/4N

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5 day cultural, religious and historic sites tour in Peru, visiting Cusco, Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. Read More
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Activities Cultural, religious and historic sites & Trekking
  • Accommodation Hotel & Camping
  • Transport Train, Bus & Private Vehicle
  • Age Range 12-99 yrs
days05 From US$ 969 View Tour
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  • Mar 03 10+ seats left
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Peru Encompassed

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20 day bus trip through Lima, Mt Pisco, Nazca and 7 other destinations in Peru. Read More
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Activities Bus tours & City sightseeing +3 more
  • Accommodation Hotel, Camping, Lodge, Eco Lodge & Home-stay
  • Transport Boat, Train, Bus, Private Vehicle, Flight, Minibus & Taxi
  • Age Range 15-99 yrs
days20 From US$ 4,790 US$ 3,592
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Inca Trail Express

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7 day trekking trip in Peru, visiting Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Inca Trail. Read More
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Activities Trekking & Walking tours
  • Accommodation Hotel & Camping
  • Transport Train, Private Vehicle, Bus, Minibus & Taxi
  • Age Range 15-99 yrs
days07 From US$ 1,480 US$ 1,110
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Inca Trail, Titicaca & Nazca

of 13 reviews
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Not just a holiday, more of an adventure!
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Activities Trekking & Adventure
  • Accommodation Hotel, Camping & Villa
  • Transport Boat, Train, Bus, Flight & Coach
  • Age Range 16-99 yrs
days15 From US$ 4,249 View Tour
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  • Apr 15 Only 8 seats left
  • May 06 Only 8 seats left
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Inca Trail 2 days to Machu Picchu

of 3 reviews
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The most incredible experience!! I can not recommend this trip more highly! We had the most wonderfu ...
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Activities Trekking & Natural landmarks sightseeing +2 more
  • Accommodation Camping & Hotel
  • Transport Bus, Private Vehicle & Train
  • Age Range 5-70 yrs
days02 From US$ 535 View Tour
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  • Feb 12
  • Feb 13
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Inca Trail & Amazon Adventure

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12 day explorer trip through Lima, Cusco, Ollantaytambo and 4 other destinations in Peru. Read More
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Activities Explorer & Trekking
  • Accommodation Hotel, Camping, Lodge & Eco Lodge
  • Transport Train, Bus, Flight, Private Vehicle, Minibus & Taxi
  • Age Range 15-99 yrs
days12 From US$ 3,255 US$ 2,441
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  • Mar 06 Only 5 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 Small Group Tour
  • Activities Trekking & Walking tours
  • Accommodation Hotel & Camping
  • Transport Train, Private Vehicle, Flight, Bus, Minibus & Taxi
  • Age Range 15-99 yrs
days08 From US$ 1,890 US$ 1,418
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  • Mar 10 Only 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 Small Group Tour
  • Activities Getaways and short breaks
  • Accommodation Hotel & Camping
  • Transport Train, Bus, Minibus, Private Vehicle & Taxi
  • Age Range 15-99 yrs
days06 From US$ 1,113 View Tour
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  • Mar 03 10+ seats left
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Inca Trail To Machu Picchu: 4-Day Group Tour

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4 day trekking trip in Peru, visiting Ayapata District, Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayna. Read More
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Activities Trekking & Cultural, religious and historic sites
  • Accommodation Tent, Camping & Hotel
  • Transport Train & Bus
  • Age Range 5-90 yrs
days04 From US$ 915 View Tour
Next Departures
  • Mar 01
  • Mar 03
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Inca Soul Experience 6 Days / 5 Nights

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6 day adventure trip in Peru, visiting Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu. Read More
  • Tour Type Private Tour
  • Activities Adventure & Trekking +1 more
  • Accommodation Hotel
  • Transport Train & Bus
  • Age Range 5-79 yrs
days06 From US$ 1,259 View Tour
Next Departures
  • Feb 12
  • Feb 13
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Machu Picchu & Amazon Adventure

of 5 reviews
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Every step of the way, the tour operator exceeded my expectations. Our guide (Wilson) was one of the ...
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Activities Hiking & Adventure
  • Accommodation Camping, Hotel, Lodge & Tent
  • Transport Private Vehicle, Boat, Flight & Train
  • Age Range 18-99 yrs
days10 From US$ 4,499 View Tour
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  • Mar 05 10+ seats left
  • Mar 19 10+ seats left
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Inca Encounter

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10 day cultural, religious and historic sites tour through Lima, Puerto Maldonado, Ollantaytambo and 3 other destinations in Peru. Read More
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Activities Cultural, religious and historic sites & Hiking
  • Accommodation Hotel, Camping, Lodge & Eco Lodge
  • Transport Private Vehicle, Flight, Bus, Train & Minibus
  • Age Range 15-99 yrs
days10 From US$ 3,835 US$ 3,260
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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
  • Activities Trekking
  • Accommodation Lodge, Hotel & Eco Lodge
  • Transport Train & Private Vehicle
  • Age Range 5-79 yrs
days06 From US$ 2,290 View Tour
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  • Feb 12
  • Feb 13
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Inca Trail Reviews

5 - Excellent
Based on 33 customer reviews
Amazing - Just Do It!
5 - Excellent
  • Anonymous
“Loved this holiday :) Peru is an amazing country with so much to see all around you, making the long journeys enjoyable. Thrilled to do the trek and be proud of the achievement but also wonderful trips to Lake Titicaca and seeing the culture of the people.”
The best Machu Picchu trek operator in Cusco -Alpaca Tours.
5 - Excellent
  • Joseph Cham
“I had a really great time trekking up the Inca Trail over 4 days and 3 nights starting Dec 29,2021 and summiting on Jan 1,2022. I am so glad I had decided to go with this tour company. They had everything organized to a T!! The food was great at each campsite and they even took care of my diabetic needs on the mountain!! To top it off, the chef even baked a cake for our group for New Year's eve!! The guides, Jaime and Adolfo were not only very pleasant to deal with but also very knowledgeable about the Trail and the related Inca history. Jaime was always pointing out to historical facts, trivia and several species of orchids and that made the arduous climb seem like a walk in the park. Adolfo was always around to help and demonstrated skillfully how the ancient Incas made sturdy ropes out of simple mountain grass! Overall, a fabulous experience with Jaime (pronounced "haimeh"), Adolfo and their team to anyone that wants to do the Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu!”
Amazing trip - Inca Trail, Titicaca and Nazca
5 - Excellent
  • Anonymous
“Absolutely amazing trip, wonderful guide and brilliant companions. The journeys are long but the scenery is surprisingly varied and the weather/light changes all the time - you would need to view the experience of the travel as a full part of the holiday, and not just a means to arrive - personally I loved it! The trail is tougher than I'd expected (because of the altitude) - day 2 was hard but the sense of achievement huge as a result and it made reaching Machu Picchu itself a very emotional experience (which I hadn't expected it to be). I loved that we saw so much of the country, the Ballestas Islands were beautiful, we saw penguins and sea lions and heaps of other wildlife, including big red crabs! Nazca was stunning, I'm so glad to have seen it and the flight was a great way to do so, while the haunting quality of Lake Titicaca and its extraordinary people made for a lovely quiet and relaxed finish to the trip.”

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.