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 - 19 Trips with 24 Reviews

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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 Small 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, Bus, Minibus & Taxi
  • Age Range15+ years old
days07 From US$ 1,150
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  • Mar 05 Only 9 seats left
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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
  • Operator Exodus Travels Premier This operator is consistently delivering tours which receive customer ratings above 4.5 on average.
  • Activities Trekking & Adventure
  • Accommodation Hotel, Camping & Villa
  • Transport Boat, Train, Bus, Flight & Coach
  • Age Range16+ years old
days15 From US$ 4,079 US$ 3,671
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  • Apr 16 Only 8 seats left
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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
  • 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 & Eco Lodge
  • Transport Train, Bus, Flight, Private Vehicle, Minibus & Taxi
  • Age Range15+ years old
days12 From US$ 2,845
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  • Mar 04 Only 9 seats left
  • Mar 07 10+ 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
  • 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, Flight, Bus, Minibus & Taxi
  • Age Range15+ years old
days08 From US$ 1,640
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  • Mar 04 Only 9 seats left
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Inca Trail Extension

of 1 review
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6 day getaways and short breaks tour in Peru, visiting Cusco, Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. Read More
  • Tour Type Small 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, Minibus, Private Vehicle & Taxi
  • Age Range15+ years old
days06 From US$ 990
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  • Feb 11 10+ seats left
  • Feb 25 10+ seats left
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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
  • Operator Classic Inca Trail - Inca Soul
  • Activities Adventure & Trekking +1 more
  • Accommodation Hotel
  • Transport Train & Bus
  • Age Range5+ years old
days06 From US$ 1,259 View Tour
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  • Jan 22
  • Jan 23
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Classic Inca Trail 2021 - 2022

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4 day trekking tour through Ayapata District, Chaquicocha, Wiñay Wayna and 6 other destinations in Peru. Read More
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Operator Action Peru Treks
  • Activities Trekking
  • Accommodation Tent, Hotel & Camping
  • Transport Train & Bus
  • Age Range8+ years old
days04 From US$ 690 View Tour
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  • Feb 09
  • Feb 10
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Inca Encounter

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10 day explorer tour through Lima, Puerto Maldonado, Ollantaytambo and 3 other destinations in Peru. Read More
  • Tour Type Small 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 & Eco Lodge
  • Transport Private Vehicle, Flight, Bus, Train & Minibus
  • Age Range15+ years old
days10 From US$ 3,080
SaveUS$ 154
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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
  • Age Range5+ years old
days06 From US$ 2,290 View Tour
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  • Jan 22
  • Jan 23
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Machu Picchu Honeymoon Adventure – 4D / 3N

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4 day trekking trip in Peru, visiting Eco Quechua Lodge, Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. Read More
  • Operator Eco Quechua Lodge
  • Activities Trekking
  • Accommodation Lodge, Eco Lodge & Hotel
  • Transport Train
  • Age Range5+ years old
days04 From US$ 1,092 View Tour
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  • Jan 22
  • Jan 23
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Classic Inca Trail 4 Days to Machu Picchu

of 3 reviews
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I highly recommend this trip to anyone who is looking to learn more about Inca history while hiking ...
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Operator Alpaca Expeditions Active 3 minutes ago
  • Activities Trekking & Natural landmarks sightseeing +3 more
  • Accommodation Camping, Hotel & Tent
  • Transport Train
  • Age Range8+ years old
days04 From US$ 685 US$ 651
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  • Jan 22
  • Jan 23
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Inca Trail Express Trek to Machu Picchu 2D/1N

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2 day trekking trip in Peru, visiting Aguas Calientes, Cusco and Ollantaytambo. Read More
  • Tour Type Small Group Tour
  • Operator Bamba Premier This operator is consistently delivering tours which receive customer ratings above 4.5 on average.
  • Activities Trekking
  • Accommodation Hotel
  • Transport Train & Bus
  • Age Range18+ years old
days02 From US$ 721 US$ 685
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Quarry Trail to Machu Picchu Extension

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6 day getaways and short breaks trip visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu in Peru. Read More
  • Tour Type Small 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 & Minibus
  • Age Range15+ years old
days06 From US$ 873
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Inca & Amazon Adventure

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12 day rainforest and jungle visits trip through Lima, Puerto Maldonado, Pisac and 5 other destinations in Peru. Read More
  • Tour Type Group Tour
  • Operator Travel Talk Active 54 minutes ago Premier This operator is consistently delivering tours which receive customer ratings above 4.5 on average.
  • Activities Rainforest and jungle visits & Hiking
  • Accommodation Camping, Hotel & Lodge
  • Transport Bus, Coach, Flight, Train, Boat & Private Vehicle
  • Age Range18+ years old
days12 From US$ 4,179 US$ 2,507
SaveUS$ 1,797
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  • Apr 02 10+ seats left
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Inca Trail Reviews

5 - Excellent
Based on 24 customer reviews
Exceeded my expectatios!
5 - Excellent
  • Anonymous
  • From USA
“The 4-day 3-night trek was amazing. Completely exceeded my expectations. Pretty sure the chef Walter is a magician, the way he was able to cook full meals (appetizers, main course, sides, all delicious) out of a tent. The porters took care of all of the work involved in camping, it was relaxing. Lucio our guide was intensely knowledgeable, patient, and kind. The trail itself was a lot of fun to hike and see all the sights along the way. I recommend a baseline physical ability, but any active person should have no problem and be able to enjoy the views and experience.”
Inca Trail with Isao & crew was an exceptional experience!
5 - Excellent
  • Alice Armes
  • From Canada
“I just returned from an incredible 4-day trek on the Inca trail with excellent Alpaca hosts. Big thanks to these wonderful people who made it such an amazing experience:

Isao:
Best guide - EVER - make sure to request him! With the perfect balance of professionalism and fun, Isao tailored the journey to suit our particular mix of trekkers. He took special care of each of us, and made sure we all got to maximize whatever part of the trip was most important to us individually – while also creating a warm sense of family and group experience. I can't wait to trek with him again and am already planning my next trip back.

Moises:
Part chef and part magician. I don't know how he was able to serve such lavish and delicious meals on the trail – I was in awe after each one. After reading previous reviews, I had very high expectations and they were exceeded. I loved the soups in particular, and all the dish presentations were delightful!

Juan & Porter Crew:
These people are top-level athletes and world-class hosts. They took care of all the gear and logistics, which allowed us to be carefree and enjoy the beauty of each moment. They broke down our camp each day after we had already set out on the trail – but managed to pass us carrying all our gear and had everything set up again long before we arrived at the next camp. In addition, they offered us so many thoughtful kindnesses throughout the trip; they greeted us with bowls of warm water to wash up with (morning, afternoon and evening). They woke us up with hot tea. They cheered us on as we pushed ourselves up and down the mountain.

All in all, I can't say enough good things about Alpaca and highly recommend them the Inca trail trek! You will have a fantastic time!

Additional thoughts & unsolicited advice:
ALTITUDE: Unless you live at 14,000 feet, absolutely spend 3 days acclimating in Cusco or the Sacred Valley. There is plenty to do and it makes a massive difference.

FITNESS: Think 5+ hours of stair climbing every day of the trek. There can be long stretches of going downstairs - make sure to train for that too. If you have difficulty with your knees or back I'd recommend the 1 or 2-day trek, which Alpaca also offers.

GEAR: You need far less than you think you do. If I did it again, I'd only bring two pairs of wicking quick-dry leggings, and I'd leave the rain pants at home (I was way too hot hiking in them). The rain poncho they give you covers most of you, and I probably would have been fine without my raincoat. Just make sure to bring waterproof gloves - those are small and make a big difference. Instead of long-sleeved shirts, I am a big fan of arm warmers paired with a T-shirt or tank - so you don't have to take off your pack every time you want to add or shed a layer.

BUGS: I didn't have a problem with them until we were actually in Machu Picchu - and then I got eaten alive. Make sure to put on the DEET and cover your legs and ankles on the last morning before you set out for the sun gate.

HYDRATION: Alpaca provides purified (filtered/boiled) water for your pack morning, noon and night. You can also buy drinks at various places on the trail (though I never did). I highly advise using a pack with a CamelBack like system. This will increase your water intake and keep you better hydrated because you don't have to stop moving to sip. It's also lighter weight than most bottles.

SNACKS: I was really worried I'd be hungry, so 1/2 my allotted duffel bag weight went to snacks. This was totally unnecessary. Alpaca feeds you VERY VERY WELL! They also give you a few trail snacks - but I was always too full to eat them. (There are also snack options along the trail.)”
Absolutely Amazing Trek With Alpaca
5 - Excellent
  • Albert Dinne
  • From France
“Firstly, I rarely take the time to write reviews. I was extremely impressed by every aspect of my trek with Alpaca, from pre-hike information and briefings to every aspect of the 4day 3night Inca Trail hike. The guide, Rolando, was incredibly knowledgable, flexible, patient, kind, and encouraging. He allowed hikers to go at their own pace, making sure porters were there to keep an eye on those who weren't directly in his site. The meals were enormous and delicious! I'd never done a multi-day trek before and Alpaca definitely spoiled us...waking us up with coca tea, providing us with warm water to wash up, and a tent set up with a table and chairs for meals. The entire staff was excellent. I should note two situations that arose that Alpaca managed perfectly. The first is that I sprained my ankle just 2 weeks before the hike. The staff was quick with their communication and creative with providing alternative experiences to still be able to see Machu Picchu. Luckily, in the end I was still able to do the hike. When the hike was over, we sat down for lunch and were notified that the train personnel was striking so we'd either have to wait until tomorrow to hopefully catch a train then or hike another 2 hours to another town where the Alpaca minivan would have access to pick us up. We were very thankful that we were with such a great reputable company because they provided us with a solution to get back the same day, which other hikers did not have. All in all, I can't say enough positive things about this company. They are really top notch.”

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.

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