The Inca Trail is a famous trekking route in Peru that leads to the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu.
The classic route for the Inca Trail hike usually lasts 4 days.
That covers approximately 43 kilometers (26 miles) of mountainous terrain, including high altitude passes, breathtaking scenery, and well-preserved Incan ruins.
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is considered a challenging trek due to the high altitude, steep inclines and declines, and the duration of the hike.
The first day of the trek is relatively easy, with a gentle ascent through the Urubamba River valley. However, the second day involves a steep climb to Warmiwañusca Pass, which can be physically demanding for many hikers. The third day is also challenging, with several steep inclines and declines and the possibility of slippery terrain.
Despite the challenging terrain, the Inca Trail can be completed by people of all ages and fitness levels with proper preparation and a positive attitude. It’s recommended that hikers spend at least two to three days in Cusco or other high-altitude locations before starting the trek to acclimate to the altitude.
Overall, while the Inca Trail is a challenging trek, it offers stunning views and a unique cultural experience, making it a worthwhile and memorable adventure.
No, it’s not possible to walk the Inca Trail without a guide. The Peruvian government requires all hikers on the Inca Trail to be accompanied by a licensed tour guide. The guide’s role is to ensure that hikers follow the regulations and restrictions of the trail and to provide information about the Inca ruins and cultural heritage along the way.
The Inca Trail is a protected area, and the Peruvian government has implemented strict regulations to ensure its preservation. This includes limiting the number of daily visitors, requiring permits and registration, and mandating the use of licensed tour guides. Hiking the trail without a guide is illegal and can result in fines and penalties.
Additionally, hiking with a guide ensures your safety and enhances your experience. A licensed tour guide is trained to handle emergency situations and to provide assistance and support along the way. They also offer valuable insights into the history and culture of the Inca civilization, making your trek more informative and meaningful.
Therefore, it’s mandatory to book a licensed tour operator that provides experienced guides to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
While the Inca Trail is a challenging hike, it is possible for beginners to hike the trail with the right preparation and guidance. However, it’s important to note that the trail involves steep climbs, high altitude, and rugged terrain, which can be physically and mentally demanding.
Beginners who are considering hiking the Inca Trail should prepare themselves physically and mentally by following a fitness plan, such as cardio and strength training, and gradually increasing their endurance and stamina. Additionally, spending time at high altitudes before the hike can help acclimatize the body to the altitude and reduce the risk of altitude sickness.
Day 1: Cusco to Wayllabamba You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Cusco and driven to the start of the trail at Piscacucho (also known as Km 82). From there, you’ll hike along the Urubamba River, through traditional Andean villages, and uphill to the campsite at Wayllabamba.
Day 2: Wayllabamba to Pacaymayo This is the most challenging day of the trek, as you’ll climb steeply up to the highest point of the trek, Warmiwañusca Pass (4,215 meters or 13,828 feet). From there, you’ll descend into the Pacaymayo Valley, where you’ll camp for the night.
Day 3: Pacaymayo to Wiñay Wayna Today’s hike includes a visit to several Incan ruins, including Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, and Phuyupatamarca. You’ll also cross another high pass and descend into the cloud forest, where you’ll camp at Wiñay Wayna, a stunning Incan site.
Day 4: Wiñay Wayna to Machu Picchu You’ll wake up early and hike to the Inti Punku (Sun Gate) to watch the sunrise over Machu Picchu. From there, you’ll descend to the ancient city and explore it with a guided tour. In the afternoon, you’ll take the train back to Cusco.
Overall, the Inca Trail is a challenging but rewarding trek that offers stunning scenery, cultural experiences, and a chance to visit one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites.
The cost to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu varies depending on several factors, including the tour operator, the length of the trek, the time of year, and the level of comfort and service you prefer. Generally, the cost of a four-day trek ranges from $500 to $1500 USD per person.
This cost typically includes:
Additional costs that may not be included in the package price are: