The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – 4 Days

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    The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Details

    The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the Most Popular Treks in the world. Hike the 4 Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with the Best Prices and Service

    The Inca Trail includes Tents, Meals, Transport, Admissions, Guides, Inca Trail Permit, Train to Cusco & more.

    Experience walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with a Licensed and Experienced group of Guides and Porters to give you an unforgettable experience. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru is the Historical route the Incas took to arrive at Machu Picchu.

    Our Inca Trail Tour to Machu Picchu includes your Inca Trail Permit which has limited availability, please consider booking as far ahead in advanced as possible, contact us to check availability.

    Departure & Return Location

    Cusco, Peru

    Departure Time

    5-5:30 AM

    Duration

    4 Days, 3 Nights

    Difficulty

    Medium to Moderate

    Total Hiking Distance

    43 km / 26.7 miles

    Highest Altitude

    4,215m / 13,828ft

    Meals

    Included, we cater to all diets.

    Places Visited

    Ollantaytambo, Llactapata, Dead Woman’s Pass, Urubamba Valley, Wiñaywayna, Inti Punku, Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes

    Price Includes

    • Hostel/Hotel Pickup
    • Bus/Train Transfer to start of Inca Trail
    • Inca Trail Permit
    • Group Porters (Carry Groups Tents & Food), Cook
    • English Speaking Guide
    • Meals (3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners, snacks)
    • Vegan/Vegetarian Meals available. Ask us about other Dietary options
    • Waterproof Tents and sleeping mat (foam)
    • 2 Hour Guided Machu Picchu Tour
    • Machu Picchu General Admission
    • Bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes
    • First Aid & Oxygen
    • Return Expedition Train to Cusco from Aguas Calientes

    Complementary

    • Snacks
    • Water
    • Tea Time
    • Oxygen
    Extras (optional)
    • US$79 - Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain Hikes (not included in base price) available at additional cost.
    • US$179 - Private Porter - Can carry up to 12 kilos (26 lbs) of personal gear.
    • US$35 - Sleeping Bag Rental for 3 Nights
    • US$29 - Trekking Pole Rental - 3 Day Rental for a pair. Trekking poles not allowed inside Machu Picchu.
    Price Excludes
    • Gratuities (optional)

    Additional Information

    • Our Inca Trail has been run by a Licensed Inca Trail Operator for over 15 years
    • Single Travelers can share tents/domes/cabins or purchase private services.
    • Passport name, number, expiry and country is required at time of booking for all participants
    • Please ask us about special group discounts if travelling with 3 or more people
    • No Fixed Departures, you can choose your own start date (when permits available)
    • $20 off for students with Valid University/College Identification Card.

    Cancellation Policy

    As the Industry Leader in customer service we provide you with the flexibility to change your travel plans – with the assurance that you’ll have options to re-book when it suits you. With the 4 Day and 2 Inca Trails we are able to refund or change dates only with 90 days advanced notice when and only if your permit has not yet been reserved.

    The 4 and 2 Day Inca Trails require hiking permits that we purchase and reserve via the Ministry of Culture in Cusco, they regulate the trek and do not allow for refunds once a permit is booked.

    Please be 100% sure of your travel date before purchasing or let us know that dates are tentative and we won’t purchase your permits until we receive your confirmation.

    Read our full terms & conditions here.

    Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Itinerary

    Day 1

    The first day of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu trek is relatively easy and serves as training for the days to follow. Travelers are collected early from their hotels (5-5:30 am) and travel by bus, past the picturesque villages of Chinchero, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo, for the 2½ hour scenic trip to kilometer 82 (the start of the trail). Buses normally stop at the town of Urubamba or Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley for about an hour to give people the opportunity to have breakfast.

    Having arrived at km 82 hikers cross the Vilcanota River and follow the trail to the right as it climbs steeply up from the river. After passing through a small village, the ruins of the Inca hill fort of Huillca Raccay come into view high above the mouth of the river Cusichaca (‘happy bridge’).

    The Incas, when they conquered the area, built a fort here since the site commanded an excellent view up and down the Urubamba valley and controlled the entrance to the Cusichaca valley. It is a simple descent down to the Cusichaca river. From parts of this trail there are great views of the Cordillera Urubamba (Urubamba mountain range) and the snow capped peak of Veronica 5860m.

    Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

    You’ll also get a good view over the extensive Inca ruins of Llactapata (also known as Patallacta on some maps). Llactapata means ‘upper town’ in Quechua and was first discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and was primarily an agricultural station used to supply Machu Picchu with maize, the staple crop of the Incas. The settlement comprised over one hundred buildings, houses for the workers and soldiers, including five baths.
      
    For a further 7 km the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu follows the left bank of the river up to the small village of Wayllabamba (3,000m). The name in Quechua means ‘grassy plain’. We will probably spend the night here depending on the speed of the group. This is the last place along the trek that you can buy snacks and drinks.

    Hiking time: 6-7 hours

    Total distance: 11 km/6.8 m

    Day 2

    We continue the Inca Trail climbing up from Wayllabamba following the left bank of the Llulluchayoc river for about 1 hour brings you to ‘Tres Piedras’ (three stones) and a small bridge over the Huayruro river. There is a small campsite here toilet facilities.

    The stream is named after the Huayruro which is an ornamental tree. It’s seeds are red and black. Many of the porters from the Ollantaytambo district are also known as Huayruros because of their traditional red and black ponchos! A little further on you’ll enter a beautiful cloud forest passing a waterfall. 

    A further three hours trek through steepening woods and increasingly spectacular terrain brings you to the tree line and a meadow known as Llulluchapampa (3,680m). It is another 1½ hours climb to the first and highest pass of the trail (Abra de Huarmihuañusca or ‘Dead Woman’s Pass) at 4,200m.

    During this part of the trail hikers are exposed to the Andean elements: first scorching sun and then, closer to the pass, freezing winds. Once at the top hikers can celebrate having completed the most difficult section of the trail.

    ​The descent from the pass is steep although not difficult, following the Inca Trail on the left side of the valley to the valley floor and to the 2nd night’s campsite at Pacamayo (3,600m). There are toilet facilities here.

    The Inca Trail

     

    Hiking time: 8-9 hours

    Total distance: 15 km/6.8 m

    Day 3

    From Pacamayo it takes about an hour to climb up to the ruins of Runkuracay. These small circular ruins occupy a commanding position overlooking the Pacamayo valley below. 

    Another 45 minute hike will bring you to the top of the second pass: Abra de Runkuracay (4,000m). At last you’ll feel that you are walking along the trail of the Incas with paving, for the most part, being original. The descent down the steps from the pass is steep so take care. This section of the trail, up until the 3rd pass, is particularly beautiful as the path crosses high stone embankments and skirts deep precipices.

    After about 1 hour from the 2nd pass you’ll arrive at Sayacmarca by way of a superbly designed stone staircase. The name Sayacmarca means ‘Inaccessible Town’ and describes the position of the ruins perfectly, protected on three sides by sheer cliffs. No one knows the exact purpose of these ruins.  
        
    You have to backtrack a little to rejoin the trail as it passes Conchamarca, a small Inca dwelling situated in the shadows of Sayacmarca, which was probably a tambo for weary travelers on their way to Machu Picchu. From then on the path descends into magnificent cloud forest full of orchids, hanging mosses, tree ferns and flowers, passing through an impressive Inca tunnel, carved into the rock, on the way.
      
    The trail then climbs up to the 3rd pass (3,700m). The view from the pass offers excellent views of several snow-capped peaks including Salkantay (6,180m) and Veronica (5,750m). A few minutes after the pass is Phuyupatamarca, the most impressive Inca ruin so far. The name means ‘Town in the Clouds’. Access to the ruins is down a steep flight of stairs passing six ‘Inca Baths’ probably used for the ritual worship of water.

    Leaving the site via an impressive Inca staircase leading from the west side of the ruins (the far end from the baths) you descend a thousand or so steps. Be careful with your knees which will feel the strain by the end of the day. After about an hour of walking through cloud forest you may just be able to see the tin roof of the Trekkers Hostel at Wiñay Wayna, although it probably won’t be for another 2 hours until you arrive.

    Wiñay Wayna is the last official campsite before Machu Picchu. There is a restaurant where you can purchase drinks and even a well deserved beer, as well as hot showers ($1.5) and toilets. 
     
    A short trail leaves from the southern end of the hostel to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna. The name in Quechua means ‘forever young’ and is named after a variety of pink orchid which grows here. The ruins comprise magnificent agricultural terraces set in an impressive location. There are also many buildings of good quality stonework and a sequence of 10 baths, suggesting that the site was probably a religious center associated with the worship of water. Ritual cleansing may have taken place here for pilgrims on the final leg of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

    Inca Trail Machu Picchu Winay Wayna

     

    Hiking time: 5-6 hours

    Total distance: 10 km

    Day 4

    The Inca Trail from the campsite to Machu Picchu is clearly marked and takes about 1½ hours. We’ll wake early at 4.30am, have breakfast and set off on the trail again by 5.30am to get to Machu Picchu before sunrise. The sky starts getting light by 5:30am and the first rays of the sun reach Machu Picchu at about 7am. The trail contours a mountainside and drops into cloud forest before coming to an almost vertical flight of 50 steps leading up to the final pass at Inti Punku (Sun Gate). Suddenly the whole of Machu Picchu is spread out before you in all its glory – a fantastic sight for all.

    4 Day Inca Trail

    When you arrive at the ruins you’ll have plenty of time to take photos of Machu Picchu from the classic view point. Most groups wait at this point for a while so most of your photos should be ‘tourist free’. When the group is back together again we descend to the main entrance where you can safely leave your large backpacks. You can also go to the toilet and have a quick coffee in the restaurant just outside the entrance.

    The group will re-enter the ruins with the same guide for a complete tour of the major sectors. The tour takes about 2 hours so by about 10:30 am you’ll have free time to explore the ruins alone. If you chose to include the Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain optional hikes ($69) then you would have time after your guided tours to begin these hikes.

    Inca Trail Trekking

     

    We suggest that after visiting Machu Picchu that you take the bus down to Aguas Calientes by 3:00 pm to have lunch in Aguas Calientes and visit the thermal baths. Buses depart every 15 minutes from Machu Picchu Entrance back down to Aguas Calientes. Your PeruRail Expedition train back to Cusco departs Aguas Calientes at 6:20 PM arriving in Cusco at 9 PM, later train at 9:50PM also available and subject to availability. This concludes your Inca Trail to Machu Picchu trek with Karikuy Tours.

    Hiking time: 2-3 hours

    Total distance: 7 km/4.4 m

    Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Map

    Photos

    FAQ

    What is the Inca Trail?

    The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a 4 Day hike that covers the historical route that the Inca took to arrive at Machu Picchu. Due to it’s remote location the Spanish Conquistadores never discovered Machu Picchu which allowed it to be conserved and rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham.

    Is the Inca Trail dangerous?

    No, the guided trek itself is not dangerous. You do need to be properly acclimated to the elevation however and it is always best to consult your doctor before starting any high altitude trek.

    While Fog or extreme weather conditions can disorient hikers during the wet season it is considered less dangerous then the Salkantay Trek, the route is clearly marked and there are always guides and other hikers nearby. 

    How Hard is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

    The difficulty of the Inca Trail tor Machu Picchu is rated by hiking experts at a level of difficulty of 3-4 on a scale that reaches up to 7. The medium to moderate rating is due to the high altitude, you will need a average to medium level of fitness to complete the trek.

    How Long Inca Trail? What is the Inca Trail Distance Hiked?

    The Inca Trail is 43 kms or 26.7 miles in length and reaches a maximum elevation of 13,828 feet (4,215 meters) at the highest point; Dead Woman’s Pass. The estimated trekking time per day is 6 to 8 hours.

    What to pack Inca Trail?

    A recommended and balanced packing list for the Inca Trail is the following:

    Backpack with rain cover (30- or 40-liter capacity is sufficient).

    Sleeping bag, four season bag is recommended. Sleeping Bags can also be rented.

    Clothing for both warm and cold climates.

    Trekking shoes/boots.

    Slippers or sandals (for showers and hot springs).

    Woolen/synthetic socks and a sweater.

    Long- and short-sleeved T-shirts.

    Rain poncho/waterproof jacket and a hat.

    Bathing suit (for the hot springs in Aguas Calientes).

    Sunscreen, insect repellent, toilet paper, hand cleaner/disinfecting alcohol gel, deodorant, soap.

    Snacks (e.g. chocolate bars and dried fruit)

    Original passport, student card (to receive the student discount)

    Camera (with rain protection), a flash light/headlamp.

    Batteries, Memory Cards for your Electronics, no place to charge them for first 3 days.

    Cash to purchase snacks and water on the trek and tip your guides.

    Since the weather can be very cold and rainy, your clothes – once wet – won’t dry at night. It’s best to take some clothes to change.

    Where does the Inca Trail start?

    The Inca Trail departs from Cusco, Peru. Here you are picked up from your hotel or hostel. You are then taken to Ollantaytambo for breakfast and onward to km 82 where you meet your porters (2,200 meters/ 4,805 feet), the starting point of the hike.

    How to prepare for the Inca Trail?

    We recommend running for 15 to 30 minutes daily at least 2 weeks before your trek. Upon arrival in Cusco we recommend at least 2 full days in Cusco for your body to acclimate to the high altitude to give you the best possible hiking experience. Schedule some Cusco Day Tours before the trek to help you acclimate slowly.

    Can you hike the Inca Trail without a Guide?

    No, this is the only trek in Peru where you are required to join a guided group with a licensed Inca Trail Tour Operator. You are also required to have a hiking permit which is included in the price of the Inca Trail.

    How cold is the Inca Trail? How is the Weather?

    The weather along the Inca Trail can vary due to the different microclimates you experience on the trek. The coldest nights are the first two evenings where temperatures can reach zero on the coldest nights to warm weather in the high jungle. 

    Here are some Average Temperature and Rainfall Charts for the area around Machu Picchu, note that elevated areas are colder in general as in the first 2 days of the trek.

    Weather on the Inca Trail

    Best months to hike the Inca Trail

    What is the difference between the Inca Trail and the Salkantay trek tours?

    The Inca Trail requires a government permit to hike due to heavy demand, this makes the Inca Trail sell out quickly and have more hikers on the trek. The Inca Trail is the original route the Inca took to get to Machu Picchu and has several Inca Ruins on Route.

    The Sakantay Trek does not require a government permit to hike. There is less congestion on the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. The Salkantay Trek also gets you close to the Salkantay Glacier, the Inca Trail does not get you close to any glaciers. The Salkantay Trekking experience has you lodge in domes, tents, cabins and hostel while the Inca Tail is all camping.

    The Inca Jungle Trek is another trek to Machu Picchu that does not require a permit. It is not an official Inca Trail but includes Biking, Rafting and Zip Lines as opposed to just hiking. It is also the most economic of all three treks.

    When is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Open?

    The Inca Trail is open year round with the exception of February. During February the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance. This is also one of the wettest months of the year and not optimal to hike the Inca Trail. For February we recommend conventional tours to Machu Picchu via Train.

    What's the best way to see the Inca Trail?

    The Inca Trail departs from Cusco, Peru. You will need to take a domestic flight from Lima to Cusco, we recommend having at least two full days to acclimate in Cusco before starting the Inca Trail. Cusco Day Tours are ideal to get your body used to the altitude before any trek. We also recommend hiring a private porter to carry your personal bags as this will make the Inca Trail hike more enjoyable.

    Which Inca Trail is the best?

    Karikuy Tours offers the best 4 Day Inca Trail when it comes to price to quality and with over 15 years of experience hiring the best guides and tour operators for tours. Note there is only one Inca Trail, this is the 4 Day Inca Trail. Advertised 5 or 6 day Inca Trails are just the Classic 4 day Inca Trail with added tours or hikes included. There is also an official 2 day Inca Trail for those short on time or who do not want to hike the full 4 day trek.

    38 Reviews
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    Peter

    Solo Traveller

    I have been on adventure guided trips/hunts from the Arctic Circle to Argentina for the past forty+ years. Trips too numerous to count. Trips that promise the moon but eventually fall way short. My most recent trip with Karikuy Tours, Lima, Peru was the most efficient, well organized and pleasant trips I have ever experienced from an outfitter. From the moment I inquired about the Inca Trail, they were constantly in contact with me. Once, I pulled the trigger and paid for the trip, the communication remained constant and accessible. The simplest of questions were answered just as swiftly as the major concerns. Questions that concerned my traveling from the US to Peru, really not Karikuy’s problem, they helped me every step of the way including Covid-19 testing. Julio Tello was literally accessible 24 hours a day and I never felt I was a burden. A trip of this nature involved several different types of transportation; and the transition between each was seamless. All Hotel accommodations in two different Peru cities were accommodated without the slightest hitch. Believe me, when in a foreign country with limited language ability, this is huge. One of our party’s luggage was lost on the airlines and Julio jumped right in to resolve the situation.

    My trip, the Four Day Inca Trail hike, was led by a most capable and knowledgeable guide, Hector Cconochuillca (not sure of spelling), accompanied by a team of porters who treated us as royalty. The food was exceptional. Never did I want for anything. Hector balanced everything between obtaining our objective, but not making us uncomfortable. It was a perfect combination to experience this beautiful part of the world. His knowledge and passion were amazing. I highly recommend him.

    As an experienced adventure tour person, one who has led and outfitted my own in the US, I, without reservation, highly recommend Karikuy Tours.

    November 14, 2022

    D Murphy

    Solo Traveller

    I used this tour group 3 years ago. They were very efficient for what I needed. I travelled alone and my Spanish speaking is mediocre at best. They communicated well with me and the arrangements were perfect. Best trip I ever took in my life.

    August 3, 2022

    Justin Gitelman

    Solo Traveller

    Karikuy organized a perfect tour from Cusco through the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu and back, was extremely available and clear in communication both on their website chat and in WhatsApp, and staff and tour guides were friendly and went above and beyond to personally escort me to each check in point or give clear instructions to get there. I felt like I was being taken care of by family.

    June 16, 2022

    Leslie Shaw

    Couple Traveller

    We booked a 4 day trekking and camping on the Inca Trail through Karikuy Tours. Karikuy Tours was excellent from the very beginning to the very end. Julio, who organized the trip for us, was very responsive to all our needs and was able to answer every question and concern we had. He provided us with all the information and details for our trek. He even organized a driver to pick and drop us off to and from the airport. The driver was very polite and professional.

    The Inca trail was an incredible experience with stunning views. We were fortunate to have the best tour guide, Hector. Hector has expansive and in-depth knowledge of the Inca’s, Peruvian culture and plants. I learned so much from him in those 4 days. He’s very excited to share his culture and on top of that he was so much fun! I highly recommend everyone to request Hector as a guide, you will NOT be disappointed! Our porters were very polite and cooked delicious food for us. It was such a treat getting to know them.

    Thank you Karikuy Tours, Julio and Hector for an experience of a lifetime!

    November 18, 2021

    Rebecca Husic

    Couple Traveller

    Our trek was planned for last year, but due to covid it was delayed. The office was closed for a while but once they finally opened they were very helpful in allowing us to decide to rebook or get a refund (either partial or full). We decided to rebook and went a year after the original date and it was amazing! Our guide was very knowledgeable and was able to encourage each and every one of us to finish the hike and ended with a beautiful coca leaf ceremony outside the entrance of Machu Picchu. It was frustrating the few months we went without answers on this trip, but we understood that they were operating under unprecedented circumstances. Would 100% book a tour with them again.

    September 20, 2021
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