Hike the Classic 4 Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail includes Tents, Meals, Trains, Guides, Inca Trail Permit and More.
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu trek is one of the most famous hiking routes in the world. So the Inca Trail shouldn’t need much of an indroduction.
Our Inca Trail to Machu Picchu takes you along a path walked by thousands passed beautiful snowcapped mountains, blue lagoons and to one of the seven wonders of the world Machu PIcchu.
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.
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 path 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.
Climbing up from Wayllabamba following the left bank of the Llulluchayoc river for about 1 hour brings you to ‘Tres Piedres’ (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 treeline 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 decent from the pass is steep although not difficult, following the 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.
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 trail to Machu Picchu.
The 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.
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.
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.
It was outstanding. From meeting our guide to leaving us of at the train station, this was well organized and had 0 issues. My tour guide was a known legend. He is Saul aka the cocoa man. He knew every flower, every bird and every bit of history. He provided us with such rich history knowledge that it really enhanced our overall experience from Inca site to site along the 4 days of trekking. We as a group of 5 bonded so well because of how rich the experience. Inca trail is a must do. It was a life changing event for me. Thank you for everything. Keep up the great work in inspiring, challenging and rejuvenating souls.
I did the Inca trail and it was the most amazing trek of my life and I live in Alaska! I lost my phone the day before my trek, and all the guides and fellow travels were so helpful and amazing. Then sent me tons of pictures. I was the only female traveling alone and everyone took me under there wing. It was such an educational and motivating trek. The guides were very helpful. I already have plans to take my sister and brother in law in 2020!!
I absolutely had the best time hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I have to thank Karikuy Tours for that experience! Our guide Rosie, was truly a great addition to our hike. She wanted to make sure that we had the best time while hiking. She was very informative and also very caring. She never tried to push us harder then we could go. She always stayed behind with us! The food was absolutely amazing. I had no idea they were going to feed us so well. I would definitely consider this tour group if you’re thinking about hiking Machu Picchu!
Thank you Karikuy the 4 Day Inca trail was Spectacular! great guides, great food and beautiful country. Can’t say enough good things. Anyone that wants to visit Peru should definitely set a side a good amount of time as there is so much to see. I thought the weather was going to be unpleasant at first in October but it was great with some drizzle here and there. The Inca Trail has epic views so don’t forget to pack a good camera. Thanks to everyone at Karikuy Tours for making this trip unforgettable!
My son and I had a fantastic time on our 4-day, 3-night Inca Trail Trip with Karikuy Tours. The guides and porters for our trip were great, always keeping us on schedule, setting up camp for us in spectacular locations, and preparing wonderful meals. We felt especially privileged to have two strong, capable female guides to lead our group, and we were fortunate to share the whole experience with a friendly and adventurous group of fellow trekkers. The whole experience exceeded our hopes and expectations. Attached: (1) Picture of my son (Jeff) and me (Bill) at the top of Machu Picchu Mountain with Machu Picchu in the distance below. Best wishes, Bill Pech (Inca Trail Trip, Dec. 21-4, 2017)