The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the world’s best known hikes, a must-do for visitors to Peru. The four-day Inca Trail trek is a stunning combination of the region’s ruins, mountainscapes, and cloud forests. Our trek begins along an ancient Inca trail through beautiful mountain valleys filled with wild orchids and vividly colored birds. After crossing two high passes, we descend nearly 2,000 cut stone steps and arrive at Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate, the sacred entrance of and lookout of the incomparable Machu Picchu citadel. An alternative option is the Short Inca Trail 2 days.
There are only 500 people allowed on the Inca Trail every day. Of that number, only about 200 are actually hikers (the rest are guides and support staff). These spaces deplete quickly, and often months in advance. If you cannot get a permit, you can take fabulous alternative Inca trails like the: Salkantay trek, Inca Jungle Trail, Lares trek.
Early morning pick up from your hotel. We will take a bus to the trailhead at Km 82, where we meet our Quechua porters. We’ll then cross the turbulent Vilcanota River while checking out the snowcapped Mt. Veronica (Wacay Willca) (5,900m / 19,356ft).
Our first stop is at the beautiful archaeological site of Llactapata and later the village of Wayllabamba. We’ll have lunch near the river, then visit the Q’ente archaeological site, the Cusichaca Valley, and pass through magical Polylepsis forests. The walk lasts for 7 hours. Dinner and our campsite will be at a lofty 3,800 meters (12,467 feet) above sea level.
After breakfast, we begin the hardest day of the trail. Awaiting us is a steep, lengthy ascent to the highest point: Warmiwañuska, the strangely named “Dead Woman’s Pass” (4,200m / 13,779ft). This exhausting ascent crosses three ecological zones: Yunga, Quechua and Puna. Yet there is pleasure in the pain: the view from the top reveals snowcapped mountains in all directions, including the towering crags of Salkantay, the icy claw of Pumasillo, and Huayanay of the Vilcabamba mountain range. We will stop for lunch, and afterwards descend 1000m to our campsite. Dinner and overnight camping will be near Pacaymayu.
After breakfast, we will walk through the Pacaymayu Valley until we reach the famous ruins of Runquraqay. Later, we will continue to Sayacmarka, and stop to explore the restored Inca city here.
Along today’s route, formations of white granite, mountain views and the dense Inca Trail vegetation roll by to satisfy our eyes and souls. Later, we will descend to Phuyupatamarca, where we will have lunch and relax, later continuing along the Inca Trail. To end the day, we will descend to Wiñaywayna, and tour the ruins here. Here we will have dinner and overnight camping.
We will have our breakfast at 4:30am, and begin the last part of the Inca Trail. This day will be a special one because we will see from the Inti Punku lookout how the sun slowly lights up Machu Picchu at sunrise. After, we will descend through cloud forest into jungle, home to the orchids and hummingbirds common along this part of the Inca Trail.
At Machu Picchu, we will have a guided visit with free time afterwards to explore the ruins at your leisure. In the afternoon you will take the return train to Ollantaytambo , and then a bus back to Cusco.