See for yourself why the Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu is the most popular trek in the Andes!
On this Inca Trail tour you’ll enjoy spellbinding mountain scenery, unforgettable Inca sites, and a cornucopia of flowers and hummingbirds. With Andean Treks, you spend 4 full days hiking to Machu Picchu, and a 5th day exploring in the famous ruins themselves. After more than 30 years operating this route, we know how important it is to give all participants adequate time to properly acclimatize to the altitude in order to enjoy the sights at a comfortable pace.
Most of our returning passengers tell us they appreciated that our Inca Trail trek is 5 days instead of the more usual 4 days, enabling them to better adjust to the altitude, which mades them feel stronger, and to spend more time on this challenging trek. During four hiking days you cover 35 km/21.9 miles, starting at 8,700 ft and finishing at 7,860 ft above sea level. You cross two high passes, with a maximum elevation of 13,887 ft. While trail conditions are generally good, and the condition of the centuries-old Inca paving stones is astonishing, some steep trail sections require careful footing and good hiking boots with lug soles. Nevertheless, thanks to our careful pacing, dedicated guides and professional support staff, this Machu Picchu trip is suitable for novices and experienced hikers alike.
Porters carry the heavy gear; you carry only a daypack so you’re free to enjoy the spectacular scenery. You’ll be amazed at the hearty and delicious meals you have on the trail—our cooks prepare wholesome meals from fresh ingredients and handle all the kitchen chores. You sleep warm and protected in high-quality tents. Join Andean Treks, the most reliable outfitter in the Andes, for a trip you’ll never forget.
Note About Trekking Permits: Plan Ahead!
The Peruvian government limits the number of people allowed on the Inca Trail to 500 per day, including passengers, guides, cooks and porters. That leaves about 250 permits for trekkers. Permits sell out quickly for popular dates, so we recommend that permits be purchased 5-6 months ahead of your trek date. Don’t be disappointed. Check with us at least 5 months prior to your departure date about permit availability. For the last several years, we have had to turn away many disappointed people who waited too long or who did not know about the permit situation. In order to include you in the trek roster, we must receive: your full name as it appears on your passport, your nationality, passport number, age, occupation and gender. Permits are not refundable or transferable. If you are unable to secure a place on our Inca Trail to Machu Picchu tour, please ask about our excellent alternative treks in the Andes.
Day 1 – Huayllabamba: We pick you up at your Cuzco hotel and transfer by van to our trailhead at Piscacucho, on the Vilcanota River (km. 82 on the train route to Machu Picchu), a 3-hour drive from Cuzco. After clearing the trailhead control point, we hike along the left bank of the powerful Vilcanota River, beneath the impressive snowcapped Nevado Veronica. The valley is dry, with Opuntia and Cholla cactus common; where irrigation is possible, we walk adjacent to fields of corn. In the rapids below the trail, you can spot Torrent ducks swimming in the eddies. We explore the enormous Inca ruins of Llactapata, then turn south and begin to gain altitude following the narrow side valley of the Cusichaca River. We camp near the hamlet of Huayllabamba (2,954 m/9,690 ft). Distance 11.4 km/7.2 miles, elevation gain 300 m/984 feet. (L,D)
Day 2 – Pacaymayo: We climb steeply through fields and forest, then emerge above the treeline and reach Warmiwañusqa Pass (4,234 m/13,887’). Enjoy magnificent views to the Huaynay Range snowpeaks and distant Inca ruins. Descend to our camp at Pacaymayo in the valley bottom (3,613 m/11,850 ft. Distance 8 km/5 miles, elevation gain 1,280 m./4,200 feet (B,L,D)
Day 3 – Phuyopatamarka: We cross a second pass (3,975 m/13,038’), and follow a fine Inca highway down to the exquisite ridge-top ruins of Sayaqmarka. Further on, we pass through a tunnel amid luxuriant cloud forest vegetation. Camp at the superb Phuyopatamarka ruins (3,679m/12,067 ft) overlooking the Vilcanota River far below. Phuyopatamarka is Quechua for “City above the Clouds”. The views toward the sacred peak of Salcantay are sublime. Distance 7 km/4.5 miles, elevation gain 362 m/1,190 feet (B,L,D)
Day 4 – Machu Picchu: We descend steeply, following the Royal Highway through orchid-rich cloud forest to Winya Wayna ruins. The final part of the trail on the back of Machu Picchu Mountain is a stunningly beautiful traverse leading to the Gate of the Sun overlooking Machu Picchu. We reach this highlight in the golden sunshine of late afternoon. Descending into the city, we board a shuttle bus to descend a switchbacking road to Puente Ruinas and our camp by the river beneath the ruins (2,000 m/6,560 ft). See below for optional hotel accommodation in Aguas Calientes. Distance 8.9 km/5.6 miles, elevation drop 1,150 m/3,772 feet (to Machu Picchu. (B,L,D)
Day 5 – Machu Picchu/Cuzco: We return to the site by shuttle bus. Those wishing to view sunrise over Machu Picchu can take the pre-dawn shuttle bus, which delivers you to the main gate at 6.00AM when the gates are opened. An early start gives you more options to hike some of the peripheral trails, such as Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain. We include an in-depth guided tour of the ridge-top city. We descend to the nearby village of Aguas Calientes for return in late afternoon by train, arriving into Cuzco around 9.30PM. Transfer to your hotel. (B)
Included: indicated meals, transport by train and bus, porterage of up to 10 kg personal gear, communal camp gear including tables and camp chairs, dining tent, spacious sleeping tents, Thermarest sleeping pad, water filter and other amenities.
$115 Machu Picchu Sanctuary Trail Fee ($120 in 2022), to be prepaid with trek cost (fee subject to change.)
Excluded: personal trekking gear and sleeping bag; tips to guide and trek staff; city services; air Lima/Cuzco/Lima (currently between $300-450 and subject to change).
Rental sleeping bag: $45. We provide mummy-style, winter-weight synthetic-fill sleeping bags, with sheet liners. We launder the liners between each trek. Rental sleeping bags should be requested well in advance of your departure, and preferably at the time you confirm your trek with us. If you are taller than 6 feet, please request an extra-long bag.
Single supplement: If you are traveling alone and are willing to share a tent, we will pair you with another trekker of the same gender and you pay no supplementary charge. If you prefer a tent on single occupancy basis, the surcharge is US$90 (2022); $98 in 2023.
How do I get the permit?
We purchase your permit for you. At the time we confirm your participation on this Machu Picchu trip, we register your complete name and your passport number (as these appear on your trip application) with park authorities on the official trek permit. The trek permit is a legal document with specific restrictions limiting changes. You must bring this same passport with you on the trek. If for whatever reason you cannot bring the passport that is registered on the permit at the time of your original booking, or if you change your passport and cannot bring the original document, or if the information you originally supplied differs from what actually appears on your passport, park authorities may refuse access to the Inca Trail.
How far in advance should I book?
The required permits to trek on the Inca Trail are limited to 500 people per day. This includes all guides, porters, cooks & support staff, which leaves about 250 available for trekkers. Permits sell out very fast, 5 to 6 months prior to departure during the busy season (Apr-Sep), and otherwise 4 months in advance. We suggest you book the trip as far in advance as possible to secure your permits, as soon as you are certain of your travel plans.
If permits are sold out, can I get onto a wait-list?
No, there are no waitlists, cancellation policies, etc. Once permits are sold out, that’s it. No person, no company worldwide will have permits; travel companies are not able to block or hold space, nor can you show up at the gate and purchase a permit. All permits are sold on a first-come/first-served basis, are non-negotiable, non-transferable, non-refundable.
However, we have several wonderful alternate treks available that do not require permits. Please consiider one of these as an alternative. You still go to Machu Picchu, and routes are much less-traveled than the Inca Trail. Our past travelers have loved these treks! (See paragraph below, “If permits are sold out, what options are there?)
What is included in the trek?
We include indicated meals, transport by train and bus, porterage of up to 10 kg personal gear, communal camp gear including tables and camp chairs, dining tent, spacious sleeping tents, Thermarest sleeping pad, water filter and other amenities.
The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Trail Fee $115 (2015), $120 (2016) is figured separately, to be prepaid with trek cost, and is subject to change.
What is not included?
Personal trekking gear and sleeping bag; tips to guide and trek staff; city services; air Lima/Cuzco/Lima ($300-$450) depending on time of year and fares at the time of booking.
Must I bring my own sleeping bag and pad or can I rent from you?
You can bring your own sleeping bag if you like, or you can rent one from us for $45. We provide mummy-style, winter-weight synthetic-fill sleeping bags, with sheet liners. We launder the liners between each trek. Rental sleeping bags should be requested well in advance of your departure, and preferably at the time you confirm your trek with us. If you are taller than 6 feet, please request an extra-long bag. We supply Thermarest sleeping pads on all our treks at no extra cost.
I’m a single traveler. Do you charge a single supplement?
If you are traveling alone and are willing to share a tent, we will pair you with another trekker of the same gender and you pay no supplementary charge. If you prefer a tent to yourself, the surcharge is US$90.
How do I prepare for the high altitude?
So that you have sufficient time to acclimate prior to starting the Machu Picchu tour, we strongly recommend that you arrive in Cuzco or similar elevation for a minimum of two days prior to the trek. This is a 45-km/28-mile trek with a maximum elevation close to 4,200 m/14,000 ft.
If permits are sold out, what options are there?
We offer several other treks (which either include visiting Machu Picchu or we can add it on) such as our Moonstone to Machu Picchu Trek, Ausangate Inn to Inn Trek, Salcantay Trek, Lodge to Lodge to Machu Picchu, and others. These are wonderful off-the-beaten-track trekking routes in remote beautiful Andes mountains. On our Moonstone to Machu Picchu Trek (5 days, weekly Sunday departures May-Oct) you arrive at Machu Picchu via the Train from Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It’s a wonderful alternate trek, with no permits required. Please look on the website at our other Peru treks for details.