Step by Step to Machu Picchu: A detailed map of the Inca Trail


Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru For LessUpwards and onward to Machu Picchu.
Photo by H20 Alchemist/Flickr

The Inca Trail is one of the most exciting treks in the world, and to help travelers navigate their way through this unforgettable adventure, we created a detailed map of the trail. 

Inca Trail map, following Inca steps

Map created by Peru for Less

The classic 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu begins in the Sacred Valley. Use the map to follow along on a day-by-day breakdown of the journey.

Day 1

Distance: 7.4 mi (12 km)
Gradient: moderate

Trekkers collect their equipment in the town of Ollantaytambo and continue by bus to km 82, where the Inca Trail starts. Here trekking groups go across the bridge to the other side of the Urubamba River. The Inca Trail parts from the train tracks that mirror the river’s path through the Sacred Valley.

Walking the Inca Trail, Peru, Peru For LessGetting some R&R for the next leg of the trek.
Photo by H20 Alchemist/Flickr

The terrain is relatively flat until the small village of Miskay; then the uphill climb begins.  After lunch, it’s about a two hour trek to the first campsite of Wayllabamba.

Day 2

Distance: 6.8 mi (11 km)
Gradient: Challenging

The second day of the trek is the most difficult. After breaking camp, the walk going up to Abra de Warmiwanusca, or Dead Woman’s Pass, is arduous and steep. Trekkers should go at their own pace and drink plenty of water. Note in the sectional view of the map that Abra de Warmiwanusca is the highest point in the trek with an elevation of 13,795 ft (4,205 m).

Inca Trail, Peru For LessView from the summit at Dead Woman’s Pass.
Photo by H20 Alchemist/Flickr

The landscape along the trail transitions from the moderate temperatures of the Sacred Valley into the arid and cold high plains.

Day 3

Distance: 10 mi (16 km)
Gradient: Moderate

The third day of the trek is sprinkled with archaeological gems.

The ruins of Runkurakay are semi-circular in design and reside in a location with a beautiful view of the Valley of Paqaymayo, or “Hidden River” Valley below. The next pass is a steep climb away, but offers beautiful vistas of the Vilcabamba and Pumasillo mountain ranges.

Inca Trail ruins, Machu Picchu, Peru For LessOne of the many archaeological highlights along the Inca Trail.
 Photo by H20 Alchemist/Flickr

Resting at an elevation of about 11,800 ft, Sayacmarca is an interesting set of ruins located on a cliff with a panoramic view of the surrounding terrain.

Continuing the ascent, trekkers pass the third and final mountain pass of the trek at Phuyupatamarca, undoubtedly one of the most unique small villages along the Inca Trail. It’s located on the side of a ravine looking down on the Urubamba River that’s surrounded by terraces. The ruins are covered in a blanket of mist more often than not.

Trekkers will camp at the ruins of Winay Wayna.

Day 4

Distance: 3.7 mi (6 km)
Gradient: Moderate

Trekkers wake up before the sun on the fourth and last day of the Inca Trail. After an early breakfast at 4:30 a.m., the group is on the trail by 5 a.m. in order to reach Inti Punku, the Sun Gate entrance to Machu Picchu for sunrise.

sites, Machu Picchu, Peru For LessDiscover the towering peaks and layers of terraces at Machu Picchu.
Photo by Eric Miraglia/Flickr

Then it’s time to discover Machu Picchu.

Before booking the Inca Trail

There’s more to walking the Inca Trail than just showing up at the trailhead with your pack strapped to your back. Consider the following before going:

When not to go |  Don’t make plans to hike the Inca Trail in February. It’s closed at this time every year for conservation work and maintenance.

Best time to go |  The best time to trek in and around the Sacred Valley is during the dry season generally running between May and September.  The rainy season is between October and April.

Reserve a permit | Travelers need a permit to walk the Inca Trail. Each day there are 500 permits available, approximately 200 allocated to tourists and 300 to guides, porters, and cooks. Demand for Inca Trail permits is high, especially during the dry season. Plan ahead because permits sometimes book up months in advance!

If there are no permits for the dates you want to walk the classic Inca Trail, consider an alternative route.


About Author

Peru for Less is a group of travel experts who live, work, eat, and breathe all things South America. Their inspiration stems from a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity that make this continent so special.

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