Day 1 : Begin the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Day 2 : Inca Trail - Wayllabamba to Pacaymayo Day 3 : Inca Trail - Pacaymayo to Wiñayhuayna Day 4 : Arrival at the Sun Gate & Machu Picchu Tour
Follow the legendary path of the Incas, winding through the spectacular scenery of the Peruvian Andes, past centuries-old sites, toward the mythical and awe-inspiring Machu Picchu. Declared one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the mysterious ruins – and the amazing Inca trail that takes you there – are without a doubt the highlight of any trip to Peru.
One of the most famous trekking routes in the world takes adventurers along an epic and sometimes challenging journey to the city in the clouds. Visitors will be struck by the majestic beauty and human ingenuity of the Inca citadel that remained hidden until just over 100 years ago. Along the trail you will be able to admire various archeological sites and visit traditional villages where locals maintain their ancient ways of life. You will sleep at campsites and indulge in high quality meals prepared by a chef who works magic with simple ingredients and a propane stove. All the essentials for the trek are provided, including an expert bilingual guide who will help you navigate through this magical journey into the clouds.
Start your day early with a pick up from your hotel and a scenic 2-hour drive through the picturesque Sacred Valley to the town Ollantaytambo. Here you will collect your trekking equipment and food, and you'll also meet the rest of your trek team before continuing by bus to Piscacucho (Km. 82), where the Inca Trail starts.
Once you cross the Piscacucho Bridge over the Urubamba River, you will start the trek. You will walk on flat terrain along the shore of the river until you reach the small community of Miskay, where you will have the chance to rest. Continuing on a steeper path toward a high plateau, your efforts will be rewarded by the spectacular view of the Inca ruins of Patallacta.
Patallacta, "Village in the Heights," is an archaeological complex situated at the foot of a mountain on the left bank of the river Cusicancha, a tributary of the Urubamba River. There are many terraced fields here that once served to feed other settlements and tambos (travelers’ rest stations) along the Inca Trail. The urban sector has more than 100 structures, as well as an Inca altar called Pulpituyoc.
After lunch, you will continue the trek for another two hours, until you reach the first campsite of Wayllabamba. This is the highlight of the day as it includes breathtaking views of the Vilcanota ridge on the other side of the Urubamba River and the snow-covered Mount Veronica.
Hike distance: 7.5 miles (12 km) Minimum altitude: 8,860 feet (2,700 m) Maximum altitude: 9,840 feet (3,000 m) Approximate time: 5 to 6 hours Gradient: Moderate
* You will receive a pre-trek briefing from your trekking guide before starting the hike to review the day-by-day itinerary and discuss any questions that you have about hiking the Inca Trail. We highly recommend spending at least one full day in Cusco before starting the Inca Trail. This will help you to adjust to the altitude and be prepared for the physical demands of the hike.
The second day is the most rigorous and highest-altitude part of the Inca Trail, so you are encouraged to go at your own pace. The walk is arduous, with a long steep climb to the high Abra de Warmiwañusca or the “Dead Woman's Pass” at 13,780 feet (4,200 m).
When starting the hike, you can see the trail ahead of you zigzagging up the mountain. Along the trail you will be able to appreciate the change in landscape as you pass from the moderate temperatures of the valleys into the arid and cold high plains. Right before the pass, a campsite called Llulluchapampa sits on a small plain bordered by two streams of crystal clear water. There is a public bathroom here, and this is also a great resting place before the last stretch over the pass at Warmiwañusca. Once you cross the pass, a winding path of steps descends steeply across a valley and on to your next campsite.
Keep your eyes open for wildlife, as you might be able to spot a variety of bird species, including sparrows and hummingbirds, or even an Andean bear. Also called the spectacled bear, because of the golden circular area of fur around its eyes, this solitary creature is native to the Andean cloud forest.
The day’s hike ends at the Pacaymayo Valley campsite. Here you will have dinner and enjoy a well-deserved rest after a strenuous day on the trail.
Hike distance: 9.9 miles (16 km) Minimum altitude: 9,840 feet (3,000 m) Maximum altitude: 13,780 feet (4,200 m) Approximate time: 6 to 7 hours Gradient: Challenging
After breakfast, the hike continues along a path rich with archeological treasures. A steep hike will lead you to the Runkurakay Pass. Halfway along the trail, you will encounter the ruins of Runkurakay, an Inca tambo, or lodge, of semi-circular design with a view of the Valley of Pacaymayo, or “Hidden River” Valley below. Another steep climb up Incan steps leads to the next pass, which offers spectacular views of the mountain ranges of Vilcabamba and Pumasillo.
You will continue on to the lakes of Yanacocha and Sayacmarca. Aptly dubbed the "Inaccessible Town," Sayacmarca is an interesting set of ruins located on a cliff with a panoramic view of the Aobamba Valley and the snow-covered peak of Pumasillo. This site includes a labyrinth of very narrow corridors, some with exits and others without. The only access to the ruins is by a steep, but solid, stone staircase carved into the side of the mountain.
Continuing on, you will pass Conchamarca, a small, flat archaeological complex. Then the trail ascends again and you come to a 65-foot (20m) long tunnel with steps carved out of the rock. Continuing the ascent, you will reach the third and final mountain pass of the trek at Abra de Phuyupatamarca. Afterwards, the trail continues downhill leading to the archaeological site of Phuyupatamarca, "The Town in the Clouds." This is undoubtedly one of the most unique towns along the Inca Trail. It is almost always covered in mist rising from the cloud forest and is located on the side of a ravine looking down into the Urubamba Valley. The site is surrounded by terraced fields and offers beautiful views of the Urubamba Valley as well as the adjacent snowy peaks.
As the day ends, you will head toward the ruins of Wiñay Wayna or "Forever Young," where you will camp for your final night. The ruins consist of Inca agricultural terraces and are believed to have been a center where water was worshipped. Flower enthusiasts will be pleased to see the area’s fabulous pink orchids.
The campsite on the final night has a simple restaurant and hot showers. Cold beers and a party in the evening are the norm, allowing you to say goodbye to your cook and porters who will leave early the next morning to return to Cusco by train.
Remember, it is customary for trekkers to contribute to a tip pool, which will then be distributed among the trek team (guide, cook, and porters). A good tip amount ranges between $10-$40 per hiker. These tips are voluntary, so feel free to tip according to the service you received.
Hike distance: 9.3 miles (15 km) Minimum altitude: 8,860 feet (2,700 m) Maximum altitude: 12,960 feet (3,950 m) Approximate time: 8 to 9 hours Gradient: Moderate
Day 4 : Arrival at the Sun Gate & Machu Picchu Tour
After an early start with breakfast at 4:30 a.m., you will be on the final leg of the trail by 5 a.m. in order to reach Inti Punku, the Sun Gate entrance to Machu Picchu for sunrise. While weather conditions may vary, the view is always awe-inspiring and you can only imagine what the Incas must have felt after their grueling journey to this sprawling temple.
From here you will descend to the citadel for a 2-hour guided tour of Machu Picchu. You will be able to appreciate the intricate stonework that seems to rise from the mountain itself. The giant stones were hauled by hand to the top of the mountain centuries ago, and put into place without mortar, and yet their foundations still remain. You will have the chance to explore the 3 zones of this once grand city: the urban, agricultural, and adjacent zones. The Temple of the Sun, the Intihuatana, and the Principal Bath are only a few of the impressive sights that you will see.
After your tour, you have the option to explore more of the site on your own and capture some final photos. Some take advantage of Machu Picchu’s spiritual setting to meditate and whisper a thank you to Pachamama, the Inca’s Mother Nature, for the incredible experience of trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
In the afternoon, you will take a comfortable train back to Cusco. If you would like to spend more time at Machu Picchu, this package can be customized to include an overnight stay in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu, allowing for a second visit to the ruins on the following day.
Download our Machu Picchu Guide for more information on what to see and do during your time at Machu Picchu. For any additional questions about the Inca Trail, please see our Peru Treks FAQs.
Hike distance: 2 miles (3 km) Minimum altitude: 7,875 feet (2,400 m) Maximum altitude: 8,860 feet (2,700 m) Approximate time: About one hour of hiking Gradient: Moderate
*Optional: Hike up Huayna Picchu, the peak overlooking the Machu Picchu ruins. This hike is steep and takes about 3 hours round trip, but has remarkable views. Please let your Travel Advisor know if you'd like to add this to your itinerary.
Private transport from your Cusco hotel to the start of the trek
Bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes
Transfer from Cusco train station back to your Cusco hotel
Entrance ticket to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
We use four-season Eureka tents with two entrances and a capacity for four people (for comfort, only two people per tent)
Foam mattresses, tables, and seat for each tent
Food and drink utensils
Dinner tent and kitchen tent for the group
First aid kit and emergency oxygen bottle
Professional, knowledgeable bilingual guide
A cook to prepare your meals
Porters to carry provided equipment and food (additional porters can be hired to carry your personal belongings)
Our guides are professional and multilingual. Not only do they possess an excellent knowledge of the Inca Trail, but they’re also wholly familiar with all of the intricate archaeological, historical, and cultural Inca traditions. All of our tour personnel are also highly qualified in tour group management and in first aid.
High quality meals to provide the necessary energy for this challenging trek
In addition to three meals daily, you will be given revitalizing snacks
Hot drinks such as tea and coffee, as well as enough water for your canteens, water bottles, or hydration packs (collected from local streams and boiled while on the trek)
The Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is a naturalist’s haven. Conveniently nestled in the verdant Andean cloud forest, this lovely hotel is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of the astonishing flora and fauna of the region. The eco-friendly hotel resembles an Andean village and is comprised of charming white-washed cottages decorated with modern indigenous art as well as authentic pre-Columbian artifacts. With a commitment to indulging the whims of its guests, this luxury hotel expertly combines nature and comfort to create a one-of-a-kind Machu Picchu experience. Try some regional dishes at the excellent restaurant overlooking the Urubamba River.
Ideally located near the Aguas Calientes train station and close to where the buses depart for the short ride to Machu Picchu, the recently renovated El MaPi Hotel is perfect for travelers who want to catch the sunrise over the ruins. The modern and stylish hotel aims to be the best in its category and offers great value services and décor. It also boasts beautifully landscaped gardens and a hot tub where guests can relax at night with a cocktail after a delicious dinner.
Prolongacion Imperio de Los Incas E - 34, Aguas Calientes
The newest addition to the Casa Andina Classic brand offers modern and comfortable accommodations to guests seeking a quality Machu Picchu hotel. Located on the banks of the Vilcanota River and adjacent to the Aguas Calientes train station, the hotel enjoys a top location for easy access to the Machu Picchu ruins.