Venturing on the Inca Trail Hike to reach the historic Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime journey that will leave you shocked. This distinctive trail, steeped in history and cultural significance, offers not only the promise of exploring the ancient Incan site but also engages you in breathtaking natural beauty.
This guide intends to provide you with the essential knowledge and practical tips for an unforgettable hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Whether you’re an experienced trekker or a beginner, all you need is an adventurous spirit to embark on this extraordinary travel destination in Peru. Get ready to step back in time and walk the same paths that the ancient Incas once did.
Embark on the epic Inca stone pathway to Machu Picchu trek – a hiker’s favorite adventure surviving four days and three nights. Brace yourself for thrilling challenges and breathtaking views that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Don’t let the burning legs and heavy breathing deter you; this extraordinary journey is worth every ounce of effort. And let’s not forget the reward: a magical sunrise over Machu Picchu that will forever be etched in your memory. Trust me, it’s an experience you won’t regret.
About My Guiding Experiences How To Hike the Inca Trail Greetings, adventurers!
Hello everyone my name is Cesar Conde For over 15 years, I’ve had the privilege of being a trusted tour guide in the breathtaking landscapes of Peru. I’m not just a tour guide; I will be your partner in crafting unforgettable experiences and unforgettable memories in Peru.
My journey through Peru has been an exciting one, and I’ve become an expert in hiking, specializing in leading groups to the awe-inspiring wonder that is Machu Picchu. The joy of watching my customers’ faces light up as they stand in the presence of this ancient marvel is my greatest reward.
But Peru has so much more to offer than just Machu Picchu. From the depths of the lush Manu National Park in the Amazon Rainforest to the serene beauty of Lake Titicaca, or the enigmatic Nazca Lines, I’ve explored everywhere possible in this diverse country to bring you the most exhilarating travel destinations.
Why You Should Hike With Me?
When you trek with me, you’re not just visiting places; you’re immersing yourself in the heart of Peru. We’ll explore the bustling markets of Cusco, uncover the mysteries of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and venture to the vibrant streets of Lima.
But we won’t stop there. We’ll trek through the Andes, taking in the awe-inspiring vistas of Rainbow Mountain and exploring the ancient wonders of Ollantaytambo. And of course, there’s no adventure quite like conquering the Inca Trail hike, where every step is a step back in time.
Let me be your Inca Trail guide in Peru, a land where every day is a new adventure and every destination is a work of art. Together, we’ll create memories that will stay with you long after you’ve left this magical country.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s embark on an expedition of a lifetime, and discover the Peru that only a seasoned guide like me can unveil. Your adventure begins now with One Travel Destination!
Best Time To Hike The Inca Trail
The Inca Trail 4 days in Peru is one of the most popular hiking trails that connect directly with Machu Picchu. With its stunning scenery, interesting ruins, and challenging terrain, it’s a must-do for any avid hiker. But if you want to make the most of your Inca Trail 4-day Group Service experience, knowing when to hike is key.
The best time to hike the Inca Trail for 4 days is between April and October. During this period, the weather is typically dry and sunny, with temperatures ranging from 10°C (50°F) to 20°C (68°). April brings some rain, but it’s usually not enough to disrupt your hike. September and October are the most popular months for hiking, as they provide the best combination of good weather and fewer hikers.
Pro Tip: Permits and regulations
It is important to keep in mind that no matter when you decide to hike, there are certain permits and regulations you must adhere to. You must obtain a permit from the Peruvian Government before beginning your trek, and these become more difficult to get as peak season approaches (May-July). To experience the Inca Trail, it is recommended to reach out to us or connect with an authorized tour operator. Exploring this magnificent trail requires professional guidance and expertise, ensuring a safe and fulfilling journey. Trying to embark on this adventure independently or as part of an unorganized group is not advisable.
Book your permit and tour well in advance, as they will often sell out. There are also regulations regarding the number of people allowed on the trail daily, so you’ll want to be aware of that when planning your trip.
Finally, if you plan to hike from December to March, you should be prepared for colder temperatures and more rain than during the peak season. Be sure to bring appropriate clothing and gear for a variety of weather conditions. It’s also important to note that fewer people will be on the trail during this time, so it may be more difficult to find help if you need it.
Regardless of when you decide to go, make sure you do your research beforehand, chat With Us to plan accordingly, and enjoy your journey!
What Is the Inca Trail Hike?
The Inca empire constructed an extensive system of Inca trails across the Andes. And people can go on treks along Inca routes in Different Countries along this extended continent like Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. But the most popular with a Limited space is the 46km known as the royal road of the Inca trail, which was used by Inca royalty and pilgrims traveling to the sacred lost city of Machu Picchu.
To save time, reduce stress, and spend less money while planning your trip to Peru? Let a Peru expert create a customized travel itinerary for you. Can I provide you with more information?
What Previous Clients Have Said
We just got home safely from Peru. I saw the Sacred Valley and hiked the 26-mile Inca Trail for 4 days from 8,000 to 13,800 feet to see the ancient stunning Machu Picchu. Learned about Incas, went to the exciting Amazon Rain Forest to see Macaw birds in the wild, and shopped at San Pedro’s Market in Cusco.
Celebrated New Year’s Eve in yellow hats in Cusco, went on an exciting ATV ride in the desert, flew in a small plane over the ancient Nazca Lines, & went on a boat trip to the beautiful Peruvian Galapagos to see Penguins there. My Family and I had a great adventurous time there as a family. We highly recommend you all visit Peru too! We booked our trip with a wonderful travel agent named Natalie Conde. Our main tour…Read More
This Hike typically takes around four days for travelers to complete this route there is a family-style version of 5 day Inca trail and the other most challenging is 7 days Inca trail via the Slakantay trek, and if you are shot in time you can do the one day tour with hotel 2 days to Machu Picchu.
There are several tour operators that offer four-day, three-night trips along this section of the trail. While each tour company may have small variations in their offerings to differentiate themselves from competitors, the overall trip experience is generally the same for all tours. Most tour companies of the Inca Trail operate in the city of Cuzco. One Travel Destinations tour operator is the best option.
Photo by: Cesar Conde Tour Guide – Niking D 7500
We suggest you come to Cusco a least two days before your trek. This will give you time to get used to the high altitude. Make plans for how many days you will stay and do things in the city. Trekking through the Andes Mountains can be hard because it is so high, up to 13,828 feet! Altitude sickness is not fun and can even be deadly. Even if the Machu Picchu hike isn’t on your list, Cusco still has lots of great places to explore!
So take some time to acclimatize and check out some of the other historical sites in Cusco and the surrounding sacred valley area. Visit traditional weavers while you acclimate to the altitude in Cuzco
We also wrote about the best Cusco hotels as well as the best Cusco Day Tours
Pre-departure Briefing In Cusco
On This Pre-departure Day, most tour operators have a pre-hike check-in with each Hiker the night before the trek. This is a great opportunity to meet your tour leader and crew, receive last-minute instructions, and tips on items you may have missed, such as rental gear, documents, or the option to get hiking gear in Cusco and get a resume of the trail and what you can expect to see and experience.
Pro Tip: To prepare for the 4-day trek, you must attend a pre-hike meeting in Cusco at least 2 days before the trek. Today’s session is focused on answering Inca Trail FAQs and you will also be given a duffle bag for your personal items. The porter will carry the bag and you will receive it every afternoon at the end of each day.
Day One – K 82 – Training Day
To start your trek, you’ll need to wake up early on the first day as most tour operators pick you up from your respective Hotel and then depart from Cusco at around 5-6 a.m. The drive to the trailhead takes around 3.5 hours including a stop for breakfast and the last shop, and there will be plenty of time to repack and hike the Inca trail first campsite. Many tour operators start the first-day section at km 82 or Piscakucho, while some start at km 88. Keep in mind that the elevation at the beginning of the hike is about 2,600 meters (8,530 feet).
Is most probable that you will have to wait in line for your passport permits and other documents to be verified by government officials from (National Culture Institute) before beginning your trip along the Inca Trail. The Peruvian government has strict rules regarding the limit of trekkers allowed on the trail each day to conserve the historical road system. This is why it is crucial to book through a tour company and make reservations in advance.
Companies will take care of the government permits and paperwork required for you to hike on the Inca trail. You just need to hand over your passport for verification and pay 50% of the cost of your trip, which will ensure all your entrance fees and Machu Picchu tickets.
The trail starts with crossing the Urubamba River on a suspension bridge. Then, there is a moderately easy climb with beautiful views of the nearby mountains, including Mount Veronica with snow-capped peaks. During the hike, you will come across various Inca ruins, such as the Canabamaba, and Llactapata agricultural terraces.
Your tour group includes a Tour guide, several porters, and a chef with a sous chef. They are responsible for providing and preparing your meals during the hike. The meals are impressive, consisting of multiple courses and fancy garnishes.
At every Lunch stop, there will be a dining tent and tables set up where you can rest and enjoy your food. On the first day of hiking the Inca Trail, you will see snowcapped mountains rising in the distance.
After lunch continues to hike for 3 more hours before arriving at the first campsite Most tour groups stop for the night somewhere around the Wayllabamba camping area which sits at 3 000 meters 9 842 feet above sea level some campsite owners even offer hot showers for an additional fee on this first night if that’s an option offered to you keep in your list.
Pro Tip: As a Tour Guide, I highly recommend it worth the 15 soles 4 USD for a good shower before continuing on for the next few days.
Link Blog Post:
On the first day of the trek, you will hike approximately 12 kilometers or 7.5 miles with a relatively small elevation gain of 400 meters or 1,300 ft. This usually takes 7 to 8 hours to complete, including breaks for lunch, snacks, rest, and inca sites explanations. It is considered the easy day (Training Day ) of the trek and serves as a training day to prepare your body for the challenges ahead. The hiking paths on the Inca Trail mostly consist of original Inca stonework.
Day Two Challenging Day
Today Hold on to your hiking boots because the second day of this trek is no a joke. Get ready for the ultimate challenge as you conquer the steepest incline and highest elevation of the entire Inca trail trip.
As you commence this ascent, you will be engulfed by the tranquil quiet of the cloud forest, occasionally punctuated by the haunting calls of native birds. The zigzag trail, also known as “gringo killer”, is steep and narrow. However, the spectacular views of snow-capped peaks, the lush greenery, the sight of moss-covered trees, and the occasional encounter with llamas and alpacas will make this challenging climb worthwhile.
The culmination of this climb is the Dead Woman’s Pass, the highest point of the trek at 4,215 meters (13,779 feet) above sea level. Standing at the summit, with the grandeur of the Andes surrounding you, is a truly magnificent experience that will leave you with a sense of accomplishment. Remember, this is more than a hike. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, a testament to your perseverance, and a story you’ll be proud to recount.
What Happens If You Are Pro Hiker
Even pro hikers may find the large stone steps to be a challenge. Take your time and pause to catch your breath and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Make sure to drink plenty of water and consider chewing coca leaves to help with the altitude. The climb offers stunning views of nearby Andean peaks and opportunities to spot wildlife like condors, Llamas, and dears while passing through cloud forests. Take advantage of a lunch break to rest before continuing the ascent to the highest point.
Link Blog Post: The best time to visit Machu Picchu Trek Peru
Reaching Your Goal
After hours of strenuous hiking, you finally reach the summit of Warmiwañusca, also known as Dead Woman’s Pass. At an altitude of approximately 4,200 meters above sea level or 13,780 feet, this is the highest point on the Inca Trail.
As a seasoned tour guide with over 15 years of experience on this trail, I can tell you that the feeling of accomplishment that washes over you upon reaching this peak is beyond compare – a thrill that simply never gets old. And if that’s how it feels for me, I can only imagine the surge of elation and achievement you’ll experience on this remarkable journey. The view from Dead Woman’s Pass is nothing short of breathtaking, offering a panorama that will etch itself into your memory forever.
After you take a short break at the summit, you will begin your descent down the mountain to the Second campsite Pacaymayu. The trail consists of sizable stone steps which can be more difficult on your knees and joints compared to the ascent earlier in the day. However, some people find it a good chance to engage different muscles while going downhill than the ones they used while trekking uphill all day.
The second day finishes at the Pacasmayo campsite. On this day, you will hike for around seven to nine hours, covering about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles). Though it’s the same distance as the first day, the terrain will be steep and challenging at an altitude of about 3,600 meters (11,811 feet). Instead of hiking the Inca trail, you will pass through a cool and mossy cloud forest, and after dinner, you will be able to sleep soundly in your tent.
Unforgettable Day Three.
Day three of your Inca Trail kicks off early in the morning with an uphill hike. While your weary legs might initially resist, take heart; this uphill challenge is considerably shorter and less strenuous than the previous day’s.
As you press on, you’ll pass by the Runcuracay ruin, an archaeological site that once functioned as a guard post and rest area for Inca Chaskis, or messengers, en route to Machu Picchu. After this historical landmark, you’ll encounter your second pass. It’s a relatively minor peak, marking the start of a predominantly downhill section of the hike.
The ensuing journey takes you through a humid cloud forest for the remainder of the day. This unique ecosystem, brimming with biodiversity, offers a refreshing change of scenery that will invigorate your senses even as your physical exertion continues.
Remember to pause occasionally, not just to rest, but to take in the beauty that envelops you. Each step you take on this journey brings you closer to Machu Picchu, and the anticipation only grows stronger. As the day winds down, you’ll realize just how far you’ve come – and how worthwhile this journey has been.
When you start descending along the Inca Trail, you will come across other Inca sites such as Sayamarca ruins which are worth exploring. These ruins can be accessed via a shorter, steep stone staircase. You might also want to check out other sites like Qonchamarca along the way. Additionally, you will pass through natural tunnels and hike through the side of the mountain before lunch
Third Pass Puyupatamarka
After stopping for lunch in Chaquicocha or Puyupatamarka the hike continues mostly downhill 1000 meters down passing several more Inca ruins along the way Phuyupatamarka, Intipata terraces gorgeous view until you reach your final destination at a campsite wiñay Wayna at around 2 700 meters 8 858 feet day three is the longest hiking day in terms of the distance you cover 16 kilometers almost 10 miles in about seven to eight hours
Ending Day Three with a Reward
As the sun starts to set on day three, you find yourself approaching the campsite at Wiñay Wayna. The name, translated from Quechua, means “Forever Young”, and as you absorb the atmospheric beauty of the site – nestled amidst the lush, cloud-covered forest with a backdrop of the Andes – you understand the essence of its name.
At an elevation of approximately 2,700 meters (8,858 feet), Wiñay Wayna offers breathtaking vistas over the Urubamba Valley and the classic Inca terraces. The sight of this Inca settlement, with its fascinating ruins, amidst the stunning natural landscape is the perfect reward for the long and tiring journey of the day. The campsite is also the final camping spot before reaching Machu Picchu, making it a place of anticipation and excitement.
As you rest in your tent after a meal, reflecting on the journey of almost 10 miles (16 kilometers) covered in about seven to eight hours, you can’t help but be mesmerized by the bold spirit of the ancient Incas and nature’s pristine beauty, feeling a profound sense of accomplishment and anticipation for the final stretch of the trail.
Final Day Four – Machu Picchuu
On the last day, you will start to hike very early, probably around 4:00 a.m. Pack up your stuff have a quick breakfast and say goodbye to your porters. It will be dark for two hours while waiting for the entrance to open, then it will take one more hour until you reach the Sun Gate Machu Picchu then 30 more minutes to reach Machu Picchu.
Pro Tip: It is very important to have a headlamp with strong batteries. The first 40 minutes you walk in the dark will be slow-going, but you can see stars and the sky through the trees. You can also view Inca terraces and a sun gate from up high.
When the sun is up, you will go downhill and get out of Inca city. You must leave from Machu Picchu and then come back with your tour guide. You need to pay 3 dollars to keep your backpack safe while you explore There are stores to leave your luggage before reentry.
most tour operators offer a professionally guided detailed tour around Machu Picchu where you learn about the different temple architecture and archaeological finds within the larger site
Include the Huaynapicchu Hike on your Trip
Tickets are priced around 152 soles or 45 USD per person if you’ve somehow not hiked enough there are a handful of additional peaks you can add to your adventure
I recommend you to include to climb up Huayna Picchu Mountain for an additional fee of 85 USD per person this is a very steep peak overlooking the city that is so steep that metal chains attached to the mountain are necessary to help you keep your balance and stay on the trail when passing people going up or down
After having your fill of exploring Machu Picchu it’s time to jump on a bus that will take you down From the mountain to the town of Aguas Calientes many tour companies include a final meeting in Aguas Calientes but if you don’t want is easy to find another restaurant to grab a bite to eat before heading back toward Cusco. Depending on which tour operator you choose your trip back to Cusco will include train transportation bus transportation or a combination of both after arriving back in Cusco.
For the evening make sure to have a pre-booked hotel or hostel – the thing on your mind at this point will be a hot shower and cozy bed to complete your epic Machu Picchu Trail adventure the hike into Machu Picchu on day four is eight kilometers 5 miles not including the time you spend actually exploring Machu Picchu or completing additional hikes like climbing Huayna Picchu in total you will have hiked at least 48 kilometers just shy of 30 miles in four days
Link Blog Post:
Preparing For The Inca Trail – When to Travel?
When planning a trip to Machu Picchu the only month of the year that won’t be open is the month of February as the Inca trail sanctuary area of Machu Picchu trail and other Inca archaeological sites en route are closed for restoration
When planning your trip? however here are some things to keep in mind First it’s essential to book far in advance most trekkers do so at least seven months ahead particularly if you are traveling with a group to ensure that they get the dates and tour company they want and that your tour company can acquire the proper government permits and paperwork
Solo and Couple Travelers
For solo travelers or couples, you might find it easier to secure spots on a group tour even with less advanced planning. The dry season in Cusco and its surrounding areas typically runs from May to October, making these months the best time to embark on your journey. While the weather can be unpredictable and you might encounter fog or light showers, heavy downpours are less likely during this period.
However, do keep in mind that temperatures tend to be lower during these months. Expect daytime temperatures during your hike to linger around 18-20°C (65-70°F), which can feel quite warm, especially when the sun is shining. However, nighttime temperatures can drop to freezing, making an insulated sleeping bag and warm layers an absolute necessity for your evening rest. Most hiking tours on the Inca Trail ensure that camps are established before your arrival, allowing you to rest and recuperate after a day of trekking.
Because this is both a more favorable travel time and a period when North American travelers tend to vacation these months tend to experience greater tourist numbers since the Peruvian government is strict about limiting daily tourist traffic on the Inca Trail the number of tourists on Cusco and the surrounding area will not cause a drastic increase in crowds on the trail itself
you may need to book further in advance however if you go during the high season one of the biggest positives of the Inca trail is that by choosing to hike into Machu Picchu you arrive at the Machu Picchu sun gate for sunrise – therefore beating most of the tourists coming for a day-trip to Machu picchu by train or bus when we visited in mid-June.
How to Choose a Tour Operator
Due to government regulations, you must hike the Inca trail with a Tour guide. If you would prefer to hike on your own with no guide check out the section on the Salkantay and other alternative trail options below. Choosing a tour company can be one of the most difficult parts of planning for your Inca trail adventure because there are so many to pick from
Try not to be too overwhelmed by the options and remember that most companies offer practically the same tour A company I recommend you is Tour Leaders Peru, Alpaca Expeditions, And Intrepid This company prides itself on maintaining quality relationships with the communities where their porters live and giving people the ability to customize their private tours to some extent a porter to carry your personal belongings so that you will be hiking with much less weight each day.
Bring Your Own Camping Gear
They also allow you to bring your own sleeping bag and sleeping mat which can help you keep your costs down a little Many companies include sleeping bags and sleeping mats in the price of the tour if you have a lot of your own trekking gear you can lower your costs by opting for a company that allows you to bring your own. The food provided during the hike of the Inca trail is excellent and cooked you will gain weight
There are many other options for tour operators on the Inca trail so start your search with Tour Leaders Peru and compare them to others you come across you can receive a 50 USD for two discount off your trek by contacting us when enquiring
LINK: You can also read what it was like to hike the Salkantay with Tour Leaders Peru
Remember to look for the inclusion of transportation to the trailhead and back from Machu Picchu the number of included meals the inclusion of a tour of Machu Picchu once you arrive and of course the price plus the price of any add-ons you may want
The Cost of Hiking the Inca Trail
Most Reputable tour companies cost around 900 USD per person for a group rate which means you can be placed with other hikers – a great opportunity to make friends You can also opt for a private Inca Trail tour meaning no other people can be placed in your group from anywhere between 800 USD and 1800 USD depending on the size of your private group while this cost may seem high at first once your break it down I’m sure you will find one
What Do We Offer in our Inca Trail Tours $
We offer the cost of 890usd for a group tour Service all permits and entrance fees for Machu Picchu 11 meals a tour guide chef and sous chef a team of porters carrying all tents and food plus transportation to and from Cusco included. Pack mules aren’t allowed on the Inca trail tour but can be seen in nearby towns
To just purchase entrance into Machu Picchu for 2024 the cost is 152 soles or 45 USD To just purchase a one-way train ticket on Peru Rail from Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo which our tour included as part of our way back to Cusco costs between 55 USD and 180 USD when you divide all of that out you’re really paying a good price for all that is included especially considering that you want to be sure that your guides chefs and porters are getting paid a decent wage for their services some tour companies offer additional goods or services for additional costs
Our company offers the use of an additional porter to carry personal items for 80 USD you can choose to add on the Huayna Picchu hike on the last day for 60-90 USD depending on the time of year you are traveling you can also choose to rent additional gear if you did not bring or do not own your own such as sleeping bags 40USD sleeping pads FREE trekking poles FREE rain ponchos etc at various prices.
By far the cheapest way to hike the Inca trail tour is to go with a group tour bring and carry all of your own personal gear and skip any add-ons that may be offered remember however that this is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for most people so if there is something you want to see or do it you won’t regret spending the extra money for the incredible experiences you have on the Inca trail tour.
Tipping Porters, Cheff, Guides, and other staff
In light of this, the livelihood of the guiding chefs and porters heavily relies on the gratuities they receive from trekkers. Curiously, while most tour operators assert that tipping is discretionary, it remains a significant source of income for these people.
Please include this in your budget planning and tip your crew accordingly. The recommended range for tips is between 60-150 soles or about 20-50 USD per person. However, keep in mind that this may vary depending on the size of your group. For instance, during my last guided tour.
We opted for a group hike on dates that were not popular among other travelers. As a result, we had a relatively small group of 5 hikers. To ensure that the tip reflected the effort of the porters and was comparable to that of larger groups, we each decided to give a slightly higher tip. On the last day of the trek, remember to give the tip money to your tour guide, who will then distribute it among the crew. And of course, don’t forget to show your appreciation to your guide by giving them a tip as well.
Packing For The Inca Trail
One of the most enjoyable parts of hiking the Inca Trail is the comfort it offers. Unlike other treks, you don’t have to saddle yourself with carrying a sleeping tent, food, chairs, utensils, or water. These heavy items are taken care of for you, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the experience of the trail. Additionally, to combat the effects of high altitude, the traditional use of coca leaves can provide relief during your hike. With this natural remedy, you can better appreciate the breathtaking scenery and fascinating history that awaits you along the way.
Many tour companies even offer to carry your personal belongings for you for an additional charge of 90 USD. My Team opted to save some money and carry their own packs but most if not all of the other trekkers we passed were simply carrying their own water light snacks and a camera and the porters carried the rest whether you choose to carry your own full pack or pay for a porter
Here are a few things you need to bring in Your Day Bag
Backpacks made specifically for hiking with a solid waist strap are helpful particularly when climbing up and down the stone steps If you are a big fan of osprey rucksacks for men and women REI Osprey Amazon for men
Sleeping bag: If you can get a sleeping bag that stuffs down to a small size that’s best I love the Marmot Trestles 30 for women find it on Rei Backcountry Amazon and for men the cheaper Marmot Eco Elite 30 rei Backcountry or Sierra Designs Cloud 800 backcountry amazon
I loved my REI inflatable sleeping pads since they shrink to a very small size and are very lightweight making them easy to carry it’s also the only sleeping pad I’ve had that allows me to comfortably sleep on my side while camping without waking in the morning with incredibly sore hips and shoulders
Clothes: I personally traveled with two pairs of hiking pants.
Two T-shirts and two sleeve shirts and two sets of men’s sun protection T-shirts so that I could wear one and have an extra That way if it rained or if I got sweaty I could let one set of clothes dry every other day
To keep me warmer instead of having to hike in wet clothes remember to include different layers as the temperature changes depending on the elevation and time of day when the sun was out we were usually in t-shirts but in the early mornings and evenings we needed long sleeves and pants
I love my new Mountain Hardwear down jacket REI as it’s extremely warm and lightweight Hiking boots: Be sure to try them out and break them in a bit before your trip I usually see too many people with blisters from fresh-out-of-the-box hiking boots while on the trail
I love Salomon Amazon hiking boots for men rei, Amazon for women Hokas Shoes rei Amazon
Hiking Socks: a couple of good pairs of socks go a long way to avoiding blisters be sure to bring at least two pairs to allow one to dry while the other is worn get them on rei darn tough Amazon
Rain poncho or other rain gear: I usually carry a rain jacket and water-proof pants to put over top of my clothes I love the Rei jacket as it’s an ultralight easy to pack but fully waterproof jacket, The North Face Alta Vista jacket Amazon Rei is significantly cheaper but offers good weather protection. Check out the women’s version of the Patagonia storm10 jacket on Rei
Arc’teryx Rei Amazon arc’teryx too a cap or brimmed hat for sun protection sunglasses sunscreen the sun in very severe at high altitudes even if it doesn’t feel particularly hot protect your skin a beanie while I am not cold during the day I always like to wear a *warm hat while sleeping in a sleeping bag
*Bug spray The jungle can get quite buggy Find it on Amazon a *headlamp This is especially important for the last morning when you begin hiking in the dark. Don’t forget to check the *batteries before taking off and hike with the batteries packed separately from the headlamp rather than plugged in to keep them fresher Mos hikers bring *black diamond headlamps on rei *trekking poles if you have knees like mine these are lifesavers on the stone stairs many of the tour companies have these to rent check my recommendation from black diamond on rei or amazon
*Water bottle or camelback Most tour guides provide boiled water each morning and at lunches for your trek but you will want to carry some with you drink a lot of water is the best thing for avoiding altitude sickness and will save you from dehydration I like to hike with a *Camelbak as I think it helps me drink more consistently throughout the day find them on rei or amazon
Bring a toothbrush, toothpaste deodorant, and a washcloth for wiping grimy hands and faces at the end of the day toilet paper as our guide said the only bathroom on the Inca trail is the Inca baño which does not include walls or a toilet let alone no bathrooms
Light Snacks: A granola bar or two just to tide you over between meals as the meals are so good and filling you may not need any extra snacks but it is nice to have them just in case
Electronics: Camera Be sure to bring your camera with plenty of batteries There is no electricity on the Inca trail and you don’t want to get to Machu Picchu and suddenly not be able to take any photos portable charger if you are using a GoPro or phone for your photos a *Powerbank might be the best way to ensure that your photo-taking abilities last
Until the very end of your passport, you will need to enter the Inca trail
Money: You will need to tip your tour guides and porters
see the above cost and tips sections to help you determine how much to bring keep reading the adventure traveler’s Link: Patagonia packing list
Other Alternatives for Hiking in Peru
Short 2-day Inca trail options If you want to hike into Machu Picchu but don’t think four full days of trekking is for you there are many shorter options available One Travel Destinations offers three-day two-night and two-day one-night options for hiking to Machu Picchu via a shorter section of the Inca trail
Again you can receive a 50 USD discount off your trek by Contact us when enquiring about some
So you stay at hotels rather than camping and prices are lower than the classic four-day hike averaging around 500 USD These shorter options are great for people who are unsure of their trekking abilities prefer fewer days spent without a shower or a bed or simply don’t have as much time to dedicate to a trip to Cusco Machu Picchu and Peru another great option for visiting Machu Picchu that involves fewer days hiking is this tour with Machu Picchu Hotel I always recommend several friends of mine booking this tour and absolutely loved it
Inca Jungle Trek
The four-day Inca Jungle tour offered by Blissful Travel Escapes includes a short section of hiking on the Inca trail plus entrance to and a tour of Machu Picchu while also offering several more activities during the other days including mountain biking and white-water rafting if you’re an adventurous person who just doesn’t enjoy backpacking all that much this tour option might be for you.
Alternatives Trail than the Inca trail
For trekkers seeking the Peruvian hiking experience without venturing on the actual Luxury Inca trail, there are several alternative trails available. While the Inca trail Private Tours remains Cusco’s renowned trek, securing a spot can be challenging for those planning a last-minute trip to Peru.
LINK: Keep reading the 18 most unmissable things to do in Peru’s Sacred Valley
If you’d also prefer to hike without a guide these trails are a better fit Three popular alternatives to the Inca trail are.
- Salkantay trek 5 days
- Choquequirao trek 5 days
- Lares Treks 4 days
The Salkantay Trail 5 Days
The Salkantay Trek is a unique experience, with breathtaking views of Mount Salkantay and Lake Humantay serving as the highlights of your journey. Along the trail, coffee farms offer an opportunity for trekkers to engage in the process of picking and roasting their own coffee beans, before relishing a fresh cup. The trek concludes at Aguas Calientes, the quaint town located just beneath the iconic Machu Picchu, allowing for an easy visit to this world-renowned landmark.
Typically, the Salkantay Trek spans over four days and three nights, but seasoned hikers may finish it in three days. The trail is approximately 72 kilometers (45 miles) long and reaches an elevation of about 4,630 meters (or approximately 15,190 feet above sea level). This makes it both longer and higher than the traditional Inca trail. Being the second most popular option next to the classic Inca trail to Machu Picchu, the Salkantay Trek offers a vibrant and memorable experience to hikers from all over the globe.
The choquequirao trail
If you’re seeking a more unique and off-the-beaten-path adventure, consider visiting the historic Inca site of Choquequirao instead of Machu Picchu. This trek takes four days and three nights, offering a distinct experience with significantly less foot traffic – around a dozen hikers per day. The trail spans about 64 kilometers or 40 miles, and while the highest elevation reaches approximately 3,050 meters or 10,000 feet, be prepared for a seriously challenging hike.
Upon reaching your final destination, the entrance to the Choquequirao site awaits, nestled on the mountainside. A thrilling ascent leads you to this historic citadel. Admission to the site costs approximately 60 soles (18 USD) per person and can be conveniently purchased at the gate, eliminating the need for advance booking. For more adventurous hikers seeking to explore both Choquequirao and Machu Picchu, the Choquequirao trek can be extended to a nine-day journey. However, remember to secure your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu before departing from Cusco.
For more detailed information on this trek check out our Page about hiking the Choquequirao
The Lares Valley Trek
Another option for hiking in Peru is the Lares trek to Machu Picchu This trail takes two or three days and covers just 36 kilometers 22 miles however the altitude gets up to about 4800 meters 15,748f so be sure that you are well acclimated before choosing this trek again
The pros of choosing this trail as opposed to the classic Inca trail are less traffic and crowding and the fact that you will not need to book as far in advance
The con of choosing the Lares Trail is that you will not end in Machu Picchu Most of the tour companies that offer treks on the Lares will include a day tour of Machu Picchu at the end of the trek rather than hiking you will simply take a train or bus to the site so you will still be able to check that off your bucket list
You must have a guide for hiking the Inca trail but other treks offer the possibility of hiking solo
If you prefer to trek on your own without a guide that option is available to you for all three options but please consider your choices carefully when choosing to trek without a guide
Some Things to consider before trekking without a guide
Will you have time to acclimatize to the altitude before beginning your hike experiencing a bad bout of altitude sickness without emergency equipment or guides trained and available to help you in that situation could be very dangerous the same goes for food poisoning I had a lot of encounters who hiked the Salkantay guide-less and experienced this not fun
Do you have the proper equipment and do you want to carry all of it without a tour company you will need to pack in all of your own equipment which will increase your packing list to include a tent camp stove all the food you will need etc this added weight while hiking and the added expense of purchasing or renting the equipment if you don’t already own it might be something you want to avoid
Do you actually want to visit Machu Picchu these alternative routes do not end at the Sun gate overlooking Machu Picchu the way that the Inca trail does you can of course still visit the site if you choose to hike one of these routes with a tour company most of them will include a trip to Machu Picchu on the last day if you choose to hike on your own you will either forfeit seeing Machu Picchu or you will need to make arrangements to visit it on your own after the trek this means purchasing your tickets to the site ahead of time so be sure to make arrangements before you start your hike whether you opt for the classic four-day three-night Inca trail trek or one of the alternatives
I hope that you will be able to visit Peru and enjoy the gorgeous natural and historical sites that this area of the world is home to and I hope that this guide helps you plan out the perfect trip.