Do you like hiking? Sports in general or just want to have a challenging adventure? Then you are probably going to love the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This is one of the most challenging feats we have in Peru. Being able to walk to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail is not something to be taken lightly. We are talking about one of the most famous hikes in the world. And for this, we will have to take many appropriate precautions and be aware of what we are doing. And that is why together with Machu Travel Peru we have prepared an Inca Trail to Machu Picchu guide. We will gladly help you with everything you need to know about this unique hike.
Basic notions about the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
- Where does the hike start?
- About the hiking route
- The best time is now
- Getting started
- The Inca Trail day by day
- Accommodation and food
- Always be prepared
WHERE DOES THE HIKE START?
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu generally begins in Cusco, but that may depend on your tour operator of choice. Although Machu Travel Peru highly recommends taking a few days in the beautiful Imperial City. Keep in mind that one of the things that we will have to face in our ascent will be the height, so acclimatization in Cusco is almost mandatory. There are many things to do in Cusco, so take your time and relax before the hike. But the hike itself begins in a wonderful place called Kilometer 82. As its name indicates, this trail is 82 kilometers along the railway from Cusco. There are several ways to get here and this will depend on your travel schedule. Before thinking about how to get to Machu Picchu, better think about how to return. The Inca Trail is only one way to the citadel, so on the way back, you will have to opt for a comfortable train ride.
ABOUT THE HIKING ROUTE
Wondering how long is the Inca Trail? The Inca Trail is small compared to all the roads built by the Incas. The different routes built by the Incas can reach a length from 23,000 km to 45,000 km. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was built by the Incas 500 years ago. It is approximately 42 km long and, depending on the tour you choose, it can be done between 2 to 4 days. Despite being one of the best hikes in Peru, the Inca Trail could be considered a hike of moderate difficulty. More than the route, it is the altitude sickness that can complicate the experience. Note that at its highest point, the route ascends about 4226 meters above sea level. Therefore it is recommended to acclimatize for a few days.
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is truly an immersive experience and one of the best things to do in Peru. You will learn how the ancient inhabitants came to the contemporary Wonder of the World. The mere memory that this trip will give you will be unforgettable and incomparable. Upon reaching the top and witnessing the incredible view, you will realize that all that effort was worth it.
THE BEST TIME IS NOW
The hike along the trail can be done all year round, except during February for maintenance reasons. We believe that the best time to walk the Inca Trail would be during the dry season. The dry season runs from May to October. This is mainly because there won’t be as much cloud and fog along the way and you will be able to enjoy some of the most beautiful views the world has to offer. With clear skies along the way, you will find breathtaking views and fantastic landscapes accompanied by numerous archaeological ruins. That said, April and November are also excellent months to enjoy the Inca Trail. Despite being the rainy season, during these months the rains are not so frequent and you can enjoy a less crowded route.
First of all, you must consider the Inca Trail availability. It is suggested to reserve your permits at least six months in advance. The classic 4-day hike is suitable for any experienced or amateur hiker. Not being in shape is not an excuse not to try this beautiful and impressive trail. Also, there will be a host of guides to help you continue at your own pace. Keep in mind that doing this hike individually is totally prohibited, so you will have to schedule together with a travel team. Guides are mandatory to ensure the maintenance of the route. In case you do not have the possibility to enjoy this hike, do not worry. There are a large number of Inca Trail alternatives, many of which also go to Machu Picchu.
THE INCA TRAIL DAY BY DAY
Usually the first day, you will go by bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo (Kilometer 82) where the hikers’ route begins. The first section is quite easy, so it is advisable to save your strength as it will become more difficult later. From there, you will head to a small town from which you can see the first archaeological ruin called Huillca Raccay. A few kilometers later you will arrive at Wayllabamba where you will rest for the night.
The second day is where the fun begins, it is one of the most difficult parts of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. After a few kilometers going straightforward, you will begin to notice that the trail begins to steep up to finally reach a small town called Llulluchapampa. From there, you have another 2 hours to reach the Dead Woman Pass. After reaching the top and taking all the necessary photos, you will have about 2 more kilometers to the camp where you will rest for the night.
After waking up, you will go up to another beautiful ruin called Runkurakay. From there, you can see mostly paved Inca trails and staircases. So be prepared to go downhill for a while. The third-day hike usually takes 6 to 8 hours, giving you plenty of time to take photos and observe the beautiful sightings. You have to be alert and ask your guide about the different ruins on the Inca Trail map. Finally, you will arrive at one of the last places to camp called Wiñay Wayna.
The last day of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the most unique days of the trail. All the effort of the hike sees its fruition when you arrive at Machu Picchu. From Wiñay Wayna, you will trek to Inti Punku. Once you get there, you will be presented with a unique view of your goal, Machu Picchu. The final triumphal descent to the citadel takes about an hour. You will find how this route is one of the best adventure holidays in Peru.
ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD
When we talk about the Inca Trail, don’t expect first-class accommodations. You will be in the middle of the mountains, so you can expect a high-quality camp. This is one of the most comfortable camps you will have ever experienced. Along the way, you will find that your tents will already be prepared for you. As for food, every day you will enjoy delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. The guides will be attentive to any dietary requirements and preferences. You will be able to experience an abundance of homemade jams, dried fruits, and traditional dishes made with local ingredients. The company and the beautiful starry skies at night make this one of the best Machu Picchu tours.
ALWAYS BE PREPARED
When thinking about doing this tour, remember that you have to be prepared. Preparing for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is not just putting on some hiking boots and hoping for the best. It’s about doing whatever it takes to ensure a successful and unforgettable adventure. You will find yourself outdoors and doing a lot of physical effort. So it is better if you bring some basic things with you like:
- Toilet paper and plastic bags.
- Repellent / insect repellent
- Water bottle
- Walking stick
- Trekking equipment (hiking boots, two changes of clothes, original passport, etc.)
“THE SUN SHINES BRIGHTEST FROM THE PEAKS OF MOUNTAINS.”
As you can see, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is an incredible place to enjoy impressive views. Not only will you be able to enjoy some incredible views but also some not-so-well-known ruins. Now that you know all this, you have no excuses not to try this famous hike. Machu Travel Peru hopes you have a great time exploring the wonderful Inca Trail. If you want to know about our Inca Trail travel programs, you can consult with our qualified advisors.