Classic Inca Trail Trek

4 days | $700+ | 26 miles | 3 nights camping
Image by Azzedine Rouichi

Why this trek?

  • Most popular trek to Machu Picchu

  • Private campsites 

  • Explore various ruins

  • Hiking on Inca Trail for entire trek
  • Reach Machu Picchu via sun gate

  • Iconic view of Machu Picchu

What is included?

Guided tour of Machu Picchu

Four day-hike on the Inca Trail

Tents for trek

All transportation for the trek

All meals during trek

All professional guides and staff

All permits, tickets, taxes, and fees

Take the most popular route to Machu Picchu for under $750

You get to Cusco and we will handle the rest!

Schedule Overview

Day 1

The Journey Begins

Pick up from Cusco hotel around 5AM

3 hour drive from Cusco to trail head 

6-7 hours of hiking to first campsite 

Day 2

Challenging Day

Early start to the most difficult day

Hike to highest point of trek

Campsite will be in a stunning valley

Day 3

Stunning Views

The prettiest day of hiking!

Tours of ruins and Wiñay Wayna

View of of Machu Picchu Mountain

Day 4

Tour of Machu Picchu

Two hour hike to the Sun Gate

Tour of Machu Picchu 

Train to Cusco in the evening

 

Popular Questions

Short answer: "shoulder seasons", the Spring and Fall of North America. These months provide the best combo of good weather and lower crowds.

High elevation effects everyone differently. Two general pieces of advice: take it easy on your first day in Cusco and hydrate

We've compiled the ultimate packing list depending on which trip you're planning to take. Check it out at the link below

Ready for your adventure?

Schedule Details

Let's get specific...

Day 1

The Journey Begins

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Max Altitude: 9,843 ft. (3,000m)

  • Min Altitude: 8,438ft. (2,572m)

  • Distance Traveled: ~7.5 miles (12 km)

  • Ascent: +1,405ft (+428m)

  • Walking Time: 6-7 hours

NOTE: Our trekking times are approximate and will vary depending on: weather conditions, group ability and other factors.

MORNING

Your adventure begins early with a 5:00AM pick-up at your hotel! Make sure to have your original passport (and Student ID card if applicable). The drive from Cusco to Piscacucho takes ~3 hours and includes beautiful views of the Sacred Valley, the Urubamba River, and Andean towns, including the Inca town of Ollantaytambo.

Half-way to the destination, you will stop to stretch your legs, use the bathroom, and enjoy a small breakfast before continuing on to Piscacucho8,438ft. (2,572m) where you will start a life-changing journey. Here you will meet your camp crew and porters who will be carrying your belongings during the 26 mile (43 km) trek along the Inca Trail. Passports in hand, you will clear the official Inca Trail check point, cross a suspension footbridge across the Urubamba River, and begin the trek with a gentle climb.

Today’s hike starts with three hours of relatively level terrain (what we call “Inca Flat”) as the trail follows the course of the river. You can enjoy marvelous views of Mount Veronica (18,865ft / 5,750m) in the distance. Your “leisurely walk” will pass through a forest of giant cacti and native bushes. At Miskay you will take the trail left and gradually ascend to Willkaraccay high above the mouth of the Kusichaka River and across from the Inca town of Llactapata (Terrace Town).

 

You will take a break on a flat bluff high above this extensive site, which was built as a fort, as it commands the entrance to the Kusichaka Valley.

AFTERNOON

This will be your first encounter to the unique terracing system that the Incas used to irrigate maize (corn) in the high mountain climate. You will spend 15-20 minutes to rest and take pictures of these incredible ruins before heading down to today’s lunch site at Tayaroc. This lunch will be your first time eating the amazing the food prepared by your incredible chef!

After lunch, you will have another 3-4 hours of hiking to reach a Kusa Treks’ private campsite in the village of Wayllabamba (9,843ft / 3,000m).

EVENING

At the end of each day, you will share a “family tea time” while you wait for dinner to be prepared. During tea time, you will enjoy hot chocolate, a variety of teas (including the traditional Matcha Tea), delicious finger foods and pleasant conversation. An exquisite dinner will be prepared by our professional chef and served buffet style.

After dinner your Tour Guides will go over the plans for the next great day. Buenas Noches!

Day 2

Challenging Day

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Max Altitude: 13,780ft (4,200m)

  • Min Altitude: 9,840ft (3,000m)

  • Distance Traveled: ~7.4 miles (12 km)

  • Ascent: +3,953ft (+1,205m)

  • Walking Time: 7-8 hours

MORNING

Your day will start early. A Porter will wake you up with a fresh cup of hot tea at 5:30AM. The Kusa Treks crew will then pack up camp as you gather your belongings and eat a nutritious, warm breakfast. After breakfast you will hike for about an hour to the Ayapata valley. After arriving to the valley, there will be a soft, uphill climb through the forest and along a scenic stream. At this point, you will be walking at an elevation of 10,824ft (3,300m).

Today will be the most challenging day of hiking, but you will be able to take your time and enjoy breathtaking scenery along the way. After a short break in Ayapata Valley, you will start the most strenuous climb of the trek, with an ascent of 3,937ft (1,200m) planned in 2 stages. You will be trekking on 400 year-old Inca stone steps, with large gaps between each step, which can make walking a challenge.

 

Your efforts will be rewarded with spectacular views, as this stretch of the trail is surrounded by majestic snow-capped mountain peaks (Apu Huayanay Mountains). It will take 2-3 hours to hike the first stage, which includes several breaks to catch your breath and enjoy the views.

AFTERNOON

Your lunch stop will be in Llulluchapampa Valley, which has absolutely stunning views. To reach it, you will ascend steeply uphill through the Corralpunku Valley to the Llulluchayoc Zone.

If you’re lucky, you may see some of the hundreds of species of birds that inhabit this area; including: hummingbirds, falcons, and the Condor, also known as the king of the Andean Mountains. Your group will then enter a beautiful cloud forest, also known as the Polylepis woodlands, or the treeless grasslands of the Puna Región, home to the tarucas (Peruvian deer) and pumas. From here, you can see the highest pass of our trek: Dead Woman’s Pass.

Upon reaching Llulluchapampa, the camp crew will be waiting for you with a delicious Peruvian lunch, set against a stunning visual backdrop. After lunch you will have time to rest and recoup before continuing onto the second stage of the climb for another 2-3 hours. The trail continues with large, stone steps, some of them newly laid to protect the mountain from erosion.

You will walk at your own pace and stop to catch your breath, all while enjoying the truly marvelous vistas. You will gain another 1,968ft (600m) in elevation to reach the top of Warmiwañusca Mountain (Dead Woman’s Pass), which marks the highest elevation of our journey at 13,780ft (4,200m). Here you will experience an unforgettable moment, as the top of this mountain is a sacred place for the ancient Inca’s, or maybe the lack of oxygen is finally catching up with your brain! Either way you’ve made it through the hardest part of your journey!

Once your entire group reaches the top of Dead Woman’s Pass, you will take a short break to capture a family picture.

EVENING

After everyone summits Dead Woman’s Pass, there will be a 2-3 hour descent [yay!] into the Pacaymayo Valley to reach camp for tonight. This campsite is home to one of the most incredible vistas of the entire trek, as it stretches over a valley, with views of nearby waterfalls and snow-covered peaks.

Once you arrive, you will enjoy a “Family Tea Time” and another incredible and rejuvenating buffet dinner. After dinner your tour guide will show you the amazing Inca constellations that stretch out overhead (weather dependent).

Day 3

Stunning Views

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Max Altitude: 12,300ft (3,750m)

  • Min Altitude: 8,856ft (2,700 m)

  • Distance Traveled: ~9.9 miles (16 km)

  • Descent: -2,930ft (-890m)

  • Walking Time: 7-8 hours

MORNING

Another early morning with hot tea and a smile arriving to your tent around 5:30AM. You will have breakfast and prepare for the most visually stunning day of the hike. After breakfast concludes (around 7:00AM), you will pick back up on the Inca Trail, which starts with a steep, but short climb (~1-hour), to the Runkuraqay Ruins.

These ruins have a circular center with rectangular outbuildings. It’s perched on the edge of a valley, which commands a strategic vantage point. It served as an Inca-Tambo, which is where chaskis (or runners) would rest, guard the post, or serve as lookout. After a short tour of the ruins, you will continue uphill for another hour to reach our second pass: Abra de Runcuracay (12,956ft / 3,950m).

The hike continues as the path winds between two mountains where Andean gulls will sometimes gather. You will approach a third pass, boasting exceptional views. In clear weather, you can look back to the Dead Woman’s Pass and look forward to a breath-taking sweep of snow-capped peaks, which includes the Pumasillo Mountain (Puma’s Claw) (19,685ft / 6,000m).

 

From here, most of the trail is downhill and will lead you through a short tunnel. You will then encounter a series of tight switchbacks, dropping elevation quickly until you reach a small viewpoint atop a promontory.

AFTERNOON

After reaching the promontory, the descent becomes more gradual, as the path begins to curl across the slopes. To the right of the trail lies a large, algae-covered lake, and up ahead you will see Sayaqmarka, an ancient Inca town. The group will stop here to explore and listen to your guide who will provide interesting historic facts as well as local legends passed down through the ages. Once rested, your trek will continue its descent until reaching Chaquicocha (11,000ft / 3,400m), where you will eat another expertly prepared lunch.

After lunch the hike becomes exceptionally beautiful. You will pass the Phuyupatamarca ruins and descend to Wiñay Wayna and Intipata, all while enjoying dramatic vistas of the Aobamba Valley. This stretch of the trail is made of well-preserved paved stone and is still in great condition considering the many decades of trekkers that have crossed its path. Your lungs will appreciate that today’s hike is steadily lowering in elevation and significantly shorter than yesterday’s.

The trail will eventually lead to Phuyupatamarca (the Town of the Clouds), but first, you will pass through a short, natural tunnel in the mountain. After visiting this site, you will descend ~2,000 stone steps to Wiñay Wayna, known as Baby Machu Picchu. This site is almost as impressive in its majesty as Machu Picchu and infinitely less crowded.

Wiñay Wayna is another important Inca site, located just north of our camp. It is one of the best preserved and largest Inca sites along the Inca Trail and has one of the most breathtaking views of the entire trek.

EVENING

After taking a family photo and enjoying the incredible vistas, you will hike a short distance to tonight’s campsite. Tea time and another delicious buffet dinner will serve as a fitting end for the last full day on the trail.

Day 4

Tour of Machu Picchu

  • Meals: Breakfast and a snack

  • Max Altitude: 8,856ft (2,700m)

  • Min Altitude: 7,972ft (2,400m) (Machu Picchu)

  • Distance Traveled: ~5 miles (8 km), plus exploration of Machu Picchu

  • Walking Time: 6-7 hours

MORNING

This is the day you’ve been waiting for! It will be the earliest day of your hike, starting with a wake up call at 4:00AM in order to get to the Inti Punku (the Sun Gate) ahead of the crowds. This ancient entry-way overlooks Machu Picchu, and you will reach it as the first rays of the sun strike one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The hike from camp to the Sun Gate will take 1-2 hours, with significant uphill stretches in the last half. You will be hiking in the dark for about an hour, so bring a head lamp and listen to your guides.

From the Sun Gate, we will have a leisurely 50-minute walk downhill to the south sector of Machu Picchu (The Guardian houses). The trail ends at a series of terraces, which provide the classic vantage point of the entire city. After enjoying a panoramic view and taking a family picture, you will need to walk straight down to the entrance of Machu Picchu Park to enter the city.

After a few minutes in a security line, you will finally arrive to the heart of Machu Picchu where you will enjoy a professional, unique guided tour from your Lead Guide. The formal tour will end in the late morning.

If your legs and lungs still have energy after four days of hiking, you have the option to climb to the peak of Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, which offer incredibly unique perspectives of Machu Picchu. Please note: Special permits are required to do this “hike”, and they are issued in limited quantities, so if you are interested you will need book and pay in advance for this permit.

NOTE: Due to new regulations (effective Jan 1. 2019), the paths that lead through Machu Picchu are all “one-way”, meaning you are not able to backtrack during your visit to Machu Picchu. Each visitor without a permit to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain will have ~4 hours to spend inside the park and those with permits to climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain will have 6 total hours to spend inside the park (including the 2 hour climb).

AFTERNOON/EVENING

After touring Machu Picchu, your guide will take you to the bus stop just outside the gates of Machu Picchu Park. You will take this bus to Aguas Calientes. Depending on your train departure time (see below), you will either need to head straight to the train station, or you can go to one of the many fantastic restaurants in Aguas Calientes for lunch (not included).

There are several train class options for the ride back to Cusco. The main two trains are the “Expedition Train” (included in the price) and the “Vista Dome Train” (additional $70 USD per ticket). We usually try to get tickets for a train leaving in the 15:00 (3PM) hour, which will have you back to your hotel in Cusco around 19:00 (7PM).

Train Information:

If you have a preference for departure/arrival time, and provide us with 4+ months notice, we are able to book tickets for the following departures:

Expedition Train

The Expedition Train is the “normal” train, with plenty of leg room and good sized windows, these train tickets  are included in price. All Expedition train tickets end at the Ollantaytambo train station, which is a 2 hour drive back to Cusco. When you arrive to the station, we will have private transportation arranged to take you back to your hotel in Cusco.

 

The following are departure times for the Expedition train:

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 14:55 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 16:31 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 18:30

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 15:20 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 17:08 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 19:10

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 16:22 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 18:10 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 20:10

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 18:20 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 20:05 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 22:00

Vista Dome Train

The Vista Dome Train is an upgraded train, which provides entertainment and a meal. It also has a glass domed ceiling which provides better views of the Sacred Valley on your way from Aguas Calientes to Cusco. The Vista Dome train will end at either the Ollantaytambo station (2 hour drive to Cusco) or the Poroy station (30 minute drive to Cusco). The arrival station is based on the time the train leaves Aguas Calientes. These tickets are an additional $70 USD to upgrade.

The following are departure times for the Vista Dome to the Ollantaytambo Station:

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 13:37 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 15:00 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 17:30 only available for those who do not do the Huyana Picchu hike

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 15:48 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 17:29 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 19:29

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 16:22 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 18:10 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 20:10

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 17:23 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 19:02 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 21:00

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 18:10 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 19:51 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 21:51

 

The following are departure times for the Vista Dome to the Poroy Station:

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 16:43 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 20:23 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 21:00

  • Leave Aguas Calientes: 17:23 –> Arrive to Ollantaytambo station: 20:52 –> Arrive to hotel in Cusco: 21:30

NOTE: Train times depend on: the number of people in your group, the time of year of your trip and the class of train you prefer.

 
 
 
 

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