NOMADIC
ADVENTURES

INCA TRAIL TO THE RUINS

Take the opportunity to experience the incredible ruins of Machu Picchu. ​The four-day Inca Trail trek passes through a stunning combination of the region's ruins, mountainscapes, and cloud forests.Cusco to Machu Picchu is to take the train to Aguas Calientes. For a placed called the lost city, it is a great place to be.

Inca Trail Machu Picchu 

Why do the Inca trail you may ask? Because it is the most famous hike in South America and a must-do experience. It combines the cultural highlights of the Sacred Valley with a stunning combination of ancient architecture, a cloud forest, plant life and Machu Picchu

The hike itself heads along ancient narrow paths deep into the Peruvian countryside and high into the Andean mountains. The terrain changes from lush green forests alive with births and plant life to semi arid zones, sections with pampas and tussock grasses, small tarns and steep mountain passes,. And to top it all off there are ancient Inca ruins all along the way. However, the best part of this 4 day hike is reaching the iconic Sun Gate at sunrise for that first magical view of Machu Picchu below.

It is easy to get confused when you talk about the Inca Trail, as the Incas built an advanced network of nearly 40,000 thousand kilometers of trails to connect the distant corners of their vast empire Ecuador to Santiago and Mendoza in Argentina. The classic Inca Trail starts at a place called Km82 (so called because it is located 82 kilometres along the railway line between Cusco and Machu Picchu). It takes 4 days to do complete trek arriving at the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu for sunrise on the fourth day. 

As a country, Peru offers visitors 3 distinct geographical zones, from the dry arid coastline which is home to the incredible Ballestas Islands and just inland, the Nazca Lines; high Andes range and also the Amazon. There is so much to see in this diverse region, that one is spoilt for choice. 

Part of this tour to Peru includes the sacred valley and the Inca Trail which follows the ancient Inca Paths through to the complex of Machu Picchu near the town of Aguas Calientes. Any reasonably fit person should be able to cover the route. However, the second day of the trek is quite challenging as one heads up to an altitude of 4200m to the top of Dead Woman's Pass. 

inca trail trek profile
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Machu Picchu Inca Trail Overview

Day-1. Lima 
Day-2. Lima - Cuzco (B) 
Day-3: Cuzco (B) 
Day-4: Sacred Valley - Ollyantaytambo (BL) 
INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU STARTS 
Day-5: Chilca - Wayllabamba 
Day-6: Wayllabamba - Pacamayu 
Day-7: Pacamayu - Winayhuayna 
Day-8: Winayhuayna - Machu Picchu - Cuzco (B) 
Day-9: Cuzco - Lima (B) 
Day-10: Lima (B) 

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INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU ITINERARY

Day-1. Lima

Arrival in Lima, and transfer to hotel.

Day-2. Lima - Cuzco (B)

Flight and arrival in Cuzco, reception and transfer to Hotel. Remainder of the day at leisure.

Day-3: Cuzco (B)

Afternoon guided visit of the four ruins nearby; the Sacsayhuaman Fortress, Kenko, Fortress of Puca-Pucara and Tambomachay, the Main Square, the Cathedral and the Koricancha or Temple of the Sun.

Day-4: Sacred Valley - Ollyantaytambo (BL)

Full-day excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Inca and then a visit to Pisac markets and Ollantaytambo

INCA TRAIL TREK TO MACHU PICCHU STARTS

(Breakfast, lunch & dinner included - only breakfast on final day)

Day-5: Chilca - Wayllabamba

After an early morning breakfast, you will be transferred to Chilca by bus, where we meet our Quechua porters and have breakfast before joining the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. Crossing over the turbulent Vilcanota River, with magnificent views of Nevado Veronica (5,900m/19,000ft) we will continue hiking admiring the Llactapata archaeological site, and stopping at Huayllabamba river for lunch. We will visit the archeological sites of Patallacta, Qente, and valley of Cusichaca and magical Polyepsis forest. Today the Inca trek will last approximately 7 hours, arriving in camp around 17h00. Camp and dinner at 3,800 meters. Overnight on the trail to Machu Picchu.

Day-6: Wayllabamba - Pacamayu

Today is the most demanding day of the trip as we gain a lot of altitude. We will see outstanding views east to the Huayanaya peaks and west into the rugged Vilcabamba Range. After breakfast, we will continuously climb up through the first pass at 4,200 m/13,750 feet at Warmiwanusqa. Passing 3 ecological areas such as the Yunga, Quechua and Puna. we will climb 1000 metres in 5 hours. On the descent to our lunch spot, we encounter a large number of stairs. After lunch, we again climb about 500m in altitude before dropping again, about a further 400.Today camp and dinner near Pacamayu. Overnight on the trail.

Day-7: Pacamayu - Winayhuayna

Today is a much easier and shorter day. After breakfast, we will trek down through the valley of Pacamayu to the famous archaeological sites of Runquraqay. We will continue to the second pass and the restored town site of Sayaqmarka ("Town in a Steep Place") and explore the Sayaqmarka Ruins. The Inca Trail in this section is a white granite roadway, traversing a thickly forested mountainside known as the cloud forest. We will then descend to the magnificent archeological Phuyupatamarka ("cloud Level Town") and have lunch. We will then begin the decent to Winaywayna where a visit of the ruins and have dinner.

Day-8: Winayhuayna - Machu Picchu - Cuzco (B)

Early morning wake up at 4:30 a.m. for breakfast and to begin the trek to be the first at the archaeological site of Macchu Picchu for the sunrise. We will descend rapidly from cloud forest into high jungle habitat. Orchids and hummingbirds are commonly seen along this spectacular section of the trail high above the river. We will arrive at Intipunko "Gate of the Sun" to observe the sunrise over Macchu Picchu from an elevated vantage point. We continue down to the royal road and at last the "Lost City of the Incas". A guided tour of the marvelous citadel, visiting the Main Plaza, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of Three Windows, the Circular Tower and the Sacred Sun Dial and Burial Grounds. After the guided tour, transfer to Aguas Calientes onto the train station for your return train to Cuzco. Arrival and transfer to your hotel.

Day-9: Cuzco - Lima (B)

Return flight to Lima and transfer to your hotel. Last night's accommodation in Peru.

Day-10: Lima (B)

Depart Lima

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Peru Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time of year to go to Peru?

The best time to visit Peru is during the dry season, between May and October, which sees sunny days, bright blue skies in the Andes, and chilly nights. It is a wonderful time to be in Peru, especially if you plan to go on a trek, but being the peak season, early booking is crucial.

How do we get from the town to the Machu Picchu ruins?

There are two options. One is that you take the bus which runs from 05h30 until 15h00 each day, or you can walk up.  The walk will be around 90 minutes and the climb is about 400m

Do we need to purchase tickets for the Inca ruins far in advance?

Yes you do and there is also a limit to how many are available each day.  There are 4 Types of Tickets to Machu Picchu; 

Machu Picchu Only, Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu & Mountain, and Machu Picchu & Huchuy Picchu.

The ‘Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu’ Ticket is the most requested by visitors. In addition, due to the limited availability for 200 people a day, the purchase of the ticket must be made 3 or 4 months in advance. The visit to this mountain is only allowed for people over 12 years old.

Do I need to acclimatize to Cusco's altitude?

Yes you should as the city sits at nearly 11,000 feet altitude, or 3 399 m  For the first couple days of your stay keep your walking tours to a minimum—just around the main sites in central Cusco. It is advisable to drink plenty of liquid and avoid as much as possible heavy meals and physical effort, especially while in Cusco.

Can I get to Machu Picchu without trekking?

You most certainly can. You have a couple other options in which you can arrive at this ancient citadel in the clouds.

The first and most common method of getting to Macchu Picchu from Cusco is to take a train. Unfortunately, the trains don't leave from within the city itself, so you will have to travel by car or bus to the terminal. Most people depart from the train station in Ollantaytambo, in Peru's Sacred Valley, a couple hours northwest of Cusco. You can also take the train from the town of Poroy, located about 25 minutes outside of Cusco. 

What is the highest altitude on the Inca Trail?

It is 4200m or 13,780 ft above sea level which is the highest point on the trail at Dead Woman's pass

How long does it take to walk along the Inca Trail?

The shortest number of days required for hiking the Inca Trail is one day which is known as the "Royal Inca Trail" which only covers the last day of the route. Then there is the standard 4 day trek. Alternately, one  can do the longer Salktantay trek which is 7 days.

What distance does the Inca Trek cover?

The Inca Trail covers a distance of 54km when done over 4 days

How hard is the Inca Trail to hike?

It is a moderate trek. The highest point is Dead Woman's Pass, and at 4,198 metres it is the toughest of the three passes. The biggest issue is the altitude and the stairs and there are a lot of them. In some places the stairs are narrow and closely packed and in other places quite steep, especially as you near Inti Punku sun gate.

Are there variations of the Inca Trail?
  • The classic 4 day Inca Trail which starts at a place known as Km82 is the one this itinerary covers. Then there are two other variations of the traditional Inca Trail that both end at Machu Picchu. 
  • The first and most popular alternative is the Short Inca Trail which can be completed in 1 or 2 days. Known as the "Royal Inca Trail" its an easier trek and starts further along the Vilcanota River at a place called kilometre 104. Trek permits are required for this trek .
  • The second alternative is via Salkantay which is a lot more strenuous and take seven days heading through beautiful snow-capped mountain areas. This trek is usually done in 7 days although experienced trekkers should manage it in 6 days. The trek starts near the town of Mollepata and the first 3 days are spent trekking around the foot of the Salkantay mountain.
What is the best time to go to the Amazon rainforest?

May and early June are the best time to visit the Amazon. During these months, the river levels are still high enough for exploration by boat

Do we need travel insurance?

Yes you do. We do not recommend travelling without it and require it for our tours. Accidents, medical emergencies, travel delays or other problems can occur in any country and the resulting costs can be significant. Here is  a link if you do not already have your own preferred provider. 


What plug converters do I need in Peru?

Peru uses 220 volt, 60 cycle electricity. Travelers will require a voltage converter for 110 volt devices. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type found in the US, though some facilities have been noted to use the 2 rounded prongs instead.

Is the water safe to drink?

The tap water is generally not safe to drink in Peru. Bottled water is readily available at tourist sites, hotels, and restaurants. Don't forget to use bottled water when brushing your teeth as well! Ice is not always made with boiled/ bottled water. Order your beverages without ice.

What are the current entry requirements for Peru given COVID?
  • The Government of Peru announced the extension of the current regional alert levels and movement restrictions through March 31, 2022. The Government of Peru indicated it will reevaluate and adjust these public health measures every two weeks. Under these measures, all regions of Peru are categorized as Moderate, High, Very High, or Extreme, with corresponding levels of restrictions.  U.S. Citizens are advised to follow all Peruvian lockdown measures.
  • Peruvians, resident foreigners, and non-resident foreigners 12 years of age or older must present proof of being fully vaccinated 14 days prior to boarding at their point of origin. Peruvians, resident foreigners, and non-resident foreigners 12 years of age or older who are not fully vaccinated must present a molecular test with a negative result (within 48 hours) prior to boarding an incoming flight to Peru, in accordance with current health regulations.  Children under 12 years of age must only be asymptomatic prior to boarding an incoming flight to Peru.

From February 28, 2022, all passengers older than 12 years of age using commercial transportation to travel domestically via air must present proof of vaccination to travel.  If they are not fully vaccinated, they must present a molecular test with a negative result (within 48 hours)  prior to boarding their domestic flight (as of January 27, 2022, individuals 40 and older must have received their booster).

https://pe.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/