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.

However its 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.


Day-1: Lima

Day-2: Lima - Cuzco (B)

Day-3: Cuzco (B)

Day-4: (Sacred Valley - Pisac - Ollantaytambo (Breakfast & buffet lunch)


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)

Fast Facts

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

The Inca Trail covers a distance of 54km when done over 4 days
The Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu can be hiked throughout the year, although the drier months are May till October. High season on the trail is from June through August and so the paths are very busy, are the camp sites. However, as it is a mountain, one can encounter rain at any time of the year and thus a rain poncho is essential. The trail is closed every year from the month of February.
Yes you do. Permits become available for sale on the 1st March every year. They tend to book up quite quickly and can sell out three months in advance so it is advisable to book with plenty of time in hand. Permits are also passport specific, and cannot be transferred to another person, refunded, or moved to another date once purchased. The cost of the permit is included in the tour price. If you want to look at current permit availability, please go to

Yes you do. We (Nomadic Adventures) do not allow anyone to climb with us unless they have adequate travel insurance. Adequate, means you must be covered for

1) trekking or hiking - this may sound strange, but many insurance list that as an exclusion.

2) altitude up to 4,500 meters. Most travel insurance providers do not include this under their standard option and often limit it to 3500m or less.

3) Sprains strains and physiotherapy - yes, many insurers exclude this, though ironically, this is what you will most likely need cover for.

4) personal accident - this is the horrible part of insurance. Yes, you need to be covered in the case of death. We are often told by clients - "if anything happens to me, just leave me there." Bodies need to be brought home or laid to rest overseas, and this can run into thousands of dollars, creating a huge burden on family members.

We will assist in helping you provide good cover. If you need cover or simply a quote, follow the details herewith:. Once you have done your initial quote, you will need to upgrade your cover to include altitudes up to 6000m. Towards the bottom of the page you will see a section called, Options: Upgrade your cover. Click the link called 'View Adventure Sports Benefits'. A blue pop up screen will open. Look for the level of cover required for 'trekking to 6,000 meters' or 'hiking to 6,000 meters'. Depending on your country it is usually a level 1 or 2. Note: we are not insurance experts and it's your responsibility
to ensure you have correct and adequate cover. If you live in South Africa, we have other cover options

Many people like to hike with trekking poles so it is a matter of choice. However, if you bring them they must have a spike cover on them, i.e. protected by rubber tips. We also recommend that you bring some bringing some spare rubber tips with you.

Our grade: Trek Grade: 2c (SP )In terms of 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 the stairs and there are a lot of them. In some places the stairs a narrow and closely packed and in other places quite steep, especially as you near Inti Punku sun gate.
A great resource for all Inca Trail information can be found here

Peru acts to protect Inca Trail - An article about the impact of the new regulations. Observer, April 28, 2002.

A great article on the trail

Detailed Itinerary

Day-1: Lima

Arrival in Lima, reception and transfer to your hotel.

Day-2: Lima - Cuzco (B)

Flight and arrival in Cuzco, reception and transfer to Hotel. Cusco is the starting point for most journeys to Machu Picchu and sits at 3400 metres above sea level, so many travellers experience altitude sickness here. For this reason it's worth spending a few days in town and taking your time acclimatising. Remainder of the day at leisure

Day-3: Cuzco (B)

Afternoon guided visit of four ruins nearby; Sacsayhuaman Fortress overlooking Cuzco, a pre Inca architectural masterpiece; Kenko, a rock sanctuary whose main attraction is the monolithic altar representing a puma, the red Fortress of Puca-Pucara and Tambomachay, a beautiful fountain fed by a spring forming a series of basins; continue to Cuzco; the Main Square, Cathedral and Koricancha or Temple of the Sun. Return to your hotel.

Day-4: Sacred Valley - PISAC - Ollantaytambo (Breakfast & buffet lunch)

Full-day excursion of the beautiful Urubamba, Sacred Valley of the Inca situated between Pisac and Ollantaytambo. It is an exceptionally fertile valley that was and still remains the larder of Cuzco. Visit Pisac village, founded during colonial times, and set at the foot of a hill crowned by the remains of an ancient Inca city. On Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Indians barter products in the main square and artisans from around the area sell their woven alpaca wool blankets and ponchos, engraved gourds, antique reproductions, jewellery, etc. On Sundays it is also a meeting place for Mayors from all villages in the region, dressed in their traditional costumes to attend morning mass. Ollantaytambo, also known as Ollanta, offers a traditional Inca experience with its cobbled streets, small traditional stone houses and canals. The attraction is the the nearby ruins on the outskirts of town. It was the a former Inca administrative center and served as the last stronghold for Inca Manco Yupanqui, leader of the Inca at the time. The steep terraces served as a fortress during the Spanish conquest, and are one of the few locations in Peru where the Spanish conquistadors lost their battle. Overnight accommodation in Ollantaytambo.


(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 joinign 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

End of services

What's Included

Price includes

Airport transfers by private vehicle
Three four or five star hotels with breakfast
All sightseeing tours, entrance fees, guide, transportation
Guide, their wages, insurance and expenses

Inca Trail entrance permit

Camping in the Inca Trail

Internal flights

Train from Aquas Calientes

Price Excludes

International flights, departure taxes and any excess baggage charges.
Mandatory travel and medical insurance
Tips, baggage and porterage
Expenses of a personal nature such as bottled drinks, mineral water, morning and afternoon teas etc laundry etc.
Extra expenses and/of additional days caused due to unexpected events (such a flight delays, porterage because of land slides and other natural events.)
Entry Visa if applicable
Tips and gratuities
Single supplements if applicable


Route Profile Map

Inca Ruins Trek to Machu Picchu
Inca Trail query

Book your Inca Trek
Other Tours in Peru
10 days
Easy add on to any tour
54km trek over 4 days
Shorter Inca trail or do the longer Salkantay
Ends at the ruins of Machu Picchu
Sacred valley and Ollyantaytambo

See the Inca Bridge
Inca Trail Itinerary

13 day tour
Start point Lima then Huaraz
Several passes at high altitude
Spectacular views of the Cordillera Blanca
Magellanic Penguin colony
More difficult trek than the Inca Trail or Santa Cruz trek
4830m or 15, 846 ft above sea level
Alpamayo Trek Itinerary
10 days
Start point is Lima and Huaraz
Most popular treks in the Cordillera Blanca
Highest pass on the trail at 4750m
Views of snow capped Huarascaran
Overnight on the trail in tents
Santa Cruz Itinerary
11 day tour
Start point is Lima and Cuzco
Known as the alternative Inca Trail
Less crowded than the Inca Trail
Longer and steeper than the Inca Trail
Ends at the ruins of Macchu Picchu
Mollepata Salkantay Itinerary
7 day tour
Easy add on to any tour
Visit the Lost City of the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu
Sacred valley and Ollyantaytambo

Optional climb up Huayna Picchu

See the Inca Bridge

Visit the Puma shaped town of Cuzco
Machu Picchu Ruins

14 day tour
Extra tours can be added on
Includes enigmatic Nazca Lines
Penguins of the Ballestas Islands

Islands of Taquile on Lake Titicaca

Includes the Inca Trail

Visit the Puma shaped town of Cuzco
Gems of Peru Itinerary

21 day tour
Extra tours can be added on
Sacred valley and the Inca Trail
Islands of Taquile on Lake Titicaca

Optional climb up Huayna Picchu

Puerto Maldonado to see the Amazon Jungle

Visit Llanganuco Lake

Pearls of Peru

15 days
Exploration of ancient sites
Visit the Lost City of the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu
Tour Chavin and Llanganuco

Lord of Sipan and Brunning Museum

See the Inca Bridge

Optional climb up Huayna Picchu
Ancient Peru Itinerary

15 days
Highlights of the Sacred Valley
Visit the Lost City of the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu
Sacred valley and Ollyantaytambo

Enigmatic Nazca Lines and Ballestas Islands

See the Inca Bridge

Lush regions of the Amazon Jungle
Classic Peru Tour