Inca Trail Hikes
Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu


Explore Inca Trail Tours, Maps, Permits, and FAQs

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Walk inca trail to machu picchu

Hiking and walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru is one of the most special vacations in the world. You can walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 2, 4, 5 or 7 day tours, which include all or part of the famous Classic Inca Trail Trek. These tours start in the Sacred Valley outside of Cusco, Peru, and end at the mystical Sun Gate entrance to Machu Picchu. Inca Trail Permits are required in order to hike or walk any part of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and only licensed Inca Trail tour companies can get these permits from the Peru government.

Visitors that walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu will be hiking on the actual ancient Inca Trail footpath, carved out of the mountains centuries ago by the Inca people. These treks are multi-day hikes with camping or a mix of other lodging for the overnight stays.

The most popular way to walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is the 4 Day Classic Inca Trail group or private tour. The 2nd most popular is the Short Inca Trail 2 day Tour. There are also longer options for hikers who want to take more time on the Inca Trail, with the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 5 day tour, and those who want to combine the 2 most popular treks in Peru – the Salkantay and the Inca Trail Tour to Machu Picchu in 7 days. Another incredibly popular option is to add the famous one day hike to Rainbow Mountain and the Red Valley, to any Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

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Inca Trail Permits

The Inca Trail Permit System was created by the Peruvian government to help prevent serious overcrowding, overuse, and erosion on the historic Inca Trail. A limited number of total permits are available each day to hike the Inca Trail.

How Inca Trail Permits Work

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu requires an Inca Trail reservation via a special Inca Trail Permit that only licensed Inca Trail tour operators in Peru can secure for trekkers. A limited number of permits are released for each day of the year for hiking on the Inca Trail. The trail is open year round except for February. Check the Inca Trail Availability Calendars below to see if permits are available for the dates you want to hike to Machu Picchu. Popular  trekking months can sell out up to 6 months in advance. To learn more about Permits, read this handy guide Inca Trail Permits – How They Work and Why You Need Them.

SEE INCA TRAIL AVAILABILITY CALENDARS

 

1. How to get to Cusco, Peru

Most people will get to Cusco by air. Please remember that the Cusco airport is for domestic travel only. If you come directly from overseas through Lima, you must get your bags in Lima and re-check them for your flight to Cusco. Four airline carriers fly roundtrip between Lima and Cusco. That includes LATAM Airlines, AVIANCA Airlines, Star Peru, and Peruvian Airlines. They all offer similar schedules and in-flight service, but we usually recommend either LATAM airlines or AVIANCA. They tend to be the most helpful when unexpected flight cancellations or delays occur.

2. Does the Inca Trail go to Machu Picchu?

Yes, it is the ancient footpath of the Incas that goes from the Sacred Valley directly to Machu Picchu. It was created specifically for the Inca people to travel to Machu Picchu.

3. What is the best peak to hike for the amazing views of Machu Picchu?

There are three ways to get above Machu Picchu for those amazing pictures you see in books: the Sun Gate, Huaynapicchu and Machu Picchu Mountain (montaña). The Sun Gate is free for everyone to visit and takes about an hour from the bottom of the ruins to the lookout point. This is also where all Inca Trail trekkers enter to see Machu Picchu for the first time. The views are lovely from the gate, but not as high and a bit further than the other two options.

4. What is the difference between Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain?

Both Huaynapicchu and Machu Picchu Mountain are permit restricted hikes that must be done within a certain time. These permits/tickets will be secured by Alpaca Expeditions, but do need to be arranged a few months in advance of your trip. Both offer amazing views of Machu Picchu from viewpoints directly above. Machu Picchu takes about 3 hours to the top and is spectacular on a lovely day, but views are often restricted by clouds. Huaynapicchu takes 45 minutes to the top and is definitely the most popular of the three options. All views are amazing. Click here to watch a short video showing the difference between Machu Picchu mountain and Huaynapicchu.

5. How do I book an Inca Trail trek?

You can only book an Inca Trail Trek with a tour operator licensed to operate tours on the Inca Trail in Peru. The tour operator will reserve your trek dates and will secure the Inca Trail Permits necessary to hike on the Inca Trail. You first fill out a booking form that includes all details for you, and for any travelers going with you if you have a group. You will pay a $200 deposit per person. The deposits can be paid separately, as long as we have one booking form that we can use to track payments. Once we have all deposits and details, we will then book your permits. When permits are in our hands, we will send you your invoice and confirmation that everything is 100% set. All start dates, once confirmed, are guaranteed. We try to make booking as easy as possible at Alpaca Expeditions.

6. Can i stay in the Sacred Valley, Peru instead of in Cusco?

Ollantaytambo is the best place to stay other than Cusco. At 9,160 feet, it is a great option for acclimatizing to elevation, compared to Cusco at 11,152 feet. Also by staying in Ollantaytambo you get a little more sleep, as we will pick you up about 1.5 hours after the Cusco pick up time. You can only have your briefing in Cusco. So please arrange a time that works for you and our office team with your Alpaca Expeditions sales rep.

7. Can I spend an extra night in Aguas Calientes, Peru?

Of course, if you are ok with taking the same train out of Aguas Calientes that is part of your original itinerary, which is typically at 4:22 that evening, then there is no additional charge to move the train back a day. If you need us to secure your hotel or another visit to Machu Picchu, this will be an additional cost. If you do choose to spend one more night in Aguas Calientes (the town at the entrance of Machu Picchu), make sure you tell the Alpaca Expeditions office at least one month in advance, so your train ticket is purchased for the right day.

8. What is Huayna Picchu Mountain and where is it?

The Huayna Picchu Mountain is that gorgeous, picturesque mountain peak that is tucked up against the Machu Picchu ruins in all the best photos and postcards. Once you get to Machu Picchu, you have the opportunity to go beyond the basic tour of the Machu PIcchu ruins and also hike up the Huayna Picchu Mountain, next to the ruins. This hike will give you breathtaking views of the forests and valleys surrounding this ancient site as well as an aerial view of Machu Picchu ruins that is spectacular and cannot be seen any other way.

9. What is the Huayna Picchu hike?

The Huayna Picchu hike is climbing up a steep, long set of stone steps carved into the mountain side. The Huayna Picchu Mountain is 2700 meters/ 8858 feet. There is a cable to hold onto as you climb up the steps. The hike up Huayna Picchu is a truly challenging climb, and you’ll have 2 hours to do it. Permits are required and climbing times are specified on your ticket. You want to add on a ticket to climb Huayna Picchu when you reserved your trip to Machu Picchu, or as soon as you know you want to climb it. IT’s a very popular climb and tickets do sell out. Learn more about hiking up Huayna Picchu Mountain, also called Wayna Picchu.

10. Do I need a tour operator or a guide for the Inca Trail?

Yes! It is now illegal to hike the Inca Trail without an operator and has been like that since 2000. In order to hike, you need a permit, which only licensed operators can get – so you need to be specific. Other trails in the Andes can be done without a guide, but the Inca Trail can only be done with a licensed guide from a licensed tour operator. Learn more about why Permits and Guides are required on the Inca Trail and how the Inca Trail Permit System works.

See all 50+ Inca Trail FAQs

Get an overview of the Inca Trail hiking experience, including breathtaking pictures of the views that you will see firsthand on your trek. The magazine includes a day by day tour itinerary with maps, pictures, packing list, camping equipment information, and Inca Trail booking information.
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See where the Inca Trail is in Peru, and trace your hiking route to Machu Picchu with these useful Inca Trail Maps.

EXPLORE INCA TRAIL MAPS

1. Inca Trail Ancient Map

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2. Inca Trail Hikers Map

Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu 4 days 3 nights

4. Inca Trail Elevation Profile Hiking Map

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NEW and UNIQUE , 2022 add on will be the cooking class in all our camping treks , learn to cook under the stars and next to the mountains.

Explore All Inca Trail Tours: Short 2 Day, Classic 4 Day, and 5 or & Day Treks

Find the tour that best suits your interests. Do you want to hike the entire classic Inca Trail? Then choose the 4 day or 5 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu tours. Are you short on time or not keen on hiking a lot? Then the Short 2 Day Inca Trail Hike is perfect for you!

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Adventure Trekking Tours

Inca Trail (Classic) 4D/3N Group Tour

Experience the famous Inca Trail for 4 amazing days, and pass through the Sun Gate for that first magical sighting of Machu Picchu! This itinerary is ...

Destinations Cusco Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu
Duration 4 Days / 3 Nights
Group Size Up to 12
Physical Rating Challenging
Price per person US $695
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Inca Trail 4D/3N Private Tour

Inca Trail 4 days | Take a Private Machu Picchu Hiking Tour or Hike the Classic Inca Trail in a Private Group! Experience the famous Inca Trail for 4...

Destinations Cusco Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu
Duration 4D / 3N
Group Size Up to 8
Physical Rating Challenging
Price per person US $1,250
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Machu Picchu Inca Trail 5D/4N

Go a bit slower on this Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 5-Day trek and take in the wonders of the Andes! The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu treks generally fol...

Destinations Cusco Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu
Duration 5D / 4N
Group Size Up to 8
Physical Rating Challenging
Price per person US $850
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Short Inca Trail trek with Camping 2D/1N

This short 2 day Inca Trail with camping adventure includes six hours of hiking along the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. You’ll start your first...

Destinations Cusco Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu
Duration 2D / 1N
Group Size Up to 8
Physical Rating Challenging
Price per person US $590
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Short Inca Trail trek with Hotel 2D/1N

The Short Inka Trail is designed for travelers who want to experience the magic of the Inca Trail, without committing the time needed for one of the l...

Destinations Cusco Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu
Duration 2D / 1N
Group Size Up to 8
Physical Rating Moderate
Price per person US $550
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Salkantay Tour & Inca Trail 7D/6N

Salkantay Tour | For those looking to combine the best of our two most popular treks, this is for you. The Inca Trail or Salkantay Tour are a lot to t...

Destinations Cusco Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu
Duration 7D / 6N
Group Size Up to 8
Physical Rating Challenging
Price per person US $1,150
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Sacred Valley Tour 1 Day & Inca Trail 2D/1N & Rainbow Mountain + Red Valley 1 Day

Trip Overview Tour Location: Sacred Valley, Inca Trail, Rainbow Mountain, Red Valley. Tour Type: Trekking/Hiking, cultural, adventurous Good For: Thos...

Destinations Cusco Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu
Duration 4 Days / 3 Nights
Group Size Up to 8
Physical Rating Challenging
Price per person US $845
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Sacred Valley Tour 1 Day & Inca Trail Hike 2D/1N

Trip Overview Tour Location: Sacred Valley, Inca Trail. Tour Type: Trekking/Hiking, cultural, adventurous Good For: Those in moderate shape, families....

Destinations Cusco Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu
Duration 3 Days / 2 Nights
Group Size Up to 8
Physical Rating Challenging
Price per person US $775
Adventure Trekking Tours

Inca Trail Hike 2D/1N & Rainbow Mountain + Red Valley 1 Day

Trip Overview Tour Type: Trekking/Hiking, cultural, adventurous Good For: Those in moderate shape, families. Difficulty: Moderate. It’s not a te...

Destinations Cusco Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu
Duration 3 Days / 2 Nights
Group Size Up to 8
Physical Rating Challenging
Price per person US $745
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Inca Trail Hike 4D/3N & Rainbow Mountain + Red Valley 1 Day

Trip Overview Tour Type: Hiking, camping, adventure, history, culture. Total Distance: 50KM/31 Miles. Good For: Those who enjoy hiking and have a mode...

Destinations Cusco Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu
Duration 5 Days / 4 Nights
Group Size Up to 8
Physical Rating Challenging
Price per person US $845

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