What is the Difficulty of the Inca Trail?

The Classic Inca Trail is Peru’s famous multi-day trail and a world leading location for any outdoor activities. The difficulty of the Inca Trail is ranked based on the elevation gain over distance. It consists of a 4-days hike alongside some of the classic Inca stone pathways, through fascinating sites and ending at Machu Pichu, giving you a perfect outdoor adventure.

What to Expect From Your Inca Trail Trek

The difficulty of the Inca Trail starts with its distance, which covers 26 miles over four days and three nights, 2,000 meters to haul yourself up and level yourself down, and over 3,000 steps to deal with in total.

Every tour operator is a little different, but the hike is usually broken down into:

  • Day 1: 11 km (6.8 miles)
  • Day 2: 12 km (7.5 miles) Dead Woman’s Pass is also visited on this day.
  • Day 3: 16 km (10 miles)
  • Day 4: 4 km (2.5 miles) The Last City of the Incas – Machu Picchu – is visited on this day.

In addition to the multiple days on the hike, there are lengthy elevation changes along the way with day 1 and 4 having easy treks with manageable distances and minimal elevation changes. Day two proves difficult especially the morning’s uphill stretch of over 4,000 feet followed by a day three trail descend of 3,650 feet before reaching the Winay Wayna campsite. The reward is on day four as you enter through the Sun Gate into Machu Picchu.

Tips for Hiking the Inca Trail
The Inca trail difficulty can be eased by these tips that help in your preparation:

  • Exercise to strengthen leg muscles, with squats and lunges, aerobic training that strengthens lower body and core
  • Acclimate to the Andes Region high altitude before the start of your trek. Spend at-least 2-days in Cusco or the Sacred Valley for your body to prepare for the challenge
  • Practice hiking before your trip arrival and prepare yourself mentally. Working on your mental stamina as well as improving your physical endurance will make all the difference when tired legs, sore muscles, fatigue, doubts, and sickness arise
  • Pacing yourself on the trek as well as listening to your guides will make the trek enjoyable and impactful.

Understanding what to expect before your arrival allows you to experience less of a shock both physically and mentally. With these tips in mind, you are set to have an incredible trekking experience in one of the world’s most impressive archaeological sites. To plan your Peru adventure and to learn more about the hike to Machu Picchu, get in touch with Alpaca Expeditions. Alpaca Expeditions is a Peruvian travel operator with a main office in located in Cusco, Peru, and we are the top-rated tour operators of the Inca Trail.


Our goal at Alpaca Expeditions is to create the best experience for all of our clients. We create journeys that are to be remembered for a lifetime. Journeys you can be proud of and can share with everybody around you.