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The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Peru's most wanted trekking
FromUSD$695
Peru's most wanted trekking
FromUSD$695
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To book the tour, please click the button below and you’ll be taken directly to the external booking form. The correct tour is already pre-selected for you. Of course the price is exactly the same as booking directly.

For more information, see the FAQ section below. Muchas gracias!

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1908
  • 4 Days, 3 NightsStarting point: your hotel in Cusco, Urubamba or Ollantaytambo
  • Group Size: up to 8 during Covid.Normally up to 16.
  • Difficulty: MediumImportant to be fit and acclimatised. Hiking experience is a plus.
  • March to JanuaryClosed for maintenance every February.

Even though at RESPONS we love the experience of our Coffee Routes a tiny little bit more; there’s no denying that the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the most beautiful and diverse trekking experiences on the planet. It is so popular that every year tickets are sold out months in advance. And with good reason: apart from amazing high Andean landscapes and cloud forest, you’re walking on a super well restored “Inca Highway”; one of the best showcases of the Incas’ engineering talents. If that weren’t enough, you visit spectacular archaeological sites on the way that aren’t accessible in any other way. It’s out of this world. 

Since many years, RESPONSible Travel Peru has partnered with Alpaca to operate our Inca Trails since they are one of the most sustainably operating agencies on the Inca Trail and offer a high level of service and comfort at a very good price. Thanks to this partnership, on our platform you can book the Inca Trail at exactly the same rate as you would directly. 

 

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu as part of a custom itinerary

Of course, we can also offer you the Inca Trail as part of your custom itinerary through Peru; filled with many more unique travel experiences that might and might not be bookable via our platform. If you so desire, please write our travel designers asap so we can design an itinerary for you that you – and the visited people and destinations – will love. 

 

Book your Inca Trail

This tour can start and end in Cusco or Ollantaytambo: hotel-to-hotel services is included. Below you can find more details about the itinerary, what’s (not) included, and so on. If you have questions; use the Enquiry form on the right (on mobiles: below). To book; click the Book Now button and you’ll be taken directly to Alpaca’s booking form so that they can quickly try to get you your entrance tickets and accompany you in the process towards your Inca Trail experience. Of course, the price is exactly the same!

Day by Day

Day 1Cusco - Piskacucho (Km 82) - Llactapata - Ayapata (3.300m)

We’ll pick you up from where you are staying in Cusco, Urubamba, or Ollantaytambo. Pick-up from Cusco will be from 4 to 4:30 AM, from Urubamba from 5:30 to 6 AM, and if you stay in Ollantaytambo, you get to sleep in a bit, having your pick-up only from 6:30 to 7 AM. These times will be confirmed at your briefing, as they might fluctuate based on where you are staying. We will take you to the Porter House in Ollantaytambo and after a delicious breakfast prepared by your cook, your guide will introduce you to your team of porters.

We will then drive to “Km 82”, where we’ll go through the first Inca Trail checkpoint to begin our trek. Please make sure you have your original passport with you to enter the Inca Trail. The first 2 hours of the trek are relatively easy as we make our way to our first Inca site. Patallacta is an ancient Inca checkpoint for the approach to Machu Picchu.

From Patallacta it’s another 2-hour hike to our lunch stop. After lunch, we will hike for another 2½ hours until we reach the first night’s campsite at Ayapata (3.300 meters / 10,800 ft altitude). On this last stretch, we pass through 2 small communities. If you want to buy any energy drink, snacks, or essential items you may have forgotten such as batteries you can do so here. We’ll arrive at our campsite by 5:00 PM. After settling in for a bit, you can relax and have a hot drink and snack with your team of porters, chefs, and guides. By 7:30 PM, your dinner will be ready, and after you can get some well-deserved rest.

 

Walking distance: 14 km / 8.7 miles (6-7 hours)
Campsite altitude: 3.300 meters / 10,800 ft (high) above sea level
Considered: Moderate day (getting used to the Inca Trail)
Weather: Warm and windy

Day 2Dead Woman´s Pass - Runcuraccay Pass - Chaquiccocha (3.600m)

Your porters will wake you up early with a hot cup of coca tea to get you ready for the day. We will have an early start since it will be our longest day. We’ll hike for roughly 4 hours to the highest pass of the trek, Dead Woman’s Pass (4.215 m / 13,829 ft). On reaching the pass, we’ll stop for a short break to enjoy the views before setting off again to descend to the next valley (Pacaymayu Valley – Hidden River). It’s another hour and a half down the side of the valley to our lunch spot, where you will have a chance to refill your water bottles.

After lunch, we begin ascending again to the second pass of the trek. It’s 2 hours over the pass where we will stop at a small Inca site (Runcu Raccay) and see two huge waterfalls cascading down the opposite side of the valley. After the second pass, it’s another hour downhill to reach the magnificent Inca site, Sayacmarca (an otherwise inaccessible village).

We’ll stop here to rest and have a quick tour. Afterward, we will be able to watch the sunset over the Vilcabamba mountain range. It’s then just another 20 minutes until we stop for the night at our second campsite Chaquicocha (Dry Lake, 3.600 m / 11,800 ft).

After dinner, if you’re not too exhausted, we can do some star gazing, and we’ll point out the fascinating Inca constellations. In the magnificent Southern Hemisphere sky, away from all the artificial lighting, this sky is something to behold!

 

Walking distance: 16 km / 9.94 miles (7-8 hours)
Campsite altitude: 3.600 m / 11,800 ft (high) above sea level (chilly weather)
Considered: Top day (you will have survived the two highest passes)
Area: Andes and Cloud Forest
Weather: Cold and rainy

Day 3Chaquiccocha - Wiñaywayna (2.600m)

Completing Day 2 and beginning Day 3 certainly deserves a pat on the back! We will start early again, waking up at 6:30 am to begin what is commonly felt to be the most beautiful day of the whole Inca Trail. We hike for 2 hours along what we like to call “Inca flat” (gradual inclines) and begin to enter the jungle, known as the Cloud Forest. As we walk, we will have the opportunity to see Salkantay, the second highest snow-capped mountain in the Sacred Valley, and a fantastic panoramic view of the Vilcabamba mountain range. Towards the end of the Inca flats, we begin to make our way up to the last peak at Phuyupatamarka (3.600 m / 11,800 ft) from where we’ll have great views overlooking the Urubamba River.

Down in the valley, we get our first view of Machu Picchu Mountain, but the site itself is still hidden. From Phuyupatamarka it´s a 3-hour walk down a flight of steps to our last campsite, close to Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young). Wiñay Wayna is the most spectacular Inca site on the trail after Machu Picchu and the most popular campsite because of its proximity to Machu Picchu. During the descent, we visit 2 Inca ruins, Phuyupatamarka (Town in the Clouds) and Intipata (Terraces of the Sun). We arrive at our campsite around 1:00 PM to have lunch.

Then we will relax so that you are ready for your final day at Machu Picchu. At around 4:30 PM your guide will give you a short orientation, and you will visit the Inca ruins of Wiñay Wayna for an hour and a half there. Your guide will explain the significance of the site and combine all the information given during the trek. This way you will be fully prepared for your visit to Machu Picchu the following day.

We like to spoil our guests as we enjoy our last feast with the porters and chefs. It’s an Inca Trail tradition to organize a ceremony in the evening to introduce the team to the tourists once again. This is to thank them for the great job done (if you wish to provide tips for them then you can do so at this time). It is advisable to go to bed at a reasonable time to get up in the early hours of the morning to arrive to Machu Picchu at the crack of dawn in the hopes that the weather will give us a beautiful sunrise over the ruins at Machu Picchu.

Walking distance: 10km / 6.2 miles (5 hours)
Campsite altitude: 2.600 m / 8,530 ft above sea level (mild weather)
Considered: Easy day – all downhill!
Area: High Cloud Forest
Weather: Warm and very humid

Day 4Sun Gate - Machu Picchu - The Lost City Of The Incas

Wake up time is at 3:30 AM. We’ll eat breakfast at 4:00 AM and wait at the checkpoint to be one of the first to start trekking when they open the gates at 5:30 AM. We’ll wave goodbye to our team of porters and chefs and then it’s on to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku)! From here we have spectacular views of the mountains and Machu Picchu in all its glory. We will reach the Sun Gate by 6:30 am, and then it’s just an hour trek down to reach the Lost City of the Incas. As we hike and get closer to Machu Picchu, the views of the city get better! At about 7:40 AM we’ll reach the final checkpoint and enter Machu Picchu to begin our 2 hours private guided tour.

After the tour, you’ll be given your bus tickets to make your way down to Aguas Calientes, and you’ll have plenty of free time to explore the city on your own or climb one of the neighboring mountains – Huaynapicchu (optional – must be arranged ahead of time). Please note that Covid regulations currently make it impossible to discover the site further once you’ve finished the tour, unless you buy a new ticket. 

Your guide will offer to meet you down in the village of Aguas Calientes to enjoy your last lunch in a local restaurant. This is optional and not included. At lunch, your guide will hand out train tickets, so if you choose to skip, please arrange to get these before leaving him at Machu Picchu.

Unless you arranged for an upgraded train, we will book the Expedition class train departing Aguas Calientes at 3:20 p.m. or 4:22 p.m. Please make sure you are on the platform at least 30 minutes ahead of time. This will be a 2-hour train ride to Ollantaytambo or Poroy (based on which train you get), where an Alpaca driver will meet you and drive you back to the city on our bus, and drop you off at your hotel.

 

Considered: The most exciting and magical day (early wake up 3.30 AM)
Area: High Cloud and Subtropical Forest
Weather: Hot and very humid (bring lots of water)

Small version of transparent round logo of RESPONSible Travel Peru

Why is this experience RESPONSible?

In the past years we have learned a lot about the sustainability practices our partner Alpaca Expeditions implements in its operations on the Inca Trail and the other routes they offer. Their environmental and social principles are very high; ranging from obvious activities like keeping campsites absolutely clean and taking all their garbage out, to less obvious actions like a wide array of social projects and their female porters project! That is why we wholeheartedly recommend them to you.

Some of the most important actions include:

Ethical and Responsible Treatment to their Porters

Most people would not be able to handle the challenges of these treks if it wasn’t for the porters helping with all the lifting, preparing and cheering. They are the backbone of Alpaca Expeditions and the reason why Raul Ccolque founded his company to begin with. He began in this industry as a porter and understands their needs better than anyone. Alpaca is dedicated and promises a better life to every member of its “Green Machine”. This includes better salaries that they can live from so they do not need to beg for tips to make ends meet.

They provide all their gear including warm, down jackets, proper hiking boots, backpacks, hats, headlamps, sleeping bags and pads and tents for them. They have a Porters House for their porters to sleep in the night before and after their trek since they often travel far from home. They include a medical doctor to work Monday through Friday at the Porters House to tend to their team and make sure they feel good and are looked after. And they support their families with helping their village schools, bringing doctors and dentists to visit with the families, planting trees in their valleys. Alpaca is committed to its social projects and it is appreciated by the more than 300 porters on their team.

Porters Trip

“We love meeting all our clients, but our favorite trips are when our porters and their families become our clients”, says Alpaca. While porters hike to Machu Picchu dozens of times per year, they never make it inside our famous citadel. Alpaca organizes 4 trips a year to bring its team inside and spend two days there to let them touch and see the history of their ancestors.

Equality Matters

We are all equal and every person contributes something different and beautiful to a team. At Alpaca, they have always had female guides and have had female porters and chefs on their team since 2017. While the numbers are not equal yet, we are hoping for the day when they have 50/50 men and women working in the mountains!

Sustainable and Responsible Tour Operator

Alpaca Expeditions is far ahead of its competitors on being a sustainable tour operator. They make sure they leave no trace behind on any of their treks. They even include an extra porter to make sure they help clean the trash left from other groups! They use local products that are biodegradable and organic whenever possible.

 

They have also obtained four ISO standards and measured their Carbon Footprint through a state program. All in all, they are one of the most sustainable Inca Trail operators and therefore one of our preferred partners.

Details

Price Includes

  • English-speaking guide:All guides grew up in this region and have a true passion to teach others about their heritage.
  • Permits and Machu Picchu:In order to hike the Inca Trail, you must have a permit to enter the trail. This can only be obtained by licensed Inca Trail tour operators. As soon as we receive your details and deposit we will purchase your permits. These permits are given for a specific date and in your name. Once they are confirmed they can’t be changed. The only thing that can be updated is your passport number. The permit includes Machu Picchu entrance.
  • Briefing:The night before your trek, you will have a trek briefing at Alpaca’s office with your guide and other trekkers in your group. At the briefing, you will receive your duffel bag, that will be with the porters while you hike. This bag should not exceed 7kg/14 lbs and needs to include your sleeping bag and air mattress, if you have chosen to rent or bring one. Remember, layering your clothes is key.
  • A Porter for your Personal Belongings:We include a personal porter who is responsible for carrying your duffel bag. There is no additional fee for this. You will not have access to your duffel bag until your evening campsite. The duffel should not exceed 7kg which will include 4kg of clothes, 3 kg for your sleeping bag and sleeping mat.
  • Green Machine Porters: The men and women that make up our porter team are responsible for carrying all the camping equipment and food, setting up and breaking down each campsite, assist the chef with all food preparation. By law, they can carry up to 20 kg max, which is a rule we take very seriously. For example, with a group of 8 trekkers there will be 15 porters.
  • Trekking Chef and Food: Our chefs will prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner, often starting with a nutritious soup and mostly serving family style. There will always be a protein, salad, assorted sides, and even desserts. They will cater to all food restrictions and make sure everyone has enough to make it up the mountain. Please make sure that we know of any food restrictions at time of booking.
  • Water: Bring bottles that can hold at least 3 liters of water. We will provide water at each meal – boiling it, filtering it and then cooling it down to make sure all water is clean and ready to drink.
  • Note: * Water will not be provided until your first lunch when our porters will have the ability to prepare clean water. Please bring enough water for your first morning on the trail.
  • Equipment: Alpaca uses the best equipment on the market including Eureka Timberline 4 person tents shared by only 2. Single tents are available ($30US). We have large dining tents for clients to enjoy their meals. Every client will receive a pillow for sleeping and foam sleeping pad to insulate you from the cold ground. All dining equipment including chairs and dishes are provided, as well as private toilet tents.
  • Hotel to Hotel Service: You will be picked up from your hotel the morning of your trek and driven to KM 82 in our comfortable van. After the trek, we will drive you from the train station back to your hotel or AirBnb.
  • Transportation and Train Service: All your logistics are included in this trek including the bus ticket from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes as well as your tourist class train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo. This is a 2 hour trip and it will be another 2 hours by car back to Cusco. If you wish to upgrade to the Vistadome train, a train with larger windows and more comfortable seats, it will cost $75 per person.
  • First Aid:Your safety is our number one concern. All our guides are trained and re-trained every February by a medical doctor. They all carry first-aid kits and full oxygen tanks. If needed, we will get you off the trail as quickly and comfortably as possible to be taken directly to a clinic for treatment. While these situations are rare, we prepare for them.
  • Satellite Phones: While our guides can handle most first aid issues that happen on the trek, there are some that need a bit more attention. Every guide has a fully charged satellite phone with them when they leave for a trek. Being a phone call away from any doctor, hospital, or friend helps everyone feel assured that they are safe.
  • Extras: Every trekker receives a small pillow to sleep with, a foam mattress for insulation, a day pack cover to protect their things while hiking, and a rain poncho. We provide hot water bins each day to help you clean and feel good at night.
  • Taxes and Fees: All taxes and permit fees associated with this trek are included in our price. There are no hidden fees.

Price Excludes

  • Lunch on the last dayYou'll get a snack that morning to make it through the day; after that you'll have plenty of options in Aguas Calientes before taking the train back.
  • RentalsEvery trekker needs a sleeping bag when camping. Inflatable air mattresses and walking sticks (with rubber tips) are optional but encouraged. If you don’t want to bring any of the above, they are all available for rent:
  • Sleeping Bag: $20
  • Inflatable Air Mattress: $15
  • Walking Sticks (Pair): $15
  • Huayna PicchuHuayna Picchu is the mountain next to Machu Picchu. It is a 45-minute hike to the top. Going back down is quite steep if you are scared of heights. You would do this after your tour of Machu Picchu. The cost is $75. Arrangements need to be made at least one month in advance due to popularity. Please understand that the weather is out of our control.
  • Read more about what's generally not included in our Terms and Conditions (click here).

What to Bring

  • Original passport(And student card if you booked as a student)
  • Good daypack (the smaller, the better)Bags larger than 25L will not be allowed into Machu Picchu but can be securely stored at the entrance.
  • Water storage (bottles or bags)Water reservoirs like Camelbaks are encouraged. Ensure a capacity of at least 2-3 liters in total.
  • Comfortable hiking boots (lightweight with good soles)
  • Apart from all the items we already recommend in our Packing List (see below) make sure you have the following for your duffel bag:Warm down jacket, headlamp, Waterproof clothes, shoes and gloves, camp shoes, quickdry towel (small ones provided), small bottle or piece of soap, battery charger, sleeping bag (for -10C at least) if you have one.
  • Some toiletriesSee our packing list, too! Sunscreen is very important, as well as your personal first aid kit and some toilet paper.
  • In your daypack, bring at least:Water, sunhat, rain gear, fleece, camera, handsanitizer, toilet paper, small plastic bag for waste, extra Money for Souvenirs, Drinks & Tips
  • For our excellent general packing tips, please read this article (click here) and leave well prepared!
Frequently Asked Questions

About the tour itself

Can I check the availability of Inca Trail permits for my preferred date?

Yes, if you want (great idea!) you can first check the availability of permits on your preferred date on the following link: https://www.alpacaexpeditions.com/inca-trail-availability/

If the availability is below 100 or even 50, you might be too late so try to make a quick decision. Permits sell out very quickly because every hiker represents around three permits (porters also need permits and count to the limit of 500 persons per day!) 

Once you’re sure about your date, don’t wait and book as soon as possible. Usually, you need to book 5 to 6 months in advance. Due to the pandemic, in 2022 this is not the case but once restrictions are lifted, sales might explode. 

How does the booking work?

Once you click the booking button in the top right corner (below in mobile devices) you’ll be taken straight to Alpaca’s booking form. We’ve chosen for this setup so that there is no time wasted. Please make sure the booking form is completed and includes all details for the entire party on one form. If there is availability of permits for your date, pay the $200 deposit per person as soon as you can. Once we have all deposits and details, Alpaca will then book your permits (it is not possible to do that beforehand).

Once the 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.

Please note that once your permit is secured, the name and start date can not be changed under any circumstance. The only information the government permits us to change is the passport number.

Is this hike physically demanding?

While you don’t need any specific training to do the 4 Day Inca Trail, being fit will help. The best preparation for the trek is treadmill exercises with steep inclines and stairs. The second day will be your toughest day, as you will climb up two peaks that day. In general, the Inca Trail is like any other high mountain trekking: sometimes you just need to persevere and get on. 

It is very important to be well acclimatized before you start the hike. Make sure you spend at least two days below 3.000 meters altitude (9,850 ft) and ideally also two days above that altitude before you start the hike. Read our article on How to stay healthy and safe whilst traveling through Peru

How many people will be in my group?

Due to Covid restrictions, currently only up to 8 people are allowed to share services. Measurements do apply; you can read more about those here: Traveling to Peru in Covid times: measures, restrictions and conditions.

Under normal circumstances, the maximum group size is 16 people. 

Do I have to pay any entrance fees?

No, all the entrance fees are included in the price. There are no hidden surprises: only the additional services you might or might not want to add to the price. Please refer to the “Not included” section to see them. 

What is the highest point during this route?

The highest point is the Dead Woman’s Pass (4.215 m / 13,829 ft), which you will hike to in roughly 4 hours on the second day of the trekking. Four hours uphill at those altitudes; so be sure you’re ready and well acclimatized!

The highest campsite is Chaquicocha (3.600 meters / 11,800 feet), for the second night. 

What kind of weather should we expect during this route?

Well, you’re in the Andes so when there’s sun it’s quite warm (short sleeves and trousers are definitely possible), but when there’s no sun it’s cold (you’ll want your fleece and down jacket and even gloves and hats!)

The rainy season is from December to April but occasional rains can occur anytime throughout the year. From May to August night temperatures will go below freezing point in the second night, possibly also the first campsite. 

So, be prepared for anything. Use layered clothing. Find more info about climates in Peru in our blog “Best Time to Travel to Peru“. 

General questions

For questions about booking a tour, prices, preparation for your trip, health and safety or other themes, please check our Frequently Asked Questions page. If you can’t find your question & answer, email us and we’ll add it!

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