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Inca Trail: Hike to Machu Picchu, Peru

inca trail

Hike to Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes: one of the last wonders of the world can be reached via one of the best trekking routes in Peru, if not the world. Without an official guide, however, nobody is allowed to set out on their own. Here we show what needs to be considered when organizing a trail to Inca.

Inca Trail Information

The Inca Trail moves at heights of 2,500 to 4,200 meters at its highest point and leads through a spectacular landscape that is framed by snow-capped Andean peaks. Trekking on the Inca Trail requires a good level of fitness, but the tour is not too difficult and can be done for most who are reasonably fit.

The dry season from May to September is the best time to travel for this trekking experience. However, the months June to August are quite cold at night. March, April, October and November are warmer and rainy. In February the trail is closed for maintenance.

On October 2021, the Inca Trail reopened and only about 200 hikers per day are allowed to set out on the breathtaking path. The Inca Trail permits are booked out many months in advance.


What can you sight?

Machu Picchu isn’t the only place of interest on the Inca Trail. Along the way are the ruins of the Inca towns of Sayaqmarka, Phuyupatamarca and Winaywayna, which are surprisingly well preserved. During stops in the ruins, the tour participant learns little-known details about the history of the Incas who once maintained their vast empire on these paths.

There are different climatic zones that have to offer contrasting landscapes. The spectrum ranges from mountain rainforest to snow-surrounded passes at great heights.

Book the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is one of the most popular trekking tours in South America. Due to the large number of visitors, the daily number of visitors was limited to 150 tourists and around 200 guides or porters. As soon as the travel dates have been determined, reservations should therefore be made. In general, it is recommended to book the tour 6 months in advance.

Hikers are not allowed to walk the Inca Trail on their own, but must do so with a licensed tour operator. Please note when booking:

  • How knowledgeable is the tour guide
  • Which languages besides Spanish are spoken in the group
  • Porters take over the luggage transport or the travelers carry their own rucksacks
  • What group size
  • What food

Even if expensive cannot always be equated with quality, the price often shows that some companies save on certain services. On the one hand, this can mean inadequate equipment for the porters, or on the other hand very economical provisions on the trail.

inca trail

Preparations for the Inca Trail

The difficulty of the trekking route is moderate.

Even if the trail leads to an altitude of over 4000m, altitude sickness is not a problem for almost all hikers if they stay in Cuzco for a few days in order to acclimate themselves.

Even if the length of the 4 day Inca Trail is only 43 km, some very demanding sections of the route can require a good level of fitness. In the weeks before departure, light endurance training makes sense to prepare your circulation and muscles for the stress.

What You Need to Bring?

All Inca Trail tour operators that are licensed for tours issue more or less detailed packing lists after the booking has been made. Those who are prepared for trekking in the local mountains will not be in for a surprise.

This equipment is recommended for a tour to Machu Picchu:

  • Waterproof clothing, e.g. softshell jacket
  • Light trekking shoes for hikers with luggage racks, light trekking boots for self-carriers
  • Rain jacket
  • Sleeping bag down to 0 ° C
  • several layers of clothing as the temperature changes from warm to cold depending on the altitude
  • warm change of clothes for the cold nights
  • Plastic bags and rain protection for clothes and rucksacks
  • Insect repellent with DEET
  • suncream
  • sunglasses
  • Headgear
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste etc.
  • compact camera with spare batteries
  • Toilet paper
  • Sandals or flip-flops for the evening
  • flashlight
  • Water bottle
  • Trekking poles
  • Swimwear to bathe in the hot springs of Aguas Calientes at the end of the Inca Trail. Towels can be rented on site.
  • Some lightweight snacks as well
  • Cash to buy food in the small villages on the way. Porters and guides are also happy to receive a tip.
  • Missing equipment can easily be rented in many shops in Cuzco

Inca Trail Alternatives

If the Inca Trail Tours are sold out, the second option are the Inca Trail alternatives trails, this trails have charms and most beautiful scenic trail, you can fall back on alternative trekking routes that offer a similar experience.

We recommend the Salkantay trek, Lares Trek, Inca Quarry and Inca Jungle Trek. All of these tours end with a visit to Machu Picchu. On site in Cuzco, the offer is large enough and inexpensive. So even spontaneous people can find their tour on old Inca trails.

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Written by Tierras Vivas

Story MakerYears Of Membership

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