In this classic 4 Day / 3 Night Inca Trail Trek, you will have to carry all of your own gear, including sleeping bags and mattresses. Together, the sleeping bag and mattress weigh about 2.5 kilos (4 pounds); most trekkers end up carrying about 7-10 kilos (14-20 pounds) total.While our porters will carry food, all the equipment need to opérate this amazing adventure. Worried it might be too much weight? Check out our Classic Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu with Personal Porter!
Day by Day
Day 1: The Start of the Adventure – Vamos Amigos!
We will start our journey by picking you up early from your hotel between 4:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. We will travel by bus to a breakfast stop (not included in the price of this trek) in Ollataytambo. After breakfast, we will reload the bus and travel to Piskacucho (also referred to as Kilometre 82) where we will begin our trek. Upon arrival at Kilometre 82, you will need to present your entrance tickets, passports, and (if paying the student rate) student cards.
The start of the Inca Trail is at an elevation of 2,720 m/8,923 ft. From here, we will cross the Vilcanota River and follow its route to the right. The first day is relatively easy, a warm-up on the flat Inca terrain. We will have great views of the Incan fortress Huillca Raccay, the vast and incredible Inca site of Llactapata (officially called “Patallacta”), the Urubamba mountain range that divides the jungle, the Andes, and the beautiful snow-capped peak of W’akay Willca (5,860m/19,225ft), also known as Veronica. Our first campsite at Ayapata will be a 90 minute hike up from the small village of Wayllabamba, at an elevation of (3,000m/9,842ft) in the temperate green valley. The temperature at night here is usually around 10°C / 50°F.
- Walking distance: 8.7 miles / 14 km (6-7 hours)
- Campsite altitude: 3,000 meters / 9,842 feet above sea level.
- Difficulty: Moderate (warm up to the Inca trail)
- Weather: Warm and windy
Day 2: The Trail´s Most Challenging Day
After an early wake up between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. for a hearty breakfast, we will start a steep ascent towards the highest pass of the trail, Abra de Huarmihuañusca, or “Dead Woman’s Pass”, at (4,200m/13,779ft). En route, we will be able to see hummingbirds and other wildlife. We will also have time to appreciate an incredible variety of native plants and trees such as the Polilepys or Q’ueuña, which grow in the astonishing cloud forest at (3,650m/11,972ft) above sea level. When we reach the top of the mountain pass, you will a true sense of achievement—many consider this the most rewarding moment of the trek. After a break at the top of the pass, we will begin the descent to the lunch stop, which is located at Pacamayu, at (3,550m/11,646ft). After lunch is another steep climb to the Runkuraqay Pass, at (4,000m/13,123ft). We will arrive at our campsite by 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. This will be a very long day, but filled with spectacular views. The temperature at this campsite will be around 6°C / 43°F at night.
- Walking distance: 9.94 miles/16 km (7-8 hours)
- Campsite altitude: 3600 meters / 11,811 feet above sea level (chilled weather)
- Difficulty: Challenging (we will summit two passes)
- Area : Andes and the cloud forest
- Weather : Cold and rainy
Day 3: Trekking Through the Past — The Most Impressive Day of the Trail
We will wake up for breakfast at 6:00 a.m. and start the day with a gentle climb to visit the archaeological site of Phuyupatamarca, which means ” the town in the clouds”. This will be the third highest point on the trail, at an elevation of 3,680m/12,073ft. The views of the mountains, canyons, and surrounding areas are spectacular. The ruins of Phuyupatamarca is located a few minutes walk from the third pass. After visiting this site, we will continue walking onwards through the cloud forest to the impressive agricultural Inca site of Intipata before reaching our final campsite, Wiñay Wayna, at 2,680m/8,792ft. Day 3 requires approximately only 5 hours of walking to reach Wiñay Wayna, which means “forever young”. An Inca site of the same name is located a short distance from this campsite. Even if you are tired after Day 3, don’t miss out on visiting the most impressive site on the trail.
- Walking distance: 6.2 miles/10km (5 hours)
- Campsite altitude: 2,600 meters / 8,530 feet above sea level. (Chilled weather)
- Difficulty: Easy (downhill walking)
- Area : High cloud forest
- Weather : Warm and very humid
Day 4: Tour in Machu Picchu and Train back to Cusco
We wake up very early for breakfast at 4:30 a.m. to hike to Inti Punku, or “Sun Gate,” in time to witness the sunrise. This is where you will have your first dramatic view of Machu Picchu, at an elevation of 2,400m/7,873ft. After some time admiring the view from the Sun Gate, we will walk down the last part of the trail to the spot where you can take the classic photo (postcard shot) of this ancient city. Finally, we enter Machu Picchu itself!
Once you arrive in this modern wonder of the world, you will have a 2 hour walking tour of the ancient site. After the tour, you will have several hours of free time for your own exploration of the city.
At about 1:30 p.m. we’ll meet at a restaurant in Aguas Calientes to have our last lunch together. After lunch, you will be given your train tickets for your return journey to Cusco. We’ll arrange to meet 40 minutes before your train departs and then go together to the train station.
Important: If you are not used to walking/trekking with a backpack, you should consider booking our 4 Day Inca Trail including a personal porter.
After we have received your booking form and confirmation your deposit was made, we will send you an electronic receipt confirming your trek has been officially booked and the exact departure date of your trek.
WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO COLLABORATION
In case we do not meet the minimum group size or we do not have enough people to operate the tour ourselves, we reserve the right to occasionally collaborate with other tour operators. In these cases, the client will always be notified in advance.
Returning train Included in the cost of this tour/trek is the Expedition train, which departs either at 6:20 pm or 7:00 pm DEPENDING ON AVAILABILITY.
Can I get an early train ticket?
We can also book an afternoon train that departs 2:55 p.m. or 4:22 p.m. at an extra cost of US $35 per person the train we will book DEPENDS ON AVAILABILITY.
Please, notice that 35 dollars extra you will pay also will cover your private transportation to bring you back from Ollantaytambo train station to your hotel in Cusco
There is also an option to upgrade your train to the Vistadome train which is the extra US $75 per person. Please let us know your preference at the time of booking the tour. Unfortunately, none of the trains go straight to Cusco—they run either to Ollantaytambo or Poroy. In either case, we will transfer you back by bus to Cusco.
Can I change my return train ticket by myself?
At the time of your tour, it may be possible to make changes to your return train ticket if you don’t want to take the 18:20 p.m train. You will have to take your train ticket personally to the train station in Aguas Calientes and ask them to change the return ticket for an early one. You will probably be asked to pay an extra administration fee, which will depend on the train service and departure time. Please notice that once you will change your returning train you will responsible to cover your own transportation back to Cusco
How long is the journey back to Cusco?
You will be traveling for approximately 3 hours before you arrive back in Cusco. First, you will travel for 1.5 hours by train to the Ollantaytambo train station. Then you will be picked up by your driver outside of the train station. The driver will be holding a sign with your name on it so that there will be no confusion. If you do not see the driver initially, wait for them outside of the train station. Once the driver has picked you up, you will travel for another 1.5 hours in a private van/car to your hotel/hostel in Cusco. Arrival time in Cusco will depend on train availability. You will receive your return train tickets once your guide has finished your walking tour of Machu Picchu.
- Student Discount $20
- Under 18 Discount $20
- Under 7 Discount $50
Important Notice Regarding Student Discount Eligibility
We offer a student discount (USD $20.00). However, due to several incidents of users falsifying personal data, the ISIC card is no longer valid for purchasing a discounted tour. As of July 1, 2017, the rules for purchasing student tickets to Machu Picchu have changed: discounts are only available with presentation of a student visa granted by the Peruvian embassy or consulate in the student´s country of origen and/or by the National Superintendent of Migrations. These documents must be provided at the time of purchase; discounts cannot be applied retroactively and refunds or reimbursements in this case are not available. Please send us a scan or photocopy of your passport, student visa, and university ID card or transcript so that we are able to secure your discount.
- Small day pack $20
- All-weather sleeping bags $20
- Walking poles (sticks) $20
- Professional guide fluent in English
- Assistant guide (for groups of 9 or more people)
- Private bus to the start of the trail
- Entrance fee to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
- Two-people tents with plenty of room for your belongings
- Sleeping mattress
- Meals cooked by an experienced chef: 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners, and snacks!
- Delicious food that is rich in carbohydrates and suitable for trekking
- Coca tea served each morning in your tent for a gentle start to the day
- Boiled water to refill your Camel Back and water canteen
- Happy hour including hot drinks such as mate de coca and locally grown coffee which is prepared by our cook.
- Snacks every morning.
- Porters to carry the tents, food, cooking equipment, dining and kitchen tents
- First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle
- Bus ticket from Machu Picchu down to the village of Aguas Calientes
- Expedition train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
- Bus from Ollantaytambo to Cusco
- Sleeping bags
- Breakfast on the first morning
- Lunch in Aguas Calientes on the final day
- Entrance to the thermal springs in Aguas Calientes (optional: 10 soles
- Tips for the guide, cook and porters
- Entrance to Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu
What you need to bring
- Original passport
- Sleeping bag
- Insurance card/certificate
- Hiking boots
- Waterproof jacket or rain poncho
- Warm jacket
- Hat and gloves
- 2-4 t-shirts
- 2 pairs pants (1 for hiking, 1 for when you are relaxing)
- Thermal underwear for sleeping
- Hand sanitizer
- Comfortable trousers
- Sun hat or cap
- Insect repellent
- Water beginning from the second day until your last breakfast will supply all the water needed. This water will be boiled, filtered and then cooled, before distributing. You must supply your own water Camel Back. We recommend carrying about 2L worth. We will refill our waters at each meal
- We strongly recommend to bring your Camel Back and water canteen due to that government of Peru will not allow disposable plastic bottles anymore on the Inca trail and in Machu Picchu.
- Toiletries/ Toilet paper
- Personal medication
- Camera and batteries
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Cash (in Peruvian nuevos soles)
At Inka Trail Backpacker, providing a personal experience and ensuring you are thoroughly prepared for your trek is very important to us. Before you depart on the Inca Trail trek, you will receive a briefing in our office. At the briefing, you will get to meet our staff, receive maps and a detailed description of each day of your tour, be given duffel bags if you have hired a porter, and have the opportunity to ask questions. Please do not forget to bring your original passport with you
Renewal or change passport number?
If you plan to renew or change your name on your passport between making your trek booking and starting your trek, you can book your trek or tour with your current passport number or name, but you must send us a copy of your old passport and a copy of your new passport when you have them. We can then make the change with the government before you arrive. The extra cost to make the change is US$25 per person. (This will cover the change in number or name for your Inca Trail Permit, Machu Picchu Entrance, and train.)
If you do not advise us of the change or do not want to pay the fee, bring the original of both passports (the old and new one). You can enter Peru with your new passport but you must show the government authorities your old passport in order to enter the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu or train. If you cannot do so, you will not be allowed to start your trek by the government officials. All names and numbers must match!!
Why is my tour more expensive when I pay with a credit card?
When you pay with a credit card or PayPal, there is a 6% service charge added to the total cost of your tour. However, there is no service charge if you pay with cash; for this reason, the total cost of the tour will be higher when you pay with a credit card.
Do the tour guides speak English?
Our team of guides are all local to the Cusco area and speak both Spanish and English fluently. Many of them also speak Quechua (the native language of Peru). With degrees in tourism and with two years minimum of experience under their belts, they are full of energy, information about the native flora and fauna, and the Inca sites, with a vast knowledge of ready sourced stories and legends told by the Andean people.
How many people are there per group?
The maximum size of our Inca Trail 4 day group service is 16 people. For groups of over 8 people we also employ an assistant guide to help out (the assistant guide is a fully qualified guide but may lack some of the experience of the main guide or still need to improve his/her English skills.
Is the Inca Trail difficult? Do I need to be fit?
The Classic Inca Trail Machu Picchu is a 42 km (24.4 mile) hike through the Andes in the Cusco region. The maximum altitude reached is 4,217m/13,907ft. On the second day of the trek, we climb two mountains. The Trail is a fairly difficult trek; you should be well prepared and healthy prior to starting it. You have to be moderately fit and exercise regularly.
In preparation, try walking 15kms per day or go to a fitness club in the months leading up to the trek. It is also important to be well acclimatized to the altitude. Try to spend at least two or three days in Cusco (3350m/11,047ft) prior to starting the Classic Inca Trail Machu Picchu.
What about toilets?
Toilets have improved a lot in the last couple of years and all of the larger campsites have flushable toilets and running water. Overall, they are kept pretty clean. If you do need to use the toilet between campsites, then please defecate away from the trail and water supplies; you can dig a hole, or cover your feces with a rock, and take the paper with you in a bag to deposit in one of the several bins along the way. There are hot shower facilities in Wiñay Wayna on Day 3, although they are usually not very clean.
Important: As a sustainable tourism operator that takes care of our porters we do NOT take portable toilets.
Tips for the Staff: Tips for porters, cooks and guides are always welcome. The porters are also very grateful for small gifts, such as clothing and school equipment for their children. A normal amount is S/60-80 for each porter and S/120 for the chef. The group will pool money for the tip, this is not an individual amount.
Refunds: If we fails to confirm the reservation, your payment will be refunded in full.
Health and Safety: A participant must declare if he/she has any sickness or medical disorder and must bring his/her own medication. We recommend that you meet with a doctor before you book the trek if you have questionable health.
Food on the Inca Trail: Always fresh and featuring organic ingredients, the food on the Inca Trail is always something to look forward to. There is always plenty to eat and lots of options including vegetables, meat, chicken, fish and other sources of protein and carbohydrates. On our tours, everyone sits down to eat together and enjoy each others´ company.
Can I have vegetarian meals, vegan, special meals?
We offer standard meals as well as a vegetarian meal option. Just let us know if you want vegetarian meals when you book your trek.
Vegetarian meals have no red meat, chicken or fish. We will assume that eggs and dairy are OK. We are unable to cater specifically for vegans as it is too complicated for our cooks (remember they are cooking in a tent). Most of our main meals in the evening are served as a buffet service so you can always leave out what you don’t like. If there is a particular food that you don’t like (i.e. tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, etc) we will ask the cook to do his best to leave them out of the dish, but we cannot guarantee this. We can also cater to lactose-intolerant and gluten-free diets (mild reactions only, no life-threatening allergies accepted—see below). We reserve the right not to accept a trek booking based upon dietary requirements; this may be because we already have several people booked requiring special meals and don’t want to further inconvenience our cook. Thanks for your understanding.
Standard (no dietary requirements, will eat everything)
No red meat (chicken & fish ok)
No fish (red meat and chicken ok)
Lactose-free (mild reactions only)
Gluten free (mild reactions only)
Unfortunately, we don’t offer a combination of the above i.e we don’t accept vegetarian AND gluten-free.
Storage during your trek: You can leave any of your belongings that you do not want to bring on the trek at your hotel or hostel you were previously staying in. These hostels/hotels usually have a secure, locked room where you can store your belongings. If you do not trust your hostel, we would be more than happy to securely store your belongings for you.
When do I need to pay the balance for my tour??
We require everyone to be in Cusco at least two nights prior to starting the trek, although three nights is even better. You must pay your trek balance at least two days before the trek departure. For example, if your trek departs on a Monday you must come to our office before 7:30 pm on Saturday to pay the trek balance. This ensures that everyone in the group is well acclimatized to the high altitude before starting the trek.
How many days will I need to acclimate to the altitude before the Inca Trail Trek?
It is very important to be well acclimated before exerting yourself on a trek. This is why we require everyone to be in Cusco for a minimum of two days prior to regular treks like the Inca Trail. However, if you are doing one of our longer treks like the 6 Day Combined Salkantay/Inca Trail Trek, you will need at least four days to acclimatize because these treks occur at much higher altitudes than Cusco. You can use this time spent acclimatizing to visit the city of Cusco, nearby Inca ruins, and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Should I hire an extra porter?
About thirty percent of the group hires the services of an extra porter to carry their personal items. A ‘half porter’ can be hired for the four day trek for US$100 (2020). This price includes porters entrance fees, meals, transport and wages. If you hire the services of a half porter you can give him a maximum of 6kg (13lbs) to carry, which is usually sufficient for your sleeping bag (about 2.5kg), mattress (1 kg), and change of clothes (about 2.5kg). However the porter will not walk at your side during the trek, so you will still need to bring a day pack to carry essential items such as water, snacks, camera, a warm sweater, and rain jacket. When you pay the trek balance in our office in Cusco, we will give you a duffle bag so that you can put your items in that, which you will give to the porter on the day of the trek.
Can I wear sneakers on my trek? Why do I need hiking boots?
No, sneakers are not recommended for the Inca Trail! The terrain is very steep, with loose gravel, puddles, mud, and other obstacles. You must have sturdy, waterproof footwear designed for this type of terrain, with good traction and ankle support. Be sure to break in your hiking boots before your trek! Wear them on several shorter walks or hikes before your trip, so that your feet can get used to them.
If you do not have hiking boots, or they are too bulky for your suitcase, you can rent them in Cusco for under one hundred soles.
Can you guarantee that the group will camp at Wiñay Wayna on the third night of the Inca Trail ?
Wiñay Wayna is the campsite closest to Machu Picchu, so it is everybody’s favourite campsite. Wiñay Wayna is about a two hour trek from Machu Picchu so it allows the group to arrive at Machu Picchu very early in the morning. However, there is not enough space at Wiñay Wayna for all the Inca Trail groups. The next nearest campsite is Phuyupatamarca, which is a five hour trek from Machu Picchu. When we buy the trek permits for the group, we are allocated the campsites by the government. We highly recommend that you book your Inca Trail permit on a day with more than 160 available spaces. Otherwise, you may not be able to camp in Wiñay Wayna campsite
Can I stay in the Sacred Valley?
Ollantaytambo is the best place to stay, other than Cusco. By staying in Ollantaytambo, you actually get a little more sleep, because we will be picking you up about 1.5 hours after the Cusco pick up time (approximately 4:30-5:00 am). This being said, the pre-trip briefing can only be done in Cusco,
How warm are the sleeping bags that you rent?
Our sleeping bags are rated for temperatures as low as -10°C, but are more suitable for temperatures of about -5°C. Since you won’t find temperatures as low as this on the trek, we rate them as very warm and cozy! We charge US$20 per person for the whole trek.
Is there an oxygen bottle available during the trek, just in case?
Yes, all our tour guides take an oxygen bottle with them along the trail and will provide oxygen as needed.
What vaccines do I need for my trip? Will I need malaria pills?
Before traveling to Peru, you should consult your doctor. Routine vaccines, Hepatitis A, and typhoid vaccines are recommended for most travelers by the CDC. Some travelers may also need vaccines for Hepatitis B, rabies, and yellow fever. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should also be advised that the Zika virus is present in Peru.
Malaria pills are not necessary for these treks.
Do you recommend a rain poncho, or is a rain jacket okay?
The rainy season in Cusco is generally from November to April, when there are near-daily showers and the ground—especially in trekking areas—is wet and muddy. However, there are occasional showers throughout the rest of the year; you should always pack a rain jacket, regardless of when you plan to visit. For treks, a rain poncho is highly recommended—since you will be walking through rain for potentially several hours without shelter, a poncho will be much more effective at keeping all of your belongings and your base layers warm and dry. Waterproof shoes are also strongly recommended.
What if I get sick on the trail during my tour?
In the event of illness or injury, we will offer all of the support and care we are able; however, you should carry any medications you expect to need with you (ask your doctor for specific recommendations or prescriptions for altitude sickness, traveler´s diarrhea , colds and sore throats, and pain or inflammation). If you are not capable of completing the trek, we will transport you back to Cusco, where you can seek medical treatment. However, the cost of this transportation is not included in your tour and you will be expected to pay the additional expense—for this reason, we highly recommend travel insurance for your trek.
Do I need walking poles?
Although not required, walking poles are recommended for any trekkers worried about joint stress or balance. They also are quite helpful in providing stability and leverage on especially steep climbs and descents. If you do not have poles or are unsure how to use them, we are able to rent them to you and provide instruction.
What documents do I need to bring to Machu Picchu?
As of July 1, 2017, you must have your original passport to enter Machu Picchu. You also need to have your entrance ticket, which your guide will give to you at the appropriate time. The passport that you bring to Machu Picchu must be the same one that you used to book your tour and entrance; if you change or renew your passport between booking and your trip, please be sure to bring the originals of both.
If I am travelling alone, can I have my own tent?
If you are travelling alone and are willing to share a tent with a member of the same sex, then there is no additional cost. If, however, you would like your own tent, there is an additional supplement of US$40.
How far in advance should I book my tour?
We recommend that you book your tour approximately two months in advance. This allows you maximum choice in selecting the details of your day at Machu Picchu; morning entrances to the site are extremely popular and sell out quickly. Although it is possible to book your tour closer to your expected travel date, your options will be more limited.
Is transportation to and from the Cusco airport included?
No, transportation to and from the airport is not included in your tour. Please plan accordingly.
Is there a direct train to Cusco from Machu Picchu?
The train travels between the town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley and Aguas Calientes, a small town located fifteen minutes below the Machu Picchu complex. The journey from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes is an hour and forty minutes. (The return journey will be about three and a half hours, because the drive from Ollantaytambo station to Cusco is about an hour and forty minutes.) From Aguas Calientes, it is either a fifteen minute bus ride or hour hike up to Machu Picchu. There is no direct train from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Although there is an additional station located at Poroy, about 25 minutes from Cusco, it is not always open. Train service from Ollantaytambo, meanwhile, is constant and reliable. Furthermore, taking the train from the Poroy station extends the total length of your journey between Cusco and Aguas Calientes to more than four hours, instead of three and a half.