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Inca Trail Tour to Machu Picchu2024-02-20T10:34:29-05:00

DAYS

8

ACTIVITY LEVEL

Moderate

HOST CITY

Cusco, Peru

FROM

$3,075 USD

Download our Inca Trail to Machu Picchu itinerary:

 

A logo for the Inca Trail Tour trekking adventure in Peru with The Explorer's Passage. The circular logo is yellow and white and depicts Machu Picchu from an overlook nearby

Inca Trail Tour

Join The Explorer’s Passage on an incredible journey along the mythical Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, one of the great wonders of the world. The Inca Trail (Camino Inca) is one of the most important features of South America’s past and present, and this Inca Trail tour is unlike any other adventure in the world. This is because there are very few hiking routes where you can directly experience pre-Columbian South American history, as you will continuously encounter Incan archaeological sites over 500 years old along the trail.

During this Inca Trail tour, you will hike through Peru’s Sacred Valley, passing through diverse terrain such as cloud forests, rocky mountain passes, and verdant terraces, all surrounded by the misty peaks and rushing rivers of the majestic Andean mountains. Along the way, you may also spot unique Peruvian fauna such as llamas, foxes, spectacled bears, enormous condors, as well as countless butterflies and hummingbirds! Finally, at the end of the trek, you will receive a once-in-a-lifetime reward as you ascend through the Sun Gate (Inti Punku) and reach the legendary Machu Picchu citadel, which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our Inca Trail to Machu Picchu trek is for any adventurer who is ready to travel back through history while following in the footsteps of our Inca predecessors. Read on to learn more about this unparalleled adventure in Peru!

Explore Machu Picchu with T.E.P.

Customizable Itineraries

Photograph of Machu Picchu taken from a hill overlooking the citadel, with Huayna Picchu in the background

Prefer a longer itinerary, so you can have more time to absorb all that Peru has to offer? Want to visit Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca), or experience the culinary delights of Lima? Perhaps you would like to do the shorter Express Route to Machu Picchu? No problem. We can weave your interests and your timeframe into our existing itineraries so that every detail of your trip unfolds just the way you want it to.

World’s Best Guides

A photograph of two men wearing maroon t-shirts in the mountains of Peru’s Sacred Valley, on an Inca Trail tour. One man is a trekker and the other is a local guide

Experience the Inca Trail with the finest guides in the Andes. Our expert Guides are simply the best in the industry in every way – from deep knowledge of the trail’s history to the terrain to the attention and support paid to each traveler. Because they are local to the Sacred Valley and Cusco areas, they are better able to facilitate authentic immersion into the culture, history, people, and land. Our average guest-to-guide ratio is 8:1, one of the lowest on the Inca Trail.

Quieter Trails and Campsites

A photo of several hikers with backpacks walking on a stone path on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. There is a moss-laden branch hanging above them

On our Inca Trail tour, we deliberately time our departures to keep some distance from other trekking groups, which allows for a more tranquil and enjoyable overall hiking experience. Furthermore, for the first night on the trail, we contract with a local private estate so that you can camp away from the crowds. For the other two nights, we use quieter campsites that are not as commonly used as the alternatives. Also, our standard itinerary includes four full days on the trail and a three-hour guided tour of Machu Picchu on the fifth day, in order to allow you to truly experience Machu Picchu and also hike one of the two nearby peaks overlooking the site.

Superior Campsite Experience

A photograph of several blue tents in a row, for trekkers on an Inca Trail tour to Machu Picchu. The tents are set on flat ground in a grassy valley, and a small group of hikers stands in a circle near them

We go above and beyond our competitors in handling every aspect of campsite operations, so that you can focus on enjoying your time on this Inca Trail tour. On each day of the trek we provide snacks, we bring warm water to your tents each morning for washing, and we serve delicious and hearty meals in dining tents. Our experienced cooks use the finest local organic ingredients and produce fresh, nutritious meals that are comparable to some of the best Cusco restaurants. Many dietary restrictions or allergies can also be accommodated, just let us know in advance!

Let’s Plan Your Trip Today


Trip Highlights

 

  • Discover Cusco, the high-altitude city that was once the heart of the Inca Empire. Steeped in history and rich culture, Travel & Leisure Magazine described it as “a living monument to Inca history.”
  • Journey deep into Peru’s Sacred Valley on our Inca Trail tour, and find yourself surrounded by incredibly diverse terrain, remarkable flora and fauna, and the soaring peaks of the Andes.
  • Our world-class guides are the pioneers of Inca Trail trekking, and have been leading hiking adventures to Machu Picchu for over 40 years!
  • Explore Machu Picchu on a guided tour, weaving your way through the temple complexes, residential areas, iconic gateways, and terraces. Hike to the peak of Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, overlooking the citadel, for incredible views of the area.
  • Relax in the comfort and luxury of 5 Star accommodations before and after the trek – featuring some of the most extraordinary resorts and hotels in Peru (note: 3 / 4 Star hotel package is also available).

INCA TRAIL TOUR COST

From $3,075 USD per person

*More info. on pricing

START DATES

Pre-scheduled group tours depart:

Private custom departures are available every month except February (when the trail closes for archaeological/ecological maintenance).

To inquire on a custom date, please contact us!

TRIP DURATION

8 Days / 7 Nights (hiking on the Inca Trail for 4 Days / 3 Nights)

ACCOMMODATIONS

4 Nights in Hotels* / 3 Nights in Tented Camps along the Inca Trail

*choose between a 5 Star hotel package option or a 3 / 4 Star hotel package option instead

MAX. GROUP SIZE

12 people

(Private Closed Groups: 24 people)

Average Guest-to-Guide Support Ratio: 8:1

ACTIVITY LEVEL

Moderate*
Activities: multi-day hiking on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (total trekking distance: ~28 miles / ~45 km)

*Please refer to our Trip Activity Level Guide for more information

A map of the Cusco and Sacred Valley areas of southern Peru, including a route map of the Inca Trail tour to Machu Picchu with The Explorer’s Passage. The map displays Cusco’s location in relation to the trekking route from KM 82 to the Machu Picchu citadel

Inca Trail Tour Map

TRIP ITINERARY

Daily Overview

Day 1: Arrival in Cusco, Peru

Bienvenidos a Peru! Upon arrival at Cusco International Airport, you will be greeted by a member of our team. Experience the scenery and history in the beautiful capital city of Cusco as you are then transported to your hotel. This afternoon and evening, after settling in to your hotel, you will have free time to explore this extraordinary high-altitude city (~11,000 feet / ~3,350 meters above sea level). Later, you will enjoy dinner with a special VIP guest at one of our favorite restaurants in Cusco. Additionally, your guide will coordinate with you to provide a detailed pre-trek Inca Trail briefing on Day 1.

Day 2: Cusco Tour

Today is your first full day in Peru! Following a delicious breakfast, you will set out to explore Cusco on a private half-day van/walking tour. During this tour, you will be able to truly experience the sights, sounds, and main attractions of one of South America’s most impressive cities (which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The tour will take you to visit the heart of this city and its emblematic highlights. You will travel by van to explore the archaeological sites at Sacsayhuaman, Tambomachay, Pukapukara, and Q’enqo, and will travel by foot to the Cusco Cathedral and the incredible Qorikancha temple.

On your tour, you will undoubtedly be struck by the unlikely yet intriguing intersection of antiquity and modernity in this ancient capital city of the Inca Empire, as fashionable Cusqueñans share the sidewalk with rural campesinos on busy avenues and plazas, the latter often dressed in traditional garb and sometimes leading parcel-laden alpacas or donkeys.

Following this tour, you will have the afternoon and evening to explore the city on your own. Later, for lunch and dinner, you will be able to experience the gastronomy of the city at your leisure, at restaurants of your choosing.

Day 3: First Day of Inca Trail Trek (Cusco to Chamana)

At last, today you will begin your hike of the Inca Trail – one of South America’s most famous treks! Following an early wake-up, you will drive from Cusco to the trailhead at KM 82 to begin this incredible journey. While most other trekkers cross the Urubamba River at KM 82 (~8,694 feet / ~2,650 meters above sea level), you will continue downriver and cross at KM 88. As a result, this will set the tone for the rest of the trek (having the landscape to yourself, avoiding the crowds, and a more tranquil and immersive experience) and create some space between you and other groups as you warm up your hiking legs. Later, you will take your first break at the ruins of Q’oriwayrachina, consisting of nearly 200 ancient stone structures.

In the early afternoon, camp will be set and you will enjoy lunch at our campsite of Chamana (near a small village that is part of the Llaqtapata Community), at 8,481 feet / 2,585 meters above sea level. As evening approaches, you can visit the nearby archaeological site of Llaqtapata. Finally, at the end of the day, we are delighted to be able to offer you a warm dinner after the day’s trek!

Daily trekking distance: approximately 6.3 miles / 10.1 kilometers (i.e. ~5 hours of hiking)

Day 4: Second Day of Trek (to Llulluchapampa)

Wake up to a steaming cup of coffee or tea and trail-worthy breakfast at your campsite before embarking again on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. You will continue the journey up the narrow Cusichaca Valley, passing farmhouses and rural homesteads, until finally reaching the Andean community of Huayllabamba. From here, the cobble-stoned Inca Trail ascends steeply through an ancient native forest bursting with melodic birdsong.

Later, the trail begins to level out at the campsite at Llulluchapampa (12,336 feet / 3,760 meters), situated just below the first pass. At this point, while enjoying a delicious dinner, you can experience breathtaking views of Mt. Huayanay and a first glimpse of the rare Andean cloud forest of Quenua, or Polylepis trees. Their reddish bark peels into paper-like sheets, hence their familiar name “Paper Tree.”

Daily trekking distance: approximately 7.3 miles / 11.8 kilometers (i.e. ~7-8 hours of hiking)

Day 5: Third Day of Trek (to Phuyupatamarca)

Fuel up on a hot breakfast for the big climbs later today. Breathtaking vistas along the way will also give you energy as you head into the heart of the Andean mountains. The day’s hike begins with a steady ascent up to Warmiwanusqa Pass (‘Dead Woman’s Pass’), where you will enjoy panoramic views of the terrain you have just conquered from this challenging high point (13,871 feet / 4,228 meters, nearly 5,905 feet / 1,800 meters higher than Machu Picchu itself!).

Now, the hard-earned descent to the Pacaymayo River lies ahead. After a hearty lunch, you will ascend again to the ruins of Runkuraqay and a second pass (13,018 feet / 3,968 meters). From here, you will then walk down to the site of Sayacmarca on the original Inca Trail, passing a dry lake and the first signs of the mist-filled Andean cloud forest. Many plants and animals thrive in the cloud forest, including endemic species found nowhere else on Earth! You may spot hummingbirds, butterflies, and delicate orchids of various brilliant hues. This stretch of trail along a steady ridge offers a bit of a respite from the day’s arduous ascents and descents, in addition to offering incredible views of the beautiful Aobamba Valley below.

You will continue along the ridge through undeniably amazing landscapes and views of snow-capped Mt. Salkantay on the western side, as well as Mt. Pumasillo silhouetted to the north. Follow the flagstoned trail until you eventually arrive at your campsite at Phuyupatamarca (12,008 feet / 3,660 meters), whose name in the Quechua language means “village at the edge of the clouds.”

Daily trekking distance: approximately 7.5 miles / 12.1 kilometers (i.e. ~8-10 hours of hiking)

Day 6: Fourth Day of Trek (to Machu Picchu)

At last, you have arrived at the day that you will get your first glimpse of the iconic citadel of Machu Picchu! You will wake up early for a glorious sunrise view just a short hike up the hill from the campsite, where porters will await you with steaming cups of tea. This site is known to deliver some of the most surprisingly radiant sunrise views in the entire area. Following breakfast you continue on your journey, passing the ruins at Phuyupatamarca. These ruins contain an irrigation system that was built over five centuries ago, and which still functions to this day!

At this point, the flagstoned trail begins to wind sharply downwards, leading you into the cloud forest to the well-conserved ruins of Wiñay Wayna (‘Forever Young’) located just below the ridge. Following in the Inca’s footsteps, along the very same trail they once used, you will now pass through dense, misty cloud forest until at last reaching a viewpoint of Machu Picchu at Inti Punku (the Sun Gate) around 3:00-4:00 PM. After soaking up the glorious view, you will continue down past the archaeological site to the transportation area, in order to board a group shuttle down to the village of Aguas Calientes (which sits at the base of Machu Picchu, at an elevation of 6,692 feet / 2,040 meters above sea level). When you arrive in the town, you will enjoy a hard-earned shower and rest at your hotel.

Daily trekking distance: approximately 6.8 miles / 10.9 kilometers (i.e. ~8 hours of hiking)

Day 7: Machu Picchu Tour

Now that you have experienced the beautiful Inca Trail, you will hike Huayna Picchu (or Machu Picchu Mountain) and then further explore the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu (7,972 feet / 2,430 meters above sea level) on a three-hour guided tour. As part of the enhanced experience, you will then do the Circuit 2 tour route (the longer route through the citadel). Having the privilege of wandering the various sectors and entering some of the houses and temples will really bring this iconic site to life, and therefore leave you with a sense of reverence and awe for what the Inca were able to achieve so long ago. This tour will later be followed by a lunch, then a scenic train ride to Ollanta Station. From there, you will be transported by private vehicle to your hotel in Cusco.

Day 8: Final Day in Peru

Today you will enjoy your last morning in Peru, before later being transferred by private vehicle from your hotel to Cusco International Airport for your flight home.

Please contact us for a complete detailed itinerary.

Client Testimonials

Read what our clients are saying about this once-in-a-lifetime Inca Trail tour:

Tyler G.

 

“The most incredible experience of my life!”

 Winston C.

 

“Best Adventure Travel Company in the World!”

A black and white logo of the TripAdvisor 2020 Travelers' Choice Award, given to The Explorer's Passage

Trip Accommodations

For the nights before and after the trekking Inca Trail tour, you can relax in the comfort and luxury of 5+ Star premium accommodations – featuring some of the finest resorts in Peru. Alternatively, 5 Star and 3.5 Star hotel packages can be reserved instead (see below).

★★★★+

5+ Star Accommodations

Belmond-Palacio-Nazerenas-Peru

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas | Cusco, Peru

Bedding down in a former convent isn’t necessarily what you might expect. Lovingly restored, 17th-century architecture gives each artistic room and suite a distinctly colonial feel. Recline on a four-poster bed splashed with hand-embroidered silk coverlets. Bathe beneath hand-painted frescos using soap perfumed by the Palacio’s own flowers. Some suites feature original Inca stonework; others boast balconies with hypnotic views of Cusco’s distant, mist-wrapped mountains. Hotel website

Belmond Sanctuary Lodge | Aguas Calientes, Peru

Belmond-Sanctuary-Lodge

Sitting in the shadows of the Lost City, our lodge is an oasis of calm before or after a day exploring Machu Picchu. Unwind with a yoga session, take part in a traditional shaman ceremony in the garden, or sip muña tea in the Tampu Bar. Tranquility, wonder and beauty are at the heart of our unique experience. Cool botanical fabrics are offset by cherry-colored woods. King-sized beds provide space to unwind. Outside your windows, the mountains ripple into the distance.Signature dishes like a Jungle Landscape salad or Sacred Valley grilled trout evoke the Andean setting. Take a seat and let our authentic menu kickstart your Peruvian adventure. Hotel website

★★★

A photograph of the Palacio del Inka in Cusco, Peru taken in the early evening from the main central courtyard. Travelers doing a Inca Trail tour to Machu Picchu with The Explorer’s Passage can stay in this colonial-era hotel as part of the 5 Star Hotel package option

5 Star Accommodations

Palacio del Inka | Cusco, Peru

One of the finest hotels in Peru and part of Starwood Resorts’ Luxury Collection, the Palacio del Inka is a 16th century mansion once occupied by Gonzalo Pizarro, half-brother of Francisco Pizarro (the Spanish conquistador who conquered Peru).

Located in the heart of Cusco, Palacio del Inka is walking distance to shopping, restaurants, and museums. It is also located across from the Koricancha, the most sacred temple in the Inca Empire. The spacious rooms are exquisitely appointed, combining Peruvian art, handcrafted furnishings, as well as state-of-the-art technology. The on-site restaurant, Inti Raymi, serves particularly authentic Andean specialties, with ingredients organically grown in the Sacred Valley. Take advantage of the full service spa that draws on the ancient healing mysticism of the Andes. Hotel website

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo | Aguas Calientes, Peru

A photograph of the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Resort in Aguas Calientes, Peru taken in the early evening. The photograph showcases the unique location and beautiful forest setting. Many people who are hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu will stay here as part of The Explorer's Passage 5 Star Hotel package option

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is an intimate Andean village with terraced hills, waterfalls, stone pathways and 83 whitewashed adobe casitas tucked away in the cloud forest. The property has 12 acres of exquisite natural beauty, where 214 bird species – such as the golden-headed quetzal and the iconic Andean cock-of-the-rock – as well as the world’s largest native orchid collection (372 species) have been registered. The hotel also features an on-site restaurant overlooking the river, as well as a relaxing spa and sauna.

Additionally, the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Resort was rated the #3 hotel in Central and South America in Travel and Leisure’s 2015 World’s Best Awards. Hotel website

★ – ★★★★

A photograph of the interior courtyard of Novotel Hotel in Cusco, Peru, highlighting the beautiful colonial architecture. This hotel is an excellent starting point for Inca Trail tours in the Sacred Valley

3 / 4 Star Accommodations

Novotel | Cusco, Peru

The centrally located Novotel Cusco hotel is the perfect base for exploring this historic city and the surrounding area. The colonial and modern architecture continues in the spacious rooms, which offer free wifi. Relax under the shade of the canopy on the patio of this old colonial house while sipping coca tea. Hotel website

El Mapi | Aguas Calientes, Peru

A photograph of the entrance of El Mapi in Aguas Calientes, Peru, taken in the early evening

Step into the smart, contemporary and cozy confines of El Mapi, amidst the picturesque Machu Picchu Pueblo. Discover an efficient, lively and friendly atmosphere, welcoming guests expecting an unfussy, down-to-earth break. The flowing lobby creates a sense of vitality. Lofty ceilings, panoramic windows and an open café allow natural light to filter between tall eucalyptus dried branches, creating an ambience of order and wellbeing. Relax in a pleasant and wholesome ambience after your enlightening visit to Peru’s most famous destination: the Machu Picchu archaeological site! Hotel website

 

A daytime photograph of blue tents at a trekking campsite in the Sacred Valley, Peru. The background depicts tall mountains in the Andes range

Accommodations on the Inca Trail

Tented Campsites – “Moving Villages”

“Moving villages” are exactly as they sound: deluxe camps that move with you while you hike the Inca Trail. Following long days of trekking, you will enjoy comfortable tented campsites at incredible locations with breathtaking views. When booking your trip, you will have the option to choose between Eureka tents or higher-volume Big Agnes tents (the latter at additional cost).

We go above and beyond in handling every aspect of campsite operations, so that you can therefore focus on enjoying your time on the trail. All of the campsites feature dining tables in a dining tent (for breakfast & dinner, and lunch as well in the event that it is raining), fresh meals, beverages, your extra baggage, as well as two-person tents with sleeping pads already set up and awaiting your arrival. We also provide snacks before the trek each day, and we bring warm water and soap to your tents each morning for washing.

Furthermore, other luxuries – such as privacy toilet tents – will also be present at campsites on this trip. Optional shower tents can be arranged (at additional expense) if you elect to include them as part of your trekking experience while on the trail. Full adventure teams support these impressive accommodations and can generally consist of up to 15-20 porters, cooks, and guides for a 12-person trip.

The experience of relaxing in camp, sharing an evening meal with your fellow adventurers, and looking down across seemingly endless green valleys will undoubtedly stay with you for a long time.

FAQs

What is the Inca Trail?2024-01-04T16:56:51-05:00

The Inca Trail is one of the most famous long-distance treks on the planet. The Classic Inca Trail, the most common version of the hike, generally lasts between three to five days and showcases some of the most incredible architectural and natural wonders of Peru’s Sacred Valley. The adventure finishes at Machu Picchu, an epic citadel in the clouds that dates back to the 15th century.

Why is the Inca Trail so popular?2024-01-04T16:55:43-05:00

The Inca Trail is considered one of the world’s most popular bucket-list hikes. It’s rich in history and natural beauty, revealing the ancient wonders of Peru’s old Incan Empire alongside the cloud forests and glaciated peaks of the Andes. It’s also a ticket to seeing the fortified ancient city of Machu Picchu after passing through the Gate of the Sun.

Is the Inca Trail worth it?2024-01-04T16:55:18-05:00

The Inca Trail is 100% worth it! This is one of the most iconic trekking routes on the globe. It takes you over mountain passes deep in the Andes, offering spectacular views of snow-capped peaks and llama-filled highlands. The grand finale is at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu, which you enter via the legendary Sun Gate. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How long is the Inca Trail?2024-01-04T16:54:55-05:00

The most common version of the Inca Trail, known as the Classic Inca Trail, covers 26 miles (42 km) of the Cusco Andes before arriving at Machu Picchu. Don’t worry, though, it is split into four days of hiking, meaning you need to complete around 7 miles (11.3 km) per day. The longest day of hiking, day three, involves 7.5 miles (12 km) up to Warmiwanusqa Pass.

Where does the Inca Trail start?2024-01-04T16:54:27-05:00

The Inca Trail starts at KM 82. Also known as Piscacucho, it’s located within the Ollantaytambo district about 35 miles (56 km) directly to the northwest of Cusco city. The site is home to a train station, a clutch of cafes, and – as of 2013 – the Historical Interpretation Center of Machu Picchu which offers an introduction to the enthralling past of the region.

Where do you sleep on the Inca Trail?2024-01-12T14:07:12-05:00

Hikers on the Inca Trail will sleep in tented camps. On our treks, we call these “moving villages” because they really are elaborate affairs, complete with kitchen tents and even hot-shower tents (the latter on request). Campsites on the Inca Trail invariably have excellent views of the mountains and Andean highlands.

What Sets Us Apart

Personal Attention Before Your Inca Trail Tour

There is no other operator in the travel industry that will provide the same level of personal attention to you before your Inca Trail tour. We get very involved with our clients before each trip by offering a series of pre-planning calls in the months and weeks before departure. This therefore provides you with an opportunity to hear directly from us on preparation, trip experience, and training. It also gives you the platform to ask questions about any aspect of the trip.

Furthermore, our knowledgeable support staff take care of the details of your in-country transportation, lodging, meals, tours, permits, and other activities. We also provide a comprehensive pre-departure information package that includes trip details, all applicable forms, and a packing list.

Unparalleled Trail Support 

On this trip, you will also have the luxury of hiking the Inca Trail with support from our team of experienced guides, cooks, and porters. During the trekking portion, our porters carry the camping equipment, food, and everything but your small personal day packs. This means that you can hike ‘pack-free’ along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Sustainability and Responsible Trekking

The Explorer’s Passage is a proud member of Sustainable Travel International, a partner/supporter of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, as well as a supporter of the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST). In addition to ‘Leave No Trace’ principles, the concepts of sustainability and responsible trekking are at the forefront of each Inca Trail tour. As part of this commitment, we: minimize single-use plastic; pack out all our litter; charge equipment using portable solar panels; use biodegradable soaps; prioritize the use of organic, locally-sourced ingredients for our meals; compost food scraps; minimize disruptions to wildlife and Sacred Valley communities (this includes noise moderation); do not allow collecting of plants, rocks, or other items from the trail; and we only use authorized paths to prevent erosion and damage/disrespect to archaeological and cultural sites.

At The Explorer’s Passage, we not only have great respect for all things history, but also go out of our way to not leave any “history” of us behind!

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