Classic Inca Trail – 4D/3N
The classic Inca Trail hike is a moderately challenging four day, three-night hiking and camping adventure to Machu Picchu. Throughout their history, the Incas diligently worked to build a trail network of almost 40,000 kilometers (almost 25,000 miles!) to connect cities throughout their empire that stretched from Quito, Ecuador to Santiago, Chile. With Cusco as the center of this empire, the principle trails around the city became the focus of Inca construction and repair. One particular 43 kilometer (26.7 mile) stretch of trail connecting the major Inca archaeological sites of Runcuracay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, Winay Wayna, and Machu Picchu has become known as the “Inca Trail.” Over the last 10 years, this hike has become incredibly popular to the point that access to this trail is strictly limited and requires a ticket to be purchased roughly 6 months in advance. It is impossible to hike this trail without a licensed guide and the daily number of hikers allowed on the trail is limited to 500. First Step Expeditions does NOT guarantee any Inca Trail hike availability.
DAY 1: CUSCO – AYAPATA
- We will pick you up from Cusco at 4:30am from your hotel. After a stop in Ollantaytambo for breakfast and supplies, we will drive to the official beginning of the Inca Trail: Kilometer 82.
- After showing your passport to get through the first check point, we will cross the Urubamba River and begin our trek. In addition to the amazing scenery of the Andes Mountains, we will pass a few Inca sites during our first four-hour hike to get lunch.
- After lunch, we will hike for another 2½ hours until we reach the first night’s campsite at Ayapata. On this last stretch, we will pass through two small communities where you will have an opportunity to purchase drinks, snacks, or supplies and interact with locals. Dinner will be prepared at the campsite.
Walking Distance: 14km/8.7miles (9 hours)
Elevation: 2750m/9022ft to 3330m/10925ft
Difficulty: Challenging (altitude and all uphill)
Weather: Mild/warm while walking; cold at night
DAY 2: AYAPATA – DEAD WOMAN PASS – SAYACMARCA – CHAQUICOCHA
- After breakfast, we will hike for roughly 4 hours to the highest pass of the trek, Dead Woman’s Pass. At the top of the pass, we will stop for a short break to enjoy the views before setting off again to descend for an hour and a half to the next valley (Pacaymayu Valley) for lunch.
- After lunch, we will begin ascending again for an hour and a half to the second pass. From there, it is another hour and a half downhill to reach the magnificent Inca site, Sayacmarca. Here we will have time to explore and watch the sunset over the Vilcabamba mountains before descending for 25 minutes to our campsite for dinner.
Walking Distance: 16k/9.94miles(9 hours)
Elevation: 3330m/10,925ft to 4215m/13,829ft to 3600m/11811ft
Difficulty: Challenging to Difficult (altitude and terrain)
Weather: Cold in the morning; warm while walking; cold at night. Always a chance of rain.
DAY 3: CHAQUICOCHA – Wiñay WAYNA
- This day is felt to be the most impressive, gorgeous day of the whole Inca Trail. We will begin early at 6:30am with breakfast and coca tea. We will hike for two hours along what we like to call the “Indiana Jones Path” where we begin to enter the jungle.
- Towards the end of the Indiana Jones Path, we will begin to make our way up to the last peak at Phuyupatamarka (Town in the Clouds) where we’ll have great views overlooking the Urubamba River. Further down the valley, we will get our first views of Machu Picchu Mountain, but the site itself will still be hidden from view.
- From Phuyupatamarka, we will pass Intipata (Terraces of the Sun) during our three-hour walk down Inca stairs to our last campsite, close to Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young). We will have lunch at this campsite. At around 4:30PM, your guide will give you a short orientation and you will visit the Inca ruins of Wiñay Wayna, spending about an hour and a half there.
Note: We like to enjoy our last feast with the porters and chefs. It’s an Inca Trail tradition to organize a ceremony this evening for the chefs and porters to thank them for their help during the trek (if you wish to provide tips for them, you can do so at this time. Please see our notes on tipping here.) It is advisable to go to bed fairly early this night to get up for the sunrise over Machu Picchu.
Walking Distance: 10km/6.2miles (6 hours)
Elevation: 3600m/11,811ft to 2600m/8,530feet
Difficulty: Moderate (mostly downhill, but many stairs)
Weather: Chilly morning; mild/warm while walking; warm at night
DAY 4: MACHU PICCHU – CUSCO
- Today is the highlight of the trek. Waking up early at 3:30am, you head straight to the checkpoint to enter Machu Picchu. Upon arrival, you will walk for one hour to the Sun Gate. From there, you will walk down to Machu Picchu City and begin your 2-hour guided tour.
- Following the tour, you will have the rest of the day to explore the site at your own pace. If you purchased a ticket in advance to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, you will complete those hikes at this time.
- When you have finished exploring, you will take the bus back down to the town of Aguas Calientes where you will meet up with your guide to board your train back to Ollantaytambo. From there, our private van will take you back to your hotel in Cuscso.
Walking Distance: Varied! You can see as much of Machu Picchu as you like.
Difficulty: Moderate – Machu Picchu is very large with a lot of stairs.
Weather: Warm/Humid – always a chance of rain.
- Private transportation
- Private, English speaking guide
- All entrance fees and permits
- Drop off at your hotel in Cusco
- All meals as listed (can accommodate dietary restrictions with proper notice)
- Bus ticket from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes
- Train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
- Clean water at every meal stop
- Tents – 2 people/tent (single occupancy available for additional charge.)
- Sleeping Mat
- Duffel bags for items to be carried by porters (up to 15lbs/7kilos per person).
- Basic First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle
- Breakfast – Day one
- Lunch and Dinner – Day 4
- Walking sticks (available for rent)
- Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain climb (can be reserved in advance available for additional fee of $75 per person)
- Sleeping Bag (can be rented for $30)
- Alcoholic Beverages of any kind
- Travel insurance
- Tips for the guide, cook, and porters (please see our guide on tipping here)
Total Walking Distance: 45km/28miles
Elevation: Minimum: 2600m/8,530 feet Maximum: 4215m/13,829feet
Difficulty: Challenging/Difficult (high altitude, varied terrain)
Weather: Cold in the mornings and at night. Can be warm during the day while hiking. Always a chance of rain so please be prepared!
Please Note: Price includes cost of the trek only. First Step Expeditions can reserve hotels and other tours for an additional fee.
2 People: $910/person
4 People: $695/person
6+ People: $635/person
Students with ISIC card have $30 discount
All prices based on double occupancy at three star hotels. Requests for alternative accommodations will be honored for an additional fee.
Walking sticks: $12
Sleeping bag: $30
Huayna Picchu OR Machu Picchu Mountain Climb: $65