Inca Trail Private tours to Machu Picchu: 4-Day Trek Expert Guide

Apus Peru > Peru Hikes > Inca Trail Private tours to Machu Picchu: 4-Day Trek Expert Guide

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Inca Trail Private Machu Picchu Trek 4 Days & 3 Nights

If you are interested in Inca Trail private tours or a once in a lifeteime visit to the Machu Picchu citadel, then you have come to the right place. We are experts in Machu Picchu hiking tours – of all kinds – and are going to break down the pros and cons of the Inca trail private trek to figure out what is the best fit for you.

While Inca Trail private trips have often been considered a luxury, they are also eminently practical solutions for those looking for a trip of a lifetime, or an exclusive tour. Seriously, if you are visiting Machu Picchu for the first time – or maybe the only time in your life, why not do it right?

Trekkers Apus, people trekking the private inca trail to machu picchu

What is a Private Inca Trek Tour to Machu Picchu?

It is a trek to Machu Picchu that is booked for just you and your travel companions, however many people that may be. Here at Apus Peru, we have operated a good number of tours for just one person, and one of our most popular options is for couples who love spending time together.

You should expect to be traveling in a private car from Cusco, with your guide and driver. When you arrive at the KM 82 trailhead, you will find a team of porters waiting for you. If there are just 1-3 people in the group, the number of porters assigned to your group will be less than 10; so you won’t have the large groups of support staff you see with the big groups.

If having your very own team seems excessive (yes, a private team of porters!)  keep in mind that at Apus Peru, our ratio of porters to trekkers is pretty much stable no matter how many people are in the group.

private inca trail, guide showing details of inca trail on a sign

Once you start trekking, the guide will make short stops along the way, but the pace is entirely dictated by yourselves, meaning you walk as fast or as slow as you wish and don’t have to wait for others in the group (or, in contrast, feel that you are holding the group back).

In the campsite, expect just your tent and the guide’s tent, as well as a meal tent and bathroom. As expected, the meal times are just with your guide so you don’t have to have any uncomfortable small talk.

How to Decide if an Inca Trail Private Tour is Best for You?

There are six main questions to decide if private treks to Machu Picchu are for you:

  • Do You Wish to Meet People on Holiday?

Many people consider that a highlight of their vacation time is meeting new, like-minded people while doing something amazing – like the classic Inca trail. But hey, different strokes for different folks; that might not be for you. Everyone is different, and we’re here to make your best Inca trail trek to Machu Picchu perfect for you, whatever that means for you.

  • What’s Your Budget Comfort Zone?

Yes, it’s true that a larger group tour will cost less money; some costs like transport, the tour guide, and the cook are shared between a larger number of people. However, you’d be surprised at how economical private Inca Trail tours can be, as there are a lot of individual costs included in Apus Peru’s tours, namely, Inca Trail permits, bus tickets, train tickets, and lunchtime buffet at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge. Simply, some people prefer to pay that bit more for.

  • Do You Have People in the Group Who May Be Slower or Faster?

We always recommend that if you are traveling with children under 13 (e.g., pre-teens) to consider a private trek with us – just to enable the family to do their own thing and travel at their own pace. Also, while I hate saying this… the adorable antics of your kids might be endearing to you, they might not be for others. We’ve found that the most successful family trips are private excursions where the kids can do their own thing and everyone’s happier.

5 day private inca trail, people sitting on camping chairs in nature

On the other end of the spectrum, if you know that your fitness is not superb or you are aging, you might know that you are a pretty slow trekker and feel better with a private hiking tour. We’ve always said, “It’s not a race, go at your own pace,” but many times our slower clients have felt that they are slowing down the group, and that has been worrisome for them. Private treks take all that feeling away and are well worth it.

  • Do You Have a Mix of Trekkers and Non-Trekkers in Your Group and Need Flexibility?

We have many traveling groups that contact us that are made up of friends or family where some members of the group like to hike, and others do not. With a private trek, you can easily split the group, with some people trekking, and others taking the train. We then organize for you to do a combined tour of Machu Picchu together.

  • Are You a Hobby Enthusiast Seeking Extra Time for Your Passion?

This one especially applies to birdwatchers and photographers and depends on how seriously you take your hobby. We’ve had birdwatchers or photographers who take a long time setting up their tripod and then waiting for the perfect shot; and why not, this is your trip… But this works best if you take a private excursion and you are not being rushed to keep the group together. (This is not the guide’s fault; this is the way he needs to run the trip for everyone’s best interest). For history enthusiasts seeking a deeper understanding of Inca history while exploring the Wonder of the World, a private trek to Machu Picchu offers a distinct advantage. Unlike group excursions operated by commercial tour companies, a private trek provides a more comprehensive and personalized experience.

couply enjoying inca site during the private inca trail trek

  • Would You Like Some Intimate Couple Time?

Again, it all depends on who you are and what your interests are. We’ve had couples – some on their honeymoon, but not all – who just want to spend time together and opt for a private excursion. They do this because time on vacation is precious.

The Private Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu: Itinerary

Eager to learn more about the details of our four-day journey along the Private Inca Trail to Machu Picchu? If you’re keen on exploring the specifics of each day’s adventure, dive into this breakdown of our thrilling itinerary.

Day 1: Cusco – Ollantaytambo – KM 82 – Llactapata – Huayllabamba

Embark on your trek with an early morning pickup from your Cusco hotel. Following a 1.5 hour drive to Ollantaytambo, take a moment to gather last-minute supplies or enjoy breakfast. From there, we’ll set our course for Kilometer 82, the first checkpoint of the Inca trail and the start of the Classic Inca Trail 4 days. Along the trail you’ll traverse through the scenic Sacred Valley, making a stop at the captivating Llactapata Inca site before arriving at the campsite in Huayllabamba.

people trekking along the inca trail, private inca trail

Day 2: Huayllabamba – Llulluchapampa – Dead Woman’s Pass – Pacaymayo

Known as the most challenging leg of the journey, Day 2 unfolds with a 7.5km (4.6 mi) trek spanning 6 hours, taking you to altitudes of up to 4215m (13,828 ft). The day kicks off with a steep ascent to Dead Woman’s Pass, rewarding you with breathtaking views. Following a well-deserved break, the trail descends to the Pacaymayo campsite, covering a total distance of 3 km (1.8 mi).

Day 3: Pacaymayo – Sayakmarka – Phuyupatamarca – Wiñay Wayna

On this day of the Inca Trail, you’ll trek a distance of 15km (9.3 mi) to Phuyupatamarca or 16km (9.9 mi) to Wiñay Wayna. Beginning at the Runkurakay site, the journey takes you through Sayakmarka and Chaquicocha, providing spectacular views of the Willka Mayu River. As you descend through the cloud forest, you’ll reach the Wiñay Wayna campsite, nestled near the impressive ruins.

Day 4: Wiñay Wayna – Inti Punku – Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes – Cusco

The final day starts early, reaching Inti Punku, the Sun Gate, for the first breathtaking views of Machu Picchu. Descend into the ancient city, enjoy a guided tour of Machu Picchu and learn more about the Inca culture, and then enjoy a buffet lunch. The journey ends with a train ride from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, followed by a private car transfer back to Cusco.

couple sitting in front of machu picchu site, private inca trek

What about the 5 Days Inca Trekking Route?

There are so many tours to the Inca Trail! So perhaps you are wondering what the difference is between the 5-day Inca Trail and the private 4-day trekking route? Let’s explain to you both, so you can see which experience on the Inca Trail is best for you.

What is the difference between the 5 Days and 4 Days Inca Trail?

The five-day expedition trekking on the Inca Trail is an immersive trek that allows you to savor every step amidst breathtaking landscapes and every Inca ruin along the Inca trail. With extra time built into the itinerary, you have more time to acclimatize to the altitude and can fully enjoy the whole trekking route to the citadel of Machu Picchu.

On the other side, the Inca Trail for 4 days to the ancient city of Machu Picchu can be amazing when tailored precisely to your preferences and schedule. Your tour guide will explain everything to you, and you can choose the times to trek the Inca Trail, even opting to go slower.

Which Inca Trail is best for you?

Are you someone who takes time to soak in the sights and sounds around you? If so, a private Inca Trail in 5 days to Machu Picchu might just be your perfect match. Compared to the 4-day trek, this personalized adventure offers a slower, more immersive experience that is tailored to your preferences.

trekker hiking down the inca trail steps on private inca trek tour

The excursion to Machu Picchu is an adventure that you will only experience once in your lifetime. Why not do it right and take the time to “smell the roses”? One of our favorite aspects of the 5-days Inca trek—whether in private service or with a group—is that you spend night 4 in a hotel in Aguas Calientes. This means that when you arrive at Machu Picchu, you will be well-rested and, importantly, showered and wearing clean clothes! Some people don’t realize that not only the trail can be challenging, but it also requires a good deal of resilience. Exploring the site of Machu Picchu is much more meaningful when you are well-rested.

Whether you’re drawn to the 5-day trek or the 4-day tour, one thing is certain: an unforgettable adventure awaits along the route to Machu Picchu. So, which path will you choose to embark on your own journey of discovery? If you want to read more about the 5 Day Inca Trek to get to Machu Picchu, feel free to check out our expert guide here.

When should I book my private Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

If you have booked your vacation dates, and decided on a personalized and private service (aka, private 4-Inca trek) then there is no reason to delay!  We would recommend contacting your preferred company as Inca Trail as permits may sell out within days of being released.  (This is definitely true of the dates around Easter each year, and then the month of May typically sells out quickly, followed by the dates around the Winter Solstice on the 21st June and Inti Raymi on the 24th June.)

aguas calientes hotels, typical view of machu picchu site

How to Book a Private Tour with Apus Peru?

Apus Peru, our tour operator in Peru organizes many customized tours, and, in fact, we are not set up for the large groups that are run by other companies. If you feel that a large, mixed group of ages, nationalities, and interests is what you are looking for on holiday – then go for it; that’s definitely a lot of fun, and our Co-Founder says that was how she did the Inca Trail for the first time in her late 20s.

With Apus Peru, our tiered pricing is clearly listed on the website, along with our inclusions. We aim to make our tours as inclusive as possible, meaning everything is organized and flows smoothly, translating to no hassles for you. This is a holiday, and we know you just want to switch off and have someone else make the decisions for you!

yellow tent with apus peru logo on it

In short, to book an Apus Peru 4-day private Inca trail tour, all you have to do is email us at [email protected] or fill out one of our contact forms.

Let us know:

  • if you want a private trek or group Inca trail
  • which are your preferred dates of departure (2-3 options are best) – don’t forget to allow 2-3 days of acclimatization in Cusco.
  • if there are any other special interests or occasions – like whether you are a birdwatcher or if you are celebrating an anniversary or someone has a birthday!

And yes, our guides have helped a number of nervous people organize their proposals either on Huayna Picchu or at the perfect moment along the trek – and then filmed the whole thing, including the YES!

best time to travel, rainbow at machu picchu

The Best Time of Year to Hike the Inca Trail

Exploring various seasons brings both advantages and drawbacks; nevertheless, a crucial point to bear in mind is the complete closure of the famous Inca Trail throughout February. This dedicated month facilitates essential maintenance and conservation efforts for the pathways, campsites, and ancient Inca sites along the trek. Excluding this period, any other month presents an opportune time to do the Inca Tour 4 days.

The Rainy Season

The wet summer season spans from mid-November through March, reaching its peak in December to February with the highest number of rainy days per month. Although not every day sees rain, a considerable amount can be expected during your journey. However, being well-prepared with wet weather gear allows you to capitalize on the warmer temperatures. You can expect smaller crowds at the Machu Picchu ruins and potentially secure last-minute permits, as they don’t need to be booked far in advance. Discover why the rainy season holds its own charm in this captivating blog post about Machu Picchu in Rainy Season.

woman with poncho and umbrella at machu picchu

The Dry Season

The dry winter season spans from May to mid-August, marking the peak of tourism for the city of Machu Picchu, Cusco, and Peru. Expect dry but cool weather with sunny days and chilly nights. Due to high demand, permits for this period sell out quickly after October’s release, making early preparation essential for those keen on hiking the trail during these months.

The Shoulder Months

The shoulder months, April, September, and October, provide favorable conditions for hiking the trail. Although the likelihood of rain increases, the 4-day Inca Trek is quieter, and temperatures are ideal for both day hiking and night camping. Our October trek on the classic trail featured a mix of sun and rain, enhancing the experience amid misty peaks and the sensation of floating in the clouds.

peru-family-holiday, group of trekkers posing in front of machu picchu sun gate, private inca trail

How Difficult is to Trek the Inca Trail?

Its is impossible to accurately describe how difficult the Inca trail is, unless first assessing your own age, fitness,  prior experience trekking and  more. For poeple who have hiked their whole life, then the Inca Trail is not considered a hard trek and we’d suggest that they will find a group trek perfectly adequate for the experience.   For those who have set a goal to do the Inca trail as their first long distance trek, then you may want to consider doing a private trek in order to be able to go at your own pace. This trek demands physical fitness and endurance due to challenging terrains, steep sections, and varying weather conditions. The good thing here is that when you do this trek privately, you can decide the pace with your guide, providing more flexibility.

Which Fitness Level Is Required?

Worried about the Inca Trail’s difficulty? Walking up to hours daily might sound challenging, but your private guide will adjust the pace to match your ability, ensuring regular stops. With so many sights along the way, time flies, and you won’t realize how far you’ve walked! Plus, you’ll only carry a small day pack and we will take care of the rest. For expert tips on preparing for a trek in Peru, delve into our comprehensive hiking guide.

trekker from behind, private inca trek tour

Is Specific Gear Needed for Inca Trail Tours to Machu Picchu?

It’s highly recommended to bring hiking poles along for the trek. You can rent them from us; just inform us in advance or during the briefing the day before. Hiking poles prove to be surprisingly useful, not only during ascents and mountain passes but also when descending. They aid in maintaining posture and relieving pressure on the knees, especially on slippery and tall steps.

Moreover, a good pair of hiking boots is essential. Ensure they are comfortable, as new ones may cause discomfort after a while. Check out our guide and read more about how to pack for a hike in Peru.

Machu Picchu Packing List

If you’re gearing up for a memorable trail private tour to Machu Picchu and wondering what to pack, we’ve got you covered. Planning the perfect outfit for your visit to this iconic destination can make all the difference. Whether you’re exploring the ruins under the scorching sun or navigating misty trails during the rainy season, having the right clothing and gear is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Check out our expert suggestions and essential packing tips in our comprehensive guide on what to wear to Machu Picchu.

How to Get Ready for Altitude in Peru

Altitude sickness is a valid concern, and the key is to acclimatize properly before beginning the hike. Spending a few days in Cusco lets your body adjust to the thinner air, reducing the risk of medical issues on the mountain. We always carry oxygen for safety, but if you’ve had altitude sickness before, make sure to get used to the altitude in Cusco and Machu Picchu before hiking for 4 days or more. Another benfit of doing a private Inca Trail and Machu Picchu visit is that you are able to take the trail at your own pace if you find that the altitude is challenging. Read more about Altitude Acclimatization in our blog post.

Camping at altitude – you need to be prepared!

What’s Included in This Private Inca Trek Tour?

Are you interested in our private Inca Trail way to Machu Picchu? Check out our inclusions and additional information for the 4-days and 5-days versions below.

Inclusions of Private 4 Days Inca Trail


  • Tent: Enjoy the comfort of a 4-person tent for 2 people, providing extra space for a more comfortable rest and convenient backpack storage.
  • Basic foam mattress included. For enhanced comfort, optional inflatable mattress rentals are available (see Optional Extras & Upgrades below).
  • Toilet tent for privacy during the trek.


  • Dining tent equipped with camp tables and chairs, along with a separate kitchen tent for meal preparation.
  • Experienced cook and cooking equipment, with additional assistants for larger groups.
  • Enjoy a mix of traditional Peruvian and Western cuisine. Specify preferences to our Travel Consultant during booking. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are available. Salads are washed in boiled water when served.
  • Boiled water provided for your reusable water bottle during the hike.
  • Filtered water during the drive on the first day.
  • Lunch on the last day.

Incan empire2


  • Hotel pick-up on the morning of the Inca Trail Trek departure.
  • Private transport from Cusco to the trailhead and return at the trek’s end.
  • Bus between Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu.
  • Train ticket (Expedition service) from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo.
  • Private transport from Ollantaytambo to Cusco.

Trekking Team:

  • English/Quechua/Spanish-speaking professional guide, with an assistant guide for groups over 8.
  • Porters to carry camping equipment, food, and kitchen utensils. Duffel bags are provided for personal items (up to 7kg / 15 lbs per person). Additional personal porter hire is available; contact us for costs.
  • Tents, sleeping bags, and mattresses for our staff, along with a budget for their meals.


  • First aid kit, including an emergency oxygen bottle.

Additional Inclusions:

  • Pre-trek briefing.
  • Inca Trail permit (entrance ticket), which includes entrance to Machu Picchu.

ancient inca ruins of machu picchu site

Inclusions of Private 5 Days Inca Trail

The 5-day version offers all the same features mentioned above, with the added benefit of an extra dinner in Aguas Calientes, and one night’s accommodation in Aguas Calientes at a Standard Hotel. This hotel provides a comfortable, clean, and secure environment, complete with breakfast and a private bathroom for your convenience.

Can I Climb Huayna Picchu During the Private Inca Trail Tour?

Exploring Machu Picchu offers the opportunity to hike to Huayna Picchu, a mountain peak accessible from one side of Machu Picchu. This option provides incredible views of Machu Picchu from a different perspective! Please notify us in advance, as access to the trail is limited, and tickets tend to sell out fast.

On the exclusive trek, should you choose to book one of the additional options (Huayna Piccho or Machu Picchu Mountain), your personal tour guide will take you there without problems. Huayna Picchu is the mountain located near Machu Picchu. It is renowned for its steep and narrow trails, offering breathtaking views of the Machu Picchu archaeological site and the surrounding landscape.

Interested in more hikes leading to the ancient Inca citadel? Read our hiking guide about the best hikes here.

person from behind sitting in front of machu picchu

What to Pack for the Inca Trail

Thanks to the porters handling the bulk of your gear, there’s no need for heavy packs on the Inca Trail. Simply pack a day backpack with essentials when you hike the classic Inca Trail, including sunscreen, a water bottle, sunglasses, a jacket, and a hat for protection. For more details and recommendations, refer to our comprehensive guide on what to pack for the 4 Day Inca Trail.

Since it’s improbable you’ll carry all your gear for the hike, plan to leave the excess at your accommodation in Cusco or at the office of Apus Peru.

What Are the Camping Conditions on the Classic Inca Trail Route?

Camping is the sole accommodation option on the Inca Trail – everyone stays in a tent. Fortunately, our incredible porters not only carry the tents but also set them up each day, complete with your duffel for your arrival in camp. They efficiently pack them up every morning, a wonderful perk for those accustomed to carrying all their own gear.

In our private Inca trek tours, we include a tent for two people in a four-person tent, ensuring greater comfort and backpack storage, along with a basic foam mattress. For added comfort, we offer the option to rent an inflatable mattress.

Moreover, a professional cook is part of your team, responsible for setting up cooking and dining tents. This ensures sheltered and freshly prepared meals, catering to any specific diet or food restrictions you may have.

At Apus Peru, we provide a dedicated toilet with its own tent exclusively for your use, enhancing your camping experience.

Other Inca Trail Route Options

If the classic four-day option feels too rushed, consider the five-day alternative. If you’re short on time but don’t want to miss the original Inca Trail experience, you can opt for the two-day short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This allows you to visit the Inca citadel twice and stay overnight in Aguas Calientes. Alternatively, you can choose to combine the Salkantay Trek and the Inca Trail, or merge it with the Lares trek. Intrigued? There are numerous trekking routes to explore – start your adventure now:

Salkantay Inca Trail 6 Day Trek

Short Inca Trail 2 Day Trek

5 Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

5 Day Luxury Inca Trail Tour

Lares & 2 Day Inca Trail Hike

people sitting on rocks at machu picchu site, private inca trail tour

Why You Should Choose Private Inca Trail Private Tours

The Inca Trail Private Trips offer an experience that’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A trek where every step is tailored to your preferences, where you dictate the pace, and flexibility becomes your trail companion. It’s not just a journey; it’s your journey.

If you want to experience the Inca history and learn more about fascinating sites of the Inca Trail, check out our expert guide on the Inca Trail Ruins. We also have a great insider’s guide to the Inca Trail Hike with more details.

When you book an exclusive Inca Trail trek with Apus Peru, initiating this extraordinary adventure is simple – just connect with us through email or our contact forms. Your journey to Machu Picchu begins with a click, putting you in control of an exclusive and unforgettable exploration of the Andes.

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