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The Classic Inca Trail is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the adventure-seeker wanting to hike a famous trek in Peru. Each day brings something new as you travel from Andean tundra to cloud forest, passing incredible Incan sites along the way.
From Colombia to Chile, the Andes are home to thousands of “Inca Trails”. The ancient Incas connected their vast empire through an intricate network of roads, facilitating transport for trade and in times of war. There are an estimated 26,000 – 40,000 km of roads criss-crossing the Andes, of which the Classic Inca Trail trekking route is just a tiny part.
The Classic Inca Trail starts in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and finishes in the jungle. You’ll first travel from Cusco to Km 82, where the trail begins, in a combination of private transport and train. This now-famous trek is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, never to be forgotten. Read more about what makes the Classic Inca trail routes so awesome in our blog!
Only a special few actually get to hike the Inca Trail every year. Peru’s permit system means that just 500 people are allowed on the trail every day – approximately 200 visitors and 300 trekking staff. Permits are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, and are in very high demand: they can sell out as much as 6 to 8 months in advance! Once spaces have been booked, NO OPERATOR CAN OFFER YOU A SPACE. All spaces are personal and non-transferable, and there is no waiting list, so if someone cancels, their spot cannot be taken by someone new. Also note that the Classic Inca Trail is closed in February for maintenance.
The Classic Inca Trail is notorious for the mistreatment of porters and other trail staff who are asked to carry more than government regulation allow. At Apus Peru, we do things differently, going above and beyond these minimums. Read more about how we take care of all our staff, including porters and horsemen.
The Classic Inca Trail follows an ancient Inca road, meaning that you will be hiking along a combination of ground trails and stone-paved paths. Some sections are very steep, and require sustained uphill or downhill climbing. Much of the trail consists of stone steps, some of which are quite tall, as much as 30 cm (12 inches). This can be hard on the knees, and could be a problem for someone with a knee injury. The Inca Trail may also be a problem for you if you suffer from vertigo or have a severe fear of heights, as there are sections with steep drop-offs, where the path narrows and becomes single file.
You will hike through a wide-ranging series of micro-climates, from alpine tundra to lush cloud forest. Expect to see a variety of flora and fauna, including different species of cacti, orchids, birds and possibly a vizcacha or two. Majestic views at high altitude of neighboring mountain ranges also await, as well as the chance to see several impressive Inca ruins along the way.
This is a very popular and busy trek. If you hike the Inca Trail, you will be hiking with hundreds of other people, and staying in busy (sometimes noisy) campsites. If you want a remote, wilderness trekking experience, the Inca Trail is not the trek for you. Talk to one of our Peru trekking experts for tips on alternative treks to Machu Picchu.
>>For more great insight about what to expect on the Classic Inca Trail, check out this great blog about hiking the Inca Trail day by day by past Apus Peru passengers Trans-America Journeys.
General Information About trekking with Apus Peru
Specific Information About Hiking the Classic Inca Trail 4D
Booking Your Classic Inca Trail 4D Trek
Extras & Upgrades on the Classic Inca Trail 4D
Total Walking Distance – 12kms
Total Walking Time – 5hs
Minimum Altitude – 2,700m / 8,858 ft / Maximum Altitude – 3000m / 9,842 ft
Altitude of camp – 3000m / 9,842 ft
Approx. night temperature: 7˚C
Total Walking Distance – 10kms
Total Walking Time – 6hs
Minimum Altitude – 3,000m / 9,842 ft / Maximum Altitude – 4,215m / 13,828 ft
Altitude of Camp – 3,000m / 9,842 ft
Approx night temperature: 7˚C
Please note: Campsites are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, and we cannot guarantee that Wiñay Wayna will be available. If not, the alternative campsite is located at Phuyupatamarca, located farther away from Machu Picchu but generally less crowded.
Total Walking Distance – 12km (to Phuyupatamarca); 16km (to Wiñaywayna)
Minimum Altitude – 2,670m (8760 ft) / Maximum Altitude – 3,680m (12,073 ft)
Altitude of Camp – 2,670m (8,760 ft) Wiñaywayna / 3,680m (12,073 ft) Phuyupatamarca
Approx night temperature: 9˚C
After some time there, we will walk down the last part of the trail to the spot where you can take the classic shot of this ancient city. From Inti Punku we descend into Machu Picchu through the control point where we register ourselves and leave our backpacks and then we enter this famous city. Finally, we visit Machu Picchu itself! Your 4h visit to Machu Picchu can be spent exploring some of the alternative routes, like the Inca Bridge, after which your guide will give you a 2-3h walking tour of the historic citadel.
If you’re feeling adventurous you may wish to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, but take note: this requires an extra permit, and they can sell out well in advance! Be sure to tell us at booking if you would like to add one of these hikes. For more tips on what to see, check out our Visiting Machu Picchu page.
After spending time enjoying Machu Picchu, you will return to Aguas Calientes on your own, either on foot or by bus (bus fare is included in the price of your trek), where you will meet your guide. There, you will enjoy your last lunch together before heading back to Cusco on the train.
Total Walking Distance – 6km
Minimum Altitude – 2,670m (8,760 ft) / Maximum Altitude – 2730m (8,956 ft)
The Inca Trail is demanding reflecting elevation and grades of ascent & descent. Lots of hikers and good camaraderie among all trekkers.
Overall a very positive experience with lasting memories.
Well put-together itinerary. Lots of interesting sites visited on day trips outside of Cusco.
Both a joy & a pleasure to have been in the company of Arturo – accommodating and extremely knowledgeable.
Highlights were Maras salt mines, all Inca ruins along the Inca Trail, Tipon, Raqchi, Chinchero & Moray.
Excellent & varied meals; overly large portions and some dishes over-salted.
The trek was difficult but very rewarding; amazing scenery and breathtaking inca sites. We particularly enjoyed sleeping out under the stars and hiking in the rainforest along the stream.
Thank you Apus Peru for a remarkable vacation!
I was blown away by the beautiful natural scenery and very impressed with hard work of the Apus Peru team ! The trek was perfect I couldn’t have asked for more! Our guide and porters was seriously amazing, and the food was delicious and exceeded our expectations.
I’ve been trekking all over the world, including many treks in Peru, so I had to experience the iconic Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu as well. This is the most famous and most popular multi-day trek in Peru and, honestly, I was afraid that the trail and campsites would be annoying crowded. I certainly was not alone on the trail, but there were only a few moments of trail congestion and camping areas, for the most part, were reasonably spread out and peaceful. Another pleasant surprise? The logistics and services provided by Apus Peru. The Apus guide was extremely well-informed, spoke excellent English, and taught me a lot about Andean culture and Incan culture. The Apus cook was another star, providing delicious, creative, healthy, and plentiful meals and snacks including fresh fruit and vegetables cooked properly (not mushy). My partner’s dietary restrictions were also 100% accommodated and there was real coffee (not instant). We ate better on this trek than on any other trek we’ve done. The high quality North Face tent that Apus provided for us was also very spacious (even with our gear inside) so we were able to sleep well every night. We already miss the laughter of our Apus trekking team along with the gorgeous views and challenging trail on this trek.