Hiking the Classic Inca Trail
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. 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!
Did you know?
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 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.
We treat our staff right!
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.
You will hike through a wide-ranging series of micro-climates, from alpine tundra to lush cloud forest. 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 climbing. 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.
>>For more great insight about what to expect on the Classic Inca Trail, check out this great blog by Apus Peru passengers Trans-Americas Journey.
Total Walking Distance – 12kms (8 mi)
Minimum Altitude – 2,700m (8990 ft) / Maximum Altitude – 3,100m (10,000 ft)
Altitude of camp – 3,100ms (10,000 ft)
Approx. night temperature: 10˚C
Total Walking Distance – 11kms (6.8 mi)
Minimum Altitude – 3,100m (10,000 ft) / Maximum Altitude – 4,200m (13,780 ft)
Altitude of Camp – 3,600ms (11,810 ft)
Approx night temperature: 6˚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 (10.5 mi)
Minimum Altitude – 2,670m (8760 ft) / Maximum Altitude – 3,900m (12,800 ft)
Altitude of Camp – 2,670m (8760 ft)
Approx night temperature: 12˚C
If you still have energy you can also take 45 min to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain for spectacular views overlooking the ancient citadel! Note: Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain both require a separate permit that must be purchased in advance. Let us know at the time of booking if you think you’d like to do this hike! 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, where you will meet your guide. There, you will enjoy your last lunch together before heading back to Cusco on the train.
Want more time to explore? Consider our Extra Day Upgrades.
Total Walking Distance – 8km (5 mi)
Minimum Altitude – 2400m (7870 ft) / Maximum Altitude – 2720m (8920 ft)
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.