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The 5 day Inca trail hike is your best choice if you like getting off the beaten path and hiking at a pace out of sync with the crowds. Doing the Inca Trail in 5 days / 4 nights affords you more time to explore and enjoy everything that makes this trek to Machu Picchu special, from the archaeological sites along the trail to the incredible changing variety of flora and fauna.
The world-famous Inca Trail starts in the Sacred Valley of the Incas and finishes in the Andean jungle, whether you hike the Inca Trail in 5 days or 4. On our special 5 day Inca Trail itinerary, however, we allow more time exploring a corner of the Sacred Valley before even starting the hike. Once on the trail, we’ll camp at less busy campsites, making for more relaxing evenings.
Important Note: doing the Inca Trail in 5 days does not mean that it is “easy”! We will follow the exact same route as the Classic 4-day Inca Trail, with all its steep ascents and descents, high altitude peaks and steep stone steps. You must still be fit and in good physical shape to do the 5 day Inca Trail!
In a nutshell, our 5 day Inca Trail itinerary allows more time to enjoy this world-famous trail at a more relaxed pace. Hike at a pace out of sync with the crowds, spend three nights at quieter, less-crowded campsites – including Phuyupatamarca, the most gorgeous campsite on the whole Inca Trail! – and enjoy later starts in the morning – no 3AM wake-up call on this trek!
On Day 4, you’ll enter Machu Picchu later in the day when most of the crowds have gone, before heading down to Aguas Calientes for a restful night’s sleep in a comfortable hotel. Then, head up for a second visit of Machu Picchu to enjoy your guided tour of the ruins. That’s right, you get to visit Machu Picchu twice!
Book your Inca Trail trek early! Only a special few actually get to do the Inca Trail trek every year. Peru’s permit system means that just 500 people per day are allowed on the trail – 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 Inca Trail is closed in February for maintenance.
Are permits sold out for the classic Inca Trail trek? Don’t despair! There are countless equally stunning and challenging Andean treks that await you. Two of the most popular Inca Trail alternatives are the Lares Trek – which provides unique insights into contemporary Andean communities – and the Salkantay Trek, which offers incredible alpine vistas. Both include tours of the Inca City of Machu Picchu. Read about all of the Inca Trail alternatives in our blog!
The Inca Trail trek is notorious for the mistreatment of porters and other trail staff who are asked to carry more than government regulations 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.
We offer you the opportunity to personalize your trek and make your experience more comfortable through our Optional Extras and Upgrades. All options are available during the reservation process; please ask your sales consultant for more information.
The 5 day Inca Trail trek is suitable for anyone between the ages of 10 and 65 who is physically fit and who has experience doing multi-day hikes and overnight camping. You must be able to hike for long periods of time, for several hours each day, and be able to climb steep uphills and downhills.
There are a lot of steep stone steps on the Inca Trail and the descents can be particularly hard on your knees. If you have a knee injury or suffer from asthma, the Inca Trail may not be right for you.
Trekking the Inca Trail is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; make sure you enjoy it! Take the time necessary to prepare by getting fit and doing some practice hikes before you leave home. And once you arrive in Cusco, make sure you take enough time to properly acclimatize to the altitude. Read more of our trekking tips here.
We recommend that you bring the following items with you:
For our full packing list for treks in the Andes, see What to Pack for the Inca Trail.
Our blog How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru will also give you some great tips for how to get ready for your trek, before you even leave home.
Our whole trekking team is native to Lares region and know the Inca Trail like the back of their hand! They are some of the warmest, endearing and wonderful people you are ever likely to meet.
Our guides are all licensed and receive regular training. They share their experience, professionalism, knowledge and enthusiasm with our passengers on every trek.
Get to know our team!
Want to join a trek? Ready to confirm a departure date of your own, but interested in having others join you? Then Trekkers Wanted is for you! Our innovative Trekkers Wanted system matches people up who are interested in hiking the same trek, bringing costs down and multiplying the fun for everyone! Visit the link to read more about Trekkers Wanted, post your trek or search for confirmed departures!
Note: Trekkers Wanted for the Inca Trail ONLY available while permits last for your departure date.
General Information about hiking with Apus Peru
Specific Information About Hiking the Inca Trail Trek 5D
Booking Your Inca Trail Trek 5D
Extras & Upgrades on the Inca Trail Trek 5D
Does this trek sound like just what you were looking for? If you’re ready to book or just want to find out a bit more information, fill out the Inquiry Form in the top right-hand corner of this page to get the ball rolling. You’ll be connected with one of our amazing sales people who will be able to turn your dream of hiking in the Andes into a reality. For more information on the entire booking process, please see our How To Book page.
Travel insurance is a must! World Nomads offers travel insurance for adventure activities.
The 5 day Inca Trail starts with a relatively easy and relaxed day. Your tour guide and driver will pick you up from your Cusco hotel at a comfortable 8:30AM to drive to Ollantaytambo, the last remaining “living Inca city” in the Sacred Valley (about a 1.5h drive).
Upon arrival, enjoy a tour of the Ollantaytambo ruins and time to visit the market before we have an early lunch in a local restaurant. Then we continue to the starting point of the classic Inca Trail, the trailhead at Km 82 (2709m / 8888 ft), also known as Piscacucho. Here we’ll meet our porters, cooks and entire crew who will help us every step of the way on the Inca Trail. At the checkpoint, we will also have to show our entry tickets, passports and student cards (if applicable).
As we arrive at the trailhead hours later than the ‘madding crowd,’ we will have the Inca trail to ourselves as we start out by crossing the Vilcanota River. From here we head towards the Inca fortress of Huillca Raccay (2800m / 9186 ft) where we’ll have stunning views of the area, including our campsite!
Next, there is a steep descent into the expansive Inca site of Llactapata (2788m / 9146 ft) where we will spend the night. Time permitting, we will take a 40 min walk to the Llactapata ruins, the first ruins we come across on the Inca Trail, before settling in at the campsite. This is a special treat as most 4-day Inca Trail hikers don’t visit these amazing Inca ruins, actually the largest on the whole Trail!
Remember: Included in the price of the 5 Day Inca Trail trek is a duffel bag in which to pack your belongings which is carried by the porters. Our tireless trekking team will prepare the campsite before you arrive, including setting the tents up for you, and our outstanding cook will prepare delicious meals! All you need to carry is a day pack and water.
On Day 2 of Inca trail 5 day trek to Machu Picchu, we wake up early to continue hiking along the Kusichaca River Valley, gradually climbing until we reach the farming community of Huayllabamba, the last community on the Inca Trail (3000m / 9840 ft). All along the way we see spectacular views of the Vilcanota mountain range on the opposite side of the Urubamba River, where the impressive Mt Veronica reigns at a breathtaking 5832m (19,134 ft) in altitude! We’ll also pass an incredible diversity of wild flora and fauna along the way.
Continuing on the trail, we leave Huayllabamba (also spelled Wayllabamba) behind to begin the most difficult part of the trek: an abrupt and steep ascent that stretches for 9 km up to the first mountain pass on the Inca Trail, the Abra Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman’s Pass; 4200m / 13,780 ft).
As we climb, the landscape changes from sierra (alpine) to puna (a dry and high area with little vegetation), and we have the chance to spot llamas and alpacas grazing on ichu, a type of grass and one of the few plants that grow at that altitude. We also cross an area of cloud forest which is home to much of the flora and fauna the Inca trail is famous for, including many different species of birds, such as hummingbirds and sparrows, as well as the elusive Andean bear, also called the Spectacled Bear (Tremarctus Ornatus).
We will only climb half way up the pass today, stopping at Llulluchapampa instead where we will spend the night. This is a beautiful grassy campsite and if you are lucky, local wildlife might come in and graze near the tents!
Today is the most difficult day of your 5 day trek to Machu Picchu, and we will wake up earlier than usual in order to beat the crowds.
After breakfast we will head to the highest point on the Inca Trail, Dead Woman’s Pass (4212m / 13,819 ft). As we have camped higher up than the 4-day Inca Trail trekkers, we should be well ahead of them and have the path to ourselves, and we should reach the highest point after about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It is a tough hike, but you’ll feel an amazing sense of achievement upon reaching the top! Another benefit of having left early is that you will have clear views across the whole mountain range; this is the best view of the whole trek!
Immediately after the Dead Woman’s Pass, our 5-day itinerary has us descending into the Pacaymayo valley (3600m / 11,808 ft), where we will likely stop for morning tea around mid-morning in order to get a burst of energy for the second pass on the trek, Abra Runkurakay (3970m / 13,022 ft).
Halfway up to the pass, we visit the Runkurakay archaeological complex (3800m / 12,464 ft). This site consists of a small oval structure that is believed to have served as an Incan watchtower. After going over the pass, we descend towards Yanacocha (Black Lake) and enter the cloud forest to finally arrive at Sayacmarca (3624m / 11,887 ft). This is a beautiful complex made up of a semicircular construction, enclosures at different levels, narrow streets, liturgical fountains, patios and irrigation canals.
Depending on our progress we will likely stop for lunch at Chaquicocha (Dry Lake) around 2pm. After lunch, we hike the best part of the Inca trail (in our opinion!). The hike from Chaquicocha to Phuyupatamarca takes about 1.5 hours, where you can see beautiful orchids, glimpse hummingbirds, and again have a view of the Sacred River, the Willka Mayu, or Urubamba River (also known as the Vilcanota River).
As we reach the third pass, Abra Phuyupatamarca (3680m / 12,073 ft), we can appreciate the magnitude of the Incas’ ancient craftsmanship, walking along paths semi-detached from the mountain and noticing rocks that fill up ravines in perfect order, saving the trail from the multileveled Andean geography. From here, the rest of the day’s trek is relatively easy.
Phuyupatamarca, which means “town above the clouds,” is one of the most complete and best-preserved archaeological complexes along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and is located on the highest point of a mountain. While we enjoy a guided tour of Phuyupatamarca, our porters set up our tents and we will spend the night here.
If the weather is good this morning, enjoy your early morning tea, hot chocolate or coffee in front of one of the most spectacular sunrises on the entire Inca Trail 5 days / 4 nights itinerary, with views of Palccay and Salkantay mountains. Your guide may even perform a small ceremony to show gratitude to the mountain gods (apus) before breakfast, in front of this breathtaking vista
After breakfast we will say goodbye to our porters as they will head home during the course of the morning. We then continue our hike through the ruins of Intipata, a collection of terraces that it is believed were used to grow food for the inhabitants of Machu Picchu.
We continue down the long descending stone steps which will lead us to Wiñaywayna (2700m / 8858 ft), which is the most complete archaeological site on the Inca Trail besides Machu Picchu. Also spelled Wiñay Wayna or Wiñayhuayna, this site consists of an impressive complex made up of an agricultural center with numerous terraces, a religious sector and an urban sector, and offers spectacular views over the Urubamba River valley. The One Day Inca Trail hike – a shorter alternative to the classic hike – also reaches this archaeological site.
After our tour of the ruins, we leave Wiñaywayna to hike along undulating terrain to Inti Punku, the Sun Gate (2715m / 8907 ft), where we are rewarded with our first views of Machu Picchu! This will take an hour of hiking through highland jungle, along a narrow trail of flat stones that line the cliff edge. From this fabulous spot, we may enjoy spectacular views over the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu, weather permitting. For many, this is the most special moment in the entire Inca Trail 5 days / 4 nights itinerary; for others it is just the “icing on the cake” of all that the Inca trail has to offer!
A short walk beyond Inti Punku brings us down to the entrance of Machu Picchu where we will get a chance to take a picture from the Caretaker’s house in celebration of all that we have achieved. From here, we will take a side path off the trail to go down to Aguas Calientes, as we will save Machu Picchu for tomorrow. We take the bus down to Aguas Calientes where we’ll check into our hotel, before enjoying a celebratory dinner. Then it’s off to bed as we’ll have an early start tomorrow!
A Standard Hotel is included in your trek price, but we also offer the option to upgrade if you’d like a little more comfort!
Today is the final day of your 5 day Inca Trail tour and includes a guided tour of Machu Picchu.
After a restful sleep in your carefully selected hotel, you will have breakfast at a reasonable hour before we make our way to the bus stop at 7:15 AM. While many companies say that you need to board one of the first buses to Machu Picchu, or even be there are dawn, we disagree. At Apus Peru, we believe that rest and a good breakfast are important so that you are not too tired to really enjoy your once-in-a-lifetime visit to Machu Picchu.
We will have to wait in line for a bit to board the bus up to this marvellous site, but we will aim for an 8-9 AM entry. 8 o’clock is the best time to visit Machu Picchu because any clouds that often cloak the ancient city in the morning will have burned off by this time, and the site is likely to be a little less busy. It’s the best time of day to visit Machu Picchu, with great views, and a window of time between the Classic Inca Trail hikers and the day trippers arriving by train at around 11 AM or 12 noon. If you book late or have different requirements, we may need to buy a different entry time.
Once we reach Machu Picchu, your tour guide will give you a 2 hour guided tour of the Inca citadel. After the tour of Machu Picchu has completed, we will head to the Tinkuy Restaurant located inside the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge hotel, just outside the grounds, and enjoy a wonderful buffet lunch while you reflect on your visit and all that you’ve achieved on the 5 day Inca Trail hike.
Then we will take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes. (If you are feeling adventurous you can walk, but your bus ticket is included.) There are lots of markets that keen shoppers can browse while you wait for your train.
We will take a 2-hour train ride to Ollantaytambo and then connect with our private transport back to Cusco. (Total travel time is around 4 hours.) Our carefully chosen train schedule sees you travelling during the day, getting to enjoy the stunning scenery of the Urubamba Valley and the Sacred Valley mountains.
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 short hikes, and your Travel Consultant will discuss how adding one of these Machu Picchu hikes may change the itinerary of Day 5 of your 5-day Inca Trail trek.
Not sure which hike to choose? While Huayna Picchu Mountain is the more famous of the two hikes, we think that Machu Picchu Mountain offers better views, plus an incredible understanding of why the Incas built this sacred city in such a special place. For more details about each hike, see our Machu Picchu Hikes blog.
Ask your Travel Consultant about adding an extra day at Machu Picchu.
Everything was beyond imagination, but truly, the professionalism and level of attention from the staff was phenomenal! Adriel made this trip everything and more, an incredible guide and person.
Walking through the sun gate was the best. The guide Adriel, felt like one of our group, not an outsider. Exceeded expectations.
Wonderful trek with Greco and team. A truly wonderful and memorable trip. A trip of a lifetime.
Our experience reflected the other reviews on this site. Everything was extremely well organized and professional. The crew were amazing and our guide was knowledgeable, caring and just a really nice person. Everything from the morning walk-up Coca teas to the food and information was great. We would definitely recommend the 5 day trek as we could enjoy the scenery and suck up some oxygen! We also forgot something in our hotel in AC and the home office team made sure it was collected and hand delivered to our hotel in Ollantaytambo! Awesome service. Thanks for making this an unforgettable part of our time in Peru.
I truly don’t know where to begin. After seeing all the great reviews on Apus Peru I made the decision to go with them. I did the 5 day Inca trail excursion and Apus went above and beyond to make this a safe, memorable and extremely educational excursion for me. My guide at every step of the way showed me her true passion for what she does and my team of hard working, humble porters did the same…especially the incredibly creative and talented chef. They were kind, prompt and friendly through every step. I can go on and on…If you are looking for this type of experience hire Apus.
Thank you again!