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Our 5 day trek is a great Inca Trail choice for getting a bit off the beaten path, hiking at a pace out of sync with the crowds. This affords you a bit more time to explore and enjoy everything that makes hiking the Inca Trail great, from the archaeological sites along the route to the incredible variety of flora and fauna.
The Inca Trail starts in the Sacred Valley of the Incas and finishes in the jungle. You’ll begin your journey on this ancient road of the Incas at Km 82, after leaving Cusco traveling in a combination of private transport and train. We’ll camp at sites with fewer people at slightly higher altitudes, making for more relaxing evenings. Note that the relaxed pace of this trek does NOT mean that it is “easy”. We will follow the same route as the Classic Inca Trail, with all its steep ascents and stone steps. Though our hiking days are shorter, you must still be fit and in good physical shape to do this Inca Trail trek!
Only a special few actually get to do the Inca Trail trek 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 Inca Trail is closed in February for maintenance.
The Inca Trail trek 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.
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!
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
Today will be a relatively easy and relaxed day, starting at a respectable 6 am when we pick you up from your hotel to drive to Ollantaytambo. Arriving at this incredible living Inca city, we’ll have a chance to stretch our legs, pick up supplies and have a coffee or “second breakfast” at one of the local cafes or restaurants. We recommend Hearts Café, a social enterprise run by the NGO Living Hearts. Proceeds from the café support children in the villages surrounding Ollantaytambo.
From here we continue to the trailhead at Km 82 (also known as Piscacucho, 2,800m / 9,186ft) where we’ll have to show our entry tickets, original passports and student cards (if applicable). Crossing the Vilcanota River, we head towards the Inca fortress of Huillca Raccay where we’ll have stunning views of the area, we will continue trekking along the valley created by the Kusichaca River, gradually climbing until we reach the farming community of Huayllabamba (3000m / 9842ft). 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/19,133ft in altitude! We’ll also pass an incredible diversity of wild flora and fauna along the way.
We wake up early continuing on the trail, we leave Huayllabamba behind to begin the most difficult part of the trek: an abrupt and steep ascent that stretches for 9 km and reaches the first mountain pass on the Inca Trail, the Abra Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman’s Pass) (4200m / 13,799 ft).
We will only climb halfway up the pass today, stopping at Pacaymayo instead where we will spend the night. As we climb, the landscape changes from sierra to puna (a dry and high area with little vegetation), and we have the chance to spot llamas and alpacas grazing on ichu, one of the few plants that grow at that altitude. We also cross an area of cloud forest, home to many different kinds of birds, including hummingbirds and sparrows, as well as the elusive Andean bear, also called the Spectacled Bear (Tremarctus Ornatus).
After breakfast, we continue our hike up to start to climb to the second pass, the Abra Runkurakay (3970m / 13,022 ft). Halfway up, we visit the archaeological complex with the same name. This site, located at 3750m / 12,303 ft, consists of a small oval structure that is believed to have served the purpose of a watchtower. After going over the pass, we descend towards Yanacocha (Black Lake) and enter the cloud forest to finally arrive at Sayacmarca (3624m / 11,889 ft). This is a beautiful complex made up of a semicircular construction, enclosures at different levels, narrow streets, liturgical fountains, patios, and irrigation canals.
Continuing up an easy climb, we arrive at the third pass, the Abra Phuyupatamarca (3700m / 12,139ft). Along this climb we can appreciate the magnitude of the Incas’ ancient craft as we walk along paths semi-detached from the mountain, and see rocks that fill up ravines in perfect order, saving the trail from the multileveled Andean geography. 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. We set our camp in Phuyupatamarca and spend the night here.
If the weather is good, we start today with one of the most spectacular sunrises on the entire Inca Trail Trek!
We then start our way through the long descending stone steps which will lead us to Wiñaywayna (2650m / 8694ft). Wiñaywayna is the biggest archaeological site on the Inca Trail beside Machu Picchu and 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.
After our visit, we leave Wiñaywayna to climb to Inti Punku, The Sun Gate (2700m / 8858ft). This will take an hour of hiking through highland jungle, along a 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. From Inti Punku, a short walk brings us down to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Before reaching the entrance, 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 the 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!
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.
We return to Aguas Calientes by bus and then start our journey back to Cusco in the afternoon by Expedition (tourist class) train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo. There, our driver will meet us and transfer you directly back to your hotel in Cusco. Total travel time is about 4 hours from Aguas Calientes to Cusco.
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!