Our 5-day trek is a great Inca Trail trek 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. 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!
Did you know? 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.
We treat our staff right: 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.
From snow-capped mountains and alpine tundra to lush cloud forest and sub-tropical Andean jungle, the 5D Inca Trail Trek provides an unparalleled journey through a series of micro-climates, with breathtaking Inca ruins along the way. You’ll see incredible mountain views, spectacular sunrises, and lots of incredible flora and fauna.
From here we continue to the trailhead at Km 82 (also known as Piscacucho) 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, including our campsite! We then walk down to the expansive Inca site Llactapata, where we will spend the night.
Total Walking Distance – 5km
Total Walking Time – 2.5-3h
Minimum Altitude – / Maximum Altitude – 2650 m / 8692 ft
Altitude of camp – 2620 m / 8595 ft
We will only climb half way up the pass today, stopping at Llulluchapampa 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).
Total Walking Distance – 12 km
Total Walking Time – 5-6h
Minimum Altitude – 3000m / 9840ft / Maximum Altitude – 3850m / 12,589 ft
Altitude of camp – 3850m / 12,589 ft
Continuing up an easy climb, we arrive at the third pass, the Abra Phuyupatamarca (3700m / 12,136 ft). 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.
Total Walking Distance – 15km (9.32 mi)
Total Walking Time – 8h
Minimum Altitude – 3600m / 11,811 ft / Maximum Altitude – 4200 m / 13, 780 ft
Altitude of camp – 3600m / 11,811 ft
We then start our way through the long descending stone steps which will lead us to Wiñaywayna (2650m / 8692 ft), where we find a campsite equipped with a restaurant, bar and bathrooms. The campsite has the same name as the complex located only five minutes away from the lodge. Wiñaywayna is the biggest archaeological site on the Inca Trail besides 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. 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!
Total Walking Distance – 11km (6.84 mi)
Total Walking Time – 5h
Minimum Altitude – / Maximum Altitude – 3600m / 11, 811 ft
You may want to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain to cap off your Machu Picchu experience, but remember that permits are limited and must be reserved at the time of booking! There is an additional cost to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain not included in the price of this trek.
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.
Want more time to explore? Consider our Extra Day Upgrades!