Follow an ever-changing landscape when you hike to Machu Picchu on the Luxury Inca Trail hike. Hike from the Sacred Valley over incredible mountain passes and down through the Andean jungle in luxurious comfort from start to finish. The Luxury Inca Trail experience lets you spend more time appreciating the natural beauty of your surroundings, visit Incan sites often overlooked on the classic itinerary, and visit Machu Picchu twice!
Read more about what makes the classic Inca trail hike so awesome in our blog!
Note: The Inca Trail hike is closed in February for maintenance.
The Luxury Inca Trail hike follows an Inca road, which features a combination of ground trails and stone paths. Some sections are very steep, and require sustained uphill climbing. You may see a variety of flora and fauna, such as cacti, orchids, birds and possibly a vizcacha (Andean chinchilla) or two, as you hike from alpine tundra to lush cloud forest. At high passes, you will be treated to majestic views of neighboring mountain ranges. The Luxury Inca Trail hike also includes the chance to visit several impressive Inca ruins which may be overlooked during the Classic Inca Trail.
Our luxury hike to Machu Picchu includes Comfort Camping on the trail, accommodation at a 5-star luxury hotel in Aguas Calientes and the unparalleled Hiram Bingham train experience. We will hike at a more relaxed pace, spending more time to appreciate the natural beauty of the environment and explore Inca ruins. The Luxury Inca Trail overnights in some of the less popular campsites, offering a little more peace and relaxation on the trail, as well as allowing for our larger-sized glamping tents.
Last but not least, the Luxury Inca Trail experience includes two opportunities to visit Machu Picchu! You’ll have the chance to take the iconic shot of Machu Picchu at two different times of day, and also see some features of the site that not everyone gets to see on just one visit!
Did you know? Only a special few actually get to hike the Inca Trail every year. Peru’s permit system allows just 500 people 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 6-8 months in advance! Once permits have been purchased, NO OPERATOR CAN OFFER YOU ONE. All permits are personal and non-transferable meaning that if someone cancels, their spot cannot be taken by someone new. And there is no waitlist!
For our full packing list for treks in the Andes, see What to Bring.
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 guides are all licensed and receive regular training. They share their experience, professionalism, knowledge and enthusiasm with our passengers on every trek.
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General Information About Trekking with Apus Peru
Specific Information About Trekking the Luxury Inca Trail Hike
Booking Your Luxury Inca Trail Hike
Extras & Upgrades on the Luxury Inca Trail Hike
Your Luxury Inca Trail hike begins today with a morning pick-up from your hotel in our private transport. You should have breakfast in your hotel or bring some snacks. We will stop in Ollantaytambo for last-minute purchases, or a quick breakfast if you missed it in Cusco! From Ollantaytambo, we continue to Piscacucho (also known as Kilometre 82) where the Inca Trail starts. On arrival at Km 82, it is necessary to show entrance tickets, passports, and student card (if applicable).
Crossing the Urubamba River, we begin our trek through typical dry forest where we will see prickly pear and other cactus as well as the tara tree. We will walk around 3 hours (6 km) to Miskay, and then another hour and a half to two hours to Llactapata, our campsite for the night (2700m / 8858 ft). After a short break at the campsite, we will walk for about 40 mins to the ruins of Llactapata themselves. This is a special treat for us as most Inca Trail hikers miss this site, actually the largest to be found along the trail! We will take an hour or so to explore these ruins before returning to our campsite at around 5:30pm.
After a good night’s rest, we begin to walk 4 km of gentle uphill trails through farmland until we reach Huayllabamba. Then, leaving pastoral villages behind, we will continue to Ayapata (3300m /10,826 ft) where we will have lunch. From Ayapata, we walk another 2 hours uphill, entering the subtropical forest, until we reach Llulluchapampa (3750m / 12,303 ft).
After two relatively relaxed days on the Luxury Inca Trail, today we will have a long and fairly arduous day as we hike towards the highest part of the Inca Trail. We begin with a steep ascent towards the highest pass, the Abra Huarmihuañusca, or Dead Woman’s Pass, coming in at an impressive 4200m (13,779 ft). It is a tough hike, but you’ll feel an amazing sense of achievement upon reaching the top! After a short rest on the pass, we continue downwards 600m (1968 ft) over 3kms (1.8 mi) through a very humid forest until we reach Pacaymayo where we will have lunch.
After lunch, we will continue walking to the beautiful Inca site of Runkurakay, one of the checkpoints on the Inca Trail and the beginning of the original Royal Inca road to Machu Picchu, known as Qhapaq Ñan. We continue on to Sayakmarka, one of the most beautiful Inca remains on our Luxury Inca trail hike, and then another 3h until we reach Chaquicocha (3600mt /11,811 ft).
As we hike beyond Chaquicocha, we enter the cloud forest. On this last 1.5h stretch of the day, we will trek through some incredible scenery, filled with orchids and hummingbirds. Finally, we arrive at Phuyupatamarca, which means town above the clouds. This is the most stunning campsite on the entire Inca Trail, and most people who hike the classic route don’t camp here! Tomorrow morning you will really see where this place gets its name. This is the third highest point on the Inca trail (3680m / 12,073 ft) and we will have breathtaking views of Salkantay mountain.
For a special treat this morning, we wake early – around 5 am – in order to enjoy a quiet morning tea in front of incredible views of Salkantay mountain. Then, after a leisurely breakfast, we set out on the last leg of our Luxury Inca Trail. We start by hiking downhill through the forest for about 3-4 hours until we reach Wiñay Wayna (“forever young”), where we will have lunch. On the way, we stop at Intipata, another interesting Inca ruin overlooked by most hikers. We will see loads of colorful orchids, enjoy gorgeous views, including of the sacred Urubamba river, the same one we saw at the beginning of the Inca Trail. It’s like coming full circle!
Depending on your pace, we will have lunch either before or after we visit the Winay Wayna ruins, the most impressive on the trail. No matter how tired you are, don’t miss out on seeing this wonder!
After lunch and our visit to the ruins, we leave Wiñaywayna to walk on an undulating path towards 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. The last 10 min of this hike are include very steep steps (colloquially known as the “Gringo Killer”!). A challenging climb, you might just end up using your hands as much as your feet to complete the climb. After such a long journey, we deserve to take a break and really breathe in this fabulous spot. We will spend at least half an hour to enjoy spectacular views over the sacred citadel of Machu Picchu, weather permitting.
From Inti Punku, a short gentle downhill walk brings us down to the Guardhouse of Machu Picchu. Here you can take the classic photo of Machu Picchu! We walk to the checkpoint, where you can use the restroom or have some snacks. Then we will enter into the Inca Citadel itself. If desired, we have a chance to visit some special parts of ruins that others may miss, including the Temple of the Sun, or Intihuatana. This will be just our first taste of Machu Picchu, and then we will take last bus down to Aguas Calientes.
Arriving in Aguas Calientes we will check into our luxury hotel before enjoying a celebratory dinner. Then it’s off to bed as we’ll have an early start tomorrow.
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.
And if you don’t plan on doing one of these extensions, we suggest enjoying your Machu Picchu visit in the afternoon, after the morning crowds have all but completely cleared out.
We return to Aguas Calientes by bus and then start our journey back to Cusco in the afternoon by the Hiram Bingham 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.