the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is truly an immersive experience and one of the best things to do in Peru. During its tour, you will share the same feelings of the Incas when they came to Vilcabamba’s zone, during their escape from the Spanish. The mere memory that this trip will give you will be unforgettable and incomparable. Upon reaching the final, Machu Picchu, and witnessing the incredible view, you will realize that all that effort was worth it!
Inca trail to Machu Picchu Tours
The traditional Inca Trail to MachuPicchu is 4 days and 3 nights and Short Inca Trail 2 Days, this is the most famous trek in the world. Every year, thousands of adventure lovers walk the traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in search of a unique and original experience.
The travel agencies in the city of Cusco offer different Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, such as the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu, the Lares Valley, the Choquequirao route to Machu Picchu; of all these options the most required is the traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Walking along the Machu Picchu trekking route, one goes back in time, retracing the steps of the Inca people, while contemplating an incomparable natural environment.
No other circuit on earth combines such geographic diversity, from the Andes Mountains to the jungle of Peru, with archaeological ruins found along the Traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
The Inca Culture built a vast network of roads to connect different parts of their regions that extended for more than 30,000 km. They rebuilt and expanded the ancient road network and transformed it into a state that maintained control of the infrastructure due to its important economic, political and military functions.
“Hikes in Peru” is a travel operator that has the authorization and permits to operate the Inca Trail, consult with us about the availability of spaces.
The great Inca empire extended over a vast territory, from southern Colombia to Chile, passing through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. In order to communicate, they created an incredible network of roads totaling 30,000 kilometers.
Undoubtedly, the best-known stretch is the so-called Inca Trail, a 39-kilometer trek that reaches 4,200 meters above sea level and is traveled by thousands of adventurers every year to reach the final goal, the impressive citadel of Machu Picchu.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? The first thing you should know is that the Inca Trail is trekking qualified as medium level, so you must be physically prepared to enjoy the journey.
Are you ready? Then it’s time to choose how many days you want your adventure to last.
Requirements to reserve the Inca Trail Machu Picchu:
- Hotel pick-up information
- Tour start date.
- Names (as in passport)
- Last name (as it appears in the passport)
- Scanned Passports or Cedulas (Required)
- Bring a copy of the Migration card (TAM).
- Passport number.
- Minimum passport validity of 6 months.
- Date of birth.
- Name of your hotel
- Contact telephone numbers
- Payment of 50% of the tour cost.
NOTE: We do not accept payment of 100% of the cost of the tour, due to the high commissions of the payment platforms to which almost all Latin America is subject.
Note: This data will be confronted in all the entrances in the Inca Sanctuary, it is essential to be all of them, the controllers check and confront with your documents.
Note: In case there are no spaces available for the Inca Trail. Inca our recommendation is to do the Inca Trail Salkantay 5 days 4 nights.
- Places to visit: Machu Picchu
- Best time to go: April to October is the best season for this hike. In November and December it starts to rain.
- Departures: Daily
- Type of Tour: Adventure / Hiking
- Walking Distance: 45 km / 26 miles
- Pick up place: We pick you up from your hotel
- Place of return: We will drop you off at your hotel.
- Duration of tour: 4 days / 3 nights
- Tour start time: 04:00 – 04:30 hrs
- Difficulty: Moderately difficult
- Maximum altitude: 4217 m / 13,780 ft.
- Group size: 2 passengers min, 12 persons max.
- When to book: We recommend that you make a trekking reservation as soon as possible, 4 months in advance is recommended.
AVAILABILITY OF THE MACHU PICCHU INCA TRAIL
The Inca Trail and its surroundings are protected areas. To avoid environmental and archaeological damage, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture only allows a maximum of 250 people per day, including hikers and guides.
As such, you should book as far in advance as possible. Sometimes, the trek starts 6 months or more in advance. Please note that the months of May through September are in higher demand, and permits can sell out quickly. To reserve your space on the Inca Trail, we need certain personal information to send to the government agency that issues the permits.
MACHU PICCHU INCA TRAIL GROUP SIZE
Our shared groups are small, 4-8 people maximum. For private groups, the number of people will be determined by the client.
HOW TO BOOK THE INCA MACHU PICCHU TRAIL:
To reserve an Inca Trail permit, we need original and valid passports from each participant.
Once the purchase of tickets has been made, there is no possibility to CHANGE the date of departure, nor refund money in case of resistance (this is a strict government regulation).
The passenger who makes a cancellation will have to pay 85% of the amount of the package because it causes economic imbalance in the group).
Frequently Asked Questions Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Do you want to live the Inca Trail Adventure to Machu Picchu this 2022?
The great adventure of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is for those who live passionately, always looking for a new experience!
This Inca Trail 2021 – 2022 price is a fascinating dream to fulfill and is the most famous trek in all of South America. The beauty of the views and the archaeological sites surrounding the Inca Trail are unsurpassed.
This tour is ideal for those who are full of energy to hike to Machu Picchu on the trip of a lifetime with the 4 days 3 nights Classic Inca Trail.
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU?
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Peru is a well-established and iconic 4-day, 3-night trek that takes travelers from km. 82 (the starting point 40 minutes from the town of Ollantaytambo) to Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate (also called Inti Punku).
The good news is that it is much shorter than you might expect at only 40 kms (25 miles). The bad news? A significant portion of those 40 kms (25 miles) are steep and narrow Andean mountain trails. The Inca Trail will allow you to enjoy a unique adventure.
- Type of tour: Hiking, camping, adventure, history, culture.
- Total distance: 43KM / 26 Miles.
- Good for: Those who enjoy hiking and have a moderate level of fitness.
- Difficulty: challenging.
- Considerations: Permit required (we will obtain it after you book with us).
- Season: March 1 to January 31.
- Inca Trail Closed: February for maintenance.
To start with this great Inca Trail Adventure it is very important to take into account the following:
Information before doing the Inca Trail Tour:
This meeting will take place the night before the departure of the trip, where our staff will go to the hotel where you are staying to give you all the information about the itinerary of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 4 Days / 3 Nights.
Can I change the Departure Date after the tickets have been purchased?
Unfortunately, the answer is no.
After purchasing the tickets, the government prohibits any changes, so we cannot change any departure date after the ticket has been purchased. These same tickets cannot be transferred or refunded.
If you cancel your Classic Inca Trail Trip to Machu Picchu, the deposit is not refundable at all.
Can I store my luggage at the Travel Agency office?
Of course you can. During the trip, Hikes in Peru keeps your main luggage in our office or in your hotel, at no additional cost.
This 26-mile trek along the historic Inca Trail is considered the best route among the treks to Machu Picchu, the most popular in Peru and one of the top 10 in the world.
We are dedicated to providing a superior customer experience, always providing professional guides, specialized chefs and equipment of the best brands in the market, including fully comfortable tents.
Hikes in Peru also have porters who work very dedicatedly with us, they are happy working with us… and we work so hard for them to make sure that all their needs are met, and the right equipment is provided.
From time to time we create social projects directly for the benefit of the poorest families in the localities we visit. Choosing our company as your travel provider means an exclusive service with a social and human approach.
WE RECOMMEND CARRYING THE FOLLOWING PERSONAL KIT:
- Battery flashlight
- Insect repellent
- Trekking boots
- Hats or caps
- Toilet paper
- Plastic raincoat
- We recommend bringing light clothes for sunny days and warm clothes for the evenings, as temperatures can reach 0 ° C in some places (32 ° F).
- Depending on your interest, you may want to bring a camera recorder or camera, compass, and sunglasses.
WHY BOOK WITH HIKES IN PERU?
We work directly for the passengers (contract between Operator and Passenger), we do not use intermediaries, and we do not give commissions to Agencies or third parties that inflate costs.
We have been awarded Certificates of Excellence in Trip Advisor for 3 consecutive years, we also have a large number of customers who have been recommending our services.
All our team is 100% local people (from Cusco), professionals in Tourism who have constant training courses and good customer service (Customer = Friend), which guarantees the service we provide.
We are really Tour Operator with all the permits and certificates granted by the Provincial Municipality of Cusco and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (DIRCETUR and MINCETUR).
We have 10 years of experience in the market, we know perfectly our region and area of work, as well as the shortcomings of other companies, so we have the necessary knowledge to solve quickly and efficiently any unforeseen event or mishap that could arise in fortuitously (those small details are our differences).
What is the best time to do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
It is recommended as the best time to do the Inca Trail in the dry season from April to September because there is less likelihood of rain.
What were the characteristics of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has the characteristics of the Andean trails:
- They are on the slopes of the mountains
- They consist of several layers of stone and earth
- They have a drainage system
How important were roads to the Incas?
The Inca Trail or Qhapac Ñan, were very important because they communicated the Inca imperial capital of Cusco with the rest of the Tahuantinsuyo. For the Inca they were important because they symbolized political, cultural, social and administrative domination in the expansionist stage of his empire.
What type of heritage is the Inca Trail?
The Inca Trail is a World Heritage Site, according to Unesco, as it is considered an engineering marvel and one of the most important monuments of the Andean world.
Steps to follow on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
There are many roads leading to Machu Picchu, but none like the Inca Trail. The most popular among travelers and the most famous pedestrian street in the Americas. From Cusco, approximately 43 kilometers of road through forests and thick fog, ancient stone staircases and incomparable views.
At the end is the reward: the famous Sun Gate and its breathtaking views of the ruins of Machu Picchu. Walking the Inca Trail is a rite of passage for the traveler and a unique adventure, but it is necessary to plan it well before leaving. For this reason we offer you 5 steps to enjoy this millenary adventure to the fullest.
Choose the best time of the year for Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
It is important to choose the best time. Groups are organized throughout the year (except in February, when it rains a lot and the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance), but the best months (colder and drier) are June, July and August.
The problem: they are also the most sought after. To avoid crowds, it is best to go before or after the rainy season (March to May) or from September to November.
Be in good physical condition to do the Machu Picchu Inca Trail.
There is a lot of talk among travelers about the physical preparation required to tackle this route, when in fact it requires no more preparation than other similar routes in length and technical difficulty.
Of course, it is advisable to be in good shape and prepare the weeks prior to the trip with other excursions and long walks. Of course, the boots should already be worn and checked for blisters. At a reasonable pace and with a small backpack, many problems are avoided.
Make a reservation for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in advance.
As with many other high-demand hiking trails around the world, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu requires you to make advance reservations well in advance: six months in advance if you want to visit in the off-peak season, and six months to a year if you want to visit from May to early September.
The 2-day route is also usually the same or crowded and booking months in advance is more than essential. Permits will only be issued to authorized operators, although you can check general seat availability by clicking this link.
It is best to organize a five-day excursion that will allow us to walk more relaxed, enjoy the scenery and find less crowded campsites. It is also important to take out travel insurance to cover outdoor activities.
Choosing the best route to Machu Picchu Inca Trail
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is not the only route to Machu Picchu. There are more versions of both the Inca Trail and other trails. Among the other routes or trails to reach Machu Picchu Picchu, these are the most popular:
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
It is a longer and more scenic, though strenuous, route that accesses Machu Picchu via a slightly more difficult trail than the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
It can be done in five days and will take us from jungle to alpine terrain. You can go alone or with a guide, with an approximate price of $400.
Inca Trail Jungle
It is a Inca Trail developed by operators and guides that goes from Cusco to Machu Picchu via Santa Teresa and offers two to five days of travel by bicycle, on foot or by raft. It begins with a long four- to five-hour ride from Cusco to Abra Malaga, the highest pass (4,350 meters) between Ollantaytambo and the Amazon basin.
At one point on the Amazon side you take your mountain bike for the long ride to Santa Maria. It starts on a paved road that turns into a trail after 20 kilometers and is an incredible and scenic descent from the glacier to the tropical zone, a total of 71 kilometers.
Excursion to the Lares Valley
A more cultural option, preferably with a guide. This is not a trek per se, but a hike along one of several routes leading to Ollantaytambo through the spectacular Lares Valley. The route begins at the hot springs and passes Andean farming villages, little-known Inca archaeological sites, lush lagoons and river gorges.
Finish with a train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. Although the cultural component is the main feature of this trek, the mountain scenery is breathtaking. The average price is $460.
About the Porters:
The work done by the porters, is to carry throughout the Inca Trail Peru, all the luggage of the group (tents, kitchen, utensils, water, food, equipment, chairs, tables, etc.), Tourists carry their personal luggage, a backpack with things for personal use (clothes, cosmetics, ointments, canteen, flashlight, matra, sleeping bag, etc.. If the tourist does not wish to carry out these personal things, must be an extra porter for that The price is USD 120.00 for the first 3 days, the 4th day is not necessary.
What will you see on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
Inca Trail by Hiking Route – The hiking route lasts 4 days and 3 nights. Traveling its 39 kilometers is a great adventure for visitors who dare to take this route. It has moderate difficulty.
The first days are through difficult mountainous landscapes. For the last two days you descend through the tropical jungle of Cusco until you reach Machu Picchu. The route is protected by the Peruvian State so it can only be done with a tour. No one can enter without permission.
Flora and fauna on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – the beauty of the Inca Trail is the abundant flora and fauna that can be seen throughout the hike.
Here we can find an immense variety of orchids and its more than 400 varieties that are in the place. You can also see shrubs, ferns, mosses and more. The most representative birds and wild animals of the area are: the popular spectacled bear, the Andean deer, the llama, the cock of the rock, the duck of the torrents, the vizcacha and the many varieties of butterflies.
The archaeological site of Llactapata – It is located on the Machu Picchu Inca Trail straight line 5 kilometers from Machu Picchu. Its name means ‘high village’. This is due to its location on top of a mountain and close to fearsome cliffs. Here we can find walls and terraces that apparently supplied food to Machu Picchu. The explorer Hiram Bingham arrived there to take some notes. From there you have a privileged view of the Inca city and the Huayna Picchu mountain.
The Inca site of Runkurakay – Its name means ‘Abandoned House’. It is a semicircular building located 8.6 kilometers in a straight line from Machu Picchu. In addition to its central plaza, it has walls, windows, niches, niches and trapezoidal doors. The purpose of its construction is not known.
Sayacmarca Inca site – It was a ceremonial center with a plaza, windows, walls, canals, and water fountains.
It is located at the top of a mountain and close to fearsome cliffs. The American explorer Hiram Bingham reached the site in 1915. The place is also known as ‘Cedrobamba’, due to the number of cedar trees there. It could have belonged to a cult conquered by the Incas.
Phuyupatamarca – It is known as the ‘Place above the clouds’ due to its elevated location (3,600 meters above sea level) where the clouds reach. Here we can find enclosures, windows, niches, bathrooms and viewpoints from where the entire geography of the place can be appreciated.
The Inca site of Wiñayhuayna – Its name means ‘Eternally young’. It is only 3.3 kilometers in a straight line to Machupicchu. We can find several granite stone enclosures that include portals, stairways, windows, niches, and, above all, steep terraces. The purpose of its construction was to produce food. It is a very visited site by travelers, whether they do the Inca Trail and 4 days or the Inca Trail 2 days coryo.
The Inca city of Machu Picchu – This is the final destination of the Machu Picchu Inca Trail. The Intipunku gateway was used by the Incas hundreds of years ago. Here we can find hundreds of enclosures, stairways, temples, windows, walls, baths, squares and many other buildings that make up more than 150 and are the main attraction for tourists. This site was named wonder of the world in 2007.
How to book the Machu Picchu Inca Trail?
For those looking to hike the Inca Trail, there are a few things to keep in mind when organizing this trip. As mentioned above, to reduce human impact on the trail, the Peruvian government has implemented a system to regulate entry to this ancient route.
Therefore, to experience this famous trail to Machu Picchu, one must purchase a special ticket that is only available through a government-certified tour company. Inca Trail permits are limited to 500 per day, including hikers, cooks, guides and porters.
However, if you were thinking of doing the hike on your own, it will not be possible as the accompaniment of a professional tour guide is mandatory. There are many tour operators offering this experience, which means you will find different price ranges.
Therefore, we want to be totally honest with you, choosing the cheapest is not always the best option. Remember that you will get the service you paid for, no more and no less. Also, having a sense of security is the main objective here. Keep in mind that you are going on a trek that exceeds 4,000 meters of altitude and goes through the most remote places.
In this sense, we recommend that you do your research to find a company that offers you reliability and comfort. Yes, we know, among the sea of tour operators this can be a bit tedious, but you don’t have to go through this alone as hiring a local travel agency will take the stress away.
Hikes in Peru offers you everything you need for an authentic, fun and safe experience on the Inca Trail and Peru. Check out our travel packages and start planning the trip of a lifetime as you once dreamed it.
Which Inca to Machu Picchu trail should I choose?
To do this route, the first thing we will have to choose is which option we want, the long one of 4 days and 3 nights or the short one of 2 days and one night.
2-day trek (12km) Inca Trail Short 2-day Inca Trail:
Day 1: From km 104 of the railroad line that connects Cusco with Aguas Calientes to Aguas Calientes, a distance of 12km is covered. We will visit the following settlements along the way.
- Intipunku or Puerta del Sol
- Machu Picchu
Day 2: From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu.
Guided visit to Machu Picchu
4-day trek (45km):
For this trek each agency or guide has different options as far as camping sites are concerned, although they all camp in more or less the same areas.
There are two options to start it, one is at km 82 and the other at km 88.
We are not going to tell you the itineraries of each day, which are about 11km on average per day. What we are going to tell you are the places of interest that you will visit during the 4 days of trekking that will end at the citadel of Machu Picchu.
- Warmihuañusca (Pass at 4200masl)
- Machu Picchu
What precautions should I take if Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
If you plan to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the main recommendation is to book your trip at least 1 month in advance, because it is the minimum time for permits.
- Make sure you go with a trained guide with the guarantee of a specialized agency.
- Bring insect repellent.
- Wear very, very comfortable shoes.
- Carry a minimum camping equipment, including first aid kit and also:
- Long-term cold food.
- Warm, cool clothing.
- Rain cover.
- Hat and sun protection.
- Flashlight and spare batteries.
- Chocolates and energy food.
- Pills to make water drinkable.
- Bathing suit.
Best time to do the Machu Picchu Inca Trail
The best months are from May to September, which is the time with less rain and more sun. From June to August it can be quite cold (it is winter), especially at night. The rest of the months there is more chance of rain, but also less people and usually better prices (low season). In February the Camino is closed for maintenance. For more details, consult this table of temperatures and rainfall.
Permits to climb Machu and Huayna Picchu Mountains
A perfect complement for those who are not only satisfied with the views of Machu Picchu from the typical viewpoint that appears in all the postcards, is to climb one of the mountains that surround it and contemplate it from the heights: from the Machu Picchu Mountain or the Huayna Picchu mountain.
Both require a special permit that must be requested when buying the normal ticket online, where we must indicate if apart from the ticket to Machu Picchu, we want to climb either of these two mountains, in which case the price is increased by 15 soles for Machu and 25 soles for Huayna.
Although the climb to Huayna Picchu is the most popular, we climbed the Machu Picchu Mountain and the views are incredible, reaching up to 3,082 meters high. Both require good fitness and are exhausting (especially the Machu which is longer), being the ascent with a very steep slope and all steps to the summits, sometimes very narrow sections (not dangerous but you have to be careful!).
How to climb Machu Picchu Picchu from Machu Picchu Town
The town of Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes) is located in a valley and the entrance to Machu Picchu is located at the top of a mountain, so again we have to jump through hoops and make one more expense, the bus that climbs the mountain and leaves you at the entrance to Machu Picchu.
Each bus ride costs $9.50 with a small discount for a round trip, and takes just under half an hour.
As you can see it is an armed robbery, but there is no choice if you want to save the 10 kilometers of ascent, which is highly recommended to avoid fatigue and even more if you want to climb any of the mountains.
The shuttle service starts at 5:30 in the morning, we went up in the first one and had to be at 5 in the queue to ensure the place, but it was worth the early start to see the sunrise in Machu Pichu.
Alternative treks to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
There are several alternatives to the Inca Trail that do not require a permit and can be done on your own:
- The Salkantay Trek. It passes near the snow-capped summit of Mount Salkantay, climbing up to 4,700 meters (the summit is at 6,271 meters). Many combine it with the Inca Trail (a permit is needed for that part). It is more physically demanding than the Inca Trail.
- Lares Trek: This alternative allows you to visit several Andean villages, learning about their traditional ways of life. You can also enjoy the hot springs of Lares. 3 days.
- Cachicata (or Chaski): It passes by different Inca ruins, including mummies. The trail is not well marked, so it is especially advisable to go with a guide. 3 days.
- Vilcabamba: Long and very complete route, in which you can see different landscapes and reach Vilcabamba, another lost city of the Incas like Machu Picchu. 7 days.
- Choquequirao Trek: Route that leads to the Inca city of Choquequirao. It is a long route (7-9 days), but can be shortened.
None of them end at Machu Picchu itself, but in many of them you can take a short train at the end for a day visit to the ruins.
What to see in the Lost City of the Incas Machu Picchu
The Llaqta is part of a series of 4 circuits that go through different parts of the citadel. Each visitor must choose one of the 4 circuits. However, when buying the tickets, they can choose a combined circuit with one of the mountains (with additional cost). For more clarity, we recommend our post on how to buy tickets to Machu Picchu.
In the Llaqta you will be able to visit iconic places of the citadel such as:
Temple of the Condor
It is a room located in the citadel, where the Incas sculpted a condor. Of course, it does not look good from all perspectives.
A very striking sculpture where apparently the Incas fixed the position of the sun and its shadows to determine the months of the year and other data.
The Sacred Rock
Here I remember that I stayed a long time taking pictures. They say that this monolith is a “drawing” of the mountain in front, and the truth is that it is quite similar.
Temple of the Three Windows
If you want to see total symmetry and a work of architecture worthy of admiration, I present to you the temple of the three windows. One wonders how the hell they put those big rocks in such a symmetrical and polished way. Nowadays, with all the technology available, it is quite complex to imagine building something like this.
Temple of the Sun
The story goes that in the temple of the sun, ceremonies and prayers were held for the sun god “Inti”. Only the Inca and the priests could enter this precinct. The place has two windows facing north and east, and it was the place where the winter solstices and other solar data were measured with greater accuracy.
Terraces for agriculture and water troughs
The whole city of Machu Picchu is full of gutters through which the water ran. They really thought of everything.
If you go to Machu Picchu and you get a rainy day run and analyze all the gutters and you will see that it is a work of art. Without the water channels the city could have collapsed, since the water came from rainwater, that is why the gutters were built at strategic points.
On the other hand, the terraces were a creative way to control soil erosion. The slopes of the Inca city are quite steep and it is there where the Inca “engineers” decided to create terraces to give strength to the land and therefore right to provide them with crops, since being such a high place it was impractical to descend to the valley to grow their food.
Elements not allowed on the Machu Picchu Inca Trail Network
Firearms or air guns, bows and arrows, hunting and fishing implements, axes, machetes, knives, picks, shovels or other tools.
- Any type of trap for the capture of wildlife specimens.
- Fossil fuels such as: kerosene, diesel oil, gasoline.
- Stimulants, psychotropic drugs, narcotics and other drugs not permitted by the national legislation in force.
- Sound equipment and other noise generators.
- Domestic animals and exotic species.
- Walking sticks with metal tips that do not have a rubber protector or wooden walking sticks of native species.
- Bottles, plastic containers and disposable cups.
Resolution Nº 0O2-2004-UGM-CD – INRENA
Where does the name of the citadel of Machu Picchu come from?
Machu Picchu means in Quechua literally Old Mountain, is the name given to this ancient Inca city. Although in reality, who is called Machu Picchu is the mountain that flanks it next to Huayna Picchu.
Huayna Picchu means “young mountain” so you may have already deduced that picchu is mountain in Quechua. You already know a word! hehe.
We would explain some history, but we better leave it for you when you go to listen to everything the guide explains (because we advise you to take a guide).
Is it mandatory to bring a guide to enter Machu Picchu?
No, it is not mandatory to go with a guide to Machu Picchu, but it is highly recommended.
In our opinion, in historical places, especially in ruins, it is very important that someone knowledgeable explains the context, tells you stories, reveals secrets of the place that makes your imagination reconstruct the place you are walking on… Otherwise, visits to archaeological ruins can be a bit boring.
So now, let’s get practical. We are going to explain the different ways to visit Machu Picchu.
Visiting Machu Picchu by doing the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
This is one of the ways everyone dreams of. But you have to be very proactive and have a good travel budget.
To do the Inca Trail you have to reserve a place months in advance and pay about 600 euros for a 4-day trek.
Only 200 people can walk the Inca Trail each day, so imagine the demand. In reality, there are 500 people, but only 200 are the travelers who finally arrive at Macchu Picchu, the rest are workers of the trekking agencies.
You should also know that the Inca Trail is closed in February.
Where to book the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
Well, you can do it in Hikes in Peru, we are an authorized agency. Here you can see several options of days and prices of the Inca Trail.
How to go from Machu Picchu Pueblo to Machu Picchu
Okay, you’ve arrived in Aguas Calientes, how do you get up to Machu Picchu? You have two options: either walking or by bus.
From Machu Picchu Town to Machu Picchu by Foot
If you are walking, you should know that the route is very hard. We did it downhill and we think that going up that early in the morning is to faint very easily, so think twice.
It can be a three-hour climb, so if you want to be at the entrance early, you may have to start walking at 3 or 4 am.
From Machu Picchu Pueblo to Machu Picchu by bus
If you opt for the bus better. They leave from the main street, Hermanos Ayar, very close to the train station (you can’t miss it).
The bus that takes you to the entrance of Machu Picchu costs $12.00 each way and there is no discount for the up and down.
We recommend you to buy it the day before. We, for example, went up by bus and walked down to reduce prices.
Of course, if you have the first turn of entry we recommend you to be at the bus stop at 4:30 in the morning. And for sure there will already be a queue! They leave every 5-10 minutes.
Is it worth climbing Huayna Picchu?
In my opinion, yes, very much so. The top of Huayna Picchu is not “empty” but you can visit the Temple of the Moon. But the best thing is not that…The best thing is this
Spectacular views of Machu Picchu. The climb is challenging but well worth the effort.
How to prepare your backpack for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Many inexperienced travelers make the mistake of carrying loose backpacks, and with enough weight, that is lethal for an excursion like the Inca Trail, you should not carry so much load. Although most groups that take this route carry porters to transport tents, bags, utensils and other things, you will still have to carry your own backpack, but make sure you have what is strictly useful for the excursion so you don’t have to face unnecessary efforts.
The Llamas of Machu Picchu City
In Machu Picchu live llamas in freedom. They are not aggressive but you better not show them your food. In fact, it is forbidden to feed them, if you do, the guards will call your attention. But you can take a selfie with them
Machu Picchu is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world and a place I would definitely go back to!
THE ENERGY OF THE INTIHUATANA on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
To make a route for the sacred zone of the citadel is fundamental. Once you enter through the Portada de la Ciudad, you must see the Portada Group, Temple of the Sun (Torreon), Royal Mausoleum, Royal Residence (Royal Palace), Temple of the Three Windows and the Main Temple, a sample of the building power of the Incas.
It is interesting to pay special attention to the sundial, the Intihuatana. It is a structure carved on rock that in Inca times must have served as an astronomical calendar. Nowadays it is known as a rock that radiates energy” and many travelers come to feel and be infected by its power.
CLIMBING HUAYNA PICCHU
And since the purpose of this trip is to walk, a good tip is to climb Huayna Picchu (the young mountain) the mountain that is seen in the background in all the photos of Machu Picchu. The ascent is steep and takes about an hour. It is important to know that only 400 people can climb per day so it is also important to book in advance. The view at the top is supernatural.
WATCH OUT FOR MOSQUITOES
Mosquitoes show no mercy when you are visiting Machu Picchu. They are merciless. It is important to take a good repellent with you, of course, although it must be said that sometimes even that is not enough. A good suggestion, even in hot weather, is to wear long sleeves, both on your legs and arms.
WHAT TO CARRY IN YOUR BACKPACK FOR THE INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU
Apart from mosquito repellent, it is worthwhile to equip yourself well to make your visit as comfortable as possible. Do not overpack. It is essential to pack the following in your suitcase: sun protection, a recyclable water bottle, a raincoat and some warm clothes, as it is usually cold early in the morning.
Please note that very large backpacks are not allowed: if it measures more than 40 cm x 35 cm x 20 cm, you will have to pay to store it in the lockers.
Main routes of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Classic Inca Trail 4 Days: the traditional Inca Trail is the one that lasts four days and three nights. Depending on the agency that carries out the tour, you will stop at one or another archaeological ruins, such as Piscacucho, Cusichacam, Qoriwayrachina, Huayllambamba, Wiñaywayna and, finally, Machupicchu.
If you want to further explore the magic of Cusco there are some additional routes that you can add to the Classic Inca Trail where you can visit the most important places of the city as well as the incredible Sacred Valley, which has several Inca ruins and other tourist attractions.
Short Inca Trail: if you have little time, do not worry, there is an alternative route of the Inca Trail that can be done in just two days. It starts in the city of Cusco, reaches the archaeological site of Wiñaywayna and ends in Machu Picchu.
As with the classic trek, in the short trek you can add excursions to the Sacred Valley, which increases the number of days of duration of this trek and the tourist attractions you will visit.
These two are only the most popular options, but, as we have mentioned before, the different agencies that offer routes on the Inca Trail also have other options.
As this is such a popular trek, it is possible that you will not find places if you do not book well in advance. In this case, we recommend you to do other treks that, although less known, also have impressive landscapes. Some examples are the routes that pass through the snowy Salkantay, the district of Lares or the impressive citadel of Choquequirao.
Inca Trail route prices
Although many tourists think that this trek is an adventure for backpackers traveling on a budget, in reality the Inca Trail is quite expensive. The base price is approximately $650 and it includes both the guide service throughout the journey as a porter to help carry luggage, bus service for certain sections and the entrance to Machu Picchu.
Tips for the Inca Trail
Now that you know the different options for the Inca Trail, here are some tips to make sure everything goes smoothly:
- Arrive in Cusco at least two days before to be able to acclimatize to the altitude, since the Inca Trail reaches 4,200 meters above sea level and the body must be accustomed to be able to follow the rhythm of the route.
- If you cannot arrive two days early, at least keep in mind that the Inca Trail departures are very early, so you should arrive at least the night before.
- Likewise, the arrival to Cusco from the Inca Trail is at night, so we recommend not planning any trip for that day as you might miss it.
- Do not try to be first in your group. Follow the pace set by your body and if you have to stop, don’t think about it and rest.
- Carry just what you need in your backpack. It is recommended to carry an intermediate backpack (40 liters) only with items that you will need such as raincoat, headlamp, sunscreen, first aid kit…
- Eat lightly and hydrate yourself along the way to be able to continue the route without any problems.
- You will spend long hours walking, so it is essential to wear appropriate shoes and a walking stick to help you along the way.
- If you want to climb Huayna Picchu, reserve your entrance ticket in advance, as only 400 people can access it per day.
- Please note that the Inca Trail is closed during the month of February for maintenance.
Ready for one of the best adventures of your life? Enjoy this incredible experience.
WHAT TO EAT IN MACHU PICCHU TOWN
There is a great diversity of restaurants in Cusco and Machu Picchu. The cheapest are in the markets, but always eat carefully. There are also restaurants that fuse cuisines from all over the world. Peruvian food is considered among the best in the world.
There are 5 dishes that we can recommend you not to miss: fish ceviche, cuy (a kind of guinea pig), lomo saltado, aji de gallina, anticuchos (marinated grilled pieces of meat) and the delicious grilled chicken.
WHERE TO SLEEP IN MACHU PICCHU
The most advisable on a trip to Machu Picchu is to sleep in the village of Machu Picchu Publo, which is about 6 kilometers from the entrance of Machu Picchu and is also an ideal base for planning excursions.
The accommodation there is quite diverse: hostels and hostels to luxury stays. It depends on the pocket of each one.
General information for your visit to Machu Picchu Inca Trail
What do you have to keep in mind when traveling alone to Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu opens its doors at 06:00 in the morning and closes at mid-afternoon. Before you could enter at any time, but now there are two shifts: morning or afternoon (I explain more in the next section, as it is linked to the type of ticket you buy).
The closest town to Machu Picchu is Aguas Calientes, so the first thing you should know is that you have to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and, once there, go up to Machu Picchu. I explain in detail below the different options.
In principle, you can not access the site with water and food, but I recommend that you try to bring something in your backpack. Why? Because everything is very expensive! What’s more, if you can take it with you from Cusco, all the better. As the town of Aguas Calientes is somewhat isolated, everything is more expensive there.
It is forbidden to enter with single-use plastics (so don’t bring any plastic bags, disposable cutlery…).
Just before entering Machu Picchu, there is a restaurant, restroom (costs 1 sol), and machines where you can buy water. Take the opportunity to do what you have to do before entering, because once inside, there is nothing. Of course, you can leave and re-enter by presenting your ticket again (but it’s a hassle).
Don’t forget your passport. Besides being necessary to enter the sanctuary, you can stamp it with a Machu Picchu stamp to have an original souvenir of your visit.
FROM WHAT AGE IS IT POSSIBLE TO WALK THE INCA TRAIL MACHU PICCHU?
The Inca Trail can be hiked by all adventure lovers who are in good physical condition and are willing to walk for 4 days, 2 to 8 hours per day, sleeping in tents during this time.
This hike has no age restriction; however, it is advisable to take into consideration children under 8 years of age, elderly people and people with heart problems.
To take into account to do the Inca Machu Picchu Trail
The Inca Trail is an extremely popular route. Permit limits keep crowds tolerable, but the larger crowds mean that the chances of seeing large mammals are reduced. During the difficult ascent you are likely to encounter walking and other groups, and campsites are also crowded.
To hike the Inca Trail, you are required to go with an approved operator, who will purchase an Inca Trail permit on your behalf. Permits are limited to 500 per day, 300 of which are guides, cooks and porters.
During much of the year, permits are available, but they should be purchased at least one or two months in advance to ensure that you will find the desired date for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
If you would like more information about these and other tours in the Peruvian Andes, please do not hesitate to contact our travel agency in Cusco for information, assistance or tours.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN INCA TRAIL MACHU PICCHU AND SALKANTAY TREK?
We have a variety of paths to the Modern Wonder of Machu Picchu, we will show you the most important ones:
The Inca Trail is emblematic thanks to its history as part of the system of Royal Roads that connected the Inca Empire. Thanks to this, combined with the natural environment and the impressive finish at Machu Picchu, it is considered the number one hike in South America.
But we have an alternative which is the Salkantay Trek, in which you will enjoy wonderful landscapes, surrounding the most important snow-capped mountains that the Incas considered as Gods or Apus.