Daily distances on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Camino Inca

Knowing the daily distances you will have to cover during your trek along the Inca Trail will allow you to better understand how you should train for the adventure. Of course, the daily distances you will cover will depend on the itinerary you have chosen to take.  The version of the Inca Trail that we will tackle will be the classic 5 Day Trek to Machu Picchu, here are the daily distances of this well known trek.

Daily distances on the 5 Day Inca Trail

Distances are not the only relevant thing to know and know how to prepare to cross this iconic route, of course if the hike were flat it would be much easier for visitors, but this is not the case due to the unevenness and changes in altitude on the Inca Trail. Knowing about this feature information on the route should then give you a better idea of how you want to train and prepare. During most of the Inca Trail, you will be going up and down steep and uneven stairs.  If you are not on stairs, then you will be going up and down trails on steep and rocky terrain, it is a difficult route to navigate, but with proper training and fitness the only thing you will be concerned about at that point is having more time to enjoy the wonderful scenic views and amazing archaeological complexes that are located on the Inca Trail.

Daily distances on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Daily distances on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

So, it is important to make sure that you have the physical condition especially in your legs and body to handle the distances and, most importantly, the steps up and down that will demand too much from you, you should keep in mind that even though you will not be carrying the necessary complements for your camps (of which the porters are fitted) you will still have to carry a backpack with your personal belongings. You should focus your routine on strength and endurance training for this type of geographically rugged trekking.

Daily distances on the Inca Trail

In total, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu covers a total of 42km/ 26 miles that you hike over four days.  When you think of 42km/ 26 miles in four days, it doesn’t seem like a huge amount!  However, the terrain covered in those four days is extremely demanding and challenging to hike, especially because of the large amount of stairs you will have to climb up and down along the way.

We recommend the classic Inca Trail for several reasons.  First, it gives you more time to enjoy each place along the route.  Secondly, it breaks down the daily distances on the trail so that the hiking distances are spread out.

Daily Distances on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Day 1).  Wayllabamba

Your trek begins at 6am where you will drive to Piscacucho at 2,700m/ 9,000ft. This is the famous KM 82 marker, and the starting point of our trek. After registering and showing the necessary documents, the hike will begin! On the first stretch of the hike we will have beautiful views of the landscape and surrounding peaks, such as Apu Huakay Willka, 5,850m/ 19,193ft, also known as snowy Veronica. We will begin to see the many plants and trees of the region, which will be addressed by your guide as you walk along the trail.

Wayllabamba - Inca Trail
Wayllabamba – Inca Trail

After approximately 45 minutes of hiking, you will arrive at your first destination, the Inca City of Llactapata 2,750m/ 9020ft. From this point, you will have a short descent and then continue on the trail to Tarayoc. There is a beautiful Inca site just off the trail. You will explore this site before relaxing and enjoying a delicious lunch.

After lunch, prepared by the chef and cooking team, you will continue up the trail. The ascent through this semi-tropical valley is gradual until you reach our campsite at Wayllabamba, at 3,100m/ 10,170ft. Total hiking time for the first day is approximately 6 hours and will cover a distance of 10.6km/ 6.6 miles.

Day 2). Pacumayu

The hike this day starts early in the morning after a nutritious breakfast. Today will be one of the hardest and most physically demanding days on the trail. This day you will cross the highest point of the Inca Trail, the high mountain pass of Abra Warmiwañusca, or Dead Woman’s Pass, at 4,215m / 13,776 ft. Throughout this day’s climb, the landscape will change markedly from sierra to puna (a dry, high area characterized by little vegetation). We will also have the opportunity to see llamas and domesticated alpacas grazing Ichu, one of the few plants that grow at this altitude. The trail will cross an area of the Andean Rainforest, inhabited by many different types of birds and animals.  You will see hummingbirds and sparrows and if you are lucky, you may even see the Andean Bear, which is also called Spectacled Bear (Tremarctus Ornatus).

The passage of the dead woman - Warmiwañuska
The passage of the dead woman – Warmiwañuska

Lunch will be in the Llulluchapampa area, 3,850m/ 12,589ft, where you can enjoy beautiful views of the valley you have just traversed. After lunch, your route continues up to the summit of the Paso de la Mujer Muerta. After an exhausting morning and afternoon ascending the pass, you will reach the summit to celebrate your journey and take an iconic photo at the highest point of the Inca Trail, this is not an easy goal to achieve so take a break here and enjoy the journey so far. After taking some time enjoying the views and resting, you will begin a steep descent, down uneven stairs, for approximately 700 m/ 2,296 ft. to our campsite where you will spend the night. Tonight we will sleep at Pacaymayu Camp at 3,500m/ 11,482 ft.

The distance today will cover 12 km/ 7.46 miles and will take approximately 8 hours of hiking.

Day 3). Phuyupatamarca

The day begins with a steep hike to the second pass, Abra Runkurakay at 3,970m/ 13,022 ft. Halfway up you will have an additional destination to visit the archaeological complex of the same name. This site, located at 3,800m/ 12,464ft, consists of a small oval structure believed to have served as a watchtower.

After visiting the site, you will continue to the summit of the second mountain pass, at 3,970 meters. From there, continue the descent to Yanacocha (Black Lagoon) and then enter the Andean rainforest. Then enter the Andean rainforest. Then we will arrive at the beautiful Sayacmarca complex at 3,624m/ 11,887ft, where you will have a guided tour. After the tour, you will arrive at Chaquicocha, the place for lunch.

After lunch, the hike continues along the trail to the third mountain pass, Abra Phuyupatamarca, at 3,700m/ 12,136ft, where we will spend the night. This section of the trail takes us through lush landscapes, with great views from the trail towards the Nevado Sagrado Salkantay and the Amazon Rainforest. We will pass through the first of the Inca tunnels before arriving at our campsite at Abra Phuyupatamarca, which means “village above the clouds”. Tonight you will sleep on top of Macchu Picchu, from where you will have breathtaking sunsets and views of the surrounding mountains.

Today you will cover a total of 10.5 km/ 6.5 miles and will take approximately 6 hours of hiking.

Day 4). Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes

Inca Trail - Aguas Calientes Peru
Inca Trail – Aguas Calientes Peru

After a delicious and nutritious breakfast accompanied by the surrounding sacred “Apus” mountains your descent will continue for about three hours down steep stairs.

After the long descent you will arrive at Intipata to rest for a while. Here you will have an impressive view of the Urubamba Valley from Intipata. The descent will continue for half an hour until the designated place for lunch. Right after lunch, you will visit one of the most impressive sites on the way to Machu Picchu, Wiñayhuayna.  You will return along the same trail, where you will have your last lunch in the middle of the Inca Trail. At this point, you will have the opportunity to thank the team of porters and cooks for the great experience they offered you along this Inca Trail.

After lunch, the trail follows a narrow path that will take you around the Machu Picchu mountain, all the way up to the Sun Gate (Intipunku).  After enjoying our first breathtaking view of Machu Picchu, the descent continues for about another hour before reaching that classic postcard view of Machu Picchu.  You will be able to take pictures and enjoy the beauty of the city before taking the bus from the Inca city of Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes.  Tonight we will spend the night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes. After a good shower and rest, you will enjoy a great dinner at a famous fine dining restaurant in this picturesque village.

The total distance hiked today is 11 km / 7 miles and will take us approximately 6 hours of walking.

Day 5). Machu Picchu – Cusco

For the last day of this itinerary you will have to get up early and board a bus, which will take you back to Machu Picchu.  There you will have a full guided tour of the Inca citadel that will take approximately two hours. After that you will have free time to enjoy the city, or climb the Huayna Picchu mountain if you made your reservation previously. Huayna Picchu offers spectacular views of all of Machu Picchu and is a very pleasant additional hike if you have the time, but you must book in advance as permits are limited.  In the afternoon, we will return to Aguas Calientes for lunch. In the early afternoon you will take the 1 hour and 50 minute train back to Ollantaytambo.

Finally, in a private bus, you will return from Ollantaytambo to the city of Cusco, where you will arrive around 6pm.

We hope this information about the daily distances on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has been useful to decide once and for all to visit this iconic trail built centuries ago by the Inca culture itself.

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