The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu consists of 42 km (26 miles). Campsites along the Inca Trail are assigned by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture and Sernarp, for this reason it is difficult to determine the distance to be covered in a day, but expect to walk on average 6 to 7 hours per day during the first three days and the last day 2 hrs to Machu Picchu.
Every year, approximately 25,000 hikers from all over the world walk the magnificent trail built by the Incas several centuries ago, this unique route leads to the historic citadel of Machu Picchu, located deep in the high jungle of Cusco, reaching one of the Wonders of the modern world through a multi-day trek through some of the most beautiful landscapes of Peru is an unforgettable experience not to be missed.
The journey begins in the village of Qorihuayrachina, at kilometer 88 of the Quillabamba – Cusco railway and takes 3 to 4 days of strenuous trekking through ancient cobblestone roads built by the Incas, it is the road that takes tourists to Machu Picchu entering through the Intipunku (Sun Gate). The route consists of an impressive variety of altitudes, climates and ecosystems ranging from the Andean plain to the Andean rainforest, made up of a great variety of species that make these landscapes a paradise.
In case you want a short trek that does not demand too much effort or fill all your days in Cusco, you can choose the 2-day trek to Machu Picchu that starts at Km. 104. In this trek you start the second day of the classic so you will miss the first two days, but as we said before, this trek is for those who do not have much time to do the classic or for those who want a short hike even so it is a very enjoyable route and has certain features that make it a unique trip in its own way.
How long is the Inca Trail?
Tickets to visit the citadel of Machu Picchu and permits for the Inca Trail are sold many months in advance; therefore, it is advisable to book as early as possible with at least 3 or 4 months in advance, especially if you decide to book in high season (June, July and August) because if you do not take it in advance you may not find availability on the date you decide to visit these beautiful areas of Cusco.
How long is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and how many kilometers are traveled per day?
The Inca Trail has a length of 43 kilometers or 26.12 miles. There are campsites assigned by the Ministry of Culture that are between 10 and 13 kilometers away from each other, so the daily walking time can vary between 5 to 8 hours a day the first three days and approximately 2 hours on the last day. The hours of walking and the distance covered may vary depending on the physical condition of each walker.
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Some frequently asked questions about the Inca Trail
How difficult is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
The Inca Trail is considered an intermediate level hike. It does not include rock climbing or snowshoeing, for which no previous experience is required, only a good physical condition. The most difficult part comes on the second day, when we climb a series of stairs starting from 2,000 meters altitude (6,562 feet) to reach an altitude of over 4,000 meters altitude (13,123 feet) through a narrow stretch, later things get easier as the trail continues downhill. Keep in mind that you will be carrying your personal belongings, which may include three days worth of clothing, camera, water, camping gear, etc. which is additional weight that can complicate your trek.
Is it dangerous to do the Inca Trail?
Not really, of course, you have to keep in mind that the route is a 4 day challenge walking in a fairly remote area, which has places where you can fall and hurt yourself, or even cause your own death by your own carelessness, but if you are careful and follow the signs and recommendations of your guide it is very unlikely to have an accident. On the other hand, it is not a good place to have a medical emergency. If you are prone to cardiac arrest, sudden diabetic coma, epileptic seizures or whatever, consult your doctor before traveling.
Do I have to be fit to do the Inca Trail?
It is advisable to be in good shape for this type of trek, as this way you will be able to fully enjoy every moment with the group, due to the fact that it includes 6 to 9 hours per day, steep stairs and altitudes up to 4200 meters, it is possible that even on the first day you may think about giving up, but the slightly prolonged breaks will replenish you as you progress and the rewards you will get along the way will put you back on track.
To be in above average physical condition is the ideal for doing the Inca Trail. Although it is also important to mention that there are many people who apparently did not meet this average standard, but also managed to complete the Inca Trail successfully is not a mandatory requirement, but at least you have to have good stamina at altitude.
If you suffer from cardiac, respiratory, arterial, blood pressure, etc., it is important to mention them before booking the Inca Trail to evaluate your participation; if possible, consult with your family doctor. Get more details about physical preparation for the Inca Trail.
Is it necessary to have travel insurance for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
It is advisable to take out separate travel insurance in case of any medical or other emergency, in order to ensure maximum peace of mind and satisfaction.
Are there alternative routes to Machu Picchu?
If there are other alternative routes, although different from the Inca Trail, they are no less interesting than this one, among them you can consider:
- Short Inca Trail 2 Days
- Lares – Machu Picchu 4 Days
- Inca Quarry- Machu Picchu 4 Days
- Salkantay – Machu Picchu 5 Days
- Choquequirao – Machu Picchu 8 Days
- Choquequirao – Machu Picchu 9 Days
- Inka Jungle Trek – 4 days