Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu trek 4 days is the most complete trek in our region

Destination

Machu Picchu

Tour Type

   Trek & Adventure 

Difficulty

       Challenging

Total Distance

Trek: 43km

Length

4 Days and 3 nights

Weather

 2Cº /  28 Cº

Altitude

 4,215m/13,829ft

Price from: 659USDper person

CLASSIC INCA TRAIL + MACHU PICCHU 4D/3N

LETS EXPLORE INCA TRAIL

About

Hiking to Machu Picchu along the Inca Trail in Peru is still the highlight of my year-long journey. It’s that amazing. Looking at the peaks of the Andes, and knowing that I walked to get there, filled me with joy and wonder. I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I’m not going to lie, though – it took a bit of work. A lot of work, in fact. But it was worth it.

Located about 2,500m above sea level, Machu Picchu was an Inca citadel that was built in the 15th century. The citadel was built as a royal estate, although it was used for less than 100 years before being abandoned when, due to the arrival of the Spanish, they set out to conquer.

It was not until 1911 that the ruins were rediscovered by archaeologist Hiram Bingham. Although the locals were familiar with the ruins, it was not until Hiram climbed the mountain himself that he realized how spectacular his (re)discovery was.

To curb the damage caused by tourism, entrance to Machu Picchu is “limited” to 6,534 people per day, divided into morning and afternoon entries. Although it seems like a lot, tickets often sell out months in advance (especially for the trek). For that reason, you’ll want to make sure to plan ahead, do your research, and book early!

Even more so now that the capacity of Machu Picchu 2021 has been reduced to 50% due to the pandemic, so it is recommended to book in advance.

A Short History

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is in fact a small part of a vast network of trails and roads built by the Inca Empire over 500 years ago.

Depending on the resource you read, it is estimated that the Inca Trails (or Qhapaq Ñan, which means network of roads) have covered between 23,000 and 45,000 km of distance, basically a lot!

Composed mainly of paved stone, the roads were integral to connecting the Tahuantinsuyo Empire, which stretched from Colombia and Ecuador in the north; through Peru, Chile and parts of Argentina, and into Bolivia 

The trails varied in size from 6 to 8 meters wide at their widest point (typically in the coastal areas) to narrow 1 meter trails in the mountainous regions of the Andes.

The trails were used for various reasons, including trade, efficient transport and war. Peruvian historian José Antonio del Busto believes that the trails expanded rapidly under the government of Huayna Capac, who is believed to have added 16,000 km of trails to the network. Del Busto explains:

“It is said that (Huayna Cápac) put emphasis on the trails so that he could mobilize his army more quickly and be able to crush the rebellions that broke out during his reign.

The only unique feature of the trails is that they were built with the mind of the flame. The trails, particularly in the mountainous region, are steep, staggered and high – features of the landscape that the llamas are very skilled at crossing.

Author Hugh Thomson writes in his acclaimed and highly recommended book, The White Rock:

“We are accustomed to a system of roads designed for the horse and then for the car – a system which tries at all costs to avoid steep slopes and whose ideal (so established by the Romans) is the straight road over flat ground. The needs of the Incas were very different: the expansion of their Empire was driven by the flame”.

When the Spaniards arrived in Peru in the 15th century, they were amazed at the scale, ingenuity and beauty of the trails, even though they had great difficulty travelling them on horseback. Hernando Pizarro, one of the first conquistadors to arrive in Cusco, wrote

“The road in the mountains is something to see, because it’s built on very difficult terrain. In the Christian world we have not seen such beautiful roads. All the crosses have stone or wooden bridges.”

Unlike most trails, which were used for practical purposes, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was only used as a pilgrimage or religious route.

It had no commercial use and therefore is often called the “Camino Real”, “Camino Sagrado Real” or “El Camino del Rey Inca”. The various Inca sites found along the 45 km trail seem to support this theory.

Hiram Bingham, an American scholar and explorer, who discovered Machu Picchu in 1911, was surprised when he discovered the pilgrimage route leading to the city.

Between 1913 and 1915 Bingham and his team discovered much of the trail covered with vegetation, and large portions of the route were restored in the 1990s.

Today, the trail, which is located in the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, is considered one of the largest trekking trails in the world and is walked by thousands of tourists every year.

More Details

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your trip and avoid some inconveniences

  • Arrive early – Try to arrive in Cusco 2-3 days before your hike so you can acclimatize to the altitude before the hike. This will make your hike much easier!
  • Use trekking poles – Bring trekking poles or rent them from your tour company. You will need them.
  • Chew coca leaves – If the altitude gives you problems, chew coca leaves. It is the local remedy and is used by many of the guides and porters. You can chew the leaves or buy gum with them. (You can also get altitude medicine from your doctor before you leave. Just keep in mind that it will make you have to pee a lot).
  • Break your boots – Make sure you buy and break your shoes at least 1-2 months before your trip. This will help you avoid blisters.
  • Bring sunscreen and insect repellent – The last thing you want is a sunburn when you’re hiking in the mountains. And the mosquitoes here are abundant (and their bites are very biting!) so be prepared and apply both every day.
  • Carry bandages – Having some minor first aid supplies will help.
  • Bring extra snacks – You’ll have plenty of food on the way, but bringing some of your favorite snacks is a great morale booster in those challenging sections.
  • Go the extra mile – For an amazing view of Machu Picchu, take an extra hour hike to Huayna Picchu. It’s a bit tricky and the trail is quite narrow, but the views are worth it.
  • Train before you go – This is a challenging hike. You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete to finish it, but the more you train, the easier the hike will be.
  • Don’t expect to shower – Showers are available halfway through the hike but the water is painfully cold. Skip the showers and just embrace your well-deserved BO.
  • Bring extra batteries – Bring an external charger for your phone and extra batteries for your camera – It would be tragic to arrive at Machu Picchu and not be able to take a picture or two!
  • Bring earplugs – The Inca Trail can be very busy and there will be dozens and dozens of hikers at each camp. Bring earplugs for the noisy nights.
  • Consider the Salkantay – For a less busy route, consider walking the Salkantay. It has such epic views and sees 1/3 as many tourists as the Inca Trail. Plus, it’s a fraction of the price.
  • Stamp – You can stamp your passport with a unique Machu Picchu stamp to commemorate the trip. It is a fun souvenir if you have a space in your passport.

In the Peruvian subtropical Andes, two climatic seasons predominate: the dry season runs from the end of April to the beginning of October, and the wet season starts at the end of October and continues until April.

The Inca Trail is more traveled during the months of the dry season, particularly from May to September. If you wish to hike at this time of year, it is advisable to book at least 6 months in advance.

The dry months of March/April and October/November can also be a good time for trekking, although the likelihood of rain is higher.

Here is a diagram showing the average number of rainy days per month in the Machu Picchu Sanctuary.

December, January and February are the wettest months, and the Classic Inca Trail is in fact closed for maintenance in February (it is possible to do the Short Inca Trail or any of the alternative hikes to Machu Picchu during February).

Temperatures in the region are fairly consistent throughout the year, with days reaching high 20 degrees Celsius (70s and 80s Fahrenheit), and falling into the low digits to below freezing temperatures at night and in the early hours of the morning.

Fluctuations in temperature are also common as you ascend to the high passes or descend to the valleys exposed to the sun.

It is important that you wear layered clothing to adjust comfort levels as temperatures fluctuate throughout the day and across different altitude levels.

The microclimates of the mountains make it possible to find rain at any time of the year, so you should also bring clothing for wet weather.

Faqs

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (also known as the Inca Trail or Inka Trail) is a hiking trail in Peru that ends at Machu Picchu. Located in the Andes Mountains, the trail passes through various types of Andean environments, such as cloud forest and alpine tundra.

The altitude is the most difficult aspect of the Inca Trail for many people. Almost everyone who does the Inca Trail will be affected by the altitude to some extent. If you have spent two or three days acclimatizing in Cusco beforehand, the altitude on most treks will not cause you any problems.

The trail itself is impressive, but the end of the trail is a spectacular view as you reach the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu at dawn. The classic Inca Trail is 42 km long, is usually covered during 4 days and 3 nights and is hidden in the beautiful mountains of the Peruvian Andes.

Yes, the Incas used the Inca trails to connect all their territories with Cusco, so, we can find Inca road along Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Which today is called Ccapac Ñan, which translated is Imperial Road.

To book you have to hire an authorized tour operator (required by the Peruvian government), we indicate in detail your itinerary.

Your trip to Machu Picchu will begin in the Peruvian city of Cuzco, and this impressive four-day hike starts at a place called Kilometer 82. As its name suggests, this famous starting point is located 82 kilometers along the Cuzco railroad, on the way to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu.

Talking in days would be:
Day 1: Easy
Day 2: Difficult, this is the most difficult day of the hike.
Day 3: Moderate to a little difficult as there are several steep sections.
Day 4: Easy, on this day you will visit Machu Picchu.

First, find a licensed agency, Lorenzo Expeditions is licensed tour operator. Then book in advance, especially for the high season.

Both companies are from Cusco, we will always say Lorenzo Expeditions are the best.

What travelers say about Lorenzo Expeditions?

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