KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
LANGUAGE: Spanish is the most prevalent language spoken. Brush up on common phrases to help when communicating with your tour company. We downloaded a translation app, which was very useful.
CURRENCY: Peruvian Sol. You will need cash for tipping your porters.
WHEN TO GO: The Inca Trail is closed the entire month of February.The winter (May-September) is the dry season and the most popular time to visit Peru. The summer (December- March) is the warmest time of year but marked with frequent storms and rain showers.
PERMIT: A permit is required to hike the Inca Trail and the number of hikers allowed on the trail pit can only be purchased by an Inca Trail Tour Operator. Only 500 permits are issued per day which includes hikers and crew. Permits sell out fast and must be purchased in advance.
ELEVATION: Altitude sickness is a concern when traveling to Cusco and Machu Picchu.
4 DAY/3 NIGHT TREK
This guide covers hiking the classic Inca Trail (4 days and 3 nights) to Machu Picchu with Alpaca Expeditions. It is recommended to stay several days in Cusco before starting your hike to help acclimate to the high altitude. Check out our full Guide to Peru to learn more about our time in Cusco.
In this guide, we will explain why we choose our tour company, Alpaca Expeditions, break down each day of the hike and give a description of each day on the trail.
You must accompanied by a tour company on your hike (solo hiking is not allowed along the classic trail) and the number of options is quite overwhelming. After researching and reading countless customer reviews and ratings online, we selected Alpaca Expeditions as our tour operator.
One of the main reasons we were drawn to Alpaca Expeditions for our hiking adventure was their focus on ethical treatment of porters. Not only did Alpaca Expeditions have extremely positive reviews, they were focused on providing a positive and healthy working environment for their employees. Alpaca promises to provide better wages, proper equipment, sleeping bags and tents, health insurance and nutritious meals as well as family support for all of their porters.
The porters were friendly, helpful and very hardworking. We were floored by the service and their professionalism throughout our experience.
You will be picked up bright and early from our hotel in Cucso to travel to Ollantaytambo to begin our 26 mile trek along the Inca trail.
*You will need to have your passport with you to enter the trail.
The first day is considered a moderate day hiking. You will cover roughly 8 miles along the trail hiking for around 6 hours and you will pass through several small communities along the way.
The second full day of hiking was the most challenging. Covering almost 10 miles, you will climb to the highest altitude at Dead Woman’s Pass of 13,829 feet.
After ascending down to Pacaymayu Valley, you will rest up for the climb over the second mountain pass. Along the way there is a small Inca site to explore, Runcu Raccay, before reaching your campsite. Offering the most beautiful mountain views, this campsite was a personal favorite. (Sadly, we were all too exhausted to enjoy the views and crashed right after our dinner.)
This is a more moderate hiking day, covering only 6 miles. This section of the trail offers some of the most scenic views and landscapes. You will hike through the cloud forest with goregous views of Salkantay mountain, the second highest peak in the Sacred Valley. The stone step trail is a steep descent and the stones can be slippery due to the moisture in the air. Watch your step!
Views of the Urubama River start to come into the view as you get closer to your final campsite. The trail flattens out and winds along the side of the mountain. Stay close to the inside of the trail if you are not a fan of heights!
You will pass through the Intipata ruins (translates to terraces of the sun) which offer scenic views of the valley before arriving to your campsite for early afternoon for lunch.
After lunch, you will have the afternoon to explore the Winay Wayna ruins, one of the most impressive Inca ruins yet. Alpacas roam the terraces and the sun begins to set behind the mountain range creating the most magical setting.
Rest up this evening because you will have an early morning wake up call to start your last day of hiking to your final destination: Machu Picchu. To read more about our personal experience and our unfortunate experience this evening, click here.)
Expect a wake up call anywhere from 3:30 to 4am the last morning of your hike. It takes around 2 hours to reach the sun gate overlooking Machu Picchu and the goal is to get there for sunrise. This means you will be hiking most of the way in the dark!
The remainder of your day will be spent exploring Machu Picchu. In the afternoon, you will ride the bus down to Angus Calientes to catch the train back to Ollantaytambo where you began your journey.
Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was a huge bucket list item for us and it was amazing to help cross this off my dad’s bucket list as well (we were there to celebrate his 60th birthday!).