This is the original pilgrimage route for the Inca to their most sacred temple and is a highly popular route, being trekked by hundreds of visitors each day. This beautiful trail starts at the Kilometre 82 gate (so called because it is 82 km along the railroad from Cuzco) and takes in many of the Inca ruins including Runcuracay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, Wiñay Wayna and of course Machu Picchu.
Our Inca Trail Discovery trek takes you all the way to Machu Picchu on day 3 with an overnight stop in a hotel in Aguas Calientes, before returning to the ruins the next day for a full tour. There are a number of reasons why we think this is a better option than staying at the final campsite. Firstly, the gate on the path from the last camp is locked until 4am by which time everybody is in a long queue. When the gate opens there is a headlong rush with lots of pushing and shoving along a wet and narrow trail. The reason for this rush is that everyone wants to be first to get to the Sun Gate for the sunrise. However, even on clear days there is still no "sunrise" moment as the surrounding hills are much taller than Machu Picchu so it is already very light before the sun does finally appear. And the irony is that most days there is heavy morning mist over the ruins and nothing can be seen at all.
This alternative route has the advantage of avoiding this crazy early morning stampede. You can walk to the Sun Gate in the early afternoon, almost invariably by yourself, and take time to enjoy the last section of the Inca Trail. The weather is generally better later in the day and there will be far less people photo-bombing your pictures. We then drop down to a hotel in Aguas Calientes where you can enjoy a shower and a good night's sleep, before returning the next day, fully refreshed, to tour the ruins.
Inca Trail Permits
Please note: Permits for the Inca Trail are tightly restricted and nearly all dates this year are already sold out. This applies to all operators. No Inca Trail operator will have permits they can sell you as all permits are tied to a passport number. There are though some great Inca trails which do not need permits, all of which take you to Machu Picchu. We particularly recommend the Lares trail or the Salkantay trail. Alternatively, if you are set on trekking the Classic Inca trail then we are running an offer for 2018 bookings where you can register for a permit for the date you want for only £100 pp.
Once you arrive in Cuzco, a Kandoo driver will meet you and take you to your hotel.
As Cuzco itself is around 3400 metres above sea level, it would be wise to take a day just to get used to moving around in the thin air. We can arrange for a sightseeing tour of the city (payable locally), or you can set out on your own.
We'll set out from Cuzco on a Kandoo bus to arrive in the Inca's Sacred Valley. We'll have a break in Ollantaymabo, then officially begin our trek at a point called Km 82, the beginning of the Inca Trail proper.
We'll cross the Urubamba river then continue along the trail for a day of relatively easy travel. On the way, we'll see the Llactapata archaeological site and have lunch along a river bank at Tarayoc. The next waypoint is Wayllabamba, then we will reach Yuncachimpa where we will camp for the night.
Another early start, this time through the Llulluchapampa Valley. The first two hours are fairly steep, and we'll only cover around 3 kilometres. The path then levels out a bit, reaching Dead Woman (or Warmihuañusca) Pass at 4200 metres above sea level, the most difficult part of the trek.
We'll rest for a bit at the pass, then it's a steep descent to the Pacaymayo River where we'll break for lunch. Next is Runkurakay Pass at 3900 metres. After that is a 300 metre descent to Chaquiccocha and dinner with an amazing mountain view.
Another two hours of trekking will see us into the cloud forest. We'll ascend to reach an Inca ruin called Phuyupatamarka - 'The Town in the Clouds'. The view of the Urubamba from here is well worth the climb.
It is downhill from here, passing the Terraces of the Sun (Intipata) around lunch time. After that it is the Sun Gate, the entrance to Machu Picchu itself.
We won't tour the ruins today, instead we'll catch the bus to the town of Aguas Calientes for a comfortable night's sleep at a hotel.
We'll drive you all back to the ruins for an extensive guided tour today. You'll also have the opportunity to wander about a bit on your own.
You will have the chance to climb Huayna Picchu, the peak of the mountain just behind the ruins. Permits to climb the mountain must be booked in advance.
After lunch we will return to Aguas Calientes, to catch the train to Ollantaytambo. On arrival, we will transfer you to your hotel doorstep in Cuzco.
After a good night's sleep, our Kandoo driver will take you to the airport in good time to check-in for your flight.
The Inca Trail is considered a moderate trek. Most people get through it absolutely fine, but there are a lot of staircases. If you suffer from knee problems then the trek will be difficult. Altitude also affects some people more than other which will make the trek more or less difficult.
The Inca Trail is 26 miles long or 43 kilometres.
The scenery is a mix of sub-tropical jungle, mountain scenery, cloud forest and Inca ruins!
Yes. However, we will be responsible for obtaining the permit. Only 500 people are allowed on the Inca Trail each day and this includes guides and porters.
Always. Inca Trail permits sell out extremely quickly, particularly in high season and we recommend booking at least 6 months ahead in peak season and 3 months ahead in the low season.
Whilst the Inca Trail is very popular all year round, the actual high season is considered to be from May – September.