Inca Trail | Peru

Hiking the Salkantay and Inca Trails to Machu Picchu

Season

Year-round, peak season is April to October

Group size

Up to 16 people

Duration

7 days

Skill level

Advanced

See the best of what the Andes have to offer

This 46.7-mile-long trek to Machu Picchu will be an in-depth experience of life in the Andes. With jaw-dropping sights that change from lush valleys to peaks capped with snow, Salkantay links up to the legendary Inca Trail to create one of the best short thru-hikes in the world. Explore cloud forests and ancient ruins, ride horses, listen to the waterfalls roar, and find out for yourself why the Incas felt so connected to nature and the gods.

Most Popular Itineraries

Hike the Inca & Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu

$1150 per person · 7 days

On this epic trip to the Lost City of the Incas, you’ll spend seven days traversing anywhere from seven to ten miles, making your way through subtropical and alpine climates. Along the way, you’ll experience the best the Inca Trail has to offer, while also getting a more first-hand experience of the local culture. On your last day, you’ll stop at the Sun Gates of Machu Picchu and watch the first sun rays reach the ancient ruins.

Huayna Picchu

$75 per person · 3 hours

After you’ve posed with llamas, head to Huayna Picchu, a steep mountain that connects to Machu Picchu and the home of the Temple of the Moon. The average time for this hike is 3 hours, which includes the ascent, descent, and time at the summit to visit this incredible Inca site. Be sure to book this option well in advance, only 400 people can visit it per day and many want to.

Trip Highlights

If the classic 4-day Inca Trail highlights just don’t cut it, this combined trek definitely will. Every day is packed with adventure, challenging terrain varying from alpine peaks to subtropical jungles and historic sites that will take you back in time. You’ll refill your batteries with many delicious meals your chefs will cook for you on the trail, all made from fresh produce. After long days spent hiking, you’ll rest under stars and even get the chance to relax in hot tubs!

Things you need to know

Why should I book with 57hours?

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Why should I go hiking?

There is no other way to experience the legendary Inca Trail. To keep the history intact, not even horses are allowed on this one-of-a-kind thru-trek. There are easier ways to reach the Lost City of the Incas from Cusco, but this is the best way. Wander through lush forests filled with orchids, scale towering peaks, witness centuries of culture and find yourself along the way.

What’s included?

What you’ll get on this adventure:

  • A local Alpaca Expeditions guide
  • Accommodations in tents along the way
  • Meals cooked by a local chef
  • Porters to transfer your belongings
  • Permits
  • Transfers to and from the hotel

What can I expect from hiking with a guide?

Due to strict government regulations, a guide must be present on all Inca Trail trips. For you, this is a guarantee that you’ll get the most out of your hike. Not only will you learn all about the history behind the sites you’ll pass along the way, in case of inclement weather, your guide will know just what to do.

What do I need to bring?

There are checkpoints along the Inca Trail, be sure to have these at hand:

  • Passport
  • Immigration Card (given on the plane as you enter Peru)

Here’s a list of the equipment we suggest you bring:

Personal equipment:

  • Day pack large enough to carry all the items listed (no larger than a 25L bag)
  • Water storage for 2-3 liters
  • Sleeping bag (can be rented for $20)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Small bottle of soap
  • Battery charger (there is no place to plug in while trekking!)
  • Large plastic bags for organization
  • Toiletries (sunscreen, first aid kit, toilet paper, etc.)
  • Camera — optional (but recommended)

Clothing and gear list:

  • Hiking boots (lightweight with good soles)
  • Shoes for camp
  • 2-3 dry-wicking t-shirts
  • 2-3 pairs of hiking pants
  • 4 sets of undergarments
  • 4 sets of hiking socks
  • Fleece jacket
  • Warm down jacket
  • Rain jacket and pants
  • Sun hat
  • Wool hat
  • Headlamp
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Waterproof jacket/rain poncho
  • High quality sunglasses
  • Trekking poles (can be rented for $15)

What’s the itinerary?

Day 1:
Before sunrise, you’ll be picked up from your hotel. At the porters’ lodge, you’ll eat a hearty breakfast and start your 7-day Inca and Salkantay Trails hike. Today, you’ll hike 6.8 miles and experience the temperature drop from warm to cold. Before reaching the campsite, you’ll see green valleys and majestic waterfalls.

Day 2:
Your second day is all about exploring the alpine landscapes. Get ready for towering peaks, glacier lakes and even hearing some distant avalanches. You’ll reach the campsite after hiking for 8 miles. This will be the best day, or rather, night, for stargazing!

Day 3:
Today you’ll embark on the most challenging day of the entire combined trek, traversing for 8.6 miles uphill, then downhill. Your guide will take you to the Inca Chiriasca Pass, where you’ll be able to admire the glacier mountains, lakes and valleys. You’ll make your descent to the next campsite through rolling valleys and many streams.

Day 4:
After wandering on traditional hillside paths used by Peruvian farmers, you’ll link up to the Inca Trail. Make sure to take plenty of pictures as you make your way through the cloud forest dotted with waterfalls. You’ll recharge your batteries in camp.

Day 5:
This will be the longest day, as you’ll trek for almost 10 miles, but you’ll barely notice it. On your way to the Dead Woman’s Pass, you’ll probably encounter llamas. After lunch, get ready for wild orchids and even hummingbirds, as well as scenic historic sites like the beautiful Incan ruins called Sayacmarca. From there, you’ll trek through a jungle, before reaching the campsite.

Day 6:
You have a well-deserved relaxed day in front of you. You’ll only walk for about 5 miles, with plenty to see along the way. The first ruins you’ll encounter are those of Phuyupatamarca, a village above the clouds, where the Incas studied the stars. Your last campsite is the most beautiful one, located near Wiñay Wayna, an orchid paradise. You’ll say goodbye to your porters and rest for the grand finale.

Day 7:
In the early hours of the morning, you’ll walk two more hours until you reach the Sun Gate. Once you’re in Machu Picchu, you’ll get to soak in the views of the mountains and ancient ruins. After sightseeing, you’ll either hike up to the Huayna Picchu or make your way to Aguas Calientes and board your train back to Cusco.

How fit do I need to be?

While previous hiking experience is unnecessary for hiking the Inca and Salkantay Trail, you’ll need to be in considerably good shape. Each day you will hike between five and nine hours, on your most challenging day, you’ll traverse almost 10 miles. There are no flat areas on the entirety of the trail, it’s either uphill or downhill. Prior to your trip, you can prepare by exercising on steep inclines or even stairs.

What is the minimum age requirement?

There is no age limit for hiking the Inca and Salkantay Trails, but bear in mind that it is challenging. If you have anyone 17 or younger travelling with you, contact us prior to booking.

What about group sizes and pricing?

Groups usually consist of eight people, but you can arrange a trip with up to 16 people if you’re traveling with a larger party. All pricing is per person.

For the same price of $1150, you can opt for a private trip. Private trip groups consist of 3 to 16 people.

What about bad weather?

You’ll experience all four seasons in a matter of days hiking the Inca Trail, but the right gear makes all the difference. Make sure to pack waterproof pants, jacket, boots, poncho and gloves. Expect cold nights and chilly mornings, hot afternoons, rain, heat, wind, and just about everything in between.

The weather can change drastically no matter the time of year, but historically, there are two seasons in the Andes — the dry season and the rainy season. The dry season is from April to November, and the wet season is from November to April, with February being the wettest month. The Inca Trail is closed during February due to the slick stones. It’s best to plan ahead to ensure you have optimal weather, but if the weather takes an unexpected turn for the worse on your trek, your guide will know just what to do.

Do I need an insurance policy?

It’s highly recommended that you cover all your bases with travel and medical insurance. While hiking might seem like a low-risk outdoor activity, accidents can happen anywhere and we recommend insurance to avoid paying out of pocket for costly medical expenses. And as we’ve recently seen, travel plans can be abruptly halted, so it’s a good idea to have cancellation insurance that also covers lost baggage. It’s tried and tested and it works.

Cancelation policy

All policies regarding cancellation, rescheduling and trip insurance will be clearly laid out by your guide prior to booking your adventure. Contact us if you’d like more information on a specific adventure.

Getting there and meeting location

Alpaca Adventures offers pick up from your accommodation in Cusco. At the end of your adventure, you will return to Cusco via train.

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