Hike the Ancient Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The ancient Inca Trail is one of the most iconic multi-day hikes in the world. Threading through the towering Andes Mountains to the sun gates of the sacred city of Machu Picchu, each paved stone along the route speaks to more than 900 years of Inca history and culture.
Winding through lush tropical flora, past shrines and ruins, and disappearing into the heaven-piercing Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, this 26-mile hike will be one of the most treasured experiences of your life. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to walk among the relics of one of the world’s most fascinating cultures, this is your chance to find out.
A universe in itself
THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE INCA CIVILIZATION
Peru’s earliest inhabitants arrived about 15,000 years ago and the Inca Empire developed sometime in the early 13th century. With 12 million inhabitants and more than 100 ethnic groups, they flourished for centuries before the Spanish Conquest in 1532.
They worshiped the gods and built impressive shrines throughout the kingdom, including the Sun Temple in Cusco, the most important of the Empire. In a blaze of destruction by the Spanish, many cities, landmarks, and cultural knowledge were lost. Luckily, Machu Picchu, a masterpiece of architecture, has been preserved.
The journey is the destination
AS CLOSE TO THE GODS AS YOU CAN GET
Each day, you’ll see the seasons change before your eyes. After scaling challenging peaks and exploring ruins during the day, you’ll sleep under the same stars that the Incas meticulously charted. Each stop is an experience unto itself, culminating at the ultimate destination—the legendary Inca citadel.
Hiking the trail is a spiritual experience, and modern outdoor enthusiasts aren’t the first to believe so. Although historians don’t agree about the exact purpose of Machu Picchu, it is generally agreed that it was a place of great importance and pilgrimage.
WITNESS THE PERUVIAN BEAUTY
Peru is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet, home to a wider variety of plants and animals than most other countries on Earth. From tundra to cloud forests to high mountain passes, you’ll travel through an array of scenery and ecosystems, challenging your legs and lungs with long climbs at high elevations.
Each step on the Inca Trail reveals new scenery and historical sites. Explore the ruins of Runkuracay, the multi-level terraces of Llactapata, the Warmiwañusca pass, the Unaccessible Village of Sayacmarca, the orchid paradise above the clouds at Phuyupatamarca, and the beautiful site of Wiñay Wayna.
You’ll begin your journey from the village of Aguas Calientes. Piskacucho, also known as Km. 82, will be the first checkpoint of the famous 26-mile trek!
Wayllabamba features scattered houses, terraces, an old aqueduct and canals. Some of the huts you’ll see are built on the foundations of Inca buildings, and there are sections of ancient aqueducts still in use today.
After lunch, you’ll hike for another 2 hours until you reach the first night’s campsite at Ayapata. Along the way, you’ll pass through two small traditional communities.
A long ascent through beautiful forests takes you to a little hamlet Llullucha Pampa situated in the mouth of Urubamba River.
What makes Dead Woman’s Pass so infamous (beside its name) is its altitude. At 13,828 ft (4,215m), it is 5,905 ft (1,800m) higher than the altitude of Machu Picchu itself and the highest and most dreaded point of the Trail.
Cross the Pacaymayu valley located not far from the Runkurakay ruins. Fue to the cloudy weather, the valley is often called ‘the forest among the clouds’.
This is one of the most preserved archeological sites on the Inca Trail and a lovely place to stop for a rest. The views won’t leave anyone indifferent!
Chaquicocha is a 4,895-metre-high (16,060 ft) mountain next to a little lake of the same name. Spend the second night at the Chaquicocha campsite, 16 kilometers from Ayapata, with spectacular views of the Peruvian Andes. The Chaquicocha campsite is one of the most picturesque camps along the way.
Another archaeological site along the Inca Trail is located in the Urubamba Valley. Due to its altitude of roughly 11,810 ft (3600 m), it is known as “La Ciudad entre la Niebla” — the city in the mist. It features 15 constructions, 6 of which are small stone baths which provide fresh running water during the wet season.
Wiñay Huayna (Quechua for “forever young”) is a ruin built into a steep hillside overlooking the Urubamba River. The site consists of upper and lower house complexes connected by a staircase and fountain structures.
The Sun Gate or Intipunku is believed to have been a control gate for the people who entered Machu Picchu. It is dedicated to the Sun god Inti and it is one of the most important archeological constructions along the trail. Catch a first glimpse of the citadel and enjoy panoramic views of the valley.
Embedded within a dramatic landscape at the meeting point between the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon Basin, Machu Picchu is probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height.
A spectacular adventure awaits
Untold mysteries await in the Lost City
PASS THROUGH THE SUN GATE AT SUNRISE
The sacred city of the Inca civilization is perched 8,000 feet above sea level. Today, it is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and recognised as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The Classic Inca Trail isn’t the easiest way to reach Machu Picchu from Cusco, but it is the most spectacular—and takes you about as close to the gods as you can get.
As truly beautiful as the hike may be, the real reason for Inca Trail’s popularity lies at the very end of the adventure—passing through the Sun Gate at sunrise for that first magical sighting of Machu Picchu in the distance.
Peace of mind on the trail
Spend the whole journey alongside your professional guides and crew! They know everything about the path — how to manage the cold weather, all about the flora and fauna along the way, the history and tradition, and much more.
A team of experienced porters that know every twist and turn will carry your bags allowing you to enjoy the landscape and sites. As for the food, get ready for proper gourmet meals prepared on trail by your local chef.
Every group will be accompanied with one guide and if the group is bigger than 8 people, there will be an additional guide on the trail. They are in charge of the team from the hotel pick up to the hotel drop off, so you can relax and not worry about any part of the trip!
Since 2000, you can’t enter the Inca Trail without a licensed guide and porter crew. Because of that, it’s important to find a guide that knows all the secrets of the land, the best way to trek and a ton of information about every site visited.
Raul Ccolque is a Sacred Valley local and owner of Alpaca Expeditions. He has lived in the Andes all his life. At 18, Raul started guiding groups along the legendary Inca Trail. His guiding service is 100% local and looks to educate clients about Inca culture and way of living, all while taking them on an adventure of their lives!
AE guides are locals from different villages and communities around Cusco. Your knowledgeable guides are able to communicate in both English and Spanish, but their main language is Quechua. They will be more than happy to translate and even teach you some of their ancient language. They mastered the craft of leading groups through the most beautiful places and over the highest elevations without losing any bit of information or tips that make the hiking more enjoyable.
We had an excellent trip with Alpaca Expeditions on the 3N/4D Inca Trail. From the day of booking to the end of the trip Alpaca was fantastic and patient to answer all of our questions. Our guides Eric and Eduardo were beyond fantastic. Eric’s positive attitude matched with Eduardo’s calm cool demeanor made for a fantastic trip. Their historical knowledge was fantastic. I felt like I was in a college course. Chef, Dionisio’s, meals can only be described as delicious and impressive! I would recommend Alpaca to anyone.
We decided this year for our family vacation to travel south to Peru. I’ve always wanted to hike the Incatrail and see Machu Pichu. I came across alpaca expeditions online and they had very good reviews so we decided to book our tour with them. This was one of the best decisions we could have made. We did a 5 day Cusco city tour, super sacred valley, 1 day Inca trail with camping. machu pichu and rainbow mountain. Our tour guide was David and not only was he very knowledgeable and professional but was very good with my two girls ages 10 & 12. Our number one concern was safety and David did a very good job in making us feel safe. He shared with us his love for his country, food and the Inca people. Everything with Alpaca was a first class experience from the service to the food. Everything was arranged for us and very well organized. The team from Alpaca went above and beyond our expectations. This was definitely a trip of a lifetime and an amazing experience thanks to David and the team (porters, drivers, cooks) from Alpaca!!! If you are planning a trip to Peru I would highly recommend Alpaca Expeditions.
The 4D/3N Inka trail trip with the “Green machines” was the best organised trip I’ve experienced in my life. We were a group of 7 plus 15 porters, 1 chef and 2 guides. All of them gained my biggest respect for what they’ve done for us. The food was just amazing – and thanks to the porters we were able to focus on the inka places and this breathtaking trail. Our guides Yoel and Maxi always provided us with lots of information and answered all questions we had. Thank you so much for this trip!
If you are traveling with a family or just want to spend more time at each ruin, you can opt for an extra day of hiking and take things slow.
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu treks generally takes four days, but if you are traveling with a family or just want to spend more time at each ruin, you can book an extra day and travel at a more leisurely pace. This is also a great option for those worried about their hiking capability and speed. Take your time and really enjoy each step of the way!
It is also advised that you arrive at Cusco a few days prior to your adventure in order to acclimate to the high altitude. There’s plenty to see, eat, and explore. Stay away from fast food and local specialties for now and relax before the hike.