Hike the Ancient Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Greatest Treks to the Lost City of Machu Picchu

The ancient Inca trails are some 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, these treks 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.

Iconic trails through Peruvian backcountry

The Inca Empire once spread across a vast tract of South America that today includes Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia. To connect their expansive civilization, the Incas built thousands of kilometers of trails between the four suyu (regions) of Antisuyo, Contisuyo, Chinchaysuyo, and Collasuyo. Today, many of those same passes are hikable, but the most traveled, and for good reason, is the Classic Route.

This 26-mile/42 km-long Inca trail begins two hours outside of Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire, and ends at the Lost City four days later. The trail is a challenge as the elevation rises and falls with the height of mountains—it starts at 8,530 ft/ 2,600 m and ascends to the highest point at 13,800 ft/ 4,200 m, before descending to Machu Picchu at 7,980 ft/ 2,430 m.

The 46.7-mile-long Salkantay trail will be an in-depth experience of life in the Andes. Salkantay links up to the legendary Inca Trail to create one of the best short thru-hikes in the world, featuring cloud forests and ancient ruins, wild horses and roaring waterfalls, giving you an idea why the Incas felt so connected to nature and the gods.

The Lares trek is an off-the-beaten trail journey that begins 40 miles north of Cusco. The route is easier than the Inca trail and gives an insight into the traditions and customs of the ancient Incas. As you zig zag through the Lares Valley, you’ll encounter a number of traditional Andean communities that have changed little in the last 500 years.

  • UNBLEMISHED NATURE
  • ARCHITECTURAL SITES
  • 3 ICONIC TRAILS
  • MACHU PICCHU
  • 13.2° S, 72.6° W
The interconnected houses in Machu Picchu are known as kanchas.

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.

Fog slowly descending on the Runkurakay ruin. The famous Incan terraces at Moray.

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.

Machu Picchu follows the religious architecture style of the Inca Empire.

Classic Inca Trail highlights

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.

Machu Picchu is a spectacular archaeological site more than 500 years old.
Llamas watch the morning mist rise over the ancient Inca fortress and sloping stone terraces of Machu Picchu with Huana Picchu in background.

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 of hikers will be accompanied with a knowledgeable local guide and a driver. 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!

A group of hikers through the Peruvian wilderness
People trekking through Peruvian mountains on their way to Machu Picchu

The best view comes from the hardest climb

Your guides

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.

CrossoverPeru offers small group adventure tours all around South America. They are the perfect choice for anyone looking for a unique adventure in Peru. From ancient history and untouched nature to vibrant cultures and unique sites, they will honor and enhance the special allure that Cusco and Peru hold for you.

With a focus on exploration, cultural immersion and personal achievement, their adventures will challenge and inspire you as you bond with other like-minded travelers who share a love for exploring new places and cultures. 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.

Porters posing along the trail Group of hikers posing with an Alpaca
Wilfredoma92

Once in a lifetime trek to beautiful Machu Picchu + other Inca sites! Our tour guide Eddie and porters/chef were amazing! Everything went flawlessly, our tents of excellent quality, food amazing, and everyone made sure we were happy and well taken care of the whole trip. This is not an easy hike but definitely worth it especially when you have an excellent team like Eddie, Cirilo, Mario, and Juan. Don’t miss it!

Meg D

Our trip leader, Edwind, and all the porters made my Inca Trail experience so amazing. I am still in utter shock and awe about the time I had. Edwind really went above and beyond for my group and really cared about each and every one of us. You can tell how passionate he is about the Andes, the Incas, and the outdoors. The porters really worked so hard to make our experience so phenomenal as well. The food was absolutely amazing. Trip of a lifetime! I will remember this for the rest of my life.

Nicole M

The Crossover Peru team led by Edwind was amazing! I was blown away by their attention to detail, professionalism, energy, positive attitude and effort. They did whatever they could to make the experience more enjoyable for my friends and I. The food on the trail was delicious. They prioritized my safety and fun. Edwind made sure the journey was educational and he set really great expectations for the length of our journey and difficulty of the hike. He never left anyone behind and made sure we knew we had his full support the entire time. These porters and guides do a fantastic job and I would absolutely recommend them to future Inca trail travelers!

Vickysh

It’s not an easy hike and you might think about going back halfway but with the energy and encouragement of the guide and the porters, you manage to achieve a once in a lifetime experience! Edwin, our guide, was really patient and knowledgeable! Lorenzo, the chef, was a genius and super creative! His food was delicious and abundant! And the rest of the porters were brilliant and polite. They make you feel secure at all times and make the whole experience much more enjoyable! 

I’ll definitely call them again for another trip on Cusco

Carlos

My wife and I completed the Inca Trail with guide Kevin for our honeymoon. It was an amazing experience, the four day trek made arriving at Machu Picchu feel like we accomplished a great task. During the trip we saw several Inca sites and Kevin’s history lessons throughout the journey were fantastic. Our porters were the sweetest and most hardworking people ever. It was amazing what the chef and assistant chef were able to make for our meals. We are vegetarian and the meals were all delicious! Day two was the hardest section due to the high altitude but the opportunity to walk along this ancient path is well worth the struggle. At the end we were exhausted and happy with our journey. We highly recommend CrossOver Peru and Kevin!! Thank you for the great memories.