Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail is definitely the most famous hike in South America.

The distance of the Inca Trail is 25 miles (40 km). It originates at kilometer(km) marker 82 outside of the town of Ollantaytambo, of the Sacred Valley. The trail winds its way over three high Andean mountain passes and through lush cloud forests, and passes through many pre-Columbian ruins. The views are stupendous with snowy mountain peaks, lush valleys, distant rivers.

You will spend three nights at campsites adjacent to rivers or high in the mountains, awakening above the clouds. The views are stunning. The trail is truly magical. The pilgrimage will take you to the Sun Gate, allowing your first glimpse of the epic Machu Picchu. The experience will completely astound you and will leave a lasting impression. By hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you will fully immerse yourself in the beauty and the magnificence of the Inca Culture.

Your journey will start with exploring Cusco, the center of the Inca Empire. You will visit markets, try local regional cuisine, and visit important archeological sites in the Cusco area. You will then travel to the Sacred Valley visiting the towns of Chinchero, Moray and Maras.

The Inca Trail will depart from km #82 outside of Ollantaytambo. There will be Quechua Indian porters to carry supplies for the hike. The Inca Trail will continue for four spectacular days, ending at Machu Picchu. At the conclusion of the day, you will overnight in the town of Aguas Calientes. After spending additional time the following day reveling in the marvels of Machu Picchu, you will return to Cusco by way of the tourist train and bus.

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is without a doubt one of the best walks in the world and, for those coming to Peru in search of adventure, it is certainly the best option. This ancient path, passing through different microclimates, ecosystems and a lot of history, was used by the Incas to connect different temples and Inca cities . From the jungle to the high pass of Warmiwanusca, you’ll feel like the new Indiana Jones.

Trip DetailsItineraryLodgingBefore Your Trip

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is without doubt one of the best walks in the world and, for those coming to Peru in search of adventure, it is certainly the best option. This ancient path, passing through different microclimates, ecosystems and a lot of history, was used by the Incas to connect different temples and cities to each other. From the jungle to the high pass of Warmiwanusca you’ll feel like the new Indiana Jones.

Day 1: Arrive in Lima and either overnight in Lima or fly into Cusco.

Day 2: Cusco City tour and visit nearby archaeological sites.

Day 3: Travel to the Sacred Valley. Visit the towns of Chinchero, Moray and the salt mines of Maras.

Day 4: Inca Trail to the first campsite near Huayllabamba. See views of the snow-capped Mount Veronica and the rest of the Urubamba Mountain range. The hike is 5.9 miles.(9.5 km).

Day 5: Hiking Day 2 of the Inca Trail, crossing the high pass of Warmiwanusca (elevation 13,780 ft.). We will camp in the upper meadows of Pacaymayo. Hiking distance 7 miles (11.3 km).

Day 6: Hiking Day 3 of the Inca Trail, crossing the Runkurakay Pass (elevation 12,631 ft). Camping at the spectacular campsite Phuyuptamarca. Hiking distance 6.1 miles (9.8 km).

Day 7: Arrive at the Sun Gate and enjoy the first views of Machu Picchu. Overnight in the nearby village of Aguas Calientes. Hiking distance 6.2 miles (10 km).

Day 8: Guided tour of Machu Picchu with free time to explore or hike Huayna Picchu. In the afternoon, we travel back to Cusco by train and bus. Dinner and a final celebration in Cusco.

Day 9: Transfer to the airport

Day 1 Welcome to Peru. Upon arrival in Lima, your Travelution Peru host will escort you to the nearby Wyndham Costa Del Sol Hotel at Lima’s airport. If you arrive early, we can arrange optional Lima tours and trips to nearby sites to fill your time. With most international flights arriving quite late and flights to Cusco departing early, staying in an airport hotel will allow you to maximize your sleep so you can begin your vacation feeling well-rested.

Day 2 Cusco: City tour and archaeological sites. In the morning you will be picked up from your hotel to the airport for a morning flight to Cusco (10,856 ft.), center of the Inca Empire. After checking in at your hotel, today’s Peru travel begins with a guided walking tour through the colorful markets of Cusco, making stops at the colonial cathedral and the impressive Incan Temple of the Sun (Koricancha), followed by a lunch of regional cuisine. You will spend the afternoon in the Inca heartland in the vicinity of Cusco. Among the important sites you’ll visit are Cusco’s temples; Sacsayhuaman, a fortress with megalithic stone terraces; the stone Kenko, containing subterranean altars; Puka Pukara, a small fortress that once protected the royal capital; and the royal baths of Tambomachay. You’ll be returned to your hotel for the first free evening in colonial Cusco. (B)

Day 3  Over the Andes to the Sacred Valley. We leave Cusco and head to the Chinchero Plateau to explore Chinchero, an important town in Inca times. The most striking remnant of this period is the massive stone wall in the main plaza, which has 10 trapezoidal niches, and the  colonial church. Next we’ll proceed to the enigmatic Inca ruins at Moray. Visually, these stepped-terrace ruins resemble an ancient amphitheater, though some experts believe they served as agricultural laboratories where the Incas could experiment with new farming techniques. Enjoy a delightful picnic lunch, where we will savor dishes made with locally grown produce. Visit the salt mines of Maras. This village is a salt-producing center that dates back all the way to pre-Inca times. There are more than 4,000 salt pools carved into the mountain. (B,L)

Day 4: On the Inca Trail, hike from the trailhead to our first campsite. Our excitement mounts as we board our private bus for the hour-long drive to the trailhead at Piscacucho (km #82). Here, we meet our Quechua Indian porters and begin trekking the amazing Inca Trail. With snow-capped Mount Veronica (19,188 ft.) and the rest of the Urubamba Range as a backdrop, we follow a well-marked path past the ruins of Llactapata and through some small Indian villages on the way to our campsite near Huayllabamba. All meals included. Hiking: 5.9 miles/5.5 hours, between 7,900 ft. – 9,678 ft..

Day 5: Superb mountain views await crossing the high pass of Warmiwanusca. A nutritious camp breakfast prepares us for today’s challenging trek along the narrow Llullucha gorge and over the first pass on the trail. We hike through dense forest, encountering abundant birdlife and flowering plants before reaching the open meadows of Llulluchapampa. The final approach to the high pass begins here with a long, steep ramp leading to Warmiwanusca (13,780 ft.). At the top, the views of the surrounding peaks and verdant forest canopy are spectacular. The trail then descends steeply and passes through a meadow rife with lakes, waterfalls and Andean wildflowers. Tonight we make camp in the upper meadows of Pacaymayo. All meals included. Hiking: 7 miles/7 hours, final elevation 10,991 ft..

Day 6: Our trail leads past Inca ruins and over high Andean passes. We cross the Runkurakay Pass (12,631 ft.) in the morning, enjoying excellent views of the glacier-clad peaks of the Pumasillo Mountains and deep gorges of the eastern Andes. We then descend gradually through a unique ecological zone — a high jungle transition area rich in plant and animal life. After entering the cloud forest, our route takes us past the ruins of Sayacmarca and through a natural tunnel elaborated on by the Incas. This portion of the trail is well-paved with Inca stonework and leads us to the spectacular campsite at Phuyupatamarca. The campsite offers superb sunrise vistas over the Urubamba and Aobamba River valleys and of glacier-covered Mount Salcantay (20,575′). All meals included. Hiking: 6.1 miles/5.5 hours, final elevation 11,975 ft.

Day 7: Arrive at the Sun Gate and enjoy the first views of Machu Picchu. As we leave Phuyupatamarca, we begin a steep stone staircase descent (approximately 3,000 steps cut into indigenous rock), followed by a series of additional descents varying in grade, to the Wiñay Wayna ruins, where we stop for lunch. During the afternoon, our anticipation rises as we make our way to Intipunku (the Sun’s Gateway). We arrive at Intipunku in mid-afternoon and are rewarded with our first breathtaking views of Machu Picchu. After spending time at the lookout point, we descend to the ruins and briefly explore some areas close to the trail. This evening, we enjoy a well-deserved shower and hotel stay in the nearby village of Aguas Calientes, on the valley floor. All meals included. Hiking: 6.2 miles/5-6 hours, Machu Picchu’s elevation is 7,874 ft..

Day 8: Guided tour of Machu Picchu; free time to explore or hike Huayna Picchu. We have an early breakfast and head up to the ruins to experience the peace and solitude of this magical place. Our knowledgeable guide leads us through, explaining the significance of the various structures and the theories behind Machu Picchu’s purpose and construction methods. We have the rest of the morning and early afternoon to attempt the optional hike up Huayna Picchu and/or explore the ruins on our own. We catch the afternoon tourist train to Ollantaytambo and from there take the bus to Cusco, arriving at approximately 7 p.m. The day concludes with our guide joining us for a final celebration dinner at a traditional local restaurant. Overnight in Cusco. (B). Hiking: Optional Huayna Picchu hike may be unguided and is steep with some exposure. Permits are limited. An alternative optional hike may be available if Huayna Picchu permits cannot be obtained.

Day 9: Transfer to the airport. After breakfast, transfers back to the Cusco airport will be arranged for travelers departing today. Trip members can opt to return to Lima for connecting flights home or extend their travels in Peru. Breakfast included.

Lodging in Aguas Calientes

5 Stars

SANCTUARY LODGE

The only hotel located at the entrance to Machu Picchu, this stylish retreat lets you beat the citadel’s crowds.

Sitting in the shadows of the Lost City, our lodge is an oasis of calm before or after a day exploring Machu Picchu. Unwind with a yoga session, take part in a traditional shaman ceremony in the garden, or sip Muña tea in Tampu Bar. Tranquility, wonder and beauty are at the heart of our unique experience.

INKATERRA PUEBLO

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel occupies a private five-hectare (12-acre) mountainside reserve, located at the foot of Machu Picchu Mountain, near the Machu Picchu Pueblo railroad station. With the look and feel of a rustic Andean Village, this welcoming retreat offers travelers an authentic travel experience, in an atmosphere of refinement and thoughtful hospitality.

The spectacular grounds are laced with paths that wind past waterfalls and gardens and trails that wander through wild forest. This is a place to relax, while exploring nature and encountering the wonders of the Inca civilization in an atmosphere of refinement, caring, and warm hospitality.

SUMAQ

Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel, named one of South America’s best hotels by Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure, is located at the foot of the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu near the beautiful Vilcanota River, and offers impressive views of the mountains and landscapes.  Recently refurbished with a contemporary interior inspired by thousands of years of Andean culture, Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel offers five-star personalized luxury service, innovative Peruvian cuisine and a relaxing spa that features traditional indigenous treatments. Cultural experiences that highlight mystic connections with local traditions include an authentic Andean wedding ceremony and exploring Machu Picchu with a shaman.

The luxury property features 62 exquisitely appointed rooms and suites, including one imperial suite, two junior suites and 59 standard rooms. An array of special experiences is included, among them a culinary demonstration and, for children, mini-chef classes and Andean tales. Sumaq has been awarded Rainforest Alliance certification for its focus on sustainability and has received a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor for five consecutive years.

4 Stars

TIERRA VIVA

Tierra Viva Cusco Machu Picchu Hotel’s strategic location ensures our guests the best experience possible of the amazing Inca citadel. Our facilities are located in the quietest area of Aguas Calientes, facing the Urubamba River and surrounded by the Forest of Clouds.

3 Stars

EL MAPI INKATERRA

Step into the smart, contemporary and cozy confines of El MaPi, amid the hustle and bustle of Machu Picchu Pueblo (formerly Aguas Calientes), where you can admire and interact with the quaint folksy town and glimpse a unique perspective. Discover an efficient, lively and people-friendly atmosphere; you are welcomed along with other global guests expecting an unfussy, down-to-earth break. Relax in a pleasant and wholesome ambience after your enlightening visit to Peru’s most distinguished destination, the Machu Picchu archaeological site.

CASA ANDINA STANDARD MACHUPICCHU

Casa Andina Standard Machu Picchu is a modern and friendly hotel that offers a convenient location in Aguas Calientes (a small town) to the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu and to the train station.

The hotel has 53 new and comfortable rooms with ceiling fans (no air conditioning); some of the rooms have river views that will allow you to have the necessary tranquility to rest and recover your energy to enjoy the tour of the citadel.

Among the services we offer are: free Wi-Fi in lobby, room service, breakfast buffet with free extras, internet center and transportation (please contact the front desk).


Lodging in Cusco

5 Stars

INKATERRA LA CASONA

The first boutique hotel in Cusco, Inkaterra La Casona is located in the traditional Plaza de las Nazarenas, surrounded by vibrant, cobblestoned streets. This 16th-century manor house stands on the training grounds for an elite army of Incas, and had Spanish Conquistador Diego de Almagro and “Libertador” Simón Bolívar among its illustrious guests.

After being harmoniously restored by Inkaterra through five years, emphasizing its original architecture, Inkaterra La Casona reflects the encounter of cultures and traditions across centuries. Surrounding the main patio, its 11 suites are provided with chimneys, heated floors and extra-large bathtubs. Its halls are decorated with colonial furniture, pre-Columbian textiles and original murals.

The Yacu therapy room offers custom treatments and, like the manor’s dining room, uses products derived from local sources. Those who sleep within the stone walls, beneath the exposed beams, gain a deeper understanding of the city’s cultural heritage.

PALACIO NAZARENAS

Your “Once upon a time…” journey starts here

Built on Inca foundations, rich history meets modern indulgence in Cusco’s fairytale hideaway.

We’ve preserved all that is precious: original Inca stonework, colonial frescos and gold-framed paintings. And yet, upon entry, a contemporary Cusco comes to the fore. Discover a fabulous spa, the city’s first outdoor pool and daring cuisine from leading Peruvian chefs.

BELMOND HOTEL MONASTERIO

Historic charm with a modern twist

Uncover the secrets of Cusco with a stay in one of its most cherished landmarks.

Moments from Plaza de Armas is an ancient monastery that has been at the heart of the city for centuries. Dine by candlelight among the cloisters; explore interiors rich with art and antiques; uncover the secrets of Peru’s national drink with a pisco lesson. Belmond Hotel Monasterio is a true jewel in the treasure trove of Cusco.

JW MARRIOT EL CONVENTO CUSCO

Embrace a truly unique stay at JW Marriott El Convento Cusco. Our hotel offers a delightful blend of historic grandeur and modern comfort. Housed in a restored 16th-century convent in the heart of Cusco, our boutique hotel features two exhibition halls with ancient Peruvian artifacts. Explore the area from our hotel, with convenient access to local attractions, such as the historic center of the city of Cusco and Plaza de Armas.

At the end of a busy day, find sanctuary in our sophisticated rooms and suites featuring a range of thoughtful amenities, including elegant marble bathrooms, deluxe bedding, mini-bars and an oxygen-enriched system to relieve altitude sickness. Awake refreshed before heading to our spa for a revitalizing treatment with centuries-old Incan healing regimens. When hunger strikes, visit Qespi Restaurant and Bar, widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in Cusco, to enjoy an elegant atmosphere and fresh ingredients. Luxury and adventure await at JW Marriott El Convento Cusco.

PALACIO DEL INCA

A storied mansion dating back nearly five centuries, Palacio del Inka stands in the historic center of Cusco. Directly across from the Koricancha (Temple of the Sun), it is a five-minute walk from the main square and less than a mile from an array of museums, markets and restaurants. The 154 standard guest rooms feature coffered niches of dark wood, while maroon entry halls with yellow ochre walls mirror colors in the Damascus figures of the floor carpeting.

Meanwhile, the 17 Casa de los Cuatro Bustos Suites, all with 13-foot ceilings, have particularly rich textiles in addition to classic decorative pieces, lounge chairs, hand-carved chests and writing desks to recreate the feel of a Colonial Cusco mansion. Uniting the past and present, Andes Spirit Spa presents indigenous treatments and an indoor therapy pool. Meanwhile, Inti Raymi Restaurant offers authentic Peruvian dishes, while a variety of meeting and event venues invite guests to host enchanting special occasion.

4 Stars

EL MERCADO

El Mercado is a four-star property located three and a half blocks from the Plaza de Armas (Main Square), the heart of picturesque Cusco. Formerly part of the city’s old farmer’s market, El Mercado’s 32 rooms and quaint atmosphere guarantee personal and friendly service, and will immediately immerse our guests in the cultural and historical traits of Cusco and Peru.

CASA ANDINA PRIMIUM CUSCO

Our Casa Andina Premium Cusco is a strategically located and beautiful hotel just a few blocks from the Main Square (Plaza de Armas), an ideal place to initiate visits of the surroundings, cultural walks to well-known tourist places like the Cathedral of Cuzco or the convent Santo Domingo, and to discover the charms of the historical center.

It has 93 rooms that are characterized by personalized service and all the comforts that our guests may need, with free extras like a buffet breakfast, free Wi-Fi, restaurant and bar, concierge service, room service, among others.

The hotel staff in the restaurant is highly trained to recommend the best dishes in our restaurant.

Our hotel is the best option to rest before your trip to Machu Picchu.

3 Stars

COSTA DEL SOL RAMADA

The former house of the Marques of Picoagá is divided into a colonial wing and another contemporary wing, combining stone arcades and a beautiful courtyard with a pool and murals typical of Cusco’s 17th-century architecture. Costa del Sol Ramada Cusco offers all the comforts of a contemporary hotel while retaining charming colonial-era details, including rooms with high-beamed ceilings and old wooden doors.

EL RETABLO

El Retablo is a two-story, 17-room Art Boutique B&B that celebrates vibrant Peruvian traditions and the rich cultural heritage of Cusco.

The innovative yet intimate El Retablo blends contemporary comfort with customs of Peruvian artisans, taking inspiration from retablos, which are a sophisticated form of Andean folk art with three-dimensional figurines in vibrantly colored portable boxes.

All interior spaces are hand-painted with intricate details by artisans of the Fine Arts School of Cusco, providing a true sense of place.

Each of the 10 Superior and seven Superior Deluxe rooms has a distinct design and thoughtful amenities, including handwoven tapestries, elegant pillows and luxury bed linens.

LOS PORTALES HOTEL CUSCO

Located a few steps from the famous Koricancha Temple and a few meters from the Main square, our personalized service and facilities will make your experience in Cusco unique.


Lodging in Sacred Valley

5 Stars

INKATERRA HACIENDA URUBAMBA

Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba is a contemporary hacienda-style hotel in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, in between Cusco and Machu Picchu. Immersed in the countryside in a gorgeous area, Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba spans approximately 100 acres surrounded by imposing green mountains.

All rooms in the Casa Hacienda and stand-alone luxury casitas feature breathtaking views of the valley, immersing guests in open space, serenity and relaxing solitude. Architecture and interiors are inspired by the area’s cultural history, with colonial furniture, authentic Inca masks and handcrafted woodwork that add to the hacienda’s local charm.

An Earth to Table concept is expressed in a 10-acre organic plantation where guests are welcome to pick their own produce. Carbon-free crops such as quinoa, Urubamba giant corn, medicinal herbs and a variety of potatoes are farmed with traditional hand tools and oxen, as was done centuries ago.

TAMBO DEL INKA

Escape to a luxurious and mystical journey like no other at Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Valle Sagrado. Our luxury hotel in Peru is nestled in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and stands as a contemporary doorway to the vast cultural richness of this region. The only hotel in Urubamba with a private train station to Machu Picchu, we go to every length to ensure your experience is truly an awe-inspiring one.

You’ll love lingering in your elegantly designed hotel room or suite with mesmerizing views of the Andes and the Vilcanota River from a private balcony. Savor the refined dining options available at our hotel, with on-site restaurants featuring organic ingredients and local products. Our lobby bar serves refreshing cocktails. Indulge in self-care at our therapeutic spa and maintain your exercise routine at our premier fitness center and heated indoor pool. Luxurious adventure awaits at Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Valle Sagrado.

RIO SAGRADO

Everything here enchants as it soothes. Relax with yoga on the riverbanks or explore the Sacred Valley on horseback. Float in our heated pool or indulge at the Andean-style Mayu Willka Spa. As birds jabber overhead and wind whispers in the emerald trees, find your own harmony in the elements.

Be drawn into a world of earth, sky and mystic energy in our sensory rooms, suites and villas, designed to promote a complete sense of wellbeing. Wooden decor and locally woven furnishings in soft, bright colors invite you inside. Floor-to-ceiling windows connect you with the Sacred Valley beyond. As cobalt skies deepen to indigo, step out onto wide flagstone terraces edged with vibrant flora for a quiet nightcap.

4 Stars

SOL Y LUNA

We accommodate our guests in cozy “casita” houses made of local stone and decorated individually. Gardens filled with flora native to the Sacred Valley surround each of these 43 private sanctuaries and all face the Andes Mountains where the Incas believed their gods dwelled.

Fly with the wind by tandem paraglide over landscape that the Incas believed mirrored the Milky Way. Cycle and trek along Andean terraces, horseback ride to remote villages and kayak under snowcapped peaks. The Sacred Valley is also a treasure house of pre-Colombian sites, colonial churches and thriving, enduring traditions, many of which are a joy to the taste buds.

CASA ANDINA PREMIUM VALLE SAGRADO

Our Casa Andina Premium Valle Sagrado Hotel & Villas is a beautiful hotel that looks like a haven in the mountains. With a privileged location, it has fabulous views of the Andes from every room. This is a cozy hotel with a design inspired by the locality, with rustic touches.

With 91 rooms, our villas – Andean Cottages – allow the visitor to enjoy the peace, energy and tranquility of the Sacred Valley while enjoying the views and surroundings of the Andes.

Among the services we offer you are Wi-Fi connection, room service, breakfast buffet with free internet center extras, an event room, sauna, spa and gym, parking and transportation (subject to availability), golf cart, and a planetarium where you can observe the milky way and the Southern Cross. Our hotel is the best option to rest before your trip to Machu Picchu.

We also have formidable courtyard and spacious meeting rooms (3) with capacity to arrange events of up to 250 guests. We have a catering service with a large variety of food options, furniture, equipment and a well-trained team.

3 Stars

HOTEL PAKARITAMPU

The name “Pakaritampu” derives from the Quechua words “pakari,” which means dawn, and “tampu,” which means home.

Pakaritampu Hotel is in the heart of the Sacred Valley, located in the village of Ollantaytambo. It is two minutes away from the train station with direct connection to Machu Picchu, and a one-and-a-half hour drive from the city of Cuzco.

The town of Ollantaytambo is the starting point of the Inca Trail, a beautiful place that offers various tourist attractions.

Travel:

Arriving to Lima Peru: Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chavez. Arriving Into Cusco: Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport.

Passport/Visa: Current Passport not to expire within 6 months of travel. No Visa is required.

Money:

Currency: Nuevo sol. ATMs are widely available. Credit Cards are accepted in larger cities. Cash is recommended for tipping porters and guides.

Immunizations:

Passport Health: 1-888-499-7277 or CDC: 1-800-232-4636.

Language:

Spanish, Aymara and Quechua; English is spoken and understood in the tourist areas of Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Time:

Eastern Standard Time with no Daylight Savings Time.

Health Considerations:

Altitude Sickness: Cusco’s elevation is 10,856 ft. Allow yourself time to acclimate before undertaking strenuous activities. Planning time in the Sacred Valley will help your body acclimatize.

Food and Water: Tap water is not safe to drink. Eat fruits you can peel, or fruits and vegetables washed with purified water.

Electricity:

220 Volt/60Hz.

What to bring:

  • Luggage: medium duffel, backpack or day pack
  • Clothing: Hiking boots and a pair of walking shoes for the towns; hiking pants/shorts; synthetic shirts, both long-sleeve and short-sleeve; wide-brimmed hat; long underwear; fleece; down jacket; gloves; swimsuit; raincoat/rain pants
  • Toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellent, small camp towel, towelettes
  • Prescription medications and general medications
  • Sleeping bag/pad/pillow
  • Flashlight
  • Water Bottle
  • Camera
  • Hiking poles (optional)
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