Most Updated Inca Trail Information
Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, one of the top treks in the world. This adventurous trail follows ancient stone paths through Andean valleys, past enigmatic ruins, and into the cloud forests that surround the mysterious Lost City of the Incas.
The clasic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of South America’s most popular trekking routes. Every year, thousands of people from all over the world come to Peru to hike the trail and see the ruins of the ancient Inca citadel.
Overview of the Inca Trail
This unique hike to the Lost City of the Incas requires no introduction. The Inca Trail trek is considered one of the best hikes in the world. It is a pilgrimage to a sacred Inca city and a trek that can change how you see life.
Few places in the world will be so inspiring and unique as the Mount Kilimanjaro Trek, the Appalachian Trek, or the Tour du Mont Blanc. The Inca Trail hike has a bonus that makes it unique and one of the most remarkable treks; you will be hiking to a world renowned destination, the Inca City of Machu Picchu.
What are the Inca Trails?
The Incas Culture were the largest empire in South America; Tawantinsuyo (4 regions of the sun) was the name of the civilization that originated in the Peruvian highlands in the early 13th century until the Spaniards arrived in 1532. At the height of the empire, they ruled over Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. To connect such a vast territory, the Incas built an extensive network of trails called Qhapaq Nan (Inca Trails).
Cusco was the capital, the center, and the most important city where the Inca kings used to live. All trails started from Cusco to the south, north, east, and west. The Inca Trails allowed the trading, communication, transportation of food, and the Inca Army’s movement. The total length of the Inca Trail is approximately 40,000 km (25,000 miles), and it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is just a tiny portion of this vast trail network in the Tawantinsuyo. The total length is 26 miles (42 kilometers), and it was rediscovered in 1915 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham.
Why is the Classic Inca Trail Trek so famous?
The Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu is so famous for several reasons, including:
- Historical significance: The Inca Trail was a network of roads built by the ancient Incas over 500 years ago, and it was an essential part of their empire. The Inca Trail Trek follows a section of this historic route, and it offers visitors a chance to experience the culture and history of the Incas.
- Natural beauty: The Inca Trail Trek takes hikers through stunning Andean landscapes, including snow-capped mountains, lush forests, and high altitude plateaus. The trail passes through several Inca ruins and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.
- Challenge and adventure: The Inca trail is a challenging and rewarding trek that requires physical fitness and endurance. The trail involves steep ascents and descents, high altitude hiking, and Camping in remote locations. For many hikers, completing the Inca Trail Trek is a significant accomplishment and a once in a lifetime adventure.
- Limited access: The Peruvian government limits the number of people who can hike the Inca Trail each year to protect the environment and preserve the trail’s cultural significance. This limited access has helped maintain the trail’s sense of adventure and exclusivity, adding to the trek’s allure.
Map of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Which Archeological sites will you explore along the Inca Trail?
The trail not only takes hikers along valleys and through mountain passes, but it also grants hikers access to the archaeological sites of Patallacta – Llactapata, Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, Inti Pata, Winay Wayna, and Intipunku. The Inca Trail leads directly to Machu Picchu and offers the hike of a lifetime.
- Salapunku: The first Archeological site after Km 82 is only visible from the other side of the river. The site has great walls, and a vast gate believed to be Machu Picchu’s entrance from the Sacred Valley.
- K’anabamba: Also, Located on the opposite side of the river from the Inca Trail, this second archaeological was a resting place for travelers.
- Llactapata: “We found evidence that some Inca chieftain had built his home here and included ten or dozen buildings in the plan. They were made of rough stones laid in clay with the usual symmetrical arrangement of doors and niches. It may have been built by one of Manco’s captains” – Hiram Bingham, The Lost City of the Incas, 1912.
- Willkarakay: Located in the upper part of Llactapata, with circular construction and a great location, it shows that it was used and uninhabited by religious priests.
- Runkurakay: Located in the heart of the Inca Trail, the semicircular shape ruins were once used as a resting stop for more messengers and a religious place for the moon.
- Sayakmarka: A unique archaeological site with a strategic location that controls all the cloud forest valleys below. This place was used for religious and military purposes. The main temple at Sayakmarka is dedicated to the god sun, Inti.
- Conchamarka: It was located right below Sayakmarca and probably was home to a significant person or a high priest. It consists of terraces with large rectangular buildings at the top.
- Phuyupatamarca. “The city over the Clouds” is located on a mountaintop above Machu Picchu Mountain. This place was an important religious place for water and the mountains. The site is 3,700 meters (12,100 ft).
- Intipata.This place was an essential agricultural site in the thick cloud forest. The terraces are perfectly adapted to the shape of the mountain and built to provide agricultural land for the Inca people and their animals. The Intipata terraces are located on a mountainside and are believed to have been made by the Inca people between the 15th and 16th centuries.
- Wiñaywayna: Wiñaywayna (Quechua: [wiɲaˈʝwana]) is an archaeological site in Peru located 6 kilometers (3.7 mi) from Machu Picchu. It is believed to be the gateway to the sacred city of the Incas and was possibly used as a Tambo or resting place for travelers.
- Intipunku: Intipunku, also known as the “Sun Gate,” is the main entrance to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. The name comes from the Quechua words inti (sun) and punku (door), and it is said that the Incas built this gate to align with the winter solstice sunset.
- Machu Picchu: There is no greater joy than arriving from the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Built in the 15th century and was abandoned shortly after the Spanish conquest of Peru in the 16th century. However, it was rediscovered in 1911 by American explorer Hiram Bingham. Since then, it has become one of Peru’s most popular tourist destinations.
Camping sites along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
- Mescay: The first stop on the Inca Trail. It’s a small, family run campsite where usually the groups will stay only for lunch or a 5-day tour camp. Mescay Village is a great place to stock up on supplies. Several small shops in the village sell hiking gear, food, and water. Our Inca Trail porters usually stop at this place to drink Chicha (corn beer) to re-energize.
- Tarayoc: Tarayok is the first campsite for tours like the 5-day Inca Trail. The primary source of income for the villagers is tourism, as our porters have lunch in a Local restaurant. Also, our guests will have lunch at this place.
- Hatunchaca: Small village during the 5-day slow version Inca Trail camp. It is a small community of about 80 people, primarily farmers. The villagers are friendly and welcoming, offering travelers campsites, showers, and shops.
- Wayllabamba: The last village in the Inca Trail, this campsite is used for the four day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and the slow 5-day trek. The Wayllabamba village is the first stop on the Inca Trail. It is 3,000 meters above sea level and is the last village before the four-day trek to Machu Picchu. The town is home to about 200 people who are primarily farmers. There are a few small shops in the village where you can buy snacks and drinks for the trek. The town has a school and a health center.
- Ayapata: First and preferred campsite inside the Protected area of Inca Trail, located inside the protected area of the Inca Trail. The camp is situated at an altitude of 3,300 meters (10826 feet) and is surrounded by mountain peaks and glaciers. Hikers can expect to find a basic campsite with facilities for cooking and sleeping in tents. Orange Nation tries camps there!
- Lluluchapampa: The second campsite of the 5-day Inca Trail. It is located at 3,850 meters (12,631 feet), so it can be pretty cold at night. A small stream runs through the campsite, a good water source for cooking and washing. There are also some toilet facilities at the camp. The Lluluchapampa Campsite is a great place to spend a night before you make your final push to the summit of the Inca Trail. It is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, and you can see the stars clearly at night. Knowing that you have reached the last campsite before the summit is also a sense of achievement!
- Pacaymayu alto: The Pacaymayo alto campsite is the 2nd-day campsite on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu at 3,650 meters. It is located in a valley between two mountain peaks. The Pacaymayo River runs through the camp, and several stone terraces are nearby. This is an ideal spot for wildlife watching, as the spectacle bear and Andean condors.
- Chaquicocha: The second and most preferred campsite of the Classic Inca Trail. The camp is 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. From this campsite, it is possible to enjoy the fantastic views of the Amazon basin and the peaks of the Vilcabamba Mountain range.
- Phuyupatamarca: The Phuyupatamarca campsite is on a mountain above the Urubamba River at 3,650 m (11,975 ft). It takes its name from the nearby ruins of Phuyupatamarca, which means “town above the clouds” in Quechua. The Phuyupatamarca campsite is a great place to rest and enjoy the stunning views of the Andes Mountains. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area, including a visit to the nearby ruins. The campsite has basic facilities, such as toilets and water. This campsite offers the best views of the trail and fantastic sunrise and sunsets.
- Wiñaywayna: Wiñaywayna is the final campsite along the Classic Inca Trail before hikers reach Machu Picchu. Wiñay wayna means “forever young” in Quechua, and it’s believed to be named after a flower that blooms in the area. The Wiñay wayna campsite is at an altitude of 2,650m (8,690ft), making it the lowest camp along the Inca Trail. From here, it’s a short hike to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku), which offers stunning views of Machu Picchu.
Weather in the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The weather in the Andes is unpredictable. You can be enjoying a sunny, and in a matter of minutes, it can turn into rain. Inca Trail is located in the Cloud Forest, a warm, humid mountainous area that divides the cold Andes with dense Amazon. No matter your traveling season, it would be best always to be prepared for all seasons (sun, rain, wind, cold, and even snow at Dead Women’s Pass).
When is the best time to hike the Inca Trail?
The best time to hike the inca trail to Machu Picchu is in the Peruvian Winter season, from May, June, July and August… April, September and ocotber are still good month to hike teh Inca Trail!!
Because there’s NO RAIN and the weather is the best in comparison to the other seasons of the year.
*** In february the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance!
- The wet or rainy season starts from November to April. The average daytime temperature is 18 °C (64 °F), while the night temperature can be around 9 °C (48 °F).
- The dry or winter season starts from May to October; the average daytime temperature is 16 °C (61 °F), while nights are much colder, sometimes below 0 °C (32 °F).
Inca Trail in January
On average, January has more rainy days; hiking the Inca trail can be a beautiful experience. After Christmas and New Year celebrations, Inca Trail gets a few visitors during January every year; this will make your trip memorable as you will be hiking with a few people.
- Pros: Rains usually happen in the afternoon or for a few hours, and the sun will appear. This is the season of orchids, rainbows, and spectacular pictures with mist and clouds. The slightest temperature variation between day and night is from 19°C (66°F) during the daytime to 7°C (45°F) during the nighttime.
- Cons: Landslides can affect the trail, train, and flight delays.
Inca Trail in February
Inca Trail is closed all of February for maintenance; this month is the height of the rainy season. Machu Picchu is still open during February, and hiking alternative treks such as the Lares Trek, Quarry Trek, and Huchuy Qosqo Trek is possible. Other tours like Salkantay Trek are available. However, we strongly suggest not going to the Salkantay area during February due to the risk of heavy rains and landslides.
- Inca Trail tours: Closed for maintenance
- Salkantay Trek Tours: Not recomended
- Choquequirao Tours: Not Recomended
- Available tours during February: Lares Trek, Huchuy Qosqo Trek, Quarry Trek, and Tour by Train to Machu Picchu.
Inca Trail in March
Inca trails reopen this month, and many travelers will hike to Machu Picchu. March is still in the Rainy Season, but the weather will improve as the rains subside. It is also essential to consider that the February Inca Trail has been closed for maintenance, and all campsites, trails, bridges, and toilets have been repaired and cleaned.
- Pros: Clean campsites, toilets, and new bridges. Semana Santa, or Holy Week, takes place in Peru and Cusco with various celebrations. Temperatures variations stretch between 17˚C/64˚F during the daytime and 6° C/ 42° F during the nighttime.
- Cons: Landslides, as are wet trails and Campsites, are still at risk.
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in April
The rainy season is over, and there are still fewer crowds in Machu Picchu compáring with the high season. During April, trails are not so crowded, and the vegetation is still dense from the rainy season, offering great views. Before entering the winter, April is the best time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
- Pros: Warmers temperatures during the days, longer sun hours, clear sky nights, and the temperatures at night are not very cold. Temperatures variations stretch between 19˚C/66˚F during the daytime and 5° C/ 41° F during the nighttime.
- Cons: The holy week in Peru can be crowded, and prices can increase in hotels and other sites. We recommend booking early.
Inca Trail in May
May is the beginning of the dry season and the high tourism season in Machu Picchu. This means long lines for the buses in Machu Picchu and more people on the trail. Despite the crowds, May offers incredible views of the mountains during the treks.
- Pros: Sunny days with clear sky nights offer great day and night views. Temperatures variations stretch between 19˚C/66˚F during the daytime and 3° C/ 37° F during the nighttime.
- Cons: There are long lines for buses to Machu Picchu, and you must book tours and hotels long in advance. Nights become colder.
Inca Trail in June
June is arguably one of the best months to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu. This peak of the high season comes together with the biggest festival in Cusco,” The Inti Raymi festival.” Rains are scarce this month. However, preparing for rain and sun while hiking the Inca Trail would be best.
- Pros: Sunny days with clear blue skies offer magnificent trek views. Temperatures variations stretch between 19˚C/66˚F during the daytime and 1° C/ 34° F during the nighttime.
- Cons: Crowds approach the maximum allowed per day, and the line to enter sites and buses is usually long. It would be best to have sunscreen for day hours and good layers for nighttime.
Inca Trail in July
In July, all the attraction in Cusco is overcrowded, and in Machu Picchu, we reach the maximum of people allowed daily. The Inca trail is dry and sunny and offers beautiful views of the landscapes. The weather is very similar to June, with colder nights.
- Pros: Sunny days with clear blue skies offer magnificent trek views. Temperatures variations stretch between 19˚C/66˚F during the daytime and 0° C/ 32° F during the nighttime.
- Cons: Attractions are overcrowded. You need to book hotels and tours long in advance.
Inca Trail in August
August is the end of the high season; however, this is the holiday season in the Northern Hemisphere, and most of the trails and Inca sites will still have many visitors. July, this month will bring many European and North American travelers.
- Pros: Sunny days with clear nights; however, unannounced rains may occur during the Inca Trail. Showers can happen at any time, even in the driest months. August offers magnificent views during the treks. Temperatures variations stretch between 20˚C/68˚F during the daytime and 3° C/ 37° F during the nighttime.
- Cons: Crowds are still considered on all tours and Machu Picchu. Due to the high demand, most hotels and tours remain the same as in the high season’s peak. Book your tours early.
Inca Trail in September
Although most days remain sunny and clear at the end of the dry season, the chances of rain increase, and you need to wear good rain equipment. During September, the temperatures will increase significantly, becoming warmer during day time and nighttime.
- Pros: Crowds are down on the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, and it is the last month of the year to enjoy the treks before entering the wet season. The temperatures you’ll experience are from 21° C/69° F and lows around 5° C/41° F.
- Cons: Rains can happen anytime and at night; you must always be prepared with good rain gear.
Inca Trail in October
It is the beginning of the wet season. However, you will still enjoy sunny days with fewer visitors in October, making this month a perfect time to visit and enjoy the solitude of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. Before the rainy season, October is the best time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
- Pros: Good month to hike the Inca Trail before the rains, fewer visitors on the Inca Trail. The temperatures you’ll experience are from 21° C/69° F and lows around 5° C/41° F.
- Cons: Rains usually occur in the afternoon, so you must always wear good rain gear.
Inca Trail in November
Hiking the Inca Trail in November can be wet and muddy as it is officially the wet season; however, rains are not all day long, and there can be weeks without rain. Also, there has been an increase in the weather from highs at 22° C/71° F and lows around 7° C/44° F. Travelers will be able to enjoy the green landscapes of the thriving flora.
- Pros: Fewer visitors and spectacular views of the mountains; the temperature is warmer, especially at night, with a significant variation compared to June or July.
- Cons: Hiking the Inca Trail can be rainy, which means wet and muddy trails and campsites.
Inca Trail in December
Due to the holidays, December started with fewer visitors at the beginning of the month and finished with a very crowded one at the end of the year. Inca Trail offers excellent views as the vegetation is flourishing: the mist, rains, clouds, and rainbows give a mysterious touch to this iconic trek.
- Pros: Great views from the flourishing landscapes, warm weather from 22° C/71° F, and lows around 6° C/42° F.
- Cons: The campsite and trails can be muddy and wet, and the chances of landslides increase as we enter the heavy rainy season.
Best Inca Trail Tours To Machu Picchu
The Inca Trails to Machu Picchu are divided into 2; the Classic long Inca Trail and the Shorter Version. You can book these tours from March to January every year. February is closed for maintenance.
The Classic long Inca Trails usually sell out fast, and you need to book far in advance; the Short Version sells slower and is an excellent alternative if the first one is sold out. Both options allow you to Arrive at Machu Picchu through the Sungate or Intipunku.
See the list of the Best Inca Trail tours divided between the Long and Short versions.
- Classic Inca Trail 4 days and 3 nights:
- Slow Version Inca Trail Tour 5 days 4 nights
- Salkantay Inca Trail 6 days and 5 nights
- Luxury Inca trail to Machu Picchu 4 days 3 nights
- Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 2 days 1 night
- Short Inca Trail 2 days with Camping
Inca Trail FAQs
Every year, thousands of people from around the globe come to Peru to trek the trail and see the ancient Incan ruins. You probably have many questions about taking on the Inca Trail. This article will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the Inca Trail to help you better prepare for your adventure.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO TAKE WITH YOU ?
- Original Passport: (Must be the same you used for booking your trek)
- Valid, University Card: (Only if you booked as a student)
- Good Daypack: One with extra room for a box lunch (the smaller, the better)
- Water: 2-3L (Camelbak bladders are encouraged)
- Boots: Comfortable broken in hiking boots or shoes (Boots with ankle support recommended).
- Sleeping Bag: 4 season bag (can be rented from ORANGE NATION)
- Headlamp or flashlight: Headlamp frees up hands (Back-up flashlight & batteries are recommended)
- Toilet paper: Make sure to bring your own.
WHAT TO PUT IN THE DUFFEL BAG ?
As a Direct Local Tour operator we provide you with a duffel bag at your briefing and INCLUDE an extra porter who will carry up to 7 kgs or 15 lbs. including your 2.5kg sleeping bag, mattress and extra clothing.
- Warm clothes
- Comfortable shoes for camp
- Quick dry towel. We provide small ones, you might prefer your own
- Small bottle of soap: we provide warm water each day to wash
- Large plastic bags will be provided at the office — Please ask for them
- Sleeping bag: It has to be at least -15ºC – This can be rented from us for $20USD
- Hand Sanitizer
- Wet wipes
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Personal medications
- First aid kit
WHAT TO PUT IN THE DAY BACKPACK ?
We highly recommend a small backpack 30 – 40 Liters for hiking. A big backpack will not be allowed into Machu Picchu. The remainder of your belongings will be in your duffel bag at camp.
- Drinking Water: Please supply your own water until the first lunch spot, then we will provide you with cold boiled water at every meal. Please bring your canteens or bottles
- Sun Hat
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Rain gear
- Snacks like chocolate bars, ice cream, cereal bars, protein bars
- Coca leaves
- Rain plastic poncho
- Hand sanitizer
- Toilet paper and small plastic bag for waste
- Extra Money for Souvenirs, Drinks & Tips
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We gathered the best information for you. All this has been investigated and visited only to bring you the best CSelf-made blog. All the information is free and precise. I don't get paid for publishing any agency or tour, and everything has been verified and experienced.04