1. English
  2. 中文 (中国)
inca trail guide
Inca trail Tours

Current Inca Trail Information

Written by: Incatrailhikeperu September 4, 2023

Hiking The Inca Trail is one if the most classic outdoor experiences, and best hikes in the entire world. Walk in the footsteps of this Pre Columbian civilization. Follow this world famous path through the Sacred Andean Valley passing various Incan ruins. Eventually climbing into the cloud forest that is home to the Incan Citadel of Machu Picchu. Read through this article to be informed on the most current Inca Trail information.


Originally a pilgrimage where the Incas carried out ceremonies and rituals at the various mountain peaks, today it’s a tourist attraction bringing people from all over the world.

There are few multiday hikes in the world that rival Machu Picchu, there’s the Tour du Mont Blanc, Camino De Santiago, or the Application Trail. However none of these trail’s destinations offer anything similar to what the Inca trail does, the Incan Citadel of Machu Picchu.

The Inca Trails?

Having the largest empire in the history of the Americas the Tawantinsuyu (Inca Empire) civilization reigned from 1438 to 1572 . Tawantinsuyu means the “four regions of the sun” in Quechua, and describes the 4 regions of the empire comprised of  Chinchaysuyu to the north,  Antisuyu to the east (Amazon jungle), Qullasuyu to the south and  Kuntisuyu to the west. It was only later when the Spanish arrived that the name “El Imperio Inca” was coined. The empire’s territory spanned massive distances, from the snow capped peaks of the rugged Andes Mountains to the barren desserts of coastal Peru and Chile. Tawantinsuyu created a massive road network, called Qhapaq Ñan (royal road), in order to connect their empire. Constructed over the course of several centuries, the network spanned over 30,000km reaching multiple different modern day countries.

Cusco was the capital of Tawantinsuyu, political center, and home of the emperor Sapa Inca (sole ruler). Qhapaq Ñan started in Cusco and spanned outward to the rest of the empire, reaching as far north as Colombia, through Peru, and as far south as Chile, connecting even parts of Argentina and Bolivia. The advanced road network allowed for effective transportation of goods, and communication between cities, and the movement of the Incan Army. Qhapaq Ñan is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is a protected area.

The famous Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu makes up just a fragment of Qhapaq Ñan. But was an important stretch used by Pilgrims and the Sapa Inca himself, on their religious journey to the city of Mach Picchu.

Why is the Inca Trail World Renowned?

The Inca Trail is well known all over the world for various reasons.

  • Historical Importance:  A small part of the greater Qhapaq Ñan road system, the Inca Trail allows tourists to walk the same path as the Incan people. This trail offers you the chance to experience the Incan culture first hand.
  • Pristine Nature: During the trek you will travel through various different landscapes including the lush Andean Cloud forest, high mountain passes and stunning mountain valleys. Additionally, the journey will take you past multiple Incan ruins which offer amazing views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Difficulty: However the rewards of completing the Inca trail are immense, the journey is not an easy one. You will be hiking for days on uneven ground up steep stone steps in some of the highest elevations in the world. This journey requires a certain level of physical fitness and endurance making this hike a once in a lifetime experience for many adventurers.
  • Limited access: The number of hikers allowed on the Inca Trail is limited by the Peruvian Government. This decision was made in order to preserve the environment and cultural heritage of the trail. The regulations have succeeded in maintaining the trail’s adventurous allure as well as it’s physical state. 

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu MAP

Map of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Which Archeological sites will you explore along the Inca Trail?

There are many archeological sites throughout the Inca trail such as, Salapunku, K’anabamba, Patallacta/Llactapata, Willkarakay, Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, Conchamarka Phuyupatamarca, Inti Pata, Winay Wayna, Intipunku and of course Machu Picchu. Below we will go over each archeological site so you can decide which sites to visit.

  • Salapunku: After starting the trek the first archeological site you will come across is Salapunku. Normally you wont be able to visit this site unless you do the 5 day Inca Trail tour. However, you get a decent view from across the river. Thought to be a ceremonial site, Salapunku is surrounded by sacred mountains and may have been the the first gate on the Inca Trail regulating access to Machu Picchu.
  • K’anabamba: Similarly, K’anabamba is located on the opposite side of the river and is only accessible on the 5 day trail. A potential a rest point for travelers/pilgrims on the Inca trail.
  • Patallacta/Llactapata: An old Incan village this site has around one hundred houses and accommodated many occupants, including travellers, and guards. Agricultural terraces can also be found at this site. This is the first site that you can physically visit on the Inca Trail.
  • Willkarakay: Adjacent to the ruins of Llactapata archeologists believe it was mainly a storage site. Other theories suggest it was a sort of checkpoint.
  • Runkurakay: Positioned in the middle of the Inca Trail, Runkurakay is thought to have been for religious ceremonies and dedication to the moon. Potentially a resting place for travelers and pilgrims on their way to Machu Picchu. The circular main square has scenic views of the Urubamba valley.
  • Sayakmarka: An urban center which housed around 200 people. Sayakmarka also has a main temple believed to be dedicated to the Incan Sun god Inti. This site has various terraces used for agriculture.
  • Conchamarka: A smaller archeological site close Sayakmarka its been theorized this was a private property belonging to an Incan of high standing. The site contains terraces with buildings at the top.
  • Phuyupatamarca. One of the most famous sites along the trail the Incan people named this site  “The city above the Clouds” because it is situated on a small summit that overlooks the Urubamba river. Often times this site looks down upon the mist and fog that gathers below. An urban center, there are various squares and structures and even a large sacred rock.
  • Intipata. Meaning “Place of the sun” Intipata is a large agricultural site with many terraces and was a very important location for cultivating food. Situated high on the mountain this site was potentially used as a lookout/ surveillance post. From this location one could easily spot travelers on the trail to Machu Picchu.
  • Wiñaywayna: A Quechua word that means ‘forever young’ or ‘eternal youth’ its believed the site gets its name from the abundance or orchids found in the area. A citadel high in the mountain which main purpose was to grow food for the capital of Cusco. The site has large terraces and smaller structures to house inhabitants. Wiñaywayna also could have been a resting place for important Incan peoples including Incan Nobles.
  • Intipunku: Also known as the “sun gate” Intipunku is the last archeological site before arriving at Machu Picchu. Believed to be the main entrance to the Lost City of the Incas, from this location the Incas could monitor who was entering and leaving Machu Picchu. Historians believe there were ceremonies held here in dedication to the sun god, Inti, the most important Incan god. This will be your first view of Machu Picchu! With panoramic views of this breathtaking landscape this first view will be completely unforgettable!
  • Machu Picchu: One of the seven wonders of the modern world, construction was started in the 15th century by the order of Sapa Inca Pachacútec Yupanqui and continued by his son Sapa Inca Tupac Yupanqui. The estate of Pachacútec, its estimated somewhere around 750 people lived there. Machu Picchu was abandoned after the conquest of Peru. Many of the surrounding towns were destroyed, and a large section of the Inca trail was dismantled to ensure the Spanish never discovered The Lost City of the Incas. The Incan citadel was discovered by Peruvian explorer Agustín Lizárraga in 1902 but, the world would not hear about the discovery until American explorer Hiram Bingham rediscovered the site in 1911.

 Campsites Along The Inca Trail

Depending on how many days your tour is the first few campsites can change depending on crowds and how fast your group is.

  • Mescay: The village of Mescay is the first stop on the Inca Trail. Normally hikers stop here to eat lunch and continue on. If you are on the 5 day tour your group may stay here the night. The village has a few shops where hikers can resupply on food, water and various camping/hiking supplies.
  • Tarayoc: One of the first campsites for the 5 day tour Tarayok is another small village on the trail. The village is supported by tourism and has a small restaurant where hikers, guides, and porters alike can stop for lunch.
  • Hatunchaca: Yet another small village on the trail Hatunchaca is a potential campsite for the 5 day tour. Mainly a farming community with approximately 80 inhabitants, the villagers here are generally very welcoming and offer showers, campsites, and supplies to hikers.
  • Wayllabamba: The final village on the trail, the first campsite on the classic 4 day tour and a campsite for the 5 day tour, Wayllabamba is the largest village on the trail. Housing around 200 people Wayllabamba is mainly a farming village, however there are some small shops, a school, and small medical facility. Make sure you buy whatever you need here as it’s your last opportunity to buy supplies.
  • Ayapata: This is the start of the protected area on the Inca trail and one of the best campsites. The site is only for the 4 day tour so if you are taking the 5 day you’ll miss it. Located at a decently high elevation of 3,300m (10800ft) you’ll have the chance to spot glaciers and have great views of the various mountains in the area. You can expect pure nature at this site with no buildings or signs of civilization. Pause a moment to appreciate this beautiful landscape, take in the tranquility and prepare yourself for day 2.
  • Lluluchapampa: An option for your second night if you’re on the 5 day tour only, this site has the highest elevation of all the campsites, 3,850 meters (12,600ft). The high elevation can make it cold at night, especially during the dry season. Meandering through the campsite is a small creak where you can wash and cook anything you may need. A great location to prepare yourself for the following day, Lluluchapampa has amazing views of the surroundings and is a perfect place for star gazing. The last campsite before summiting the Inca trail relax and recover under the starry night sky.
  • Pacaymayu alto: Nestled in a valley between two mountains Pacaymayu is an option for your second night. This site also has a small creak running through it, additionally there are terraces nearby that were used for agricultural purposes. Keep your eyes peeled for the local fauna in this area you may spot a spectacle bear or condor.
  • Chaquicocha: The preferred campsite for the second night, the views here are some of the best on the trail. Feast your eyes on the Vilcabamba Mountain range and peer down into the Amazon basin. You’re still at decent elevation 3,6600m (11,800ft) so the nights can be cold.
  • Phuyupatamarca: Situated high above the Urubamba river, Phuyupatamarca means “town above the clowds” and is named after the adjacent Incan ruins of the same name. This campsite is only for the 5 day tour. With an elevation of 3,650m (11,900ft) the views here are spectacular. Close to the ruins of the same name you have a chance to explore the ruins and the surrounding area.
  • Wiñaywayna: Only for the 4 day Inca Trail tour, and the last campsite on the trail before reaching your destination of Machu Picchu. Wiñaywayna has an elevation of 2,650m (8,690ft) and is the lowest campsite on the trail. The name means “forever young” or “eternal youth”, and is believed to be named after the abundance of orchids found in the area. Similar to Phuyupatamarca, this campsite has ruins of the same name nearby. Take some time to explore the ruins and prepare yourself for tomorrow’s grand finale of Machu Picchu!

Weather Conditions

In the Andes the weather can vary drastically from one day to the next, and from morning to night. The Inca trail is located in the Andean Cloud Forest a humid and mild region. You can get sunburned one moment from the strong sun, and be soaking wet the next. It’s highly recommended that you are prepared for all weather conditions, make sure to always have sunscreen and raingear.

Best Time to Hike The Inca Trail

Most people agree the best time to hike the Inca Trail is in the dry season, which consequently is in the Peruvian Winter. This season starts in May and goes until the end of October. There is virtually no rain during this time of year which makes for great views and perfect pictures. The opposite is true for the rainy season which takes place in summer and ranges from November to April. The rain tends to push away the crowds so you may have the trail all to yourself, however the rain and fog could block your view of Machu Picchu.

*** Please note the Inca trail is closed during February for maintenance.


January brings a lot of rain to the region and its more than likely it will rain everyday. However, the rain is usually for only a couple of hours in the afternoon and after the sun comes out. Orchids and vibrant rainbows highlight this month making it a great time for photography. The rain detours most tourists so there wont be crowds.

  • 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 temperature variation between day and night is from 19°C (66°F) in the day to 7°C (45°F) at night.
  • Cons: Trail conditions are muddy and slick. Potential delays due to landslides.


Closed for maintenance during February, there are alternatives to the Inca Trail. Machu Picchu is open year round and there are various different ways to get there. We DO NOT RECOMMEND the Salkantay or Choquequirao due to the heavy rains there is a high risk of landslides, however it is open. It’s recommended to take one of the other alternative treks such as Lares, Quarry Trek, or Huchuy Qosqo. Additionally the train runs all year and is always an option if you don’t want to hike.

  • Pros: The smallest crowds all year because of the rain and closure of The Inca Trail
  • Cons: High risk of delays and cancelations due to landslides. The Inca Trail is closed for maintenance


Having reopened after the maintenance done in February, The Inca trail is in the best condition this time of year. Facilities are clean such as campsites and toilets, and the trails and bridges have been repaired. We are still in the rainy season so expect rainy conditions, however the weather is improving as we get closer and closer to the dry season. The crowds are not bad this time of year because of the rain, so if you like to have the trail to yourself this is a great time to go.

  • Pros: Clean facilities, new bridges and restored trails
  • Cons: Landslides and delays are still a risk


April is the end of the rainy season and with that comes more tourists the crowds are nothing compared to the busiest months of the dry season. The trail wont be very packed with hikers and the vegetation is still lush and green from the rainy season. This is one of the best months to make the journey and beat the crowds.

  • Pros: Temperatures are fairly mild both during the day and at night with averages ranging from 19˚C (66˚F) to 5˚C (41˚F). Longer days and clear night skies
  • Cons: More tourists than the previous months the trail can also be a bit muddy and slick due to the rain


The dry season has officially started this month and with it comes the crowds. Be prepared for long lines at nearly every part of the trip. There will be more people hiking the trail, lines for the buses, trains and in Machu Picchu itself. Apart from the crowds this is a great time to hike the trail the weather is some of the best of the year.

  • Pros: Good weather with clear skies both day and night makes for great photography and star gazing. The temperature ranges from 19˚C (66˚F) in the day to 3°C (37°F) at night
  • Cons: Huge crowds and long lines make for a more busy time of year. Make sure to book your tours and hotel stays at least a few months in advance. Colder temperatures at night


Considered one of the best months to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu, June is in the middle of the dry season. With great weather and the biggest festival of the year, Inti Raymi, Cusco is absolutely bustling. Rain is uncommon this time of year but its important to be prepared for all types of weather conditions while hiking the trial.

  • Pros: Near perfect weather during the day provides excellent views while hiking. Average temperatures range from 19˚C (66˚F) in the day to 1°C (34°F) at night.
  • Cons: The huge crowds can potentially exceed the daily allowance, lines are long for every part of the journey. Strong sun with a high chance of sunburn in the day, cold temperatures at night.


Nearly the same weather conditions as June just a bit colder at night, this is the coldest month of the year. Cusco and Machu Picchu in July are completely packed with tourists so expect long waits at every turn. Trail conditions are some of the best of the year warm and dry during the day but cold at night.

  • Pros: Good weather offers great views of the surroundings. Average temperatures range from 19˚C (66˚F) in the day to 0° C (32°F) at night.
  • Cons: Some of the most tourists of the year making everything overcrowded, book accommodation and tours in advance. Coldest month of the year


The last month of the high tourist season all trails and attractions will be very crowded. However, the weather is still great this time of year. With the northern hemisphere having summer break you will see many tourists from Europe and North America.

  • Pros: Clear skies both day and night, great trail conditions. Temperatures vary from 20˚C (68˚F) in the day to 3° C (37°F) at night.
  • Cons: Huge crowds at all attractions including hiking trails. Hotels and tours are more expensive this time of year, plan ahead and book everything early.


With the high season over you will see the crowds start to dissipate. Most days are still sunny and clear but the rain can come at any moment, be prepared with raingear. The average temperatures both during the day and night are a bit warmer.

  • Pros: The crowds are reduced compared to the months before. Average temperatures increase 21°C (69°F) and lows around 5°C (41°F).
  • Cons: Be prepared with raingear the rain can sneak up on you!


The first month of the rainy season there are still plenty of nice sunny days this time of year. Make sure you still have sunscreen on hand. Summer break having ended in the Northern Hemisphere, you will see much smaller crowds as we enter the rainy season. This is a great month if you want a balance between smaller crowds and good weather.

  • Pros: Smaller crowds on the trail and your last chance of having good weather before the rain comes. The temperatures range from 21°C (69°F) to 5° C (41°F).
  • Cons: With both sun and rain a potential have sunscreen and raingear on you at all times.


Trail conditions during this time can be muddy and slick due to the rains. Generally speaking however, it rains in the afternoon for a couple hours. The first half of the month you may see days in a row without rain. Temperatures continue to increase this month with averages ranging from 22°C (71°F) to 7°C (44°F).

  • Pros: Less hikers on the trail, the temperatures start to warm up particularly in the night. Last chance to have clear skies and good views of Machu Picchu
  • Cons: The rain can cause unpleasant conditions on The Inca Trail and obstruct views of Machu Picchu


The holidays at the end of the month make December the most busy month of the rainy season. The Inca trail will have lush green vegetation and the combination of rain and sun makes for frequent rainbows adding a magical sentiment to this hike.

  • Pros: Lush green vegetation makes for scenic views. Warmer weather than the dry season, temperatures averaging from 22°C (71°F), to 6°C (42°F).
  • Cons: Campsites and trails can be wet and muddy making for difficult hiking conditions. Possibilities of landslides and closures/delays.

Inca Trail Options

There are many options when deciding how to hike The Inca Trail, but there are two main categories, the classic long trail, and the short trail. For the classic long trail you have the option of choosing the 4 day hike, or the slower 5 day hike. The short hike has only one option and is 2 days one night on the trail. Remember The Inca Trail is closed in February for maintenance.

The standard classic Inca trail is more popular and can sell out quickly make sure you book your tour in advance. The shorter option however is not as popular and is a great option if you want a more relaxed hike or the classic hike sells out. Both options take you to Machu Picchu through the famous Intipunku “sun gate”.

Trails are separated into long and short options

  • Salkantay 6 days 5 nights
  • Luxury Inca trail 4 days 3 nights
  • 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 Incan ruins. You probably have many questions about 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.

The classic Inca trail is a long hike taking 4 days and 3 nights and is a total of 46 km (26 m). Although the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a lengthy and challenging hike, the rewards are incredible. On average it takes 4-5 days to complete the trek.

There are different starting points for the Inca Trail. The classic trail starts at Kilometer 82 which is a two hour drive from Cusco. The other staring points are farther such as the Short Inca Trail 2 day tour, which starts at Kilometer 104.

Inca Trail is located in the Peruvian Andes and reaches a maximum height of 4200mt (13,800ft) above sea level at its highest point. The average campsite altitude is 3300 meters (10000ft).

It’s Important to be prepared for the Inca Trail and bring all the essentials. Each individual will have slightly different needs and will pack different personal items but, there are some standard essentials everyone must bring on the trail.

One of the most important things to bring is a good pair of hiking boots with good tread. The steep climbs combined with wet slippery conditions can make for a difficult hike. Its absolutely essential that you bring along good footwear in order to stay safe.

Make sure you bring warm clothing as well. The nights can get cold especially during the dry season make sure you always have a rain jacket and sweater ready.

Keep yourself energized make sure you have enough drinking water and snacks to keep your blood sugar up. Its always a good idea to bring more than you think you’ll need, better to be safe than sorry.

Most people agree the best time to hike Machu Picchu is during the dry season from April to October. However everyone has their own preference and if you hike during this time of year there will be a lot of crowds.

Make sure that you book your pass to Machu Picchu well in advance especially if you are going during the dry season. Machu Picchu is the biggest tourist attraction in Peru so tickets call sell out quickly. Please note Machu Picchu is open all year round but the Inca trail is closed all of February for maintenance.

Passes for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu can only be purchased through authorized tour operators such as Orange Nation. Please contact your tour operator for availabilities.


High altitude can effect each individual differently, however it’s a good idea to allow yourself at least two days in Cusco to acclimatize before starting the Inca trail. There is a ton of history and culture in Cusco make sure you use your time well and explore the city while you wait to acclimatize.

The Inca trail is one of the most popular hikes in the world because of the stunning landscape along the way and of course the final destination of Machu Picchu. With Incan ruins, tall mountains, and meandering rivers, there’s is a lot to see on this hike. Additionally, part of the trail is in a protected area so there’s a good chance of seeing wildlife.

The difficulty level of the trail is considered medium to difficult a lot depends on the trail conditions. Make sure you are in good physical shape before coming on the trail. The tallest point of the trail is 4,200 m (13780 ft) making sure you are properly acclimatized is very important. Some parts of the trail are very steep such as “Dead Woman’s Pass” keeping a slow and steady pace should make the difficult sections easier.

There are no age restrictions officially for the Inca Trail. It’s highly recommended that you speak with your doctor regarding medical concerns before hiking the Inca Trail. For children under the age of 18 its recommended that there is an adult accompanying them.

In order to hike the Inca trail everyone must first purchase a permit from the Peruvian Government. It’s only possible to get a permit through a registered tour operator such as Orange Nation.


  • Original Passport: (Must be the same you used for booking your trek)
  • University ID Card: (Only if you booked as a student)
  • Daypack: With enough room for a lunch
  • Water: 2 to 3 liters of water (We reccommend Camelbak style bladders )
  • Boots: Good comfortable broken in hiking boots with good tread
  • Sleeping Bag: 4 season bag (can be rented from your tour guide)
  • Headlamp or flashlight: Headlamp frees up hands (Back-up flashlight & batteries are recommended)
  • Toilet paper: Make sure to bring your own.


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


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
  • Sunscreen
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Rain gear
  • Snacks like chocolate bars, ice cream, cereal bars, protein bars
  • Coca leaves
  • Rain plastic poncho
  • Gloves
  • Camera
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper and small plastic bag for waste
  • Extra Money for Souvenirs, Drinks & Tips


Guided Adventures

Self-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.


Local Information

Everything in this blog has been doublé checked by a local, we made the effort on gathering all this information for you, to make your trip easier and cheaper.


Personal experience

99% of the information has been lived by a traveler like you, me, I wanted to compile all the information I had to make every traveler life easier.


Best and only the best

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.