Visit Lima, Peru's modern capital city overlooking the pacific coastline, and explore the popular district of Miraflores before flying to Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire to be immersed in the history and wonder of this ancient civilisation. Tour Cusco city, the Sacred Valley of the Inca, before taking the train to Machu Picchu to tour this awe-inspiring ruin.

Access to the Inca Trail is strictly controlled by the Peruvian Government and permits are required for entry. We recommend you try and book your holiday to Peru at least 6 months before travelling if you wish to include the Inca Trail in order to be confident of obtaining a permit. See our Inca Trail Permits page for further information.

inca trail trekYes you need to acclimatise to the altitude prior to completing the trek, and this is very important to protect your health and to ensure you enjoy the experience. This is applicable for both the full 4-day trek and the short 1-day Inca trail. Although hundreds of thousands of tourists travel to Peru each year without problems altitude sickness is still something you should be aware of and take seriously. During the trek you will reach altitudes of over 4200 metres at the highest point - Dead Woman's Pass - on day 2.

In order to acclimatise it is recommended to have at least two nights, preferably three or more, at altitude prior to starting the trek (in destinations such as Cusco, Lake Titicaca or the Colca Canyon) to ensure your body will have had time to adjust. All our holidays that include the Inca Trail will include at least two nights at altitude prior to the trek commencing for this reason.

Typical symptoms of altitude include: headaches, dizziness, tiredness, sickness, breathlessness and upset stomach. One of the best ways of avoiding altitude sickness is to stay hydrated, although pills and tablets are also available. We advise all our customers to visit their GP or doctor prior to travelling or completing the Inca Trail and if you experience concern during the trek immediately notify your guide, and if the guide advises you to rest or descend at any time it is important you follow their instruction.

The Inca Trail is approximately 46 kilometres (28 miles) which is the total distance covered over the 4 days of the trek including the final descent into Machu Picchu.

Although precise distances vary slightly depending on campsite allocation (campsites are issued to each Inca Trail group by the Peruvian authorities), the daily distances are approximately 12 kilometres on Day 1, 13 kilometres on Day 2, 15 kilometres on Day 3, and 6 kilometres on Day 4.

You do not need to be a marathon runner or super fit athlete to complete the trek – 500 people start the trek every day, and it is actually rare that people fail to finish the route. However the Inca Trail is certainly tough and hard work (otherwise it wouldn’t be as rewarding as it is!), and you need to have a reasonable base level of fitness so that you can enjoy the experience and admire the scenery just as much as to ensure you will finish the trek. The furthest you will walk in one day is around 15 kilometres and we advise you build up your aerobic fitness level and go on a few practice treks beforehand.

inca trail camping 200The Inca Trail has a selection of purpose built campsites situated at strategic points along the course of the Inca Trail. The allocation of the campsites to each of the Inca Trail groups completing the trek is controlled by the Peruvian government authority. All tents on the Inca Trail are two-man tents, so if you are travelling in an odd-numbered group then one person will need to share a tent with another tourist. It is possible to hire a private tent – ask us for further details. There are basic toilet facilities with “squat” style toilets situated throughout the trek, usually close to campsites and / or lunch stop locations. Taking your own toilet paper is essential, as it is very unlikely that any will be available during the trek. Basic showers are available at the campsites on the final night only, although it should be noted that these are usually very busy.

Yes all meals are provided on the Inca Trail when you book with us, and we make sure to provide hot food in the evenings to ensure you are fully energised for the trek. Precise menus and dishes vary but lunch menus generally consist of things such as sandwiches, cake, nuts, chocolates etc; evening meals are things like (for example) casseroles or mince with rice or potatoes, salads, fruit, and tea and coffee.

Depending on the exact nature of your request we can cater for a variety of dietary requirements on the Inca Trail such as vegetarian food, gluten-free food etc. Contact us if you would like to discuss further or inform us of your requirements at the point of booking.

Yes we include and arrange a safety briefing for you. This will take place with your Inca Trail guide in Cusco usually one or two days prior to the start of the trek – the exact time and date will be given to you in Cusco. This is an opportunity for you to meet your guide ahead of the trek as well as providing you with an opportunity to ask any further questions you may have.

No the Inca Trail is closed every February to allow time for repair work and maintenance to the trek route, campsites and services. This also helps preserve the Inca roads, which are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Inca Trail is usually open for the remaining 11 months of the year.

You will need to leave your main luggage in the security room in your hotel in Cusco on the morning of Day 1 of the Inca Trail and only take with you what you want or need for the trek itself. This will then be collected when you return to Cusco after visiting Machu Picchu.

Inca trail porters 200Porters will carry all camping equipment (except sleeping bags), all food, all cooking equipment and 7kg (maximum) per person of personal belongings included as standard in all our Inca Trail treks.

Additional porters can be hired at additional cost - please ask us for further details.

The 7kg of personal belongings that porters carry must fit within a duffel-bag that will be provided to you. The porters will carry this duffel-bag with them during the day so you will not have access to the belongings they are carrying for you until the end of the day, so it is important you don’t give them anything you think you might need during the day. Porters trek ahead of you to ensure they have set up the tents and prepared the food and / or drinks prior to your arrival at the lunch stops or campsites.

Tipping of guides is common throughout Peru not just on the Inca Trail, although it is entirely optional and you should not feel obliged to tip. However on the Inca Trail the porters, chef and guides work incredibly hard to give you an experience to remember, as well as spend time away from their families, so tipping is fairly common. As a guide, if you would like to tip we’d recommend starting at around S/.100 (one hundred Peruvian Soles) per tourist, which would then be shared amongst the porters etc.

You will need a good, warm, comfortable and lightweight sleeping bag for the trail. Although it is possible to hire sleeping bags (please ask us for further details) we recommend that you take your own sleeping bag so you are familiar with its warmth and weight prior to starting the trek. If you do want to hire a sleeping bag we recommend you bring a thin light sleeping bag liner with you to use inside the bag. As a guide only we recommend either a three-season or a four-season sleeping bag for the Inca Trail depending on how well you normally sleep, how much you tend to feel the cold generally, and whether or not you intend to use a liner or wear clothes inside your sleeping bag.

Good, strong, comfortable, lightweight and waterproof footwear (hiking boots or trekking shoes) is vitally important for the Inca Trail as you will be trekking around 45 kilometres or more over the four days of the trek. Footwear that provides ankle support is recommended but not mandatory. It is also very important to ensure the footwear has been worn-in prior to starting the trail.

Although this is entirely personal preference we recommend a good, comfortable, strong, well-made, waterproof day-pack / back-pack / rucksack with lots of pockets and straps on the outside to attach things to. We'd also recommend the bag includes external bottle holders or a drinks system so you don't need to constantly stop and remove your bag to have a drink.

Usually a 30 litre, 35 litre or 40 litre rucksack is most suitable, depending on personal preference, body size, and how much you intend to carry on the trek.

Yes we provide private Inca Trail services for an additional supplement which would provide you with a private guide, cook and porter(s) as well as more private allocation of campsites. Please enquire for further details. If you reserve the Inca Trail with us you will be part of an Inca Trail group unless you specifically request a private trek.

If you have your own walking poles we advise you leave these at home – the Peruvian government strictly controls access to the trail and won't allow many types of equipment into the trail to protect the environment. If you want to use walking poles special wooden ones with rubber ends are available to rent or buy in Cusco or Ollantaytambo – ask your guide during the safety briefing.

There is currently no official minimum age for trekking the Inca Trail and, in theory, anyone of any age can start the trek. At Go Andes we recommend a minimum age of 12 years but this a recommendation only and if you would like to discuss this further with us please get in touch. Individual circumstances also should be considered as children of the same age can vary considerably in maturity, fitness, activity levels etc, so although age is a factor all these other elements should also be considered when determining if your child will not only be capable of the trek, but will also enjoy the trek and find the experience rewarding. Children must travel with their parent or legal guardian.

Maximum group size is 16 trekking tourists, which is supported by an English-speaking guide as well as the chef and porters. In some cases group sizes are smaller than this.

There is no electricity during the Inca Trail so make sure your camera batteries are fully charged and you have a working torch / flashlight.

Yes the Inca Trail can be included as part of any of our holidays in Peru. All our flight-inclusive holidays are ATOL-protected, so if you booked the Inca Trail with us as part of a holiday it would be part of an ATOL-protected package holiday, and fully financially protected. Cusco is a very popular holiday destination in Peru and many of our Peru holidays visit this wonderful Andean city. If you'd like to include the Inca Trail in one of our holidays just let us know when you contact us.

If you already have plans in Peru and only need the Inca Trail reserving then yes we can reserve Inca Trail permits for you.

We will take care of the permits for you on your behalf as part of your booking.

See our Inca Trail Permits page for further information (link below).

In addition to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail it is possible to see the Inca ruins of Llactapata, Winay Wayna, Runkurakay, Phuyupatamarca and Sayacmarca, as well as other smaller Inca sites. When it is possible to do so your guide will conduct short tours to some of the sites and explain their history and purpose in the Inca Empire.

Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain are two mountains within the Machu Picchu park. Huayna Picchu is the steep hill that can be seen as the back-drop to Machu Picchu in the classic photographs of the ruin. It is possible to climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain however additional entry permits must be purchased in addition to your Inca Trail permit and these permits need to be reserved at the time of booking so that the correct permits can be arranged for you. This means that if you do want to include Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain during your Machu Picchu tour after completing the Inca Trail make sure to request this at the point when when you reserve the Inca Trail, as it may not be possible to add these at a later date.

Unfortunately if there are no permits remaining for the Inca Trail for your dates of travel then you will not be able to complete the Inca Trail or book with any tour company - so be wary of companies that claim to be able to provide you permits if they have already sold out, as it is not possible to do this.

If you still want to do a trek in Peru then there are many other excellent alternative treks to Machu Picchu, including the Lares Trek and the Salkantay Trek - ask us for further details.


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Inca Trail 4-Day Trek Itinerary

Read all about the traditional 4-day Inca Trail itinerary here, including details on campsites, altitude, which Inca sites are visited during the journey, and much more information.



Inca Trail Permit Availability

Official government permits are required for entry to the Inca Trail, and without a permit you will not be allowed access to the trek. Check current Inca Trail availability here.



Inca Trail Suggested Packing List

Choosing what to pack and what not to pack for something as daunting as the Inca Trail can be a big task - read our guide to find out more about our suggested packing list.