Top Inca Trail Tours & Vacations 2024/2025 [reviews &...

Inca Trail Tours & Travel Packages 2024/2025

42 Inca Trail trips. Compare tour itineraries from 15 tour companies. 723 reviews. 4.8/5 avg rating.

Small Group Inca Trail Tours

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Top Inca Trail Attractions

  • Reaching the famous archaeological site of Machu Picchu just as the sun was rising
  • Completing the full Inca Trail trek, a great achievement!
  • Learning the ancient history of the Incas along the trail, and walking among the famous Machu Picchu ruins
  • Passing through other ancient settlements on the way to Machu Picchu
  • Getting up early to catch the bus from Aguas Calientes and feeling the excitement of fellow travelers completing a bucket list item

Inca Trail Tours & Travel Guide

Inca Trail Attractions & Landmarks Guide

The Inca Trail is one of the most popular ways to access the incredible site at Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is one of the most popular ways to access the incredible site at Machu Picchu. You must go with a guide, if you wish to hike the famous trek. This can be arranged in country, but a more sure way is to book a guided Machu Picchu tour. They provide insights and support along the way to spectacular Machu Picchu.

What is the Inca Trail?

Part of the draw of travelers to the Inca Trail is the sensation of literally walking through history. Originally a pilgrimage route used by the Inca, the trail was part of an intricate and advanced road system created by the Inca people. Approximately 24,800 miles, the road system was used to transport goods and send messages as efficiently as possible.

When the Spanish arrived, these roads became important methods of evasion from groups of explorers and colonists. The Spanish, with their clothing ill suited to the area, lack of experience with altitude, and no frame of reference for where to go, had difficulty tracking the Inca warriors through this web.

The Inca Trail portion of this complex road system, as we know it today, is 26 miles long, and typically takes 4-5 days to hike.  

Planning Your Inca Trail Tour

The process of embarking on your Inca Trail trek begins at least six months prior to your arrival in Peru, at which time you’ll need to purchase your Inca Trail permit. These sell out extremely fast, so the earlier you can plan ahead the better.

One of the reasons they sell out so quickly is that a limited number of hikers are allowed on the trail a day - 500 to be exact, and this includes porters and guides. You may only travel on the Inca Trail with a guide, which includes a porter for carrying food and camping gear. It is possible to find a guide in country, but do so at your own risk. Some may be scams ready to pray on the many tourists milling around Aguas Calientes or Cusco preparing to visit Machu Picchu.

The safer option is to plan to travel with a guided tour company. Most major travel companies have trips along the Inca Trail, and there's a lot of variety in terms of group size, and age range. They company will help ensure you get your permits in time and allows you more time to enjoy preparing for the trip and the actual journey, without having to worry about hiring legitimate guides and porters to take you along the trail.

The Inca Trail winds its way, 26 miles long, through many ancient settlements, each one providing clues to the history of the Inca Empire’s history; where and how they lived, their customs and culture. You will reach Machu Picchu with a more detailed context of the life led by ancient Inca people, allowing you to fully appreciate the incredible archaeological site.

You can check out our article on the best time to visit Machu Picchu for more information about weather and crowds.

What to Pack for the Inca Trail

You’re going to want sturdy, broken in equipment. Prepare by going on long hikes with your pack and hiking shoes at least six to eight months prior to your trip. This will minimize any surprises you have along the way in terms of rubbing, chafing, and blisters. It will also get you used to the weight.

It will most likely rain or be damp at least part of the time along your trek. You’re hiking through jungle after all! Appropriate, light, rain gear, will be essential. This includes a jacket and cover for your backpack. You’ll want lots of layers with breathable material. Avoid cotton as it absorbs sweat and aside from being smelly, will get warm and uncomfortable as you heat up throughout the day. The best materials are Polyester and Nylon.

You’ll be hiking in mud, over slick rock in some area, up and down steep hills. For this you’ll want good hiking boots with a lot of ankle support. Bring sock liners to help prevent blisters and make your shoes more comfortable. Wool hiking socks overtop are the final ingredient for perfect Inca Trail hiking feet!

Hiking poles are also a very good idea. You may scoff and think they aren’t necessary, but once you’re out on the trail you may find them more useful than you think! Small, light, collapsible poles are available at most major outdoor gear outfitters. And even if you don’t end up using them, someone else in your group will most certainly be able to.

Nighttime can get very chilly. Bring a down sleeping bag and liner. The tour company will provide tents, cooking materials, and other accessories.

Besides clothing, you’ll want to bring some first aid. Bandaids, antiseptic, vaseline, bug repellant, water purification tablets, and moleskin, will all prove themselves useful.

Other useful items include a travel towel, rope which has several uses - a popular one being as a clothes line, swiss army knife, bathing suit, and plastic bags for trash.

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Of the three main treks to Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail is by far the most popular. Seen as a rite of passage by many, the trek is challenging, but by no means impossible for the vast majority of travelers. You’ll pass through some incredible history as you make your way to the classic bucket list item that is Machu Picchu.

Guided tours along the Inca Trail typically begin in Cusco, where you’ll spend a few days to get used to the altitude and visiting some other significant archaeological sites from the time of the Inca Empire. These sites have less notoriety than Machu Picchu, but are no less fascinating.

When you leave Cusco you'll transport to “kilometer 82” which is the beginning mark for hikers. Here you’ll present your pass and be permitted into the park where you will meet your group, guides, and porters.

Most Inca Trail tours last 4 to 5 days, hovering between 5-8 hours a day. Even despite the strictly enforced restrictions on the number of hikers per day, in most months of the year, you will see and pass other hikers along the way. Campsites are usually buzzing with the activity of multiple groups settling in for the night.

For most people, the toughest day along the Inca Trail is Day 2, Dead Woman’s Pass. This section includes around 5 hours of constant uphill, after which you’ll get a slight respite. The days following are difficult, with uphill and downhill portions, but not as tough as the summit to Dead Woman’s Pass (for most).

If you are moderately in shape, the Inca Trail will be challenging but definitely doable. If you have difficulty walking, or have health complications, the trail is probably not the best choice. But this doesn't mean your days of visiting Machu Picchu are over! Many opt to take one of the three popular trains (of varying comfort levels from luxury to basic) from Cusco through the Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes. This is the perfect trip for active senior travelers. Once you arrive in Aguas Calientes you can arrange to stay a few days, giving you plenty of time to explore the ruins and take advantage of the towns nearby hot springs.

Is the Inca Trail Ever Closed?

Yes. The Inca Trail is closed during the month of February, when Peru experiences the heaviest rainfall during the year. This causes mudslides, and dangerous hiking conditions. Not to mention, it would just be uncomfortable and underwhelming - with dense fog obstructing most of the incredible views there are to see along the way.

However, the site of Machu Picchu itself is open year round. So while the Inca Trail is closed in February, you can still visit Machu Picchu via one of the three different rail options, which leave from Cusco, or the Salkantay Trek. While crowds will be minimal, it will be extremely wet, muddy, and rainy.   

Trekking in Altitude

If you’re not prepared for it, high altitude can cause mild to severe discomfort. Machu Picchu is at nearly 8000 ft above sea level, and it’s important to acclimate before heading off on the Inca Trail trek.

Most people spend a few days in Cusco getting used to the altitude. Guided tours to Machu Picchu will often include this time in their tour itinerary. If not, however, it will be a good idea to plan on arriving in Cusco a few days before your tour begins.

Along the way, as you hike the Inca Trail your tour guide will have any number of remedies to help if you experience altitude sickness, including the most popular - eating raw cocoa leaves. Know the signs so you can recognize as soon as possible when you need to take a break - these include nausea, headache, and disorientation. Drink plenty of water and take it slow. You will adapt, but it takes different amounts of time for everyone.

A Sunrise to Remember

One major benefit of hiking the Inca Trail, instead of taking the train, is the opportunity to be among the first to see Machu Picchu as day breaks. Arrive as the early dawn sun filters through the misty fog, welcoming you to step into history.

While hoards of tourists staying in Aguas Calientes line up at 4am to catch the bus and reach the Sun Gate before the afternoon crowds, hikers on the Inca Tail get the opportunity to enter the site even before these eager travelers. Beware though - the fog can be dense in the morning and you may not see the sun until it rises dramatically above the clouds a few hours into the morning.

Alternatives to the Inca Trail

If you don’t want to hike, or are seeking a less crowded route, fear not. There are multiple routes and ways to reach Machu Picchu; the Inca Trail just happens to be the most well known.

Many opt for the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. This is a beautiful rail journey through the Andean countryside, where you can sit back and relax, visiting various historical stops along the way.

You’ll arrive in Aguas Calientes, the small yet mighty hub at the base of Machu Picchu, 5 miles from the Sun Gate. You can opt to stay here for a few days, which allows you ample time to visit the site two days in a row, as well as take advantage of the nearby hot springs.  

Other routes to Machu Picchu include the Salkantay Trek and the Lares Trek. The Salkantay Trek is 37 miles, and very challenging, while the Lares Trek is slightly shorter than the Inca Trail (21 miles) and moderately challenging.

Inca Trail Reviews & Ratings

4.8/5  Excellent
723  Reviews
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Oct 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

Inca Trail

Cusco is a good starting point as the capital city of the Inca empire there is lots to see. Good restaurants and a vibrant atmosphere add to the sense of anticipa...



Oct 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

A well balanced adventure.

A superb introduction to Peru. This was the first time we have used Exodus and we can’t wait to use them again. The trip way very professionally organised from star...



Oct 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

Greatest adventure ever!

Myself and my father embarked in a trip to Peru to hike the Inca Trail. It started with several days exploring Cusco where we were met by our guide Julio who gave ...



Oct 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

Magnificent Moonstone Trek

Magnificent trek - wild and unspoilt countryside. Better than doing the main Inca trail I'd say as you are not simply climbing millions of steps, nor do you have t...



Oct 2018

Provided byExodus Travels

Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

This trek has been on my 'to do' list for over 15 years and boy was it worth it. What a fantastic adventure which I will never forget. I had a little extra time ...

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