Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
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Photo by Ryan Jarreau
"Hiking the Inca Trial to Machu Picchu is not a trip I would have done on my own. It wasn't even on my radar! I wouldn't even know where to begin if I tried to do a trip like that by myself."
Overview of Trip
When you first arrive, you want to give yourself time to get used to the elevation. Don't plan strenuous activities. Do leisurely tours while in higher elevation.
Examples include food tours in Cusco, explore the markets, a bus tour through the sacred valley.
Take it slow, assess how you feel, and slowly ramp up your activity. If you experience any altitude sickness, go to a lower elevation if possible or get rest. Stay hydrated!
Support the local community
Enjoy a full-day guided tour of the Sacred Valley. Stop at a women’s weaving co-op before visiting a local pottery making community.
Break for lunch at the Parwa community restaurant in Huchuy Qosco.
After lunch, opt to head out on a hike to the Ollantaytambo storehouses and look out over the ruins. Or, wander around the cobblestone streets and visit a local Chicheria (corn beer bar).
Hike the Inca Trail
First Day of Hiking
Depart Cusco by van to km 82 where the Inca Trail begins. Ease into the adventure with a straightforward day of hiking the meandering streams, stunning Andean scenery, and ancient Incan ruins.
Trek through beautiful scenery, with a variety of flora that changes with the seasons, passing several smaller ruin sites like Llactapata.
Hike about 7 miles. Starts at about 8,500 ft of elevation. Camp around 9,800 ft.
Second Day of Hiking
Start early to climb the long steep path to Warmiwañusca, better known as Dead Woman’s Pass.
This is the highest point of the trek at 4,198m (13,769 ft). Most hikers reach camp by early afternoon, with ample time to rest and relax.
Hike about 8 miles. Starts at about 9,800 ft of elevation. Hike to 13,800 ft. Camp around 11,000 ft.
Third Day of Hiking
Cross two more passes and ruins on today's trek. The first pass is Runquraqay at 3,950m (13,113 ft) where, on a clear day, hikers can catch a glimpse of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba. Hike through the cloud forest on a gentle climb to the second pass of the day, walking through original Incan constructions. The highest point of the pass is 3,700m (12,136 ft). On a clear day, enjoy the spectacular views of the Urubamba Valley.
At 3,650m (11,972 ft), reach the ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the "town above the clouds." Camp here or go another 1.5 hrs to the Wiñay Wayna ruins ("forever young") located at 2,650m (8,694 ft).
Hike about 10 miles. Starts at about 11,00 ft of elevation. Hike to 12,200 ft. Camp around 8,700 ft.
Fourth Day of Hiking
The final day of the hike starts pre-dawn to reach the Sun Gate before sunrise. Catch the first views of the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu on a clear day.
Follow the local guide to Machu Picchu to learn about its history at a leisurely pace. Gain local insight into the Inti Mach’ay cave, Inti Watana, the Temple of the Water, the Temple of the Condor, and the Room of the Three Windows. Take time to sit and feel the energy of this 15th-century site, now both a UNESCO World Heritage site and voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the World (in a worldwide Internet poll).
Hike about 4 miles. Starts at about 8,700 ft of elevation.
Frequently Asked Questions
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