What is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

The Inca Trail is a stone route built by the Incas more than 500 years ago to unite their peoples scattered throughout the Tawantisuyo Empire (“Empire of the Incas”). This section is a set of protected archaeological sites that goes from km 82 to Machu Picchu.

The Inca Trail is located in the middle of the Andes and is not accessible by car or any other means of transportation. There is no electricity or drinking water infrastructure and no cell phone network. The water used for food handling is from natural streams/water springs that were perfectly conditioned to be water sources. All food is prepared with filtered boiled water to protect the health of tourists.

The Inca Trail is difficult.

The Inca Trail is certainly not easy, but you don’t have to be an athlete or trekking expert to walk it. Your physical condition is of course very important, The Inca Trail is the kind of hike that anyone with a positive attitude and determination can do.

However, the more fit you are, the more you will be able to admire and enjoy the scenery and Inca archaeological sites along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

There are toilets on the Inca Trail and in the camps…?

Yes, but the toilets along the way and/or in the camps are not in good condition. We recommend that you bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer gel after using the restrooms.

I must prepare physically before doing the Inca Trail. Yes, it is mandatory, if you do not exercise regularly, we recommend that you start walking for 5 hours a day or do some type of aerobic, cardio vascular, etc. activity during the months prior to your trip.

There are people who do not complete the Inca Trail. Yes, there are many factors that prevent people from completing the Inca Trail

Due to altitude sickness (lack of oxygen)

Stomach problems such as diarrhea that many tourists acquire days before the start of the trek

Lack of physical preparation

What is altitude sickness?

You may never have experienced lack of oxygen. This is commonly felt in Cusco due to the altitude and makes everything cost you triple the effort so don’t count on your usual physical resistance which will be diminished. Your digestion will be a little slower and your sleep will be dense and deep. It is best to stay calm on the first day to acclimatize. It’s very common for all drugstores to sell altitude sickness pills. Coca tea also helps as well as candies.

How many days of acclimatization do I need before starting the Inca Trail? If you come from a country at an altitude of less than 500 metres. We recommend that you spend at least 2 days in Cusco to acclimatize to the altitude before starting the Inca Trail as the highest point of the trek is 4.200.msm.

How old do I have to be to do the Inca Trail? People of all ages (from children, teenagers to retirees) are eligible to complete this walk as age is not a barrier if you have a positive mind and an active lifestyle.

However, we recommend that everyone over 60 to 70 years of age visit their doctor before doing the Inca Trail. You must also bring us the signed authorization from your doctor indicating that you are fit to travel the Inca Trail.

How far in advance should I book the Inca Trail?

You must reserve your Inca Trail permits at least 3 months in advance. Since there are only 500 spaces available per day: 200 are allocated to tourists and 300 to porters, cooks, tour guides. If the number of spaces is exhausted, you will have to choose another alternative date. For this reason,

Can I do the Inca Trail on my own?

No. Only hikers accompanied by guides authorized by the Ministry of Culture of Cusco are allowed access to the Inca Trail. Only 150 of the 35,000 travel agencies in Peru, including ours, are authorized to access the Inca Trail.

What are the booking procedures and payment methods: Reservations are made directly through our own website. Please click on the Booking Now icon and then follow the booking instructions, once you have completed the booking form on our website, you will need to send us a scanned copy of your passport or ID which you used to make the booking. This information is important for the purchase of your entrance ticket for the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. The corresponding authorities will verify that your passport number or Identity Card coincides with the number of your entry to the Inca Trail and to Machu Picchu. That is why it is very important that the document you used when you booked is valid and is not expired. If you change your passport number you must inform us immediately.

I must make a deposit to guarantee my reservation of the Inca Trail… ?

Yes, no reservation with Inka Trail backpacker will be guaranteed unless you have made a payment of a deposit of 200 per person through our 2 payment methods mentioned on our Reservation Now form… Important: None of the deposits requested include transaction fees.

Why is the deposit important?

The deposit you send us is used to buy your ticket to the Inca Trail, tickets to Machu Picchu, your return train tickets and to reserve a space within the group.

My deposit is refundable. It is non-refundable and non-transferable. After the purchase of your tickets, we cannot change: neither the date of departure of the tour or excursion, nor the name or passport number on your Inca Trail permit or the entrance to Machu Picchu or train ticket. However, if we do not succeed or fail to make your reservation for the Inca Trail, the payment of your deposit will be refunded at 100%.

The Inca Trail is part of the National Heritage of Peru and its access and the conditions of the excursions are managed and regulated by the Ministry of Culture of Cusco. Only they can give the authorizations for their access, it also manages the camps. They are in charge of maintaining the road, the camps and the sanitary facilities in the middle of nowhere.

There is a waiting list or I can wait for someone to cancel their place so that I can make the Inca Trail… If the permits are exhausted on a particular date, no travel agency will be able to offer a space. Permits can only be purchased with the visitor’s name and passport number, one thing to consider is the following: once the reservation is confirmed, there is no option to change the date or name.

Where does the Inca Trail tour start to Machu Picchu?

The Inca Trail tour to Machu Picchu begins in the department of Cusco-Peru through the province of Urubamba and the district of Pisacucho also called the KM 82.

What departure dates do you offer?We offer daily departures depending on the availability of the entrance spaces. In the red availability calendar we have on our website we indicate the spaces available for each day. This calendar also allows you to choose the date of departure for the Inca Trail.

What is the duration of the Inca Trail?

The classic Inca Trail has a duration of 4 days or, for those who are in a hurry or less athletic, there is another 2-day hike… It is worth mentioning that the Inca Trail can only be done in one direction: from Cusco to Machu Picchu; the return trip is always done by motorized way (by train and bus).

What is the size of the group? the maximum size of the group allowed per group is 16 tourists. the rest is the support staff (porters, cooks) If our groups reach the maximum size we will use two guides for better management of the group

For confidentiality reasons, we are unable to inform you who will be part of your online group and it is impossible for us to respond accurately. Generally, it is a group of hikers of different nationalities and ages. You will meet your group’s members the day we do the orientation or briefing the night before the tour starts.

What is the best time to make the excursion?

Peru is a very big country with many different climates, so it would be very difficult to define a good time to visit different places. However, we consider that the best season is from June to September. For the Inca Trail, the hottest season is from November to March but it is also the rainy season. That’s why we think it’s more enjoyable to do a sunny but cold excursion than a warm but rainy one. For this reason, we advise you to do it preferably between May and October. It should be noted that the Inca Trail is open every day of the year except in February, the maintenance month. For more details, we advise you to visit the weather page.

The Inca Trail is open all year round?

it is open 7 days a week, every day of the month, including Sundays and holidays, but it is closed in February because the Ministry takes advantage of this month to do the maintenance of the Inca Trail.

Food on the Inca Trail:

Always fresh and with organic ingredients, they contain the right amount of protein and carbohydrates including vegetables, meat, chicken, fish and other options. When it comes to serving food, all our tourists sit down to eat together at the table so we can guarantee a family atmosphere. Our chefs are trained to prepare food according to the requirements of the tourist: gluten-free, sugar-free, anti-allergic, vegetarian and vegan diets.

Do you tip on the Inca Trail?.

Yes, they are for porters, cooks and guides, they are always welcome and organized by the group on different days. They will also be very grateful for the small gifts that can be for themselves or their children. The suggested amount for tips is 40 to 50 soles for each porter and 80 to 90 soles for the cook and guide. We clarify that this amount is a suggestion and not an obligation. Tips are collected from all members of the group and are not an individual contribution.

Health and Safety?

All participants must inform us if they have or have had any illnesses that may affect their personal or group progress during the walk. They should also bring their own medications. We recommend that you visit your doctor before making your reservation if you have any health problems.

The train return schedule:

The type of train we usually use for the end of your walk to Machu Picchu is the Expedition train that leaves from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo at 6:20pm. If you prefer another type of train and schedule we can book the earliest one for an additional cost of $25 per person, the times to choose are 2:55 or 4:35 p.m. depending on the availability of spaces. If you are interested we also offer the option to exchange your Expediton train return for the Vistadome for an additional cost of $65 per person. Please let us know your preference when you make your reservation. It is important that you know that none of the trains mentioned above go directly to Cusco, the trains only arrive at Ollantaytambo or Poroy stations. In any case we will always guarantee a return bus to Cusco.

I have heard of a “local” train, can I take it?

There is indeed a train called “local” for the Cuzco-Aguas Calientes route, but by government decree it is reserved for Peruvians and residents, upon presentation of an identity document. No tourist can take it.

Where to store your things: You can leave or store things that will not take you to the Inca Trail in the hotel or hostel where you are staying. Most of these establishments have stores where they will keep their things… If you do not trust the place where you are staying we will gladly store your belongings in our office.

The ascent to Huayna Picchu:

Only 400 people can climb this mountain per day. If you are interested in climbing Huayna Picchu, entrance tickets must be booked in advance. The ticket price is 65 dollars per person. We recommend that you start your ascent to Huayna Picchu at 10:00 am otherwise you will miss the guided tour of Machu Picchu.