In truth, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of our most popular Peru tours, ever.
There’s simply no better way to experience the beauty of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, glimpse quiet Peruvian farmlands, trek past the snow-capped Peruvian Andes, and enter Machu Picchu through the magnificent Sun Gate, than by hiking the classic 4 day Machu Picchu Inca Trail tour.
If you’re interested in hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, read on for more information about how to research, book, and prepare for your Machu Picchu Inca Trail tour.
Step 1: Decide if the Inca Trail is Right For You
Many people who want to hike the Inca Trail have many questions about the difficulty of the trek, what it’s like, and many other detailed questions. In a broad sense, the Inca Trail is a moderately challenging hiking and camping trip that allows you to see the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu in a way that many who visit Machu Picchu by train will never see. The scenery is gorgeous, there are lots of Inca ruins to explore, and you will be walking in the steps of the ancient Incas, who were famous for their vast networks of roads that connected their empire. Read our detailed itinerary of the 4 Day, 3 Night Inca Trail Tour.
The classic 4 day Inca Trail covers about 25 miles, so each day you will trek about 6-9 miles. Anyone who is used to day hiking will be able to finish the Inca Trail hike. However, the terrain is difficult in some places, and the altitude is definitely something to consider. The elevation of the highest point on the trail, at Dead Woman’s Pass, is 4200 meters (13,779 ft). You will want to pace yourself, drink lots of water, and keep altitude sickness pills or drink coca tea to remedy any sorroche you may feel. One positive point about a Machu Picchu Inca Trail tour is that porters, cooks, and guides are on hand to carry much of the equipment, so you will only be responsible for carrying your personal belongings; not tents or food.
If you are worried about hiking the 4 Day Inca Trail, it is possible to take a 2 Day Inca Trail, or to try an alternative Inca Trail in the Sacred Valley, such as the Lares Trek.
Once you have your Machu Picchu Peru vacation dates set, you’ll want to start making your bookings ahead of time. The Inca Trail is limited to 500 hikers per day (which includes porters, cooks, and guides) by the Peruvian government, and so during the high season (June-August) spots for the Inca Trail can be booked up months in advance. It is highly recommended, especially if you are planning to hike the Inca Trail during the high season, that you book a few months ahead. To do so, you must book through a licensed travel agency that can obtain Inca Trail permits.
If the Inca Trail is booked during the time you want to travel, check out the alternative Machu Picchu Inca Trail tours. Many include entrance to Machu Picchu, and offer an excellent way to see the Sacred Valley, Inca Ruins, and get outdoors.
Step 3: Prepare for your Machu Picchu Inca Trail Tour
Make sure you are ready for the hike by training in the months before you go. Hike a nearby mountain or go jogging, running, or biking. Here are some workout tips on training for your Machu Picchu Inca Trail Tour.
If you experience altitude sickness while in Cusco, or on the Inca Trail, pace yourself, drink plenty of liquids (but avoid alchohol), avoid smoking, and rest until the symptoms subside. ibuprofen and coca tea can also help.
Step 4: Choose your other Peru Tours
If you are planning on traveling in Peru before or after your trip, research nearby destinations and tours in the Sacred Valley, Cusco, or in other parts of Peru. Peru is one of the best South America travel destinations because the country offers so many diverse geographical and cultural places of interest. From the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest, to the desert coast, to Lake Titicaca, to the Spanish colonial capital of Lima, there is so much to see and do while you are traveling in Peru. See all our Machu Picchu Peru Tours.
***Please Note: The Inca Trail is closed every February for trail maintenance. It is not possible to book the Inca Trail during the month of February.***
You may also want to read our blog post, Top 4 Alternative Inca Trail Treks to Machu Picchu.
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