“… The roads of the Incas were the most useful and stupendous works ever executed by man. ” Alexander Von Humboldt
The Classic Inca Trail is the most famous hike in South America – perhaps the world. It is a must-do and one of the biggest highlights of your trip to Peru. It offers 4 days of trekking along original paved Inca pathways and a range of spectacular Inca ruins along the way. The stunning scenery is breath taking. The Classic Inca Trail spans through altitudes in the valley from 2,700 m (8,856 ft) to mountain passes of 4,215 m (13,825 ft). Finally it passes through the cloud forest to arrive at the majestic Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu itself.
Hiking the Inca Trail is one of those things that everyone should do once in their life. Be you young or old, in good shape or not, the Inca Trail is for everyone!
Pre-trek briefing for the Classic Inca Trail:
You will have an in-depth briefing with your guide 1 or 2 days before your trek. Your guide will meet you at our office in Cusco and you can take this opportunity to ask questions and make any final preparations.
Day 1: Cusco – Trailhead at Km 82 – Ayapata
We will pick you up at your hotel in Cusco at 4:30 AM! The ride to the trailhead at Kilometer 82 is beautiful! Along the way we will stop at the Raqchi look out to take photos. This gorgeous location overlooks the valley of Urubamba with the Chicon glacier in the background. From this position you can also see Mount Veronica (5,682 m/ 18,637 ft) and the Urubamba river.
After driving an additional 45 minutes we will reach the town of Ollantaytambo. This town is an excellent spot to get breakfast and buy any last minute supplies prior to arriving at the trailhead. You will also have the opportunity to see the Ollantaytambo Inca site while you are here.
We will then get back in the van to travel the final 45 minutes to reach the trail head at Kilometer 82. At this point we will go through the Inca trail checkpoint and begin our Inca Trail hike.
The hike begins with 2 ½ hours of relatively flat terrain until we reach the Wilkaraqay Inca site. From this location we will have gorgeous views of the Llactapata (2,750 m/ 9,020 ft) archeological site, which was a check point on the Inca trail approach to Machu Picchu. At this point we will go over the history of this site as well as have an overview of the history of the Inca trail.
Back on the trail we will hike for 2 hours until we reach Hatunchaca (2,598 m/8,525 ft) where we will have lunch. This will be your first meal from our incredible chef and will give you an idea of the fantastic food you can look forward to the remainder of the trek!
After lunch we will hike for 2 ½ hours until we reach our camp at Ayapata (3,300 m / 10,829 ft). This camp is a little further along the Inca trail than the traditional night one camp site of Wayllabamba. This is nice because it is quieter. We will take advantage of this feature of the camp in order to enjoy the stars and beauty of the evening on the Inca trail in serenity.
Day 2: Ayapata – Dead Woman’s Pass – Pacaymayu – Chaquicocha
After a delicious breakfast we will begin our hike to the famous Dead Woman’s Pass! For the first two hours we will be in the cloud forest. We will pass through various biozones including the low sierra and the high puna. There are many opportunities to see a variety of plant and birdlife and if we are lucky we may also spot White Tailed Deer.
After this two hour hike we reach Lluchapampa (3,800 m / 12,460 ft). This is a small camp and it is the absolute last location on the trail to buy supplies. After a 15 minute break we will continue on the trail.
The portion of the trail leading to Dead Woman’s Pass at Warmiwañusca (4,215 m/ 13,825 ft) lasts two hours and takes you through beautiful mountains and the grasslands of the high Andes. We will pause at the top of this pass to admire the majesty of the highest point of the Inca trail.
We will then descend to the Pacaymayu camp for lunch. After lunch we will ascend 45 minutes to the Inca site of Runcuraccay. We will tour this ruin and then continue uphill for an additional hour to the Runcuraccay pass (3,950 m/ 12,959 ft).
After a descent of 90 minutes we will arrive at the Inca site of Sayacmarca (3,657 m /12,000 ft). At this location we will have the chance to see one of the most amazing sunsets of the Aobamba valley!
From here it is 25 minutes to our campsite for the night at Chaquicocha (3,600 m/11,800 ft). We have chosen this camp for the night instead of the traditional night 2 campsite at Pacamayu for reasons similar to why we choose Ayapata on night 1. It is less crowded and will allow us a more peaceful encounter with nature!
Day 3: Chaquicocha – Phuyupatamarca – Wiñaywayna
After another fantastic breakfast we will hike for two hours until we reach Phuyupatamarca (3,680 m/ 12,073 ft). From this location we will have astonishing views of Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu Mountain, and Huayna Picchu mountain. We will also have a guided tour of the Phuyupatamarca Inca site.
Now it is time to head into the rain forest! We will walk downhill for 2 ½ hours until we reach our camp. During this stretch of the trail we will visit Inti Pata. Many people feel that the most beautiful pictures of the entire Inca trail can be taken from this location! After Inti Pata it is a further 30 minutes to our campsite at Wiñay Wayna (2,680 m /8,792 ft). When we arrive at the camp we will have lunch. After relaxing for a short time we will visit the archeological site that bears the same name as the camp.
Wiñay Wayna is the largest and most beautiful archeological site on the Inca trail and means forever young in Quechua. We are one of the few companies that provide a guided tour of Wiñay Wayna.
Day 4: Wiñay Wayna – Sun Gate – Machu Picchu – Cusco
We will rise very early to complete the final stretch of the Inca Trail, which brings us to Inti Punku or the Sun Gate, the principal entrance of the crystal city of Machu Picchu. The trail here is fairly easy going and after about an hour we will arrive to Inti Punku (2,400 m/ 7,875 ft), an awesome location to observe the citadel of Machu Picchu and sunrise in the Andes.
From Inti Punku it is a further 40 minute downhill hike to the citadel of Machu Picchu. We will go to the classic “photo” spot and take pictures once we arrive. Then there will be a short break prior to starting our tour of Machu Picchu. The tour will last two hours. If you have elected to climb Huayna Picchu mountain you should select the 10 AM time spot.
When you are finished exploring the extraordinary city of Machu Picchu you will travel to Aguas Calientes by bus. You will then take the train from Aguas Calientes to Poroy/Ollantaytambo where our private van will be waiting to transport you back to your hotel in Cusco. Arrival time in Cusco depends on the time of your train ticket.
What’s Included in the Classic Inca Trail?
Does Not Include in the Classic Inca Trail
What to Bring
WHAT’S IN A NAME: Action Peru Treks? Action is a word we are all familiar with and probably use on a regular basis without too much thought! However, it is worth a look at the dictionary to understand what makes the word Action in our name special. ACTION: Doing things that require physical movement and energy; something done so as to accomplish a purpose; involved in the activities of a group and organization.