Updated August 2018
If you visit Cusco, we recommend that you consider doing the Inca Trail. It is the most famous trek in South America and is considered by many one of the top 5 trails in the world. In this article we give you the different routes you have for this amazing tour.
The Inca Trail, also know as Inca Trek, or sometimes Machu Picchu trek, is a hiking trip from 2 up to 5 days to Machu Picchu. The hiking is done over part of the ancient Inca road system, once used by the Incas, the most extensive and highly advanced transportation system in pre-Columbian South America.
The Inca Trail offers an invaluable wealth of colorful landscapes that can be seen along this stone path designed by the Incas and that in this era of post modernity offers an opportunity to learn about this majestic civilization.
But remember to book in advance since this tour has limited passes and a quota.
Inca Trail Routes
There are different versions of this tour, and every tour agency may have variations that you can choose according to your availability and preparation. However all the alternatives will fall into these three Inca Trail Route options:
- Classic Inca Trail Tour (4 days)
- Sacred Inca Trail Tour (2 days)
- Alternative Inca Trail Tour (4 or 5 day)
There are however many other variations that go from the luxury Inca Trail tours, offering gourmet cuisine cooks, massage therapists guides, and other goodies along the trip, to the one that is very slow paced version with several stops for the not-so-prepared hikers.
There are several local tour agents in Cusco, and also national tour agents that offer this adventure and will allow you to book your inka trail roue they offer in advance.
The Inca Trail Experience
Through this hiking tour to Machu Picchu you will live the thrill of passing through an ancient path surrounded by much mysticism and experience spectacular mornings devoted to nature in the deep clear blue sky of the day and majestic heaven full of stars.
The beginning of this path is full of excitement and adventure for the traveler, who will be have the chance to live the same experiences that once lived the Incas in those early years that are now only described in the history books.
Depending on the format of the tour that you choose, you will go through different ruins, inca an pre-inca, that will fill you spirit of adventure (Qoriwayrachina, Llactapata, Runkuracay, Phuyupatamarca, Intipaka, Intipunku, Wiñaywayna, Chachabamba), cross the Urubamba river, place where the Amazonas river feeds and starts, always surrounded by an spectacular landscape.
Highly recommended is to see the sunrise over Machu Picchu from the Intipunku (Gate of Sun) that welcomes visitors with the first light of dawn to replenish the body and sould of energy, and marvel with the melodies produced by waterfalls found along the route.
Inca Trail Passes and Quota
Something you should know is that the number of passes to walk the Inca Trail are limited to 500 per day (200 tourists approximately and 300 people as porters), and it is not possible to make the journey on an individual basis or hiring a guide. If you wish to travel to Machu Picchu with the Inca Trail, it is indispensable to book in advance using a recommended Cusco travel agency.
During the high season (May to September) it is advisable to book at least 3 months advance to avoid inconveniences. You should know that permits are sold only once and after all quotas have been reserved; no operator can sell you a Tour to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail. There is no system or “waiting list”. All passes are personal and non-transferable, even if someone cancels no one else can take that space.
Also in low season you should book in advance, and remember that the Inca Trail is closed in February of each year for maintenance.
Remember that no children under 10 years age are allowed on the Inca Trail.