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Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or Inca Trail Hike – No hike in the world can be compared to the beauty that can only be seen in the Inca Trail 4 days. Besides the pleasant experience of living together with local people (porters) and tourists from different countries that you meet, at the end of the inca trail hike, you will feel very satisfied with every single step you walked along the Inca Trail 4 days. Those steps will lead you to your final dream destination, the majestic Machu Picchu, a memory you will treasure forever.

Inca Trail

Credits: Westfale

Location

Where is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu located?

The starting point of the Inca Trail 4 days and 3 nights Network is located in the Piscacucho km 82 community, in the district of Ollantaytambo, province of Urubamba.

inicio del camino inca

Credits: Salkantay Trek

Altitude

What is the altitude of the Inca Trail Hike?

Along the trek, you will walk through different terrains, and experience diverse microclimates and altitudes. All of these factors contribute to the great biodiversity that is unique to this area.

  • Lowest altitude is 2050 m / 6561 ft – Aguas Calientes town (last day)
  • Highest altitude is 4200 m / 13779 ft – Warmiwañusca Pass or Dead Woman’s Pass (second day)
camino inca

Credits: Pinkitron

Climate

What is the Climate Like in the Inca Trail?

Cusco has two distinct seasons: dry and rainy. However, in these two seasons, you can experience the different microclimates of each town. The microclimate varies according to the altitude you are at.

Having that said, you will notice that the climate in Machu Picchu and along the way varies. You will hike from an altitude of 2050 m.a.s.l. to 4200 m.a.s.l.

Rainy season: From November to April. During this time Cusco receives a greater amount of rainfall. Average daytime temperatures are higher than the dry season at 23 °C while night temperatures can be as cold as 6 °C. Likewise, Annual rainfall is 160 mm. During these months, it is cloudy and humidity can reach 91%.

Dry season: From May to October. Days are bright and sunny with a temperature of 22 °C (61 °F) while nights are much colder sometimes with a low temperature of 0 °C. Likewise, Annual rainfall is 60 mm. It is sunny with a clear sky and 70% of humidity.

inca trail 4 days

Credits: Juan Olivella

Tourist Attractions - Inca Trail

Tourist Attractions along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Classic 4 day/ 3 night Inca Trail hike includes beautiful places. Among the tourist attractions, we can name archaeological remains and natural areas that are found on the route.

  • Piskacucho 2720m / 8923ft:

The Piscacucho community or better known 82 kilometer, is located next to the rail to Aguas Calientes. Here is where the famous 4 day/3 night Inca Trail to Machu Picchu starts.

  • Llactapata 2850 m / 9350 ft:

The name of the Archeological Center of Llactapata comes from two Quechua words: Llaqta = Town, Pata = Elevated place. It is an Incan town located at the confluence of the rivers Cusichaca and Urubamba. Llactapata consists of constructions with different well defined sectors such as: Enclosures, terraces, plazas, staircases, channels, etc. This archeological site shouldn’t be confused with the one that has the same name and that you can visit on the Salkantay trek, which was a ceremonial center.

  • Wayllabamba (1st campsite) 3000m / 9842ft:

Wayllabamba comes from Quechua words and means ‘grassy plain’. It is here where you will camp on the first day. There is a village nearby where travelers can mingle with local villagers. You can see a few dispersed houses, terraces and an old aqueduct and channels that trace back to the Inca period. This small village is located at the confluence of the river Cusichaca and Llullucha stream (or Hatun Wayruro).

  • Ayapata 3300 m / 10829 ft:

This place shows a flat area which serves as a resting place. From this point, you can appreciate the impressive Andean Mountains and the beginning of the micro climates and ecosystem.

  • Llulluchapampa 3800 m / 12460 ft:

This point is a clear proof of the steep climb ahead. The reason for the name is thanks to the Llullucha stream that flows along the Inca Trail. Along the way, you will observe the great variety of the flora and fauna, and the charm birds chirping. Llulluchapampa is the last place where you can buy supplies for the rest of the Inca Trail.

  • 1st Warmiwañusca Pass 4200 m / 13779 ft:

This is the first mountain pass that tourists walk through on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and it is the highest point along the hike. Its name comes from two Quechua words that means “Dead Woman”. It is a high Andean zone from which you can observe a magnificent and diverse landscape. Although the climb to the steep summit requires a great effort, it is worth it for the incredible view and feeling of achievement of the high altitude.

  • Pacaymayu (2nd campsite) 3580 m / 11700 ft:

It is here where you camp on the second day. Getting to this campsite is a great achievement because of the strenuous up and down mountains you will hike through. You can appreciate a more diverse ecosystem here since it is the beginning of the jungle side with more vegetation and wildlife.

  • Runkuracay 3680 m / 12073 ft:

It is an Incan archeological site. Its name comes from Quechua words that means “Abandoned or collapsed house”. The Archeological Site of Runkuracay is located in the mountain with the same name. This archeological site consists of semicircular construction, with a main square and other facilities that surround the construct such as niches, recesses, and trapezoidal doors.

  • 2nd Runkuracay Pass 4000 m / 13779 ft:

It is at a very short distance of the archeological center. This is the second Mountain pass that you will walk through. Although the climb to this point is not very steep, the high altitude is. From this point, you can observe the Sayacmarka viewpoint, Archeological site of Runkuracay and Cochapata lagoon.

  • Sayacmarka 3650 m / 12000 ft:

This archeological site is considered an Incan fortress and the name comes from Quechua words that means “Inaccessible town” due to its location. Its stone architecture is magnificent and is seen in all the area. You can find the temple of the Sun, food storage rooms, and a residential area. There is a complex ingenious irrigation system.

  • Chaquicocha 3600 m / 11800 ft:

Here you can find the Chaquicocha lagoon which means “Dry Lagoon” and it is here where you can rest. From this point, you can observe the change in the ecosystem that is the beginning of the tropical forest. Near the area, you can find an Incan tunnel that takes you to the other side to continue with the hike.

  • 3rd Phuyutupamarca Pass 3680 m / 12073 ft:

Third and last Mountain pass that you will hike through in the Inca Trail. The Archeological Site of Phuyupatamarca is located here. Phuyupatamarca comes from the Quechua words and means “The City Above the Clouds”. This is because it is surrounded by clouds. It has a great amount of enclosures and a sophisticated retaining wall structure since it is located on the steepest side of the mountain.

  • Intipata 2800 m / 9270 ft:

This archeological site is a set of Inca platforms and enclosures that keeps harmony with the surrounding. The terraces of considerable size allow the development of large-scale agriculture and were built to prevent erosion of the Mountain.

  • Wiñay Huayna (3rd campsite) 2680 m / 8792 ft:

A magnificent archeological site that is on the mountain slope. Its name comes from Quechua words that means “Forever Young”. You can notice that this site was a small town for its constructions. There is a main yard surrounded by terraces that were used for agricultural purposes and also as retaining walls. This is just a magic and historical place.

  • Inti Punku 2730 m / 8956 ft:

Site used as the entrance door to Machu Picchu citadel during the Inca time. Its name comes from the Quechua words and means “Sun gate”. It consists of enclosures with windows and a main door. From this point, you can have the first and amazing view of Veronica snow capped mountain and Machu Picchu citadel.

  • Machu Picchu elevation 2400 m / 7873 ft:

The name of the impressive Machu Picchu Inca citadel comes from the Quechua words and means “Old Mountain” and it is the last destination of most hikes. It surprises the visitor with the greatness of its architecture and engineering. The architecture of its buildings is unique. You can observe: the religious enclosures, enclosures for the Inca and the urban area. The other area is for the agriculture in which you can notice the terraces on the slopes of the mountain that also work as retaining walls. There is an irrigation system with aqueducts in the whole citadel.

  • Aguas Calientes 2050 m / 6561 ft:

Town located at the Urubamba riverside. It is the main access to Machu Picchu travel. Here you can the railway and the hot springs of Aguas Calientes. There is also a craft market. The weather is warm and humid since it is located in the Eyebrow of the Jungle.

Itinerary

4 Day/3 Night Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Itinerary

Introduction

For many years the ‘Inca Trail’ or ‘Qhapaq Ñan’ has been given great importance for its history and cultural richness, making it one of the best treks worldwide. There is no doubt that the Incas’ purpose was to connect Machu Picchu with Cusco, the Inca Empire capital city.

The Inca Trail Hike is not the same as the great Qhapaq Ñan network that extended through different South American countries. Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu only covers an area of 42 km.

Although it is only 42 km, you can appreciate a variety of exotic flora and unique wildlife as well as fascinating archeological constructions from the start point.

inca trail hike

Inca Trail Map

Day 1: Piscacucho – Wayllabamba (12 km)

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu adventure starts in Cusco city, from where we will drive to the start point known as km 82. On day 1, you will visit some archeological sites such as Patallacta. The hike will be easy since most of the area is flat.

Patallacta archeological site, built at the foot of a mountain, was an important administrative, economic, and religious center. We will also visit Willkarakay, an Inca military site located near the Patallacta zone. Our staff will wait for us with lunch ready in Tarayoc.

Then we will head to Wayllabamba valley, walking along the Cusicacacha riverside (the happy river). You will observe Inca terraces that belonged to the archeological sites mentioned earlier. 

Finally we will arrive at the campsite located in Wayllabamba, where we will have dinner and rest. 

Lodging: Wayllabamba Campsite

Hiking Distance – 12km / 7.45 miles

  • From Km 82 to Tarayoc (site for lunch), it takes 2 hours and a half.
  • From Tarayoc to Wayllabamba (1st campsite), it takes 2 hours

Level Difficulty: Moderate

Day 2: Wayllabamba – Pacaymayu (11 km)

We will wake up early in the morning to have enough time for all the activities during this day. The highest point of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is Warmiwañusca Pass (Dead woman’s Pass).

The morning hike is intense and physically demanding, especially for those who aren’t used to high altitudes. Therefore, it is highly recommended training yourself from 3 to 4 months before coming to Cusco.

On the first part of day 2, we will walk through a dense Andean forest for about an hour and a half until we get to the campsite zone named “Three Stones”, a place where we will take a brief break.

As we keep hiking up, the ecosystem of the area starts changing. When we get into the inter-andean forest, we will observe the great amount of Uncas trees, which are unique in the area. After two hours of hiking, we will arrive in Llulluchapampa, where we will take a break and have some snacks and hot drinks. From this point, we will start our last hike up to Warmihuañusca Pass, at 4200 meters (13779 ft). Once there, you will have fantastic panoramic views of the surrounding valley. Later, we will go downhill until our campsite in Pacaymayu. It will take some hours to get there. When we finally arrive, we will have dinner and sleep.

Lodging: Pacaymayu Campsite

Hiking Distance – 11km / 6.83 miles

  • From Wayllabamba to Llulluchapampa (site for lunch), it takes 3 hours
  • From Llulluchapampa to Pacaymayu (2nd campsite), it takes 4 hours

Level Difficulty: Challenging

Day 3: Pacaymayu – Wiñayhuayna (15 km)

We will start the day drinking a cup of hot tea. Then, we will hike up for approximately 50 minutes until we get to the Archeological site of Runkurakay, located mid-mountain. In old times, it was a resting site. Another 45-minute hike up will take us to the second highest pass of the Inca Trail called Runkurakay (4000 m/ 13123 ft). Then, we will go downhill. It takes 35 minutes to get to the attractive archeological site of Sayacmarca. Here we will have a detailed visit to the site, we will continue the hike on a paved path until we arrive at the Chaquicocha site, where we will have lunch.

After lunch, we will go through the high zone of the cloudy Andean forest, a wonderful manifestation of nature’s beauty. Here the Andean foothills are narrow until Phuyupatamarca Pass (3680 m/ 12073 ft). This is a viewing area from which you can observe the Sacred Valley and many mountain peaks as well as our final destination, Machu Picchu.

From this place, we will head to our last campsite. We will go downhill, passing through Intipata, a temple designated for offerings in honor of the sacred mountain spirits. You can also observe terraces for agricultural purposes. A bit further is our campsite which is located in the wonderful Wiñayhuayna area, last campsite of our trek to our dream destination, Machu Picchu.

Lodging: Wiñayhuayna Campsite

Hiking Distance – 16 km / 9.94 miles

  • From Pacaymayu to Chaquicocha (site for lunch), it takes 4 hours
  • From Chaquicocha to Wiñay huayna (3rd campsite), it takes 4 hours

Level Difficulty: Formidable

Day 4: Wiñayhuayna – Machu Picchu (5 km)

This is the most important day since we will hike the last part of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The path will take us to Inti Punku or “Sungate”. It is the main entrance to Machu Picchu citadel. The path is easy and takes one hour walking to get there. It is located in a strategic place from which you can observe Machu Picchu citadel and, with some luck, the sunrise in the Andes.

After a 45-minute downhill hike, we will arrive in the high part of Machu Picchu. You will be able to take a group picture of the famous and classic  view of the site that many tourists have photographed. You will head to the main entrance to register and reenter the site to have your guided tour of the citadel and learn more about this magical and beautiful culture that Incas and our ancestors have left us.

To end with the tour, we will take the bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes. In this town, you will meet with your guide and have lunch. The guide will hand your train tickets to return to Cusco. Finally you will take the train back to Ollantaytambo. It is here where we will pick you up and take you to Cusco in our private van.

Hiking Distance – 5km / 3.10 miles

  • From Wiñay Huayna to Machu Picchu, it takes 2 hours

Level Difficulty: Easy

Fauna and Flora

Flora and Fauna in the Inca Trail Hike

The Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu presents a great biological diversity that can be found along the Inca Trail 4 days. In the Inca Trail Hike, you will go through different forests such as tropical rainforest, pluvial tundra, montane forest, subtropical rainforest, very humid forest, tropical páramo.

Regarding the flora, you can find more than 300 different species along the inca trail to machu picchu. For instance, there are more than 300 species. Wildlife in the sanctuary is as wide as the flora since there are more than 400 different species living in distinct altitudes.

Flora

The main species that we can find hiking the scared inca trail 4 days are the following:

  • Molle (Schinus molle)
  • Queñua Trees (Plylepis pauta, P. sericea, P. racemosa y P. peppei)
  • Floripondio (Brugmansia arborea).
  • Yahuarchonka Mount (oenothera rosea).
  • Nicotina Tormentosa or Wooly Ornamental Tobacco (Khamato Solanaceae)
  • Tree-ferns (Cyathea Caracasana).
  • Ayac Zapatilla (Calceolaria Chrysosphaera).
  • Tucnay (Hyptidendron arboreum).
  • Aña Pancu – (Echinopsis Maximiliana).
  • Sunchu (Encelia canescens).
  • Clavel del Aire (Tillandsia Fendleri).
  • Chimpu Chimpu (Fuchsia Boliviana).
  • Achanqaray (Begonia Veitchii – Begoniaceae).
  • Begonia (Begonia bracteosa).
  • Oqa Oqa (Oxalis spiralis).
  • Falso Kion (Hedychium coronarium – zingiberaceae).
  • Morning Glory (Cobaea scandens).

Orchids on the road of Inca trail 4 days:

  • Angulosa Virginalis.
  • Sobralia Dichotoma.
  • Choclo Choclo (Elleanihus Capitatus).
  • Waqanki (Masdevallia Veitchiana) – ‘it has a local legend’.
  • Wiñaywayna (Epidendrum Secundum).
  • Sobralia Virginalis.
  • Trichopilia Frayans.
  • Odontoglossum.
flora de machu picchu

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Fauna

The main species that we can find hiking the sacred inca trail 4 days are the following:

  • Spectacled Bear (tremarctos ornatus): Known as ‘Ukuku’, son of an Inca princess with a bear.
  • Taruka or Deer (mazam chung): elusive animals which are in danger of extinction.
  • Giant otter or River Wolf (lontra longicaudis): can be seen during the rainy season when the river grows.
  • Llama (Lama glama): usually walk around Machu Picchu.
  • Alpaca (Vicugna pacos): another species that lives in Machu Picchu.
  • Andean Jergon (Bothrops andianus): is a gray poisonous snake that mimetize with the environment.
  • Andean frog (Telmatobius): aquatic frog that lives in streams, and springs.

Birds along the inca trail 4 days:

  • Giant Hummingbird (Patagona gigas): the biggest hummingbird.
  • Cock of the Rocks (rupicola peruviana): can be seen on the route from Aguas Calientes to Mandor.
  • Hooded Siskin (Carduelis magellanica): you can observe it on the route and around Llactapata.
  • Black Backed Grosbeak (Pheucticus aueroventris): Bird that can be seen in Machu Picchu and along the inca trail hike.
  • Masked Trogon (Trogon personatus): seen along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
  • Green-tailed Trainbearer (Lesbia nuna): The bill is short and the tail is very long.
  • Blue-and-yellow Tanager (Thraupis bonariensis): seen along the Inca Trail hike.
  • Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus): can be seen in Machu Picchu and at the highest points at the Inca Trail 4 days.
  • Royal Cinclodes (cinclodes aricomae): endemic bird of Peru, located in the Queuñal forest.
  • Torrent Duck (merganetta armata): lives in rushing waters, during the rainy season.
  • Butterflies: SERNANP informs that the 10% of the butterflies of the countries are located in Machu Picchu.
fauna camino inca

Credits: by.ujota

About Machu Picchu

Permits and restrictions in Machu Picchu (Inca Trail 4 days)

Does the 4 day/ 3 night Inca Trail Hike include the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu?

The permits or entrance ticket for the Inca Trail Hike includes the entrance to Machu Picchu citadel, but it does not include the entrance to the extra hikes to the mountains from where you can see the citadel from above.

For example, Huayna Picchu mountain costs $85 USD per person. In case, you want to hike it you have to buy the entrance ticket to the mountain in advance.

inca trail to Machu Picchu

Credits: Ed Porras

How long can you stay in Machu Picchu in the inca trail 4 days?

The visiting time in Machu Picchu citadel is an average of 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. This is enough time to visit the main circuit that includes the most important sites of the historical sanctuary.

Once the guided tour is over, you won’t have much time to visit the site on your own. However, if you have bought the entrance tickets for either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, the extra hikes, you will have the chance to enter the site a second time.

Huayna Picchu: Average time of the hike is 1 hour and 45 minutes roundtrip. The climb is steep and has small stairs. Therefore, this extra hike is not recommendable for children.

Machu Picchu Mountain: Average time of the hike is 2 hours and a half roundtrip. This extra hike is more recommendable for people who travel with children.

Where can I leave my belongings while I do the tour of Machu Picchu?

When you arrive in Intipunku, you won’t be able to access Machu Picchu citadel with all your belongings. First, you have to head to the entrance door of the Historical Sanctuary.

Keep in mind the restrictions to enter Machu Picchu. Among them, we can mention one that prohibits backpacks weighing more than 8 kg or exceeding the maximum dimensions of 40 x 35 x 20 cm. So, you may wonder where you can leave them?

The government has established a place where you can store your belongings without paying for this service. There is another place where you can leave your belongings, but it has a cost of S/ 5.00 per person. Most visitors prefer the second option. They feel that paying guarantees more security than the free option. However, both places are adequate for leaving your belongings.

NOTE: Both storages are located at the entrance of Machu Picchu.

Inca Trail Hike and Machu Picchu Regulations

Something important that any traveler must be aware of is the regulations of the Inca Trail to machu picchu that entities such as SERNANP and DDC-Cusco have established in order to preserve the route. Therefore, we will mention some of the main regulations to hike the Inca Trail 4 days.

  • You aren’t allowed to hike the Inca Trail Hike on your own. To hike the Inca Trail 4 days, you need to hire the service of a licensed tour operator.
  • You can’t buy the permits on your own. Only licensed tour operators can get the tickets for you.
  • Groups shouldn’t exceed 16 tourists. If they are more than 10 people in the group, there must be an extra assistant.
  • Permits have to be bought in advance since there are limited spots. You can’t buy permits at the checkpoint. 
  • It is not permitted to camp at unauthorized sites.
  • Waste is discarded at the end of the hike.
  • Drones and tripods aren’t allowed.
  • Firearms and hunting and fishing gear are prohibited.
  • Don’t bring alcoholic beverages, stimulants, psychotropics, and other drugs.

Above all, It is important to be aware of these regulations and follow them. If not, park rangers will approach you and you will receive a fine for any damage caused.

About the hike

What you need to know about the Inca Trail 4 days

Restriction on the age limit for the Inca Trail 4 days

Actually, there is no government restriction on the age limit for the inca trail to machu picchu. However, because of the challenging trek, we consider it to be best for visitors above 15 years old to 55-year-old adults. Of course, they must be in good physical condition. 

Certainly, In case a child travels with you, you may need to hire the service of a personal porter who will assist your child along the hike and carry his backpack. 

Above all, Adults over 55 years old, should have hiking experience and be in good health condition. This way, they will be able to arrive in Machu Picchu safely.

How long before should I book the Inca Trail to machu picchu?

Likewise, anyone who wants to secure his permits of inca trail 4 days must book it in advance. It is wiser to book it at least 5 – 6 months in advance. As a result, permits are sold fast especially for months of the dry season.

TIn addition, the months of high season, where tickets are sold fast, are May, June, and July; then, April, March, and August, followed by September and October.

Inca Trail hike Training (physical condition)

Most importantly, Training in advance is the key to succeed on hiking the Inca Trail to machu picchu. Without it, you may not be able to complete the circuit since the inca trail 4 days presents different types of terrain which go from easy to challenging levels to finally arriving in Machu picchu.

So, performing some activities at home or at the gym will make the difference. You can do activities that make the legs, arms, heart and back work. Consequently, when you start the Inca Trail, your body won’t struggle at the difficult parts; instead, you will be better prepared and, as a result, enjoy the view more. It is recommendable to start training at least 3 or months before your travel date.

Likewise, breathing exercises can strengthen chest muscles and make breathing easier during the inca trail to machu picchu. This way, high altitude won’t be a problem for you, not even the 4200 m.a.s.l., which is the highest point of the inca trail 4 days you will be at.

How long before the inca trail hike should I arrive in Cusco? (Acclimatization)

We highly recommend arriving some days before you start the inca trail 4 days inca trail to machu picchu. This will help you acclimatize to the altitude of Cusco gradually (3400 m.a.s.l.). Depending on your availability, you can stay one or more days in Lima.

Otherwise, arriving 2 or 3 days in advance in Cusco will be enough to acclimate. Take advantage of these days visiting sites around the city as long as they are not challenging.

How to prevent and cope with altitude sickness?

Most likely, you will experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness in Cusco. If you live in a place that’s located at a moderately high altitude, you get used to the air pressure. But if you travel to a place at a higher altitude, say above 2,500 meters (8,000 ft), your body will need time to adjust to the change in pressure. Some of the symptoms tourists usually have are headache, shortness of breath, nausea, among others. 

There is no need to worry since symptoms usually come on within 12 to 24 hours of reaching a higher elevation and then get better within a day or two as your body adjusts to the change in altitude.

Note the following tips that can help you cope with altitude sickness:

  • Drink lots of water.
  • Abstain from drinking alcohol on the first day in Cusco.
  • Don’t eat red meat the first days.
  • Eat fruits or mild soups.
  • Coca tea is completely safe to drink and a cup or two each day can ease altitude symptoms. Just remember coca is a mild stimulant so don’t go over the top and drink cup loads.

What is the condition of the restrooms and showers of the campsites of inca trail 4 days?

There are different kinds of campsites each night. That is to say, some of them don’t have restrooms and showers. Having that said, we will mention what you will have at each of the most popular campsites:

Wayllabamba (1st campsite):

  • There are bathrooms that belong to the local people who rent them to the tourists. They cost S/ 1.00 to S/ 2.00.
  • No showers

Pacaymayu (2nd campsite):

  • There are bathrooms and showers with cold water. Since they are property of SERNANP, they are free.

Wiñayhuayna (3rd campsite):

  • There are free restrooms.
  • There are no showers, but there is one at a long distance of the campsite. However, it is not free and there are lots of people in line waiting to use it. It costs from S/ 15.00 to S/ 20.00, not a reasonable price.

So, If you are traveling with a tourist agency, there is no need to worry about the restrooms. The tourist agency will carry portable toilets. Some of the porters will carry the portable toilets that tourists will use. At this point, you may wonder who carries the waste of the toilets. If so, you should know that since waste can’t be thrown along the inca trail hike, porters carry this type of waste in special bags.

Is there drinking water along Inca Trail hike?

There is no drinking water in Inca Trail 4 days. Normally, some agencies provide boiled water at the campsites. You need to bring a camelback or water bottle which will be refilled.

Therefore, this will be provided on the day agreed with the agency you have hired which can be since the second or third day. It is also recommendable to bring pills or water purification bottles, ultraviolet water purifiers, portable suction filter or portable filtration pump. This way, you could drink water from the rivers and streams.

Could I buy bottled water or snacks in the trail?

You can buy them at some points of the area, from day 1 to day 3 (Phuyupatamarca). However, you will notice that they cost a bit more than in the city. And with all reason since it implies a great effort to take these products from the city to these areas not only it is expensive but also challenging for the altitude.

Certainly, some agencies include all services (such as snacks) in the total cost of the tour. However, doing so, they don’t allow tourists to contribute to local small businesses. You should know that tourism is a form of economic growth for families that live in the high Andean regions where the main activity is agriculture.

Tips to book the Inca Trail

How to book the Inca Trail 4 days?

Choosing the right tour operator for inca trail hike

To start, you should know that there are hundreds of licensed tour operators that can take you on the Inca Trail. However, not all of them offer a high-quality service or provide all the equipment needed for the inca trail to machu picchu.

Therefore, we recommend doing some research about the best tour operators in Cusco. Being well informed will prevent from being tricked by unscrupulous agencies.

One way to find the perfect agency for you is by asking relatives or travelers for recommendations. You can check their posts and reviews on different traveling websites. You can also check different online platforms such as:

Highly Recommended Tour Operator

Online platforms

In addition, Most of these platforms often show reasonable prices and offers from the most well known tour operators. They also include itineraries, packages of many days. You will definitely find one that meets all your needs and suits your plans.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Availability

There are limited spots for the Inca Trail, only 500 spots. These spots are not only for tourists but for guides, porters, chefs, assistants who will assist you along the inca trail to machu picchu. This means that about 230 spots are for the staff mentioned and only 270 spots are available for tourists.

Before booking your tour with any licensed tour operator, make sure there are spots available for your desired date. Otherwise, you won’t be able to do Inca Trail 4 days. Remember that permits are sold fast.

Certainly, You can do the Inca Trail from March to January, but due to maintenance of the Inca Trail network. This is organized by the competent authorities.

Required documentation for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

To hike the fantastic Inca Trail4 days, you need to bring your personal identification documents. The names in the permits must match the information in your documents. Therefore, make sure you provide accurate information to the agency you are booking the tour with. If the information is not accurate, you won’t be able to do the Inca Trail hike:

  • Valid original Passport
  • Identity card
  • National Identity card (DNI)
  • Student card (if you want a discount)

You must bring with you any of these personal documents that you used at the moment of booking. Otherwise, you won’t be able to do the Inca Trail 4 days. Make sure you have your personal documents with you all the time. Put them in a safe place before and during the inca trail hike.

Note: If you have updated your passport some days prior the trek, you have to let the agency know and ask them to update the new information. If possible, bring both the old and new passports. You should also send a copy of both the old and new passports to the agency.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Discounts

Certainly, There is a small discount that the Culture Ministry gives to minors or students who have a valid student card. A student card is considered valid if it shows the following features:

  • PVC Material 
  • Name of the university
  • Full name
  • Student photo
  • Birthdate
  • Expiration date, which has to be the year that the student visits Machu Picchu (NOT a year early or later to the visit date) 

Note: To apply for the students discount, you shouldn’t be over 25 years old.

Chefs and Porters

Staff – Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Chefs and Porters

Who are the porters of the inca trail hike?

Porters are humble people who live in the high Andean area of Cusco. In their communities, they raise domestic animals and are dedicated to agriculture. Therefore, It is common to see locals trading their products with people from nearby. Those are their main source of income for most families.

Who carries the equipment and cooks during the Inca Trail hike?

Most of the well known agencies provide everything you need for the hike. Consequently, the porters are the ones who carry all the things needed for the adventure. These things include cooking utensils, tents, food supplies, chairs, among others.

The tents will be set once you arrive at each campsite. Porters will arrive earlier than you and set everything for you can rest during the inca trail hike. This way, you will have one less thing to worry about and have a pleasant resting time.

If you are carrying some of your personal belongings such as your own camping equipment, it will be you who sets everything up after a tiring day.

Why do you need porters in the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

There is a big difference when you are in charge of carrying all your camping equipment than having the help of porters. Some agencies don’t include the service of a personal porter as part of the inca trail 4 days tour. However, you can add that extra service on the briefing day.

We sincerely believe that it is much better to have some help during the hike. This way, you will enjoy the view more and won’t be concerned about the milles you still have to walk along the inca trail to machu picchu.

Porters Law of inca trail to machu picchu

As time went by, the respective authorities as the Peruvian government have been implementing new regulations on the porters rights. These regulations were established due to the constant mistreatment of porters by tour operators which made porters work under outrageous conditions.

In 2019 some changes were applied to articles of the Nº 27607 porters law, article 6 to be precise. This article states that the minimum payment that a porter receives must be equivalent to 1.6% of a UIT for 8 working hours.

The porter of inca trail hike who also is the chef should receive 25% more of the minimum payment.

Tour operators that don’t follow these regulations will be fined.

Porter weight limit for the inca trail 4 days

According to the Porters Law – Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Nº 27607, article 3rd, the weight has been limited to 20kg. This includes a 5kg personal allowance. 

When the porter is a woman, the weight limit will be reduced according to the regulations, including the 5kg of personal belongings.

All the supplies must be provided by the agency and guarantee their use. Of course, in case there is any change, it must be informed and agreed by both the employer and employee. The following are the things that each porter should receive for the inca trail 4 days.

  • Food supplies
  • Clothing 
  • Camping equipment
  • Transportation
  • Life insurance

Food and camping equipment for porters of inca trail hike

Most importantly, Not all the agencies offer porters a dignified treatment along the inca trail 4 days. This means that they don’t provide food and good camping conditions for porters. Some agencies give porters the tourists’ leftovers.

Many porters and chefs carry all the camping equipment and cooking utensils and just look forward to resting at the end of the day. Fortunately,  thanks to the support and complaints of the visitors, this has been changing and improving over the years.

How can you help the porters of the inca trail 4 days?

The most important is to hire the service of tour agencies that look after their porters. You can testify how the agency you have chosen treats their porters since the first day and along the inca trail hike. So, check if they have proper outfit and if at campsites they receive quality meals. A good way to interact with them is by engaging in a conversation. Likewise, You can ask about their history and legend of the town or the importance of coca in their culture.

Don’t wait for them to start the conversation since they are shy and speak Quechua and Spanish. Some tourists also give some personal help for the porters such as clothes, shoes, or any kind of support. Porters of inca trail to machu picchu will definitely appreciate the kind gesture.

How much should you tip porters of inca trail hike?

This is a common question tourists often ask. They want to be sure they are giving a fair tip and take enough money with them. Most tourists would like to show their gratitude for the effort porters and guide make on the strenuous inca trail 4 days inca trail hike.

The tips collected from the tourists are given to the chef who will distribute them among the porters. 

If you feel a certain porter has worked harder or has done something special for you, you can tip him personally. This way you can make sure he receives what he deserves. Sometimes the distributed tips are not equitable. Another thing you have to consider giving a reasonable tip for the inca trail 4 days. If you give more than expected, the risk is that porters would splurge it. Therefore, resist the urge to over-tip.

Note that tips are NOT mandatory. The amount of money you are willing to give should be based on the service you have received along the inca trail to machu picchu. It can be classified as bad, regular or good. Each person in the group can contribute between S/40 and S/60 for the porter and double for the chef, which can be S/120. The chef receives double since he has to carry food ingredients and prepare the meals, which are well elaborated and marvel tourists.

Likewise, Something that encourages porters to go ahead with their hard work are the words of gratitude and motivation that tourists give them. So, feel free to say something positive.

Recommended Equipment

Recommended Equipment for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Agencies which offer you a complete service provide certain equipment facilities. On the briefing day, you will be given a duffel. The duffel is especially designed to carry up to 6 kg of your personal items. Therefore, Note that the duffels should include the weight of the sleeping bag, thermal insulation, and personal items for the inca trail 4 days. That is to say, We recommend packing light, only the most essential things.

What should you pack for the Inca Trail hike?

Consequently, We will share some tips on what to pack for this incredible adventure in the jungle of Cusco with the inca trail 4 days. Note that since your personal items will be carried by the porters, you will have access to them at the campsites. Find here the recommended pack size for inca trail 4 days.

  • 4 or 5 short or long sleeved polo shirts
  • 3 or 4 trekking pants
  • 4 sets of underwear
  • 4 or 5 pairs of socks
  • Windbreak
  • 1 warm jacket
  • 1 rain jacket  or rain poncho
  • Gloves, scarf and a beanie
  • Hats for the sun
  • Trekking shoes / An extra pair of shoes (if they get wet)
  • Toiletries
  • Some snacks
  • Airtight Plastic bags (to organize your clothes)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Portable device battery charger

What should I carry inside my backpack of inca trail hike?

Moreover, inside your backpack you should carry the following items that are essential for the inca trail 4 days inca trail to machu picchu:

  • Pocket flashlight with spare batteries
  • Water purification tablets
  • Snacks (dried fruits, candy, chocolate, etc.)
  • Bandana 
  • Rain Poncho (NOT an umbrella)
  • Hat for the sun
  • Ear plugs
  • Some cash
  • Personal Documentation
  • Music (to listen along the hike)
  • Plastic bag for waste

What toiletries to bring to inca trail hike?

Most importantly, You need to bring the following items since you won’t find them along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu:

  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Alcohol gel
  • Toilet paper
  • Wet wipes
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Sanitary pads or tampons.
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Sunscreen (FPS 60+)
  • Face moisturizer

How to know you have the exact weight for the inca trail hike?

Above all, It is important to know the allowed weight for the hike not only to avoid an extra payment but also to help porters carry the adequate amount of weight.

Likewise, We recommend weighing your things before traveling to inca trail 4 days. Most hotels have scales to weigh your backpack. You can ask your tourist agency to lend you a scale and weigh your backpack.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

What is the best time to do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

The best season to do the Inca Trail hike is during the dry season. However, you should know that whether you come in the dry or rainy season, it will have advantages and disadvantages.

  • If you do the Inca Trail from November to January, you won’t see as many tourists as during the other months. This is because the rainy season starts in November.
  • If you do the Inca Trail from May to August, you will notice crowds of people, which means you won’t have that much privacy. However, the weather is pleasant and there is no rain.

Tips: It is important to pack light and consider the climate of the time of the year you are coming to do the inca trail 4 days. If it is during the rainy season, you need to buy a rain poncho and bring a raincoat. Wear always sunscreen no matter the time of the year.

Do you need travel insurance to go to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

Although, it is not mandatory to have travel insurance to do the hike Inca Trail 4 days, we highly recommend getting one. This way you can prevent any inconvenience that can happen during your trip such as a flight delay, strikes in the country or city, a natural disaster, or getting sick during the inca trail hike.

To sum up, You should know that getting sick in Peru may be a bit more expensive than other countries. So, Getting travel insurance will make you feel more secure. Insurance companies normally charge you from 100 to 150 US Dollar. Here you have a list of some insurance companies:

  • Assist card
  • World nomads
  • Berkshire Hathaway Inc (a leading company in the U.S)
  • Allianz (the biggest insurance company in Germany and Europe)
  • Ping An (a leading company in China)
  • Metlife (well known in Europe and Spain)
  • Berkley International
  • Liberty Insurance

Is there Internet connection or electricity at the campsites of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

During the inca trail 4 days, you will not have Internet connection. Therefore, using a cellphone or any electronic device is not convenient in most places.

To keep in contact with the administrators of the tourist agency and inform them in case of a problem, or to check something important, we use radios or satellite phones. 

  • First and Fourth day: you will have internet connection.
  • Second day: there is no internet connection.
  • Third day afternoon: there is internet connection.

However, you will have internet connection at the campsite in Wayllabamba on day 1, it has a cost of 5 to 10 soles ($2 or $30) per hour. You will also have internet connection at the campsite of Phuyupatamarca until you arrive in Machu Picchu, and you will be able to make calls, too. The telephone operators that have better signal are CLARO and BITEL. Other telephone operators don’t have good signals along the inca trail hike, but once you arrive in Aguas Calientes town, you will be able to communicate with your family or friends.

Can I take all my luggage with me for the inca trail to machu picchu?

There is no need to bring all your luggage to the Inca Trail Hike. You should only take the most essential things you will use during the inca trail 4 days. You should pack light and organize the clothes you will wear each day of the hike. Don’t forget to bring an extra pair of shoes, raincoat, a hat, among others.

Packing light allows porters to follow the weight limit regulation. It also shows you are considerate of the effort they will do carrying all your staff. You will be given a duffel where you will put all your belongings for the inca trail to machu picchu.

Can I hire a personal porter for inca trail hike?

Porters play an important role in the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu. They carry all the necessary implements to make your tour as pleasant as possible. Therefore, without porters, it won’t be possible to get to Machu Picchu. 

Likewise, some Inca Trail tour operators include the service of a personal porter in the total cost of the trek. If you hire an agency which doesn’t include a porter in the cost of the trek, you will have to pay to have one. Next, we will describe how much you will have to pay for the service of a porter. Note the two services of porters we offer you:

Personal Porter: They carry from 5kg to 8kg, the extra cost is USD$ 80.00 per person.

Full Porter: They carry from 10kg to 16kg, the extra cost is USD$ 160.00 per person.

What are the meals like in the Inca trail to Machu Picchu?

Most agencies include food in the total cost of inca trail hike. They offer a buffet menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Therefore, Each meal consists of a 3 menu selection that each tourist can choose from.

If you have any dietary restrictions, you have to inform the travel agent, or the guide on your briefing day at the latest. This way, the chef can make any adjustment on the menu for you. We cater to vegetarians, vegans and any food allergies for the inca trail to machu picchu.

How much extra money do I need to take with me for the Inca Trail?

For any additional expenses that you may have during the inca trail to machu picchu, you need to have some extra cash in the local currency which is Soles peruanos. For example, you may need to buy a bottle water, cookies, or other snacks, toilet paper, etc. Note that locals only accept Soles Peruanos.

We recommend bringing between S/ 400 – S/ 500 per person. You may wonder why you need to bring more money if everything is included. If that is your case, you need to read the services you have hired carefully, what is or is not included for the inca trail hike. Certainly, some agencies don’t provide water on the first and second day, or lunch on the fourth day and tips for the porters of the inca trail 4 days.

Do I need to bring trekking poles for the inca trail hike?

You will find the trekking poles very useful since they provide 2 more points of support which will help you walk safely, especially on steep and rocky slopes or when going downhill.

This trekking equipment used properly will help you keep the balance of your body. That is why we recommend asking your guide for using the trekking poles according to the different types of terrain you will hike through.

Where can you leave the extra luggage that won’t be needed along the inca trail 4 days?

All the extra luggage that you have brought for your trip to Peru can be stored in the storage room of the hotel that you are staying at. Firstly, You should ask the receptionist. In case, the hotel doesn’t have a storage room, you can leave your luggage in the storage room of our agency at no additional cost.

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