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Guide to the Inca Trail

Trekking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu is one of the most iconic and inspiring journeys any adventurer can undertake. The trail itself is a challengi... Read more
Guide to the Inca Trail

Trekking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu is one of the most iconic and inspiring journeys any adventurer can undertake. The trail itself is a challenging and rewarding experience, spanning a distance of approximately 26 miles over rugged terrain and high altitude. However, the journey is not just about physical exertion but also about immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the Andean landscape and discovering the hidden treasures along the way. This trek has so many highlight, but here are some of our favourites:


Stunning scenery

The winding stone Inca trails to Machu Picchu take you through some truly awe inspiring scenery. From the mountain lakes to eucalyptus forests, all the while being surrounded by spectacular towering peaks.


Ancient Ruins

The reward of exploring the ancient Incan ruins is something that inspires most trekkers to dig deep when the going gets tough. The ancient ruins of Machu Picchu are truly incredible but along the way you’ll also have time to explore hidden ruins of places such as Llactapata.




Peru is packed with so much spectacular wildlife. From the playful llamas and alpacas to the Andean condor and the colourful Andean cock-of-the-rock.


Sun Gate of Machu Picchu

Possibly the most iconic spot of Machu Picchu, the Sun Gate offers the perfect place from which to soak in the breathtaking view of this ancient citadel. 


History and Culture

More than just a trek, the Inca trail takes you back in time to a period of an ancient civilisation and immerses you in the ancient, and modern, culture of the Incas and Peruvians today.



What is the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is one of the most iconic and awe-inspiring treks in the world. While there are hundreds of trails used by the Incas there is one that has shone through as the iconic Inca Trial to Machu Picchu. It’s a challenging 26-mile long trek that takes adventurers through the stunning Andean Mountains in Peru, culminating in a visit to the breathtaking Machu Picchu. The trail was created over 500 years ago by the Incas, an ancient civilization that thrived in the Andean region before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. Today, it remains one of the most popular and sought-after treks in the world, attracting thousands of visitors every year. However while many embark on the trek, tight permit restrictions help keep this trail in pristine condition.

This scenic trek offers a unique opportunity to explore not just the natural beauty of the Andes, but also the fascinating history and culture of the Inca people. Along the trail, adventurers can visit ancient ruins, temples, and fortresses, and learn about the advanced civilization that flourished in this region long before the arrival of Europeans.



Where is the Inca Trail?

The Inca Trail is located in Peru, South America. It begins in the Sacred Valley, near the town of Ollantaytambo and ends at the famous Incan citadel of Machu Picchu. The trail winds its way through the Andes mountains, crossing high-altitude passes, lush forests, and ancient Incan ruins along the way.



What is the history of the Inca Trail?

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a journey that is steeped in history and culture. The trail was built by the ancient Incas over 500 years ago and served as a key route for trade and communication within the Incan empire. The trail was also used by pilgrims who travelled to Machu Picchu to pay homage to the sacred site.

The Incas were a highly advanced civilization that thrived in the Andean region of South America before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. They were renowned for their impressive engineering feats, including the construction of intricate road systems and architectural marvels such as Machu Picchu.

Today, the Inca Trail is a popular trekking route that attracts adventurers from all over the world. Along the trail, trekkers can explore the ruins of ancient Incan settlements, including the breath taking citadel of Machu Picchu, which was rediscovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911.



Inca Trail Routes to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail is not a single trail but a network of routes that span the Andean region of Peru. Each route offers a unique experience, varying in length, difficulty, and level of cultural immersion. Here are some of the most popular Inca Trail routes:



Classic Inca Trail

This is the most famous route and typically takes 4 days to complete. It is a challenging trek that takes you through a variety of terrain, from high-altitude passes to lush cloud forests. Along the way, you will encounter Incan ruins and breathtaking views before reaching the iconic Machu Picchu.



Salkantay Trek

This is an alternative route to Machu Picchu that offers a more remote and rugged experience. It takes you through the stunning Salkantay Mountain, reaching altitudes of over 4,600 meters (15,000 feet) before descending into the cloud forest and ending at Machu Picchu.



Choquequirao Trek

This is a challenging and less-travelled route that takes you to the ruins of Choquequirao, another impressive Incan site. It is a longer trek that typically takes around 8 days to complete and is recommended for experienced trekkers.


No matter which route you choose, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will challenge you physically and inspire you culturally.



How much does the Inca Trail cost?

Being so remote, embarking upon an Inca Trail is a real expedition complete with a team of porters and guides. Prices start at around £1,695, going up to £3,795. Within these costs are all meals while trekking and covers your accommodation along the trail. One of the biggest costs included within our prices, is the mandatory permit for the classic route. It is always worth checking what is and isn’t included in any trekking package along the Inca Trial to Machu Picchu.



How long does it take?

The famous direct Inca trail takes just 8 days to trek to Machu Picchu including all the transportation, preparation and acclimatisation, as well of cause time to explore Machu Picchu. However, our longer treks to the lost city of Choquequirao, through the quiet Cordillera Vilcabamba and the luxury Salkantay trek extend your experience to between 10 and 14 days.



How to deal with altitude on the Inca Trail

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is a common ailment that can affect hikers and trekkers on the Inca Trail. However, there are things you can do to help, such as acclimatise before starting the trek, drink plenty of water and take it slow. If at any stage symptoms get worse then reduce your altitude. We recommend you speak to a medical practitioner if you have any questions about altitude sickness.



How difficult is the Inca trail to Machu Picchu?

Our Inca trail treks to Machu Picchu range from moderate to challenging depending on the routes. Not only will you be walking along rocky uneven tracks, in remote locations, but at over 4,000m the altitude and reduced amount of oxygen means the trek is not one to be underestimated.



How to train for trekking the Inca Trail?

To fully enjoy the trail we recommend you do a bit of training before starting the trek. This doesn’t mean 7 days a week in the gym, it could simply start with a bit of walking, getting your body ready for long days on the trail. You can then progress to longer weekend treks and start to carry a backpack. If you have time and availability then other exercises to help strengthen your legs and improve your balance will help increase your chances of making it to the end.



When is the best time of year to take on the Inca Trail?

Choosing the best time of year to trek the Inca Trail can greatly affect your overall experience. While the trail is open all year round, the best time to do the Inca Trail is during the dry season, which runs from May to September.

During this time, the weather is mild and dry which makes for ideal hiking conditions. Trekkers can enjoy clear skies, stunning views of the surrounding mountains and comfortable temperatures during the day and night. Moreover, the dry season also allows for better views of Machu Picchu as there is less chance of fog and mist.

However, keep in mind that the dry season is also the busiest time of year for tourism, which means that permits for the Inca Trail sell out quickly. To secure a spot, it is important to book your trek in advance. Furthermore, the high number of trekkers on the trail during this time can make the experience less serene and tranquil.

If you prefer to avoid the crowds, the shoulder seasons of April and October can also be a good option. These months have fewer tourists, cooler temperatures and less rainfall than the wet season.



What to pack for trekking the Inca Trail?

No specialist climbing equipment is required for taking on the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. When you book we send a detailed packing list of what to include in your luggage. However, much like any high altitude trek in the mountains, there are some basic items to consider.

Think layers, while you’re walking you will warm up, but whenever you stop you can cool down quite quickly and don’t want to be spending too much time putting on a thick jacket, only to take it off in a couple of minutes. Wearing lots of layers allows you to regulate your temperature quickly and easily.

Rain is something that can always happen and you have to be prepared for even just a shower, so make sure you have lightweight waterproof jacket and trousers.

Possibly the most important piece of equipment of all are your boots. Wearing something that is not only comfortable but supportive over the uneven path will help make your experience that little bit better. However, remember to make sure your boots are well worn in to reduce the chances of blisters!

One piece of kit that is entirely optional, but recommended is a swimming costume/shorts for the hot springs at Machu Picchu Pueblo.



Trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a transformative adventure that combines natural wonders with ancient marvels. It is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the wonders of the Andes, connect with history, and create memories that will last a lifetime. So, lace up your boots, embrace the challenge, and embark on an extraordinary journey to the heart of the Inca civilisation. 


If you would you like to know more about any of KE's holidays, then give us a call on +017687 29753 or USA/Canada toll-free 1888 630 4415. You can also email; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can also organise a face-to-face zoom meeting on request. We offer trusted holidays with financial protection and flexible booking conditions.

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