By far the most popular of the Inca trails for trekking is the Capaq Nan trail, known to all as 'The Inca Trail', which leads from the village of Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. There are many well-preserved ruins along the way and housands of travellers from around the world make the three or four-day trek each year. There are few treks in the world that combine natural beauty, history and mystery with such an awe-inspiring final destination.
The most famous Inca path through the Andes is simply known as ‘The Inca Trail’, the royal route to Machu Picchu. Arriving at km82 you'll begin this challenging 44km trail that crosses 3 stunning high passes and weaves between many ancient archaeological sites, culminating at the famous Lost City of the Incas. Your group is led by an expert local guide and supported by a team of porters and cooks, leaving you with only a small day pack to carry. 3 nights are spent camping en route. The trail can be demanding but can be completed by anyone who leads a reasonably active life. Everyone is able to walk at their own pace and there is no rush to finish.
As the second day includes the highest point of the trail, it is physically, the most demanding - but you'll feel a huge sense of achievement when you reach the high point at 4,200m. We stop frequently to investigate the many ruins along the route, taking in the spectacular views along the way.
Before camping for the final night before reaching Machu Picchu, we explore the Winay Winay ruins – a terraced hillside overlooking the valley below and a fantastic entrée to the ruins of Machu Picchu, the so-called "Lost City of the Incas".
Waking early, we complete the final part of the trek prior to dawn. Climbing the steps to the Sun Gate, we all hope for a sunny and clear day ahead. After we have had a guided tour the site, there is ample time to independently explore, before catching the train back to Cuzco this evening.
In order to preserve the Inca Trail and its surrounds, the Peruvian authorities cap the number of Inca Trail permits to 500 per day. This number includes all support staff (ie. porters, cooks and guides) and is very tightly controlled. Once this limit of 500 people is reached, the Trail is effectively closed off for the day and no further bookings can be made. You should aim to book your tour at least 3 - 4 months in advance, particularly if trekking during the peak season from June to September.
When booking your Inca Trail tour with us we’ll need to provide us with:
With this information we can then apply for your Inca Trail Permit. This section of the holiday can not be confirmed until an Inca Trail Permit is obtained. Your permit is linked to your name and passport number which is checked at the start point of the trail and throughout the hike. No modifications to the permit can be made once you have confirmed the above information with us.
When booking your Inca Trail tour with us you will need to pay our standard tour deposit plus a non-refundable Inca Trail Trek deposit (approx US$300). This is not an extra payment and will be deducted from your final tour payment. If you do not want to complete the Machu Picchu trek, you must advise your travel consultant at the time of booking.
The Inca Trail is usually closed each year during the month of February for a cleanup and during this time we offer the beautiful Lares Trek as an alternative. An alternative and easiest way up to Machu Picchu is by train. Click here for more details of the Lares Trek and the train up to Machu Picchu.
All other camping equipment is provided for the Inca Trail excursion. Porters carry the camping gear, food, and a portion of your personal belongings. All you will need to carry is a day-pack, containing waterproof jacket, fleece top, camera, water bottle, snacks, sunscreen, and hat during the hike. Note: If bringing a walking stick, it must be rubber tipped as steel tips are not allowed on the Inca trail.
Porters are allowed to carry no more than 6Kg of personal belongings per hiker. That means that including your sleeping bag, toiletries, clothing, etc... you are allowed a total weight of 6KG for the hike. Any additional weight must then be carried by you in your day pack. To help achieve this goal we recommend that you carry travel sized toiletries, eg. contact lens solution, that you bring sport sandals that can be worn with socks (which are lighter than running/walking shoes) and that you limit electronics such as MP3 players to those that you are willing to carry.
Traversing the Andes mountains and reaching heights of over 5,000 m (16,500 feet) above sea level, the trails connected the regions of the Inca empire from the northern provincial capital in Quito, Ecuador past the modern city of Santiago, Chile in the south.
Because the Incas did not make use of the wheel for transportation, and did not have horses until the arrival of the Spanish in Peru in the 16th century, the trails were used almost exclusively by people walking, sometimes accompanied by pack animals, usually the llama. The trails were used by the Inca people as a means of relaying messages, carried via knotted-cord quipu and by memory; and for transporting goods.