There’s nothing quite like watching mist lift as the lost city of the Incas gradually reveals itself in the dawn glow. The Inca Trail is probably South America’s most iconic trek. Tracing the footsteps of an ancient civilisation, you travel north from the old capital of Cusco through the verdant Sacred Valley and the ruins of Ollantaytambo, then on to the forgotten city of Machu Picchu. It’s a glorious trail, and our friendly Peruvian porters, guides and chefs help make it as fun and comfortable as possible.

Which route is right for you?

Classic Inca Trail

With spectacular natural scenery and opportunities for cultural encounters, the Inca Trail is undoubtedly a beacon of Peru’s trekking scene. While it may attract thousands of avid hikers each year, please be aware that this is no idle Sunday afternoon stroll. The trek is rated moderate, and any reasonably fit person should be able to complete it. But the relentless uphill (and downhill) hiking can be tough going. The fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy it.

Inca Quarry Trail

For something a bit more off the beaten track, consider doing the Inca Quarry Trail. Less established than the Inca Trail, this trek offers the same magical scenery, visits three smaller archaeological sites the other trails don’t, and is less touristy. Another bonus is that it doesn’t require permits – so once you book, you’re set.

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Read more about the Inca Trail 

Best time to visit Machu Picchu

Peru is a year-round destination, but the mountain dry season generally runs from April to October. The nights are milder in these mid-year months, and there are often wild orchids in bloom along the trail. June and July are the most popular, and therefore most crowded, months on the trail. Low cloud cover in winter also means cold nights on the trail – bring some thermals for a good night’s sleep.

Life on the trek

The Inca trail doesn’t have any permanent facilities, but never fear – we travel well prepared. You’ll sleep in modern two-person dome tents on foam sleeping mats, set up by our friendly porters who will also carry your heavier packs. Hot meals will be cooked by our chefs each night to load you up with carbohydrates for the next day’s walking. You’ll also get a bowl of warm water each day to wash with.

Watch Team See Possibilities conquer the Inca Trail

When blind athlete Dan Berlin and his three guides (Alison Qualter Berna, Charles Scott and Brad Graff) decided to run the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in a single day, many people who were familiar with the trail told them it would be impossible – that the altitude, terrain and distance combined would make the task insurmountable.

But with the assistance of Intrepid Travel guide Elyas, Team See Possibilities made it to the Sun Gate just before the cut-off time to carry on to Machu Picchu, and finished their astonishing achievement in 13 hours, making Dan Berlin the first ever blind athlete to complete the entire 26 miles of the Inca Trail in a single day.

 

Responsible trekking

Intrepid Travel is absolutely committed to ensuring the environmental sustainability of the amazing destinations we visit and we take our social responsibilities very seriously. In Peru, we have committed to paying our porters and guides a fair wage and supplying them with the necessary equipment and resources to undertake their work safely. We also support several community initiatives aimed at promoting the long-term sustainability of the region's environment and preserving the traditional cultures of its communities. 

Not the hiking type?

That’s fine, we’re not going to drive you up the mountains with a cattle prod. On every Intrepid trip that includes the Inca Trail, you can always opt out of the hike. Simply pick whichever Peru trip you’re keen on and specify while booking that you’d prefer the train option. There is no extra cost for this, though please note that fees may apply if you decide to change to the train option after your Inca Trail permit has already been purchased. In the time that your group mates are hiking, you will have more time in Cusco to relax and get to know this unique city better, and to explore the Inca relics strewn throughout the Sacred Valley.