An up-and-coming star of the Andes, the Quarry Trail is gaining recognition for its lesser-known ruins and off-the-beaten path cultural interactions.
Hike through the Sacred Valley along a trail etched by the Incas and in local use today. Visit ancient ruins and unravel some of the mysteries of how stone was excavated to build the structures still standing in the nearby town of Ollantaytambo. Pass over mountain peaks and witness spectacular Andean scenery. The bonus of all this is, the Inca Quarry Trail requires no permit to book.
At a glance
Number of ruins
Peak time to trek
Our Quarry Trail tours
Take an epic 51-day South American adventure to Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil via...
Travel from the city sights of Lima through to the vibrant beat of Rio via Machu Picchu...
Take in Lima, Arequipa, the Inca Trail, La Paz, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro on this...
Focus on two of South America's heaviest hitters on this 17-day tour through both the...
Travel to South America, from Lima to Buenos Aires, and Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake...
Explore Peru and Bolivia on this 25-day tour. Travel from Lima to La Paz, tackle the...
See the highlights of Peru from Lima to Cusco including the Nazca Lines, Machu Picchu,...
Travel to Peru and discover it's fascinating landscapes and traditions. Spy wildlife in...
Embark on an immersive 10-day journey through Peru, introducing you to Lima, Cusco, the...
Visit the Sacred Land of the Inca and delight in Peru's culture with 15 days through...
Travel from the heights of the Andes to the exotic Amazon rainforest on this best of...
See Peru in-depth on a 21-day trip from Lima to La Paz. Trek the Inca Trail and marvel...
Visit Peru on this Family Adventure, travelling through Lima, Cusco and Aguas Calientes...
Travel to Peru and retrace the steps of the Inca, Peru's fascinating ancient...
Travel to Peru to discover the Inca, Peru's ancient civilisation. Trek or train to...
Highlights of the Quarry Trail
Cool off in the mist of Perolniyoc Cascade
When hiking the Inca Quarry Trail you can expect to see jaw-dropping mountain views, but this unexpected little stop on the first day brings you to the opening of a pristine waterfall, carrying fresh water down from the mountain. The perfect place for a breather.
Reach new heights at Kuychicassa
Channel your inner mountain goat while tackling Kuychicassa on the second day. At 4,450 metres (14,599 feet), this is the highest pass on the trek. Going up is one thing, but you won’t believe what you’ve scaled once you reach the bottom.
Survey the stunning valley from Inti Punku
In Quechuan, Inti Punku means 'Sun Gate', and the Incas built structures like these throughout the Andes to honour the sun god. While the Quarry Trail doesn’t go to the famous Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu, this intriguing archaeological complex overlooks Ollantaytambo and the valley below – a fantastic reward on the challenging second day.
Peer into the Inca past in Ollantaytambo
In this ancient town you get a real sense of how the Inca civilisation once thrived. Home to two impressive ruins and sitting in the beautiful Sacred Valley, this is where the Inca Quarry Trail ends as you walk along the cobblestone path to the main square.
Why choose Intrepid
All our guides are certified local tour guides and trained in-house on Intrepid Safety Policies. Each trekking guide also receives exclusive Intrepid training, provided by mountain rescue experts in the field.
All our guides and trek leaders have been trained by medical specialists in handling altitude illness and are proficient in first aid. Our team carries oxygen cylinders on all treks for emergency use.
Our team members live and work in the Andean region, which means revenue from all our treks benefit the local economy.
We take care of the details, so you can focus more on enjoying the journey. Our tours include all meals, with essential camping equipment and the option to hire additional hiking equipment if needed.
Rainforest Alliance tick of approval
We are proud to have the tick of approval from the Rainforest Alliance indicating that we meet and operate at the highest standards in environmental, social and economic sustainability
We strive to use travel as a force for good. That’s why we choose to give back to the communities we visit, carbon offset all our trips and take our social and environmental responsibilities seriously. We’ve been officially certified as the world’s largest travel B Corp, which means when you choose Intrepid Travel, you can rest assured you’re travelling to improve the planet.
Meet our team
Maritza, operations manager
"I am passionate about empowering local Indigenous communities, especially women, and am also a committed defender of Mother Earth, known in the Andes as Pachamama. I have also worked tirelessly with local communities and governments to help improve the sustainability of treks in the Cusco region".
“It will be a pleasure to share our traditions and beliefs, take you to the most amazing sites and, most importantly, interact with the locals! Get ready for a behind-the-scenes tour where we’ll visit hole-in-the-wall restaurants and find the best picarones (Andean doughnuts). I’ll be waiting for you here, in my beloved Peru."
Fernando, general manager
"I like working for Intrepid because their social and environmental philosophy isn’t just a slogan to sell more trips, they really do care about it. I have changed my life in so many aspects due to all the learning coming from Intrepid, from recycling to accepting myself, and being proud for who I am."
"I started working with Intrepid in 2014 and now I'm 61 years old. I'm very happy to be working with Intrepid because each porter's treatment is better than other tour operators in Peru. Because of this job (which includes fair pay), I can provide a better education for my children".
"I come from Huilloc Community in Ollantaytambo town in the Sacred Valley (Cusco), and I started working as a porter on the Inca Trail in 2021. I love walking the Inca Trail and I'm very happy to be working for Intrepid as my income enables me to provide a better education for my 7 children".
"I'm from the Community of Kalla Rayan (Calca town) in the Sacred Valley, and I'm 53 years old. I've worked as a porter for Intrepid since 2009, mainly because I love it and we have very good working conditions. Thanks to my job, I've saved money to spend on my wife and better education for my children".
Peru is a year-round destination, although most people plan to trek during the dry season, running from April to October. The mid-year months, June and July, are the most popular and therefore the most crowded times of year to visit. Low cloud cover in these winter months also means cold nights on the trail, so bring some thermal wear for a good night’s sleep.
The high season for trekking in Peru runs over the drier months, from April to October. The Inca Quarry Trail is gaining a reputation for its archaeological sites and off-the-beaten-path cultural interactions. In saying this, you will most likely have the Inca Quarry Trail all to yourself, even during the high season in Peru.
From November to March is the wet season; the temperature rises and the region receives heavy rainfall.
While there are no permit requirements for the Inca Quarry Trail, we run small groups averaging 10 people. So to secure a place on the tour, we recommend booking at least a few months in advance – remembering the most popular time is June and July.
The Inca Quarry Trail takes you up and down through altitudes each day, with the highest pass reached on the second day: 4450 m (14,599 ft) above sea level. This altitude is about 2020 m (6627 ft) higher than Machu Picchu and 235 m (770 ft) higher than the highest point on the Inca Trail.
The Inca Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 26 km (16 mi) long and often steep. Each day's journey generally consists of 7 hours of walking (uphill and downhill), with stops for snacks and lunch. Accommodation on the trek is camping (three nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.
Each day you will wake up at about 7 am and hike for between 5 and 7 hours. The longest hiking time is on the second day.
The Inca Trail is a 4-day/3-night 43 km (26 mi) trek that leads you to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu. The Quarry Trail is less iconic than the classic Inca Trail, but quieter and off the beaten track. On the Inca Quarry Trail you camp for two nights and the third is spent at a hotel in the gateway town of Aguas Calientes – before taking a day trip to Machu Picchu. Unlike the classic Inca Trail, permits are not required for the Quarry Trail.
On the fourth day, you will take a 30-minute bus ride from Aguas Calientes to visit Machu Picchu. The Inca Quarry Trail itself does not lead to Machu Picchu.
Current regulations of Machu Picchu allow visitors to explore the ruins in one of two timeslots: morning or afternoon. You can choose one of three designated circuits, to be followed in one direction only. On completion of your chosen circuit, you'll need to leave the site; exploring the ruins afterwards on your own is currently not allowed. Tours usually last for 1.5-2 hours.
Arriving via bus, you'll have time to explore the upper section (Sun Gate and Inka Bridge). Then your guided tour of Machu Picchu will run from 10 am until 12:30 pm.
It depends. Peru has two seasons, wet and dry. The dry season (winter) runs from May to September with moderately warm days and cold nights. It’s important to pack thermals and warm clothing for the evening.
Most people can start to feel the effects of altitude at over 2000 m (6561 ft) regardless of age, gender or fitness level. While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you make yourself aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
It’s important to take it easy, drink plenty of water and speak to your leader at once if you feel unwell.
We recommend seeing your doctor if you have any health concerns before undertaking the trip. Particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are taking any medication.
Accommodation on the Inca Quarry Trail is camping (two nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals at the end of each day.
While you're away from Cusco, the bulk of your luggage is stored at your hotel. The evening before you leave Cusco you'll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (6 kg maximum). Your team of horsemen will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Keep in mind that you won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the horsemen will always be ahead of the group.
All meals are provided on our camping trips, and we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. Please let us know before your trip starts if you have any dietary requirements.
Boiled water will be supplied daily. You should be carrying at least 2 litres of water daily while trekking. Depending on whether you have a hydration bladder in your bag or not we recommend bringing two (1 litre) bottles that can be refilled on the trail with boiled water.
Yes, you can bring your own walking stick or hiking poles. Alternatively, you can hire these locally for around USD 10 for the four days.
We recommend you carry the below suggested amounts with you during the trek, and that you carry small bills as this makes splitting the tip an easier process. On the last day of the trek, tipping will be broken down into envelopes – one per porter, assistant guides and guide.
For the Inca Quarry Trek the suggested total tipping amount per person is PEN 120 to PEN 135 (approximately USD 37 to USD 42).
This is generally the tipping breakdown:
Porters, cook and assistants PEN 90
Assistant guide: PEN 9 to PEN 15
Guide: PEN 20 to PEN 30
There are no toilet blocks on the Quarry Trail. When we set up camp, we provide a camping toilet tent. It’s a 1 sqm tent with a small portable chemical toilet in it. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s decent! And most importantly, it’s all carried down the mountain by the porters. You will need to pack a torch for venturing out if nature calls at night, and bring some toilet paper. You’ll also want to take a bottle of hand sanitiser.
Find a complete list of what to pack for this trip in the ‘What to take’ section of your trip notes. It’s worth stressing that you may find hiking poles helpful for this trip – particularly on the downhill sections of days 2 and 3. If you intend to use hiking poles, you can bring your own from home or ask your tour leader about renting them in Cusco.
While there are no permit requirements for the Inca Quarry Trail, we run small groups averaging 10 people. So to secure a place on a tour, we recommend booking at least a few months in advance – remembering the most popular times to visit Peru is June and July.
After spending the day exploring Machu Picchu, you’ll take a train and bus through the Sacred Valley and back to Cusco, arriving in the evening.
Yes. Let us know at the time of booking if you would prefer the train option. (The train option involves two nights in Cusco, the train trip to Aguas Calientes, and a day exploring Machu Picchu before returning to Cusco.) These changes are free of charge if made at the time of booking. If you’re changing from the Inca Trail when permits have been purchased (or within 60 days of departure), you’ll incur additional fees.
Yes, but of course it will depend on your level of disability, fitness and what support will be available to you. Contact us to discuss your circumstances and we can assess it from there.
Current regulations of Machu Picchu allow visitors to explore the ruins in one of two timeslots: morning or afternoon. You can choose one of three designated circuits, to be followed in one direction only. On completion of your chosen circuit, you'll need to leave the site; exploring the ruins afterwards on your own is currently not allowed.
Those visiting by train can take a bus on their own to explore the upper section (Sun Gate and Inka Bridge), before commencing their guided tour which runs from 10 am until 12:30 pm.
Those hiking the Inca Trail will arrive at Machu Picchu at around 8:30 am and can explore the upper section for approximately one hour. Your guided Machu Picchu tour will then run from 9:30 until 12:30.
Life on the trail
The Inca Quarry Trail itself doesn’t have any permanent facilities, but never fear, we travel well-prepared. Sleep on foam sleeping mats in modern two-person dome tents, set up by our friendly porters who will carry your heavier packs with the assistance of horses. Hot meals are cooked by our chefs each night to load you up with carbohydrates for the next day’s long walk. There aren’t any showers, but a bowl of warm water each day does the trick. Check out the gallery below for a preview of what life on the trail looks like.
Not the hiking type?
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.
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.
Read more about the Quarry Trail
Mar 05, 2017
Why you should take the Quarry Trail...
When I was told the Inca Trail was fully booked, I was disappointed. Hiking to...
Jan 28, 2016
Quarry Trail FAQ: The ‘other’ route...
Heard of the Quarry Trail? That's cool - neither have the tourist crowds.
Feb 27, 2018
6 reasons to take the Inca Quarry...
Go *really* off the beaten track, on Peru's incredible Quarry Trail.
Aug 27, 2018
Best times of year to hike the Inca...
Here’s a rundown of the seasons and a few tips on when to hike in Peru.
Aug 14, 2018
Why we use horses on the Inca Quarry...
You'll have a few four-legged friends on your Quarry Trail trek. Here's why.
Jul 30, 2018
Choosing a hike in Peru? Inca Trail...
Trying to decide whether to hike the Inca Trail or the Quarry Trail? We’ve done...
Jul 23, 2018
Why you need a permit to hike the...
Want to hike the Inca Trail? Here’s why you need a permit and how to get one for...
Jul 08, 2018
6 Inca ruins you’ll see on the Quarry...
Lace up your boots and explore some of the lesser known archaeological sites in...
Jun 11, 2018
What it’s like hiking the Quarry...
Although I love words so much I literally write for a living, I've got to tell you...
Feb 19, 2018
Lessons learned on Peru’s Quarry Trail
Our journey to Machu Picchu was about so much more than simply putting one foot in...