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
Our Quarry Trail tours
Highlights of the Quarry Trail
Why choose Intrepid
Meet our team
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.