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.
As far in advance as possible. The government has strictly limited the number of people allowed on the Inca Trail (permits are issued to about 200 trekkers per day plus 300 porters). We therefore recommend that you try to make your Inca trail reservation as far in advance as possible as soon as you know the dates of your international flights (check that your passport isn't about to expire). The list of available trek spaces is shown on our page and is updated 2 or 3 times a week. As long as dates are shown available then you can make a trek booking. We have included recommendations below, as a guide as to when to make a trek booking Departure date: November 2018 - book by middle of May 2018 December 2018 - book by end of June 2018 (dates around Christmas should be booked earlier) January 2019 - book by end of October 2018 March 2019 - book by end of September 2018 April 2019 - book by end of August 2018 May 2019 - book by end of August 2018 June 2019 - book by middle of September 2018 July 2019 - book by end of October 2018 August 2019 - book by middle of December 2018 September 2019 - book by end of mid-January 2018 October 2019 - book by the end of February 2019 November 2019 - book by end of April 2019 December 2019 - book by end April 2019 If you can only depart on a certain date then try to book well before the recommended dates given above. However there are sure to be plenty of spaces available after these dates but you may have to be more flexible with your departure date.
The high season for trekking in Peru runs over the drier months from April to October. The most popular time to hike the Inca Trail is in June and July – which is therefore the most crowded time. Since the number of permits for the Inca Trail is capped – this means a maximum of about 200 tourists a day can start the trail. If you intend to hike the Inca Trail between April and October, we recommend booking and confirming your trip 6–7 months in advance.
The wet season runs from November to March – this is when the temperature rises, and the region receives heavy rainfall. The Inca Trail closes every year in February (the wettest month of the year) for maintenance.
To help preserve the Inca Trail, the Peruvian authorities restrict available permits to only 500 per day (made up of about 200 tourists and 300 porters). Permits are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so booking well in advance is imperative. For this reason, if you want to hike the Inca Trail, it’s best to supply (at the time of booking) the full details of the passport you will be travelling with. We endeavour to purchase your permit within two working days of receiving all necessary information and relevant payment. Please keep in mind that the Inca Trail is closed during February for maintenance. Very important: since permits are non-changeable and non-refundable, please consult with Intrepid before changing any passport details after booking, as this may result in your permit being invalid. If we can’t secure Inca Trail permits, you can: Change to another one of our trips or choose a different departure date without incurring any penalties. Hike the equally incredible Inca Quarry Trail, which includes a day trip to Machu Picchu. Stay two nights in Cusco, then travel to Aguas Calientes by train and spend the day exploring Machu Picchu before returning to Cusco.
The fourth day (the grand finale) starts before dawn, with breakfast at 4.30 am. Say farewell to the porters as they descend to the train station and begin your hike by 5.30 am. Walk to Inti Punku, aka the Sun Gate (approximately 2.5 hours). Weather permitting, enjoy unforgettable views over Machu Picchu, the ‘Lost City of the Incas’, in the morning light (before the crowds arrive). Your tour lasts for around 1.5 – 2 hours, and there will be plenty of free time afterwards to explore the ruins on your own. In the late afternoon, return to Cusco for a well-earned shower and perhaps a pisco sour.
While there is no official minimum age for hiking the trail, we do recommend children be at least 10 years. Parents considering taking their child on a trek should be mindful of the physical challenges – the Inca Trail is labelled as a moderate trek, but for most people hiking at over 3000 metres (10,000 ft), continuously up and down valleys can be strenuous activity. While the trail can be completed by a person with moderate fitness, it is worth considering whether your child would be able to meet the physical requirements of the trek.
During the trek itself, you will move up and down through altitudes each day with the peak reached at the infamous Dead Woman’s Pass – sitting at 4215 m (13,828 ft) above sea level. This is nearly 1800 m (5905 ft) higher than the site of Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 43 km (26 mi) long and often steep. Each day's journey generally consists of seven 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 awaken at about 7 am (except on the final day which starts at 4.30 am) and hike for about 7 hours a day along the trail.
Depending on what time of year you visit Peru, the temperature can vary. Peru has two seasons (the 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 Trail is camping (3 nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.
While you're away from Cusco, the bulk of your luggage will be 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 (5 kg maximum). Your team of porters 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 porters 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 poles locally for around 10 USD 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 the tips will be broken down into envelopes – one per porter, assistant guides and guide. While on the Inca Trail we suggest a total tipping amount of PEN 120 to PEN 180 per person (approximately USD 37 to USD 55). This is generally the tipping breakdown: Porters, cook and assistants PEN 80 to PEN 120 Assistant guide: PEN 12 to PEN 20 Guide: PEN 27 to PEN 40
Toilet blocks are situated along the Inca Trail but with little maintenance currently taking place, this is not a pleasant experience for any hiker. At the end of each day, 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.
You will find a complete list of what to pack for this trip under ‘What to take’ in your trip notes.
After spending the day exploring Machu Picchu, you will take a train and bus through the Sacred Valley and back to Cusco, arriving in the evening.
Yes, but of course it will depend on your level of disability, fitness and what support will be available to you. Travellers who are visually impaired have completed the Inca Trail – with the right support crew of course. Contact us to discuss your circumstances and we can assess it from there.