What is "The" Inca Trail?
The "Inca Trail" you read about on the internet is a specific hiking path in Peru that begins from the Sacred Valley, up through Inti-Punku (Sungate), then down to the famous ruins of Machu Picchu. There are many Inca footpaths in Peru and the Andes Mountains established hundreds of years ago by the ancient Inca civilization. But there is only one official "Inca Trail" hike. This is the ONLY hike that allows visitors to literally walk into Machu Picchu National Park. All other hikes include a visit of Machu Picchu ruins after the hike concludes in the village of Aguas Calientes. From there you take the shuttle bus to Machu Picchu.
How has covid-19 affected the availability of Cheapest 2 Day Inca Trail hike permits?
For groups who were scheduled to hike in 2020, the Peru government allowed tour operators to reschedule the hikes on later dates. For new hikes in 2021, permits are available for the easy 1-Day Inca Trail hike through the end of 2021. We're expecting permits for the 4 and 5-day Inca Trail hike to be available in July 2021. Adios Adventure Travel is taking soft reservations now without any payment until we know that permits are available and how much they will be.
Can anyone buy permits and hike the Inca Trail on their own?
No. Access to the Inca Trail is controlled by licensed tour operators who employ licensed Peruvian tour guides to accompany hikers beginning in Cusco to the trailhead of the Inca Trail until you arrive in Machu Picchu National Park. Most guides will accompany you all the way to Aguas Calientes and back to Cusco, depending on your individual itinerary. All hikers must be accompanied by a licensed Peruvian tour guide.
Will our hike be private?
All the hikes offered by Adios Adventure Travel have always been in private service. This will continue after covid-19.
Is there an age limit to hike the Inca Trail?
There is no official age limit to hike the Inca Trail. People of all ages can hike the 4-day or the 2-day Inca Trail. The 4-day hike is much more difficult than the 2 day hike. Both hikes require permits that must be purchased by a licensed tour operator. The permits are included in the cost. People cannot buy their own permits to hike the Inca Trail. Here's a link to read more about recommended age for hiking.
There are 2 Official Inca Trail hikes to choose from:
(follow the links to to get more info or to book either hike of your choice with Adios Adventure Travel)
4-Day Inca Trail hike is 26 miles/41 KM total length (also known as Classic Inca Trail) includes 3 nights of camping. Permits can be viewed on the official government website. Permits usually sell out many months in advance. The highest point is Dead Woman's Pass (approx 14,000 ft/ 4260 m)
2-Day Inca Trail hike is 7.5 miles/12 KM and is also known as the Short or Easy 1-day Inca Trail hike. The highest altitude is 8800 ft/ 2730 m. Permits are required and availability can be viewed on the Machu Picchu government website. Permits rarely sell out and can be purchased last minute with at least a 5 day window before you plan to start the hike. Includes 1 night hotel in Aguas Calientes. (No camping or porter service)
Can these hikes be included in our package trip to Peru? YES! We can add these hikes to any itinerary.
4 day Inca Trail hike can be combined with hotels, time to acclimatize, guided tours and activiies in the Sacred Valley. 9 Day Classic Inca Trail Hike
2 day Inca Trail hike can be combined with hotels, time to acclimatize guided tours and day hikes in the Sacred Valley. 7 Day Machu Picchu Walking Vacation
Why are permits required?
The Inca Trail is the only hike that leads into Machu Picchu National Park, so permits are required for both the 2-day and the 4-day hikes. Permits are required as a way to control access to Machu Picchu National Park and to limit the number of people on the trails each day. Licensed tour operators will get your permits for you. Note: Permits are available on first-come, first-service basis. We cannot hold permits. Taking reservations is ongoing. We'll let you know if there is availability and if there are any restrictions.
Can anyone hike the Inca Trail?
Yes, anyone can hike if you are fit enough to carry a small backpack and hike at altitude. The 4 day hike is divided into a specific distance each day, and each night is at a specified camp. The hiking distance is the same for everyone and the choice of camps are determined by the Peruvian government and the operators. You can hike at your own pace as long as you are fit enough to complete the specified distance each day.
The 4 day hike must be completed in 4 days, and the 1 day hike must be completed in 1 day.
The hike begins in the Sacred Valley and is one direction only. The Inca Trail cannot be hiked in reverse beginning from Machu Picchu.
Porter service is included in the cost of the 4 day hikes. Porters carry all the kitchen equipment, tents and up to 11 lb / 5.5 kg of your personal gear, including your sleeping bag and mattress. (the cost of the hike indicates the level of comfort upgrades: 2 porters for every hiker, small groups, therma-rest mattresses, high quality meals prepared by trained Trail Chef is our minimum standard. Services vary with different operators) Less expensive operators may offer hikes that include 1 porter, and they will expect you to carry your own gear including sleeping bag and mattress.
Most hotels have scales to help you weigh your duffle bag before the hike. Duffle bags can be borrowed from the operator.
Permits are required for each hike and you must get your permit from a licensed operator. You cannot hike the Classic Inca Trail on your own.
Permits cannot be changed, refunded, transferred or cancelled. If you don't show up for your hike, your spot will go empty.
Permits for the 4 day hike usually sell out months in advance
Permits for the 2 day hike rarely sell out (but could)
There's no age limit for hikers. Here's PARENT CHECKLIST to help you decide if your kids should hike.
Things to know about the Inca Trail hikes and what to be prepared for:
Wide Variations in Cost. All operators have the same fixed costs including permits, entry tickets, buses and trains. Variations in rates for hikes are due to the number of porters provided, the wages for porters and guides, size of groups, and taxes. Here's a link to read more about the cost of Inca Trail hikes.
Misjudgement of the difficulty. The trail is not a technical hike. Although the terrain has steep switchbacks, uneven stone steps, not to mention paths of rough cobbles, even inexperienced hikers can negotiate the trail. Keep in mind that when combined with altitude, the rough terrain and lack of oxygen can lead to slow progress.
Not enough time to acclimatize before beginning the hike. Package hikes don't include additional days to acclimatize before beginning the hike. It's up to you to decide how many days you need and where you want to spend them. People who are inexperienced, over the age of 50, or who know they are susceptible to altitude sickness, should plan to arrive in Cusco at least 2 or more days before beginning any multi-day hike.
Poorly prepared. We're not saying you need to have the latest high-tech equipment, but the items most likely to contribute to your discomfort are: inappropriate footwear and poorly designed backpacks that don't distribute the weight of the contents, and overpacking. Backpacks should be as small as possible and we recommend a maximum limit of 24 liters women/28 liters men.
Fitness. If you haven't done a multi-day hike in the last 8 months, we recommend that you test drive your stamina with equipment on local hikes at home before you go. It's not possible for us to send in a car or even a helicopter to pick you up. Once you begin the hike you are committed. Guides are trained to handle health issues or injuries. Guides will not allow you to begin the hike if they feel you are not in good enough shape to finish it.
The 2 day hike ends in Machu Picchu. The average hiker takes about 6 hours from KM 104 to get to the citadel. From there you ride the shuttle bus to the village. In case hikers are so slow they don't make it to Machu Picchu by closing (5:30PM) they could miss the last bus to the village. There are no vehicles in the village. The only way to get there is on foot. Which could take another 1-2 hours walking a dirt road in the dark.
If you're concerned about making it on the full 4-day Inca Trail hike, the good news is that most people who begin the hike, finish the hike. It's rare for anyone to turn back. Fortunately, you have choices and for some people, the better option might be the 2-day Inca Trail hike. Call our US office if you'd like to discuss whether or not you should hike the trail. Heather 757-270-9293 and Jacquie 757-714-6649 have hiked both trails.