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Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu


Duration 3 Days
Difficulty Hard
Range of Altitude 2,380m to 4,200m / 7,800ft to 13,780ft
Distance Covered Approximately 43km

One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu needs no further introduction. Visit Peru’s most renowned attraction and one of the most important archaeological sites in the world on the famous Inca Trail.

This 43km trek takes you through famous archaeological sites such as Runkuraqay, Puyupatamarca and Winaywayna, luscious Andean scenery with dramatic sights of the mountainous backdrop, ending with a visit to the sacred Inca City of Machu Picchu, no doubt the highlight of the trip.

This three day hike is ideal for those with limited time as it covers the same route as the classic four day version (see here). As such, it is challenging and it requires one to be physically fit and well acclimatized.


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  • We depart Cusco early in the morning by private transportation to the 82nd kilometer of the Cusco-Machu Picchu railroad, the starting point of the Inca Trail

  • Following the trail along flat terrain, we arrive in Miskay (2,800m/9,184ft) from which we can see the Inca city of Llactapata (2,750m/9,020ft)

  • We continue trekking along the valley created by the Kusichaca River, gradually climbing until we reach the farming community of Wayllabamba (3,000m/9,840ft). Along the way we are treated to spectacular views of the Vilcanota mountain range, with Mount Veronica (5,832m/19,134ft) looming in the distance

  • We next embark on the most difficult part of the trek, which is a steep ascent that stretches for 9 km to the 1st mountain pass called Abra Warmihuanusca or Dead Woman’s pass (4,200m/13,776ft). We only climb half way up the pass to stop at Llulluchapampa (3,800m/12,467ft) to set up our campsite for the night

  • Total hiking is about 17km or eight to nine hours
  • After breakfast, we continue our hike up towards Abra Warmihuanusca (4,200m/13,776ft), reaching after approximately 2 hours

  • We then descend into the Pacaymayo valley (3,600m/11,808ft), from which we then start to climb to the 2nd pass, Abra Runkurakay (3,970m/13,022ft). Halfway up, we visit an archaeological complex (of the same name), which consists of a small oval structure that is believed to have served the purpose of a watchtower

  • After the pass, we descend towards Yanacocha (Black Lagoon) and enter the cloud forest to finally arrive at Sayacmarca (3,624m/11,887ft). This is a beautiful complex made up of a semicircular construction, enclosures at different levels, narrow streets, liturgical fountains, patios and irrigation canals

  • Continuing up an easy climb, we arrive at the 3rd and final pass, Abra Phuyupatamarca (3,700m/12,136ft). We go through an Inca tunnel to arrive at this pass and down to the complex of the same name. This is one of the most complete and best-preserved archaeological complexes along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and is located on the highest point of a mountain. From above, one can observe a sophisticated sacred complex made up of water fountains with solid foundations, with impressive views of the Urubamba River valley

  • We set our camp in Phuyupatamarca for the 2nd night

  • Total hiking is about 15km or eight hours
  • If the sky is clear, we may get to see one of the most spectacular sunrises at Phuyupatamarca due to its vantage point

  • We begin with a long descent to Winaywayna (2,650m/8,692ft), which is the biggest archaeological site in the Inca Trail apart from Machu Picchu, and consists of an impressive complex made up of an agricultural center with numerous terraces, a religious sector and an urban sector, with spectacular views of the Urubamba River valley

  • We hike for another hour to Inti Punku (Sun Gate), from where you will enjoy panoramic views of the sacred Inca City of Machu Picchu

  • From Inti Punku, a short walk brings us down to the entrance from where we continue with a guided tour of Machu Picchu that will take approximately two hours

  • We then take the bus down to Aguas Calientes and board our train back to Cusco, where we arrive after nightfall

  • Total hiking is about 11km or five hours (excluding the tour of Machu Picchu)


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