Inca Trail: The Classic Route

The Inca Trail

The Inca road system, or Capac Nan, was the most extensive road system in ancient South America.

In times past, dozens of routes connected the limits of the Inca Empire. Today, the most famous section extends from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu.

That route is strictly controlled, and advance purchase tickets are required.

Salcantay Mountain covered in snow, photographed on a hiking expedition to Machu Picchu down the Inca Trail in Peru

LANDED has been arranging privately guided Inca Trail hikes and treks since 2006.

The classic route is a four-day, three-night camping trek, accompanied by local guides and supported by porters.

Although the trek is challenging, it’s non-technical and can be accomplished by young hikers.

Custom Hiking Treks

Hiking the Inca Trail no hardship—our custom packages can include goose-down comforters, hot water bottles, portable showers, and champagne toasts.

Moss covered staircase leading up through a misty forest in Peru near the Inca Trail

Although the locations of campsites and distances traveled vary seasonally, a representative schedule for the four-day / three-night Inca Trail hike would be:

Day 1

Transfer to the trailhead near Chilca, north of the Sacred Valley, to begin the trek.

Much of today’s hike follows the Urubamba River over fairly even terrain. Later in the day, the semi-arid landscape transitions to a more humid pampas zone.

Clear weather will permit distant views of Mt. Veronica. Camp near the terraces of Llactapata.

Day 2

The trail climbs into the mountains, past the uninhabited Inca town of Huayllabamba.

Rise through polylepsis woodland and into the puna grasslands, camping below cliffs that open up toward the Huayanay massif.

Majestic, cloud-shrouded views reward the day’s efforts.


Day 3

Hike over the highest pass on the trail, Warmiwanusca—the “Dead Woman’s Pass” at 13,776 feet above sea level—then descend to the forested Pacamayo Valley.

Next, ascend an Inca staircase past the lookout post of Runkuracay. At the top of the second pass, the view widens to the snowcapped Pumasillo range.

Down the trail, explore the ruins of Sayamarca before passing through the Inca Tunnel. Make camp on a third pass, overlooking the complex of Phuyupatamarca—the “Cloud-level Town.”

Day 4

Explore the ruins of Phuyupatamarca, before starting a long, knee-testing descent down Inca stairs to the site of Winay Wayna—or “Forever Young.”

Along the way, enjoy beautiful views of the valleys surrounding Machu Picchu. In the afternoon, follow the last stretch of trail across a steep mountainside.

Landscape of Machu Picchu Ruins, showing light cloud cover overhead

Finally, pass through the Intipunku—or “Sun Gate”—to reach the city of Machu Picchu.

Prime hiking season is March to October, while November through January is wet and cloudy.

Inca Trail Reservations

The trail closes each February for maintenance. Reservations should be made months in advance, as authorities limit trail use.

Abbreviated treks—two days / one night, or day hikes—and February treks on other portions of the trail can also be arranged.

Longer treks pass the peaks and glaciers near Nevado Salcantay, before arriving in Machu Picchu.

LANDED delivers the finest in custom, private travel to Central America, South America, and Antarctica. These regions are our passion; we know them first-hand and by heart. Speak with one of our expert travel planners today at 801.582.2100. We’ll create the most exceptional trip of your life.

“The journey is my home.”

Muriel Rukeyser


Could not have been more pleased.  This was the trip of a lifetime for our family.  Thank you!

S. Gentry, San Clemente, CA


What an amazing adventure we have had.  Many thanks to you for putting it together. The whole rhythm of the trip was perfect, and leaving one place for the next worked perfectly. This trip definitely made me want to experience other great spots in South America as the people have been wonderful and the places incredible. Wish we had a month to really explore.  Everybody in the family had a great life experience. Thanks again!

S. Ecenia, Knoxville, TN


One of our best trips ever, made excellent by LANDED’s attention to detail. When planning the trip our travel planner listened to us carefully, asked the right questions, and customized the trip to have just the right balance of adventure and city sights for us. The guides, drivers, and “handlers” were superb. The hotels were top notch. We felt relaxed and pampered all the way. Will definitely look to LANDED to plan our next trip to South America.

M. & J. Siegel , New Rochelle, NY

Absolutely amazing. Thanks again John. Carlos was the best guide I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. Top notch talent.

T. Hill, Fort Worth, TX

We returned yesterday from our trip and I wanted to let you know that it was absolutely amazing!  There is not a single thing on the itinerary that we would change.  The guides were knowledgeable, friendly, and prompt.  The hotels were beautiful, the food delicious and the pace of the activities was perfect for us. Thank you so much for making our trip such a fantastic experience.

B. Baltes, E. Rockaway, NY

In short, our trip was amazing, and, as we had hoped, the Inca civilization was fascinating to us. Thanks so much for your constant assistance and thorough planning.

H. Liroff, Minneapolis, MN

The planning, service and execution of the trip was flawless – thank you for making it perfect!

R. Hayek, San Francisco, CA

LANDED’s services were excellent. You were helpful and knowledgeable, making our trip a memorable one.  I will use your services in the future as I continue to explore Central & South America.

A. Reynolds, Tucson, AZ

It was like being in a very well organized dream. Your patience with my questions and concerns during the planning stage was remarkable.

W. Sibley, New York, NY

I’ve never had such great service from a tour operator. Not only were you a great help on the planning-insuring that I was staying at the right places and enjoying the type of activities we love-but the follow up was incredible. Your team checked in with us several times during the trip to confirm that everything was going well, and that the guides you assigned were satisfying us. It’s one thing to get a “thank you card” or a “hope your trip was great” note after you’re back, but to insure that it’s going well during the trip is a welcome first! I look forward to working with you again on a another trip.

C. Leavitt , New York, NY

You actually got to know us, which made it possible to know just what we like. You promised the best trip ever and you kept your promise.

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