Trekking the Inca Trail to the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu often features on must-do travel lists and it is little wonder why. Machu Picchu was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007 and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site is the most familiar icon of the Inca world, with its spectacular mountain-top location in the Andes. You can visit Machu Picchu without trekking the Inca Trail, but most hikers would agree the trail is the perfect way to reach the site, building anticipation as the goal approaches.
The Inca Trail starts at an altitude of about 2,800 metres and ends four days later at Machu Picchu, at 2,500 metres. You will hike past fascinating Inca ruins along the way and over the notorious ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’, which at 4,200 metres is the highest point of the trek. The Inca Trail is justifiably famous for its spectacular Andean scenery, with the mountain tops usually snow-capped between June and October.
Trekking the Inca Trail requires a good level of fitness but with a little pre-tour training it should be well within the capabilities of anyone who is reasonably fit. Altitude sickness is something a lot of people worry about, however by walking at a measured pace, keeping well hydrated and considering local remedies such as coca tea, most people encounter no problems whatsoever.
Peru’s dry winter season runs from May to September, making this an ideal time to trek the Inca Trail. However June to August is particularly cold at night, especially at altitude. March, April, October and November are warmer months but there may be some rain. The trail is closed every February for cleaning and maintenance.
Only about 200 trekkers per day are given permits to walk on the trail, so popular dates (especially June, July and August) sell out many months in advance. We strongly recommend booking your Inca Trail trek as early as possible. For an up-to-date look at which trips are out of permits, check out our Inca Trail permit availability page.