Unforgiving and unforgettable; the Inca Trail is a heart pounding, head spinning trek into the Andes. Few other trekking holidays compete with the beauty of the snow-capped peaks, tangled cloud forest, wild orchid, humming birds and Inca ruins that rise from the mist along the Inca Trail.
Certainly no other trekking holiday can compete with it for its sense of history, as you tread the ancient road network of the Incas. And no other trekking holiday rewards you with the glory of Machu Picchu at the end. If you are fit enough, the Inca Trail is one adventure holiday you must make a priority in your lifetime.
Click here for our Google Earth Video of the route.
Why Exodus offers the best Inca Trail experience:
Our local partners have years of experience taking groups on the Inca Trail, and this means they know how to provide the best service on the Inca Trail.
We look after our local staff well, paying more than the average wage, providing suitable clothing, and working with local communities to improve the lives of our porters and their families.
About 500 people start the trek everyday during peak season, we have the experience and the know-how to avoid the crowds and queues (call us if you want to hear some of our secrets!).
We have great gear and choose the best campsites, avoiding the crowded campsite at Wiñay Wayna which most other groups use.
We take chemical loos so each group has private facilities and doesn't need to share the less than pleasant "public toilets".
We have permanent staff in Cuzco whose sole job is to ensure all tents are in tip top condition for each trek. All tents are set up and ready for when you arrive in camp in the afternoon so you can truly relax as soon as you finish your walking.
While many operators provide their clients with just a thin foam mattress, we use proper thermarests to ensure a good nights sleep!
Our excellent cooks prepare delicious, filling and fresh meals including 3 course dinners and hearty lunches.
We know the little extras that make a great trek an incredible trek: morning tea is delivered to your tent to get you going for the day, along with a bowl of hot water to wash in, and if it's a chilly night, hot water bottles are passed round after dinner to warm up your sleeping bag.
Highlights of walking holidays on The Inca Trail:
Dead Woman’s Pass
The ascent to Dead Woman’s Pass, the first pass on the Inca Trail, is notoriously the toughest and most demanding part of the whole trail. Trekking to 4200 metres is slow going, relentless and requires every ounce of your stamina, especially if you’re still acclimatising to the altitude. Once you reach the top, usually on the second day, expect to be exhausted to the depths of your soul but totally uplifted by views of snow capped mountains, endorphins and a powerful sense of accomplishment.
It’s impossible not to feel enormous respect for the Inca workers who carved the stairways into the mountainside and laid over 14,000 miles of these Inca roads stone by stone. You’ll also be in awe of your fighting fit porters, the rightful descendants of Inca Chaqui messengers, who bound past you on the Inca Trail carrying bags, food and camping equipment without seeming to break a sweat.
After a tiring trek over the second pass and descent through exotic cloud forests you’ll notice the ancient Inca forts, store houses, tunnels and settlements begin to increase, a welcome hint that you’re nearing the end of the Inca Trail.
Phuyupatamarca, the ‘town above the clouds’ is a real landmark on the Inca Trail. Complete with a fresh running water system devised by the Incas and beautiful ceremonial baths, it marks a welcome stop before one last test of endurance; the tough bone-shaking descent down 2,600 worn Inca steps to Wayna Picchu.
Almost as beautiful as Machu Picchu itself, Wayna Picchu – “Forever Young” or “To Plant the Earth Young” – is set amongst verdant green Inca terraces made up of spring-fed stone baths and a waterfall tumbling from the peaks above. Stop here to offer thanks to the Inca Earth Goddess Pachamama for getting you this far, because nearby is the campsite you’ll call home before your final trek along the Inca Trail to Intipunku and hopefully your first, unforgettable, sight of Machu Picchu.
Intipunku and Machu Picchu
Most groups strike out for the entry point of the legendary Sun Gate of Intipunku in the dark in order to catch their first glimpse of Machu Picchu gloriously lit by the rising sun - a suiting end to your walk along the Inca Trail.
No matter how fatigued you are, no matter how badly your muscles ache, the moment you see the majestic sacred citadel of Machu Picchu laid out before you, birds singing in your ears and blood pumping through your veins – makes every step of the Inca Trail worthwhile.
NB: LIMITED INCA TRAIL PERMITS
There is a daily cap on the number of trekking permits available for the Inca Trail, and they sell out very quickly, especially for peak season treks. For this reason, we recommend booking your trek at least 4 months in advance, or 6 months for the peak trekking months of July, August and September. If permits do sell out, we do also offer an alternative route - The Moonstone Trek - which does not require permits and can be substituted for the Inca Trail on most trips.
See the trips below for a selection which visit the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu.