'The Classic Inca Trail'

What makes this trip special?

South America's most iconic trek

South America's most iconic trek

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Incan sites along the trail

Incan sites along the trail

Llaqtapata, Runkurakay, Sayamarca and Phuyupatamarca

The Classic View of Machu Picchu

The Classic View of Machu Picchu

Intipunku - the Sun Gate

All is revealed when you reach the Sun Gate on your trek on the Inca Trail. The mountains part and the hidden ruins of Machu Picchu appear below you, perched on their platform of rock and ringed by the high peaks of the Vilcabamba. In a moment you are taken back 500 years to the time of the last Incas.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Absolutely unmissable. One of the most world's evocative sites, an Incan sanctuary beautifully set among seemingly impenetrable mountains, lost for centuries. Approach it by the Inca Trail, or by rail. Truly wonderful.

The Machu Picchu train

The Machu Picchu train

Cusco - Ollyantaytambo - Machu Picchu

The almost mythical railway that follows the narrow course of the Urubamba river as it leaves the Sacred Valley and winds beneath the mountains of the Vilcabama that preserved Machu Picchu's isolation for centuries.

Itinerary map for Peru 'The Classic Inca Trail' holiday


  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Huayllabamba
  • 2 Pacamayo
  • 3 Winaywayna
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Designer's notes

This is the one! This is the long-established trek that travellers have followed in great numbers in recent decades.

Although numbers are tightly controlled by a rigid permit system, you may find yourself sharing the path with a goodly number of others, and camping at busy spots each night.

The advantage is that you arrive at the Sun Gate at dawn, with the chance of catching Machu Picchu lit by the sun's first rays.

This trek also gives the possibility to return directly to Cusco at the end of that same day.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'The Classic Inca Trail'


Km. 82 to Huayllabamba

You are collected from your hotel early and driven through the Andean countryside to the start of the Inca Trail at Piscacucho at Km82 on the Cusco to Machu Picchu railway, at an altitude of 2750m. You cross the Urubamba River and follow its winding valley to the ruins at Llaqtapata. After lunch, the trail continues to your camp at Huayllabamba at 3000m. The support team will have powered on ahead of you, so you will arrive to assembled tents and tempting aromas wafting from the kitchen tent. Supper is served early, and you head to bed after your full day’s walk.


Huayllabamba to Pacamayo

After a substantial breakfast we set off on the hardest day of the Inca Trail. You walk through the Huayllabamba Valley with the landscape smoothly changing from sierra to puna. In Yunca Chimpa you start the day’s first ascent to Llulluchapampa at 3750m. You take a break at the top before facing Warmiwañusca, the notorious ‘Dead Woman Pass’ which rises to 4200m. As you ascend, your efforts are rewarded with breath-taking views across the valley below. On reaching the top you will be thankful for the downhill stretch to Pacaymayo at 3600m where you have lunch and camp for the night.


Pacamayo to Wiñaywayna

Today will be the longest, but also one of the most interesting days thanks to the number of archaeological sites en route. The first is Runkurakay, half way up the mountain pass of the same name (3860m). Descending into lush cloud forest you reach the Sayamarca fortress, the largest collection of archaeological ruins thus far and strikingly beautiful. After lunch, the path leads on to Abra de Phuyupatamarca and takes you through a stone tunnel cut in the mountain side. Walking on, you glimpse Phuyupatamarca (‘Town Above The Clouds’) at the valley bottom with neat terraces and vistas stretching out to Salkantay and the surrounding peaks. From here an Inca stairway plunges 1000m down to the equally impressive Wiñaywayna at 2650m. Not far from here you settle for the night, taking advantage of the hot showers and small bar.


Wiñaywayna to Machu Picchu, return to Cusco

The final day starts at dawn. Hiking for approximately an hour the anticipation builds with every step you take. Using a torch to light your way, you climb one final staircase to arrive at Intipunku, the Sun Gate (2700m). At this early hour, the grand citadel is hidden beneath a blanket of morning mist but as a natural hush falls on all those gathered, you wait patiently until the cloud slowly lifts to reveal the glorious ruins below, a truly unforgettable sight. You then descend to Machu Picchu itself (2450m) for a guided tour of the citadel. Later you return to Cusco by train.

Guide prices for 'The Classic Inca Trail'

We offer three levels of support for the Classic Inca Trail trek. On a 'Shared trek' you join a group that treks together. On a 'Private trek' you trek with your own guide. On a 'Luxury private trek' you also have a shower tent, a masseuse on trail, gourmet meals, alcoholic drinks and a porter for each person who will carry up to 10kg.

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Shared trek (group guide, fixed dates) 2 people sharing £790
Shared trek - optional upgrade to return on a Vistadome train 2 people sharing £50
Private trek (private guide, any dates) 2 people sharing £1,420
Private trek (private guide, any dates) 4 people sharing 2 tents £1,085
Luxury private trek (luxury extras, private guide, any dates) 2 people sharing £4,600
Luxury private trek (luxury extras, private guide, any dates) 4 people sharing 2 tents £3,115
Prices are per person and include:
  • Pick up and drop off from your hotel in Cusco
  • All local transport during the trip, including journey by road and rail to start of trek and return by bus from Machu Picchu ruins to Machu Picchu Pueblo, and then to Cusco by rail and road.
  • Experienced English-speaking local guides with knowledge of the area and its customs.
  • Personal tents with double foor and Therm-a-rests
  • Group equipment, including kitchen tent, kitchen equipment, dining tent, benches.
  • Cooks and camp porters.
  • Emergency radio, first aid kit and oxygen.
  • Tour of Machu Picchu with English-speaking guide to the site.
  • All entrances and permits to the Inca trail and Machu Picchu, also porters' Inca Trail permits.
  • All meals, as indicated in the itinerary. (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
  • Shared trek: sleeping bag supplied (which you carry yourself as part of your personal kit)
Prices do not include:
  • travel insurance
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • optional extra porter to carry your personal kit (allow £55 for a shared porter to carry up to 7kg, or £100 for your own porter to carry up to 15kg)
  • travel to Cusco before the start of the trip, and onwards after the trip

Customer reviews for 'The Classic Inca Trail'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.


Seasonal information for 'The Classic Inca Trail'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Huayllabamba 17°C rainfall 146mm
2 Pacamayo 15°C rainfall 155mm
3 Winaywayna 21°C rainfall 181mm

Typical weather for January


Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'The Classic Inca Trail'

Days 1 - 3

Camping in Tent

Camping in Tent