Share

How Long Is The Inca Trail? 

by on 17th January, 2022

The Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu in Peru is one of the world’s iconic hikes. Very few walks can match its diversity, history, and appeal.

Inca Trail trekkers enjoy cloud forest, sub-tropical jungle, and mountain passes with views of snow-capped Andean peaks en route to the famous Inca ruins at Machu Picchu. Orchids, condors, and perhaps a spectacled bear may all be seen among the exotic vegetation and Inca relics.

Many people thinking about taking on the emblematic hike want to know daily distances and the overall trek length. The quick answer is that the Inca Trail path, from A to B, is 26 miles, or 43 kilometres, long.

 

Why Do I Need to Acclimatise Before Hiking the Inca Trail?

At 26 miles long, it’s tempting for hikers to think that the Inca Trail is an easy hike. However, one of the main challenges is its high altitude.

The Inca Trail undulates between a low point of 2,250m/8,366ft and its highest point of 4,200m/13,780ft, with many peaks and troughs along the way. With high-altitude hikes, it’s best to think of walking in terms of time as much as distance.

Acclimatisation to the crisp mountain air is essential. We recommend spending a few days in the ancient Inca capital of Cusco (3,440m/11,155ft) or the nearby Sacred Valley before setting off on the Inca Trail. Arequipa, Lake Titicaca, the Cordillera Huayhuash, and the Cordillera Blanca are also great place to acclimatise.

inca-trail-Sayacmarca peru

What Are the Daily Walking Distances on the Inca Trail?

The whole Inca Trail is usually traversed in four or five days.

We offer both trek durations, and they follow the same 26-miles/43-kilometres path, with the same KM82 starting point, visitor sites and guided tour at Machu Picchu.

A typical day involves 6-7 miles/10-11 kilometres walking, lasting anywhere from 5-8 hours.

 

Standard Four Day Inca Trail: Day-by-Day Walking Distances

Let’s have a look at the day-to-day walking distance on the most famous Inca Trail trek, the four-day version.

 

Day 1: Transfer from Cusco, trek to Huayllabamba

Distance:                     6.9 miles/11.1 kilometres

Highest point:             2,954m/9,691ft

Huayllabamba camp:  2,954m/9,691ft

A relatively easy and gentle climb to the first campsite at Huayllabamba follows a three-hour drive from Cusco. The first day’s relatively low altitudes mean hikers are on the move for around 4-5 hours today.

 

Day 2: Huayllabamba to Pacamayo

Distance:                     7.7 miles/12.3 kilometres

Highest point:             4,222m/13,852ft

Pacamayo camp:        3,600m/11,811ft

This day is a classic mountain pass climb, with a long pull up to Dead Woman’s Pass, the highest point of the Inca Trail. The higher altitude and uphill terrain mean that while we trek a similar distance to day one, you can expect to be walking for 6-8 hours today. A sharp descent follows the pass.

Trekkers at Dead Woman's Pass Inca Trail Trek Peru

 

Day 3: Pacamayo to Huiñay Huayna

Distance:                     8 miles/12.9 kilometres

Highest point:             3,893m/12,772ft

Huiñay Huayna camp: 2,732m/8,962ft

The undulating third day is the longest, with two passes to negotiate and a long, steep descent the knees won’t forget. There’s plenty to see over the 6-8 hours we’re on the trail as the vegetation changes rapidly. Your breathing becomes easier as we approach the lower altitudes of Huiñay Huayna.

 

Day 4: Huiñay Huayna to Machu Picchu

Distance:                     3.1 miles/5 kilometres

Highest point:             2,739m/8,988ft

Machu Picchu:            2,452m/8,046ft

A gentle, flat walk leads hikers to the Sun Gate for the first look over Machu Picchu ruins (2,400m/7,874ft). The extra oxygen in your lungs makes moving around easier. It’s another half an hour walk from the Sun Gate into the Inca citadel, followed by a 2-3 hour guided tour with plenty of ups and downs on Inca stairs.

 

Luxury Five Day Inca Trail: Day-by-Day Walking Distances

The first two days of our five-day Luxury Inca Trail trek are the same as the four-day hike. We take it easier on days 3 and 4, after the effort of climbing over Dead Woman’s Pass.

Trail head, Inca Trail, Peru

Day 1: Transfer from Cusco, trek to Huayllabamba

Distance:                     6.9 miles/11.1 kilometres

Highest point:             2,912m/9,554ft

Huayllabamba camp:  2,954m/9,691ft 

 

Day 2: Huayllabamba to Pacamayo

Distance:                     7.7 miles/12.3 kilometres

Highest point:             4,222m/13,852ft

Pacamayo camp:        3,600m/11,811ft

 

Day 3: Trek Pacamayo to Sayamarca, then to Phuyupatamarca

Distance:                                4.5 miles/7.3 kilometres

Highest point:                        3.975m/13,035ft

Phuyupatamarca camp:          3,650m/11,975ft

Today, we stay high, taking it easy over two more minor passes through lush cloud forests. Phuyupatamarca translates as the ‘Cloud Forest Town’ and offers spectacular views, away from the crowds. We’ll walk 4-5 hours today, recovering strength.

 

Day 4: Phuyupatamarca to Machu Picchu, descend to Aguas Calientes

Distance:                                6.9 miles/11 kilometres

Highest point:                        3,650m/11,975ft

Aguas Calientes hotel:            2,040m/6,693ft

Today is pretty much downhill all the way! Steep stone steps will give your knees lasting memories. We arrive at the Sun Gate in the afternoon and will most likely have it to ourselves. Our Machu Picchu guided tour is tomorrow, so we catch a bus down to the warmth of our Aguas Calientes hotel.

 

Day 5: Guided tour of Machu Picchu, return train to Cusco

Machu Picchu sits at around 2,400m/7,874ft, and the guided tour lasts approximately 2-3 hours. There’s plenty of up and down Inca stairs, but the hiking is easy compared to the previous days’ exertions.

Machu Picchu sunlit peru

 

How Long Is the Inca Trail Two Day Walk?

The two-day Inca Trail starts at KM104 (2,150m/7,054ft) and is an energetic day hike that reaches Machu Picchu in the afternoon. It’s perfect for families, people short on time and those that don’t like camping.

The 4-5 hour hike snakes uphill to Huiñay Huayna before dropping down to the Sun Gate then our hotel in Aguas Calientes. We tour Machu Picchu the next day.

 

Distance:                                 6.3 miles/10 kilometres

Highest point:                         2,700m/8,858ft.

Aguas Calientes hotel:            2,040m/6,693ft

 

When To Go, and When to Book

Every hiker needs an Inca Trail permit. They are limited and sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Spaces usually sell out early, so you need to book between 2 and 5 months in advance, especially April to October when demand for places is high.

The most popular trekking months are May to September, the dry season. Nights are cold and clear, and there is less chance of rain. We have daily Inca Trail departures apart from February when the trek is closed for maintenance.

Don’t forget to build in three nights’ acclimatisation to high altitude in Cusco (3,400m/11,155ft) or similar immediately before starting the Inca Trail.

Tourists at machu Picchu Peru

It’s Not Just The Length of the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail trek is 26 miles or 43 kilometres long. As we’ve seen, it’s not just about the miles walked. The altitude, acclimatisation, and undulating terrain make it a demanding hike that requires training, determination, and respect.

Now you know how long the Inca Trail is, are you ready to take up the challenge?

Contact us, and you could soon be enjoying one of the world’s most iconic and remarkable walking trails.

 

inca-trail-trek views-peru

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.



Contact Us
Get in touch