Inca Trail Holidays 2017

Inca Trail Holidays

Treks to Machu Picchu

Trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Have you ever dreamed of following in the footsteps of the Incas? Trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu gives you the chance to do just that, as you follow the ancient pathways through the Andes to the famous lost city itself, perched high in the cloud forest above the swift-flowing Urubamba River...

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Our Inca Trail Holidays

All our 2017 Inca Trail holidays can be completely tailor-made, so whether you want to enjoy the classic four-day trek to Machu Picchu, consider one of the alternative trail routes, or include your Inca Trail trek as part of a longer holiday in Peru, we can help by planning an itinerary to suit you. To get you started, here are a few of our favourite Inca Trail holidays:

Classic Inca Trail Holidays Classic Inca Trail 10-day Inca Trail holidays for £1595pp already includes 4-day Inca Trail

This 10-day itinerary already has the classic Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu right at its heart, but also builds in the acclimatisation time you need in Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba so you can make sure you're ready for the trek itself ...

Peru holidays including the Inca Trail Southern Cross 16-day Peru holidays for £2195pp or trek the Inca Trail for £295pp

Our Southern Cross holiday includes the Inca heartland of Cusco and Machu Picchu, but also the colonial charm of Arequipa and the condors of Colca Canyon. Why not include the Inca Trail as well? ...

Inca Trail and the Amazon rainforest Andes to Amazon 14-day holiday to Machu Picchu and the Amazon rainforest for £2295pp or include the Inca Trail for £250pp

If you'd like to combine the Amazon rainforest with your Inca Trail holiday then look no further than this fantastic two-week trip ...

Inca Trail on Holidays to Brazil and Peru Three Wonders Holiday to Peru and Brazil for £2375pp or include the Inca Trail for £250pp

Tour three wonders in just two weeks on one of our favourite holidays to South America: The Iguazu Falls, Rio de Janeiro, and Machu Picchu. Or add the Inca Trail and make it Four Wonders ...

Alternative Treks to Machu Picchu

The 'classic' Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is Peru's most famous trek, but it's certainly not the only game in town. So if you'd like to do the full trek but are having difficulty squeezing it into time off work, or if you'd just like to do something a bit different, read on:

The Salkantay Trek

The Salkantay trek is our most popular alternative to the Inca Trail, and although it really started life as an alternative for when people couldn't secure a permit for the "classic" Inca Trail, in recent years this trek has become something of a favourite and many people now rate the Salkantay trek as better than the Inca Trail.

We rate it as a little tougher than the classic trek, and it takes you a little higher, but the reward is some of the best high-altitude trekking in South America, with views of stunning snow-capped peaks and glaciers before you drop down into the humid semi-tropical environment around Machu Picchu itself.


Day One – Start the Salkantay Trek

We will leave Cusco early this morning and start heading out into the mountains. A spectacular drive takes us as far as Mollepata, where we will stop for a light breakfast and so everyone can get introduced. Today is a fairly easy day to get you nicely into the swing of things so we will then set off on a gentle hike through the Andean valleys to the Pampas de Silca, about 3 hours walk away, where we will stop for lunch, and then, after a decent rest, walk for around another 4 hours to Soraypampa, where we will camp tonight. (Lunch and Dinner included)

Day Two – Salkantay Pass

When you wake up today, the first thing you will see is the majestic peak of Salkantay – hopefully suitably inspiring for what is the longest and probably hardest day of the trek. After a hearty breakfast, we will set off at around 7am and cross the Pampas de Salkantay, with great views of some of the small lakes and moraines which characterise the area, and start climbing up to the Salkantay pass – the highest point of the trail at 4,500m. From here the views of the Umantay and Salkantay mountains, with their snow-covered slopes and glaciers are incredible. Then, looking beyond the pass, we can look down as the mountains taper away into the jungle beyond. We will stop here for lunch, before heading down the other side of the pass to Huayrac, where we will camp for the second night. (B/L/D)

Day Three – Santa Teresa

Today is a real highlight for nature-lovers as we begin to head down into the sub-tropical forest environments that are home to so many of Peru's endemic species. We will pass through the Arraniyuc community to the Santa Teresa river, where we will see huge waterfalls cutting the slopes, hundreds of varieties of orchids and bird-life galore before we arrive at our campsite at Lluskamayu. Depending on how we are doing for time, there may be a chance to give those tired legs a soak with a soak in the local thermal springs. (B/L/D)

Day Four – First Sight of Machu Picchu

This morning we will set off towards Sahuayaco, along trails lined with banana, avocado and coffee trees, and also the famous coca plants! After lunch, another 3 hours walk brings us to an amazing lookout point over the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. We will rest here for a while, before heading down the slopes and crossing the Vilcanota river to the bridge station where we will wait for the train to take us the last few kilometres to Aguas Calientes, the small town at the foot of Machu Picchu, where we will spend tonight in a local hotel. (B/L)

Day Five - Tour of Machu Picchu

This morning we will head up the mountain so you can have a full guided tour of Machu Picchu, and because you have stayed overnight at Aguas Calientes, you will be able to get up there early - even before the people on the Inca Trail - and have the site largely to yourselves. After a full day here, spent in both guided and individual exploration, you will return to Cusco by train. (B)

The "Short" Inca Trail

You might not be able to spare four days for our full Inca Trail holidays to Machu Picchu, but if you'd still like to experience the drama and beauty of the Inca Trail then perhaps our "Short" 1 day Inca Trail is for you. This trek begins by getting the train to Km 104 of the main trail, from where you have roughly six hours of trekking before you reach the famous Sun-Gate at the end of the full Inca Trail, looking out over Machu Picchu.

You'll then head down the mountain to have a relaxing night in Aguas Calientes, before returning to Machu Picchu the next day at dawn to see the ruins in perfect condition and without hordes of tourists. You have a full day at the site to explore at your leisure, before you return to Cusco by train in the evening.


Day One – Start the Inca Trail

This morning we will pick you up and take you to the station to catch the train from Cusco, following the Urubamba river to Km.104 of the railway, where you will descend and cross a footbridge to begin your hike at the Inca site of Chachabamba. After a brief visit to this lovely ruin with its water channels and fountains, you start the four-hour ascent that takes you past spectacular overlooks above the great valley, then below a lovely waterfall near the delightful site of Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young). You ascend through this largest and most exquisite of the Inca Trail sites, passing its chain of ritual baths and elegantly curved terracing, and then joining the main Inca trail. You then follow it across a steep mountainside and up narrow stairways through lush, humid cloud-forest of giant ferns and broad-leaf vegetation. Suddenly, you cross the stone threshold of Intipunku (Sun Gate) and encounter an unforgettable sweep of natural beauty and human artistry –a backdrop of twisting gorge and forested peaks framing the magical lost Inca city.

You then walk the last half-hour or so down the royal flagstone walkway, past outlying shrines and buildings and through the heart of Machu Picchu, taking a bus to the town of Aguas Calientes where you will stay overnight in a local hotel. (Lunch included)

Day Two – Guided Tour of Machu Picchu

You will enjoy an early morning visit to the famous lost city today, making sure you get there before everybody else: even the people doing the full four-day trail! You then have the rest of the day in both guided and individual exploration. After we’ve seen the most fascinating features of this astounding and mysterious Inca city, you may want to take the optional hike to an amazing overview of the site, or just to investigate Machu Picchu’s hidden nooks and corners. After having a full experience of this amazing site, we return to Aguas Calientes and board the return train to Cusco. (B)

The Weavers Way Trek

If you'd like something a little different, with all the beautiful scenery of our Inca Trail holidays but without many other trekkers at all, the Lares trek (also known as the Weaver's Way) is ideal. With relatively gentle altitude and scenery, it's a great trek for families or less-experienced trekkers, or can make a good acclimatisation trek for those wanting to prepare thoroughly for a more difficult trekking option.

You can either do this as a standalone trek from Cusco or (as we have it here) extending into four days with a visit to Machu Picchu. Either way, you will have two fairly high mountain passes to deal with, but otherwise the Lares trek offers fairly gentle paths rich in birdlife and with some stunning views across the Cordillera to peaks like Pitusiray as well as some lovely glacial lakes.


Day One – Start the Lares Trek

We will head out of Cusco this morning, travelling by minibus through the Sacred Valley until we reach our trailhead at Huaran. From this base at 2850m, we have two hours walk through the stunning scenery of the valley until we reach Somacpampa, where we will stop for lunch. After lunch we will continue our ascent up to the town of Cancha Cancha at 3900m, where we will camp for the night. (Lunch and Dinner included)

Day Two – Pachacutec Pass & Queñacocha

An early start this morning as we pack up and head in the direction of Queñococha. We will pass the two beautiful glacial lagoons of Acopata as we head for the Pachacutec pass – the high point of our trek at 4600m. This ascent will take us at least 2 hours but the views from the pass of Pachacutec lake and snow-capped Pitusiray are well worth it! From here we will head down to into a beautiful secluded valley, where we will have lunch. In the afternoon we ascend again, past several large waterfalls and the traditional Quechua town of Quishuarani before we reach Queñococha, where we will camp for the second night. (B/L/D)

Day Three – Down to Lares

After breakfast we will head up a small valley and start a steep climb up to our final pass – Abra Huillquijasa, at 4200m. Below us lies a stunning series of turquoise lakes and we will rest here for a while to enjoy the view before we dip down into the next valley and stop for lunch by the lakeshores. From here we will head on to the village of Cuncani, and then on to Lares itself, where we will arrive in time for you to bathe in the thermal springs that make the area famous. We will then head to Ollantaytambo to catch the train to Aguas Calientes so you are perfectly placed to visit Machu Picchu tomorrow. (B/L)

Day Four - Tour of Machu Picchu

This morning we will head up the mountain so you can have a full guided tour of Machu Picchu, and because you have stayed overnight at Aguas Calientes, you will be able to get up there early - even before the people on the Inca Trail - and have the site largely to yourselves. After a full day here, spent in both guided and individual exploration, you will return to Cusco by train. (B)

Holidays with our Alternative Inca Trails

Salkantay holiday in Peru Classic Salkantay 10-day Inca Trail holidays for £1595pp Switch to the Salkantay Trek at no cost

Our classic 2016 Inca Trail holiday usually has the traditional 4-day trek to Machu Picchu as its centrepiece, but we could easily include the Salkantay trek instead ...

Adventure and Food Tours in Peru Vida Es Dulce Adventure Tours in Peru for £2295pp Already includes short Inca Trail

Our Vida Es Dulce itinerary combines a fantastic adventure holiday in Peru - including the one-day Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu - with a chance to explore all Peru's culinary delights ...

Guide to the Inca Trail

Although there are several different ways of getting to Machu Picchu, our favourite is still the classic four-day trek known as the Inca Trail. Following the ancient Inca road between Cusco and Machu Picchu, this trek is the highlight of many a holiday in Peru, and guaranteed to be something you remember forever.

The classic Inca Trail trek starts just past the village of Piskacucho in the Sacred Valley at a point known as Km 82. This marks the end of the road from Cusco, and is 82km along the railway between Cusco and Machu Picchu. You then cross over to the southern side of the River Urubamba and begin climbing up into the mountains. The trail then continues for four days, crossing several high mountain passes until on the morning of Day Four you arrive at the Inti Punku Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu.

Along the way, you pass some fascinating Inca ruins before you even get to Machu Picchu, especially the village of Wiñaywayna on the final day. Perched among the steep slopes of the valley, this is generally held to be one of the most atmospheric of all Peru's Inca ruins.

Inca Trail Map

At the end of each day, you will arrive into camp, which will already have been assembled for you by your team of porters, so all you have to do is relax and wait for dinner, which will be prepared for you by our expert chef. Then, after a good night's sleep, you will get up, eat breakfast and then trek out of camp while the porters take all the tents down and then catch you up!

The campsites are located at as low an altitude as possible but you are going to be sleeping at over 3000m for the first two nights, and only just under on the third.

Inca Trail Porters

Inca Trail Porter Welfare

Another point to consider is the welfare of porters on your Inca Trail holidays. Good companies will make sure that porters are properly clothed and equipped, as well as properly fed and properly paid. However, unfortunately this isn't the case across the board so please make sure that any company you deal with treats their porters correctly. Our Inca Trail partners work with one particular village with whom they have a long-standing relationship, and as well as making sure that the porters' needs are met while working, they also are involved with social and educational programmes for the village.

On on your Inca Trail holidays, please do try and get involved with the porters. Many of them speak Quechua rather than Spanish, so it can be a little difficult to communicate, but the international language of pointing and pulling silly faces is alive and well in the Andes, and an offer to share your coca leaves needs little translation...

2017 Inca Trail Permits

Holidays to the Pantanal

Both the Inca Trail treks (the classic 4-day trek and the shorter 1-day Inca Trail) require you to have one of the special Inca Trail permits, issued by the Peruvian government. Anyone trekking the Inca Trail, whether tourist, Peruvian, guide or porter, has to have one of these, and only 500 permits are issued for each day. That might sound like a lot, but these permits go very quickly once they are issued at the end of January, especially for busy months - which for the Inca Trail is more or less any time from May to October. Obviously we will check for permits before accepting any 2016 Inca Trail holiday bookings, but it is definitely something that needs booking in advance.

If your dates are fixed and there are no longer permits available, then you have will have to look at an alternative route such as the Salkantay trek - permits are issued to a particularly passport number and once issued they are non-transferable and non-cancellable: once they've gone, they've gone. However, some of the alternative routes are superb, so don't despair! In fact, many people actually rate the Salkantay trek more highly than the "classic" Inca Trail...

Ask us about Inca Trail Permit availability
Inca Trail Climate

Climate & Weather on the Inca Trail

Temperatures remain fairly steady throughout the year in this part of Peru, but just having a quick look at average temperatures doesn't really give you a full picture of the climate you're likely to experience on an Inca Trail holiday...

Current weather in Cusco

The Weather in Cusco is: Light Rain

Light Rain

The real key is in the difference between the rainy season (roughly from November to March) and the dry season (April-October). It's not that it rains all day, every day during the rainy season, but it's almost certain that you will see some rain every day, and when the showers come they tend to be quite heavy. It's not a problem organising an Inca Trail holiday at this time (except for February, when the Inca Trail is closed every year) but if you can schedule your trek for the dry season, it's probably more comfortable.

During the dry season, you're likely to have clear skies and fine weather, although these do pose their own problems. During the day, average highs of around 19-20°C are a little deceptive: at these altitudes the sun is very fierce and so you'll want good sun cream, a sun hat and shades, not to mention shorts. However, because the air is so thin, it loses heat very rapidly once the sun goes down so night-time temperatures are only just above freezing in July and August.

Equipment for the Inca Trail

This isn't a problem once you're in your tent - here at RealWorld our tents and sleeping bags are all good quality four-season gear, with REI thermarests to make sure you're warm and toasty. However, if you want to sit around with people after dinner and have a chat, you'll want a few layers on - things like fleeces are perfect.

In the fringe months at either end of the dry season (April/May and October/November) we'd recommend a thin waterproof layer (fold-up anoraks are perfect) and possibly even waterproof over-trousers, just in case you get the odd shower - it means you'll avoid any risk of having to put damp clothing back on next morning. You should always make sure you have footwear with adequate ankle support as well. Can you do the Inca Trail in trainers? Yes. Should you do the Inca Trail in trainers? Not if you value your ankles!

Obviously you can contact us if you have specific questions about your Inca Trail equipment, but a quick checklist for one of our treks would be as follows:

  • Plenty of thin layers of clothing
  • Warm tracksuit tops/fleece, gloves and a hat for the cool evenings
  • Well broken-in walking boots/shoes
  • Camera and spare batteries
  • Small amount of cash for purchases along the way
  • Small rucksack, if you haven't booked an extra porter
  • Sunglasses, sun hast and suntan lotion
  • Chocolate, energy drinks or coca leaves!
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