Everything to know about the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a novel experience that will leave a lifetime of memories and a sense of fulfillment. It is one of the most prevalent hikes in South America. One of the seven great wonders of the world, the trail brings together thousands of adventurous tourists from across the globe every year.

Tourists make a long pilgrimage through the Andes to visit Machu Picchu in Peru. The classic hike is considered by many to be amongst the most incredible short treks in the world, making it the ultimate bucket list travel experience.

Whether you are the adventurous kind that loves a good hike or a history enthusiast, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu has plenty to offer. But are you enthusiastic about taking the hike yourself?

Below is everything to know about the historic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.


The Incas built the classic Inca trail over 500 years ago. As part of the 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) of a more extensive Inca trail system, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu remains the most famous stretch.

The trail system initially unified the Inca Empire of Tahuantinsuyo in the 15th century. It covered most parts of Latin America, including part of these countries; Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, and Chile.

The Inca trail system included a thread of Inca paths known as “Qhapaq Nan.” The trails were often used commercially to transport products, llamas, and people. However, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu is known to have been a pilgrimage route used by the Emperor.

It is only 26 miles in length.  One can view different sites between Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo, where there are remarkable architectural structures that give the route a mystic feel.

The trail was re-discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1912 during his clearing work after the 1911 discovery of Machu Picchu.

How to Get to The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

If you are planning to fly to Peru, you might land in the city of Lima. Most international flights to the country land here. Lima, “City of Kings,” is the capital city of Peru. You should stop here for a few days and bask in the city’s rich history and contemporary attractions if you have some time to spare. 

From Lima, you can either opt to take a bus or book a domestic flight that will take you straight to Cuzco. The flight option is quicker and more comfortable.

However, taking the bus is a great way to experience Peru’s countryside. If you opt for the bus, expect about 20 hours of travel on Peru’s rough and rugged roads. 

Cuzco is historically known as the capital of the Inca empire. It is another fulfilling stop with so much to offer. At Cuzco, board a train to Kilometer 82 at Poroy Station.

The train ride is approximately 18 kilometers and passes through the town of Ollantaytambo. Kilometer 82 is located between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes.

The Classic Inca trail starts at Kilometer 82. Here you can commence your Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

How long does the hike to Machu Picchu take?

The Classic Inca Trail hike takes between three to six days. However, an alternate route can take you as little as one day. The average time it takes on the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is four days and three nights.

The shortest route starts at Kilometer 104 and will take only a day to reach Machu Picchu. The Vilcabamba Traverse Route and the Salkantay Route are the more challenging options and may take you up to two weeks to reach Machu Picchu.

These two trails may require you to be physically fit or have prior hiking experience. Choosing your experience depends on your preferences and how much time you plan to spend in Peru.

What is the best season to hike to Machu Picchu?

The best time to travel the Inca trail is often between April and September, after the rainy season. After that, the track is open for most of the year except for February. However, in recent years, the areas around the Cerro Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu mountains have been closed temporarily in April.

Be sure to check with your tour services to pick the best times as it is not always the case. Below are the best seasons to hike to Machu Picchu.

The Wet Season

The wet season is often from November to April. The wet season is the best time to visit if you want an adventurous streak. The routes can be a tad muddy and challenging, while the sights are stunning.

Trekking around this time can be precarious as the mountain trails are steep. However, adventurous travelers tend to opt for this season as there are usually fewer crowds and, therefore, better opportunities to relish without the hubbub of the groups.

The Dry Season

The dry season is in July and August. It is the most popular season to hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. During this season, the days are dry, and the nights are cold.

You are assured to experience beautiful sunny days and the occasional odd rain shower that keeps things interesting. If you do not mind crowds, you are in for a Peruvian treat if you visit during the dry season.

The Shoulder Season

The months of May, June, September, and October are in the shoulder season. It is sporadically rainy in this season, and the mornings are misty.

The weather is a bit fickle, and therefore you should be ready to pack some layers and be prepared for whatever weather each day brings along.

You won’t have to hustle the crowds to capture the most scenic photograph for your social media. The trails are more secluded during this season.  

Coursing the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a lifetime opportunity that leaves timeless memories. So take the leap and enjoy an adventure unlike any other. 

Now you are ready to start your journey into this significant undertaking. Visit our blog to see more adventures you must experience.  

Pearce Kibaale is a freelance writer, content creator, and Editor-in-Chief of Trip Dhow.

Pearce Kibaale, Editor-in-Chief of Trip Dhow