Machu Picchu ? The Inca Trail Trek

Trip Length 10 Days
Group Size 4?12
Difficulty
Starting from
$4,299 for REI Members
$4,699 for non-members
Departures Mar 2020-Nov 2020
Mon���Fri 7am���5pm PT

Follow in the footsteps of the Incas as we embark on one of the world?s most iconic treks, the Inca Trail, from the Sacred Valley to the legendary lost city of Machu Picchu.

The Inca Trail is a once in a lifetime experience and REI has spent years developing an itinerary that can capture the majesty and wonder of this journey. With more than 30 years of experience on the trail, you?ll be accompanied by local REI guides and porters who are passionate about introducing visitors to the history, culture and natural splendor of the region they call home.

?Our guide was the perfect mix of hiking guide, historian, cheerleader, environmentalist, cultural expert, and comedian.? ?  Kelly from Minnesota

Nights on the trail are spent relaxing at REI Signature Campsites. The crown jewel of REI camping styles, REI Signature Camps offer spacious tents, deluxe meals and spectacular high mountain views. You?ll never forget those quiet mornings waking up to a steaming cup of coca tea as mist swirls around the valley below before gearing up to hike another leg of the four-day journey to Machu Picchu.

Our adventure begins in Cuzco, the former Inca capital, before traveling into the Sacred Valley. Three full days of exploration allows time to visit iconic ruins, wander cobblestone streets, experience modern day life, and acclimatize. From the valley, our journey along the Inca trail begins. Climb through beautiful mountain scenery filled with wild orchids, rainbow-colored mosses and old Inca sites. Cap each evening off with good conversation and deluxe camping accommodations. The journey along the trail comes to a close as we descend 2,000 stone-cut steps and approach the Gate of the Sun. Just beyond this magnificent viewpoint lie the glories of Machu Picchu. Experience the peace and solitude of these incomparable ruins before departing back to Cusco on the classic Vistadome train.

Limited trekking permits?reserve your trip early
The Peruvian Government issues a limited number of Inca Trail permits per day. Due to the popularity of this spectacular route, permits generally sell out six months in advance. Reserve your spot now and leave the rest to us!

This is a great trip for adults and fit, older teens. If you're traveling with younger children, check out our Machu Picchu Family Adventure.

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Trip Highlights

  • Follow an ancient path to Machu Picchu on REI's Inca Trail Trek
  • Explore Cusco, see ancient ruins, and visit traditional Andean towns
  • Trek 5?7 miles per day, fully supported; carry only day packs
  • Experience REI Signature Camping! Spacious tents, deluxe comfort, amazing meals and more!

Activities

This trip is rated Vigorous [4]. Trip members need to be strong, experienced hikers in good physical condition and be able to hike 8 miles within about 4 hours at sea level. Most days are spent at moderately high altitude (8,000?13,700') and the trek includes a number of steep ascents and descents with gains and losses greater than 3000'. Much of the trail is on large stone stairs.

To maximize your enjoyment of the trip and to avoid sore muscles, we strongly encourage participants to begin a conditioning regimen at least three months prior to departure consisting of hiking, walking/running or cycling. If you live in an area conducive to hiking, try to get out on those hills if possible and work some elevation gain and loss into your regimen. The better shape you are in, the more you'll enjoy all that this unforgettable adventure has to offer.

  • Trekking

What's Included

Accommodations in hotels (6 nights) and tents (3 nights); meals as noted in the daily itinerary (including all meals during trek); English-speaking local guides; Inca Trail trekking permit; porterage of luggage while trekking; all group camping gear and cooking equipment; ground transportation within Peru, Cusco airport arrival transfers (any day) and departing on Day 10; all sightseeing excursions as noted including entry to Machu Picchu; tips to drivers and trekking support staff.

Inca Trail Hiking Permits: We require your complete passport information in order to purchase your Inca Trail trekking permit. These permits are limited and often sell out in advance due to high demand. To avoid disappointment, please reserve your date as early as possible.

Accommodations

Hotels, 6 nights; REI Signature Camping, 3 nights?

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Meet in Cusco for a walking tour of the city's highlights.

Our trip begins today in Cusco, Peru (11,150'). Upon arrival in Cusco, we're met by our local guide at our centrally located hotel where a brief orientation meeting will be held. This afternoon, we depart on a city tour that includes a visit to many of Cusco's notable and historic sights. Our guide leads us through the bustling Plaza de Armas, and enlightens us on the history and significance of the Inca temple Koricancha and neighboring Santo Domingo Church. We also walk uphill to San Blas and explore this vibrant neighborhood that has become one of the city's artistic centers. We have the remainder of the day at leisure to acclimatize and discover this beautiful Andean city that was once the center of the Inca Empire. All meals on your own.

Day 2

Visit Sacsayhuaman fortress, ruins at Pisac, and the town of Chinchero.

Today we head out to the enchanting "Sacred Valley of the Incas". Shortly after leaving Cusco, we'll stop at the imposing ruins of monolithic Sacsayhuaman fortress (considered one of the world's greatest examples of stonemasonry) and enjoy panoramic views of the jumbled red roofs of the colonial city spread out far below. Our next stop is the exceptionally well-preserved ruins at Pisac, which provide an opportunity for us to take a short warm-up hike as we explore the site's various structures and terraces before making our way down to Pisac town and its bustling crafts market. After lunch, we continue to the lovely high Andean village of Chinchero where we visit a textile cooperative and learn more about the weaving traditions that have been passed down among the local people for centuries. We drop back down to the valley for a relaxing evening in our traditionally styled hotel. All meals included.

Hiking: 3 miles

Day 3

Marvel at an Inca crop laboratory and visit ancient salt mines.

This morning, we travel through the Sacred Valley, past Incan terraces and fields of corn, wheat, barley and quinoa, ultimately arriving in the town of Ollantaytambo, whose street plan still maintains its original Incan layout. After a guided walking tour of the town and remarkable namesake ruins, we'll travel to the Inca ruins of Moray. The circular terraces of Moray were used as an agricultural "research laboratory" for the Incas, who studied temperature variation from one terrace to another in order to develop different crop varieties. We continue to the small town of Maras and begin a one-hour hike to the picturesque salt mines. Originally used by the Inca, villagers from surrounding communities still mine salt by hand from the spring-fed terraced pools. In the late afternoon we return to our lovely hotel for dinner and prepare for tomorrow's trek. All meals included.

Hiking: 4 miles.

Day 4

On the Inca Trail, hike from the trailhead to our first campsite.

Our excitement mounts as we board our private bus for the hour long drive to the trailhead at Piscacucho (km marker #82). Here, we meet our Quechua Indian porters and begin trekking the amazing Inca Trail. With snow-capped Mount Veronica (19,188') and the rest of the Urubamba range as a backdrop, we follow a well-marked path past the ruins of Llactapata and through some small Indian villages on the way to our campsite near Huayllabamba. All meals included.

Hiking: 5.7 miles (5.5 hours); Elevation gain: 7,900'?9,678'.

Day 5

Superb mountain views await crossing the high pass of Warmiwanusca.

A nutritious camp breakfast prepares us for today's challenging trek along the narrow Llullucha gorge and over the first pass on the trail. We hike through dense forest encountering abundant birdlife and flowering plants before reaching the open meadows of Llulluchapampa. The final approach to the high pass begins here with a long, steep ramp leading to Warmiwanusca (13,780'). At the top, the views of the surrounding peaks and verdant forest canopy are spectacular. The trail then descends steeply and passes through a meadow rife with lakes, waterfalls and Andean wildflowers. Tonight we make camp in the upper meadows of Pacaymayo. All meals included.

Hiking: 7 miles (7 hours); Final elevation 10,991'.

Day 6

Our trail leads past Inca ruins and over high Andean passes.

We cross the Runkurakay Pass (12,631') in the morning, enjoying excellent views of the glacier-clad peaks of the Pumasillo Mountains and deep gorges of the eastern Andes. We then descend gradually through a unique ecological zone - a high jungle transition area rich in plant and animal life. After entering the cloud forest, our route takes us past the ruins of Sayacmarca and through a natural tunnel elaborated on by the Incas. This portion of the trail is well-paved with Inca stonework and leads us to the spectacular campsite at Phuyupatamarca. The campsite offers superb sunrise vistas over the Urubamba and Aobamba River Valleys and of glacier-covered Mount Salcantay (20,575'). All meals included.

Hiking: 6.1 miles (5.5 hours); Final elevation 11,975'.

Day 7

Arrive at the Sun Gate and enjoy the first views of Machu Picchu.

As we leave Phuyupatamarca, we begin a steep stone staircase descent (approximately 2,000 steps cut into indigenous rock), followed by a series of additional descents varying in grade, to the Winay Wayna ruins where we stop for lunch. During the afternoon, our anticipation rises as we make our way to Intipunku (the Sun's Gateway). We arrive at Intipunku in mid-afternoon and are rewarded with our first breathtaking views of Machu Picchu. After spending time at the lookout point, we descend to the ruins and briefly explore some areas close to the trail. This evening, we enjoy a well deserved shower and hotel stay in the nearby village of Aguas Calientes, on the valley floor. All meals included.

Hiking: 6.2 miles (5?6 hours), Machu Picchu's elevation is 7,874'.

Day 8

Guided tour of Machu Picchu; hike Huayna Picchu and free time to explore.

We have an early breakfast and head up to the ruins to experience the peace and solitude of this magical place. Our knowledgeable guide leads us through, explaining the significance of the various structures and the theories behind Machu Picchu's purpose and construction methods. We have the rest of the morning and early afternoon to attempt the optional hike up Huayna Picchu and/or explore the ruins on our own.

Enjoy a few hours on your own to explore the colorful market of Aguas Calientes or partake in the hotel offerings like the Twilight Walk and Tea house excursions. We will rejoin for dinner. All meals included.

Hiking: Optional Huayna Picchu hike may be unguided and is steep with some exposure. Permits are limited. An alternative optional hike may be available if Huayna Picchu permits cannot be obtained.

Day 9

Second day discovering Machu Picchu and travel back to Cusco.

This morning we have the option to go back up to Machu Picchu with our guides for more exploration, now that we've had some time to reflect on the journey thus far. After lunch, we catch the afternoon train to Ollantaytambo and take the bus to Cusco, arriving at approximately 7pm. The day concludes with our guide joining us for a final celebration dinner at a traditional local restaurant. Overnight in Cusco.

Hiking: 2?3 miles (2 hours). Machu Picchu's elevation is 7,874'.

Day 10

Depart Cusco for home with wonderful memories of your Incan adventure.

?After breakfast, transfers back to the Cusco airport will be arranged for travelers departing today. Trip members can opt to return to Lima for connecting flights home or extend their travels in Peru. Breakfast included.

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To obtain maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you choose your clothing and gear for this trip. Try to bring only what is necessary?this will help you and the field staff.

What to pack

You might also consider

Travel documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)
  • Valid Passport

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.