To experience breathtaking views and create lasting memories in Peru, it is highly recommended that all hikers exploring the Inca Trail embark on one of the various trails comprising this historic route. The length of each hike differs depending on its duration, with the renowned four-day trek spanning a total distance of 26 miles (42 km), while shorter options cover a mere 5.81 miles (9.35 km) over two days on foot.
Hikers who wish to explore the classic Inca Trail have several starting points available.
The 4-Day and 5-day routes of the classic Inca Trail originate at Kilometer 82, also known as Piscacucho.
The 2-Day Inca Trail option is part of Chachabamba or Kilometer 104 for those interested in a shorter trip. Adventurers who wish to combine the Salkantay Trekking with the classic Inca Trail begin their expedition at Soraypampa. Most Inca Trail tours start between 5 and 6 am from Cusco and two hours later from the Sacred Valley.
The difficulty of the different Inca Trail hikes depends on the trail selected. The trails vary from simple to complex and depend on several factors, such as the days required, the altitude attained, the physical level of the individuals, their level of personal experience, and their ability to acclimate to the altitude.
Take, for example, the combination of the Salkantay Trek and the classic Inca Trail: this trail deserves recognition as the most rigorous option due to its extensive terrain coverage, the prolonged time devoted to the trek, and an impressive maximum altitude of 16,000 feet (5000 equivalents meters). As can be inferred from such descriptions, this trek presents significant difficulty.
In comparison, the Inca Trail Short Route emerges as the hiking trail of short endurance, as it takes just seven hours to cover and poses fewer altitude-related concerns.
To get a more detailed view of the unique features of each trail, consult the attached tables for more complete details.
It is fundamental to ensure personal safety during outdoor activities such as hiking, but potential danger can be minimized with due proactivity and precautions.
A key factor to consider when planning your trek on the Inca Trail Trek or any other high-altitude hiking destination is preventing altitude evil through proper acclimatization.
Undertaking hiking at high altitudes without proper preparation is a cocktail for disaster, given that altitude evil is frequent among Inca Trail hikers in places like the Dead Woman’s Pass, the highest point of the trek Inca Trail Trek.
The best way to avoid getting sick from this condition when undertaking routes like the Salkantay Trail + classic Inca Trail combination, with its comprehensive coverage and maximum ascent point of 16,000 feet (5000 meters), lies in choosing your itinerary wisely according to your level of experience and physical condition.
With frequent rains that begin in December and extend into February (the rainy season, when the trail is closed), there are only specific windows worth considering for your trip between spring and fall, from April to November.
We suggest selecting dates within the respective “mid-season” periods, late April-May or late September-October, where you can enjoy nature’s stunning beauty without large crowds obstructing your view. When preparing for your trek on the Inca Trail, remember that there are specific periods when crowds tend to increase considerably.
Key dates like spring break, Veterans Day weekend, or year-end celebrations attract numerous hikers attempting to trek this famous Peruvian route. Securing your reservations six months in advance is crucial to avoid disappointments due to exhausted permits to hike the Inca Trail on those dates. Conversely, permits are available up to two weeks before start dates during the offseason.
The Inca Trail is the obvious option for those seeking a challenging trek in Peru.
Most Inca Trail hikers rated it as demanding due to its steep hills and high altitude. Consider taking the Inca Trail Short Trek if you prefer a more accessible option. It only takes seven hours and does not involve climbing to extreme heights.