The elevation gains on the Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu will depend on what route you choose to take. There are many ways to hike on the Inca Trail, including the Traditional 4 day Inca trail, the Classic 5 day, or the 6 day Salkantay trek. Our favorite trek is the Classic 5 Day Inca Trail, therefore, that is the elevation gains we will explain here.
Elevation Gains on the Classic Inca Trail Trek
After helping over 1,000 people trek this famous trail to Machu Picchu, we want to share as much information as possible with you. This information is to help you understand what will be expected of you when you are hiking each day, and therefore, be able to formulate an appropriate training plan. When you are finished on this page, then come back up and click this link for all you need to know about trekking the Inca Trail. For more information on our treks, GET IN TOUCH today!
Days 1 and 2). Cusco – Sacred Valley
If you are on an Ian Taylor Trekking trip, we include two nights in Cusco at a 4 star hotel. When you are flying into Cusco, which sits at 3,400m/ 11,152 feet, it is extremely important to take it easy on arrival in Cusco. The more time you can spend at this altitude before starting the trek, the better!
On the second day of the trip, our team will take you on a full Sacred Valley Tour. The high point of the day will be 3,764m/ 12,350 feet. At this elevation there is 30% less oxygen than at sea level. You can always come in early, recover from jet lag, time zone changes and gain extra acclimatization for the climb. We have people joining our treks from around the world so it is important so make sure you are rested and well hydrated.
Day 3). Wayllabamba
Today, the journey to Machu Picchu starts! The day will begin with a pick up from the hotel after breakfast. After 30 minutes we will arrive at Kilometer 82, or Piscacucho, at 2,700m/ 9,000 feet. Once you have passed the control, where you will have to show your passport and permit for the trail, our journey will begin!
The walk today will take approximately 6 hours through beautiful landscapes. On route to our campsite, we will have lunch at the charming spot of Tarayoc 2,800m/ 9,184 feet. The Lunch place is near a really cool Inca site. After lunch we have another 2 hours to reach our campsite at Wayllabamba at 3,100m/ 10,170 feet. Total distance walked today is 10.6k/ 6.6 miles. Today’s elevation gain is 500m/ 1,640 feet. The total descent is 50m/ 164 feet.
Day 4). Pacumayu
After our first night spent in tents, under the starry sky, we will wake early for breakfast. The journey uphill begins as we make the 1,115m/ 3,658 feet steep ascent up to the dead women’s pass at 4,215m/ 13,828 feet. You will travel through some of the most beautiful and dense forest terrain on the trek.
We will have lunch at Llulluchapampa 3,800m/ 12,467 feet. After some rest we will continue up steep stairs and trail to the pass. Enjoy the achievement, take a look back on what you have achieved and then contemplate the steep 715m/ 2,346 feet descent down to Pacumayu campground. The total trekking time today will be approximately eight hours and we will cover a distance of 12 km/ 7.46 miles. Today’s elevation gain is 1,115m/ 3,658 feet and steep descent of 715m/ 2,356 feet.
Day 5). Phuyupatamarca
From Pacaymayu at 3,500m/ 11,482 feet. We start another steep ascent up to the second pass 3,970m/ 13,022 feet. The peak is called Runkurakay. The second pass is called Runkurkay pass. Half way up, we visit the archaeological complex with the same name. After going over the pass, we descend towards Yanacocha (Black Lagoon) and enter the cloud forest to finally arrive at Sayacmarca, at 3,624m/ 11,887 feet. It usually takes 1 hour from the second pass to Sayacmarca and another 45 minutes to Chaquicocha.
We will have lunch at Chaquicocha. After lunch, there is approximately another two hours before we arrive at the third pass, the Abra Phuyupatamarca, at 3,700m/ 12,136 feet. We set our camp in Phuyupatamarca, which is the more beautiful camp spots on the Inca trail. We will have the most astonishing sun-set, and enjoy our final evening of camping here. Today is a tough day and the total distance will be 10.5 km/ 6,5 miles. It should take us approximately 7 hours of hiking today. The total elevation gain today is 650m/ 2,132 feet. The total descent is 470m/ 1,542 feet.
Day 6). Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes
After our final delicious breakfast at our campsite, we will begin the final day of trekking into Machu Picchu! The start of the day will be a steep descent, down stairs for approximately 3 hours. Here, we will stop to take in the amazing views of the Urubamba valley. This place is called Intipata. After a nice rest we will continue the descent for half an hour we will visit one of the most impressive places in all our route of the Inca Trail the place called Wiñayhuayna.
After lunch, we follow a narrow trail that walked us around Machu Picchu mountain. Eventually, we will reach the Sun Gate (Intipunku). Here, finally our dream becomes reality as the impressive view of the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu will be in full display. After enjoying the Inca Citadel we will descend for about an hour we arrive at the place called the Guardian’s House. This is where we will have the opportunity to contemplate Machu Picchu in all its splendor. We will take photographs and soak in the beauty of Machu Picchu for a while. Then, we will take bus from the Inca city of Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes. Once you arrive in Aguas Calients, you will be rewarded with a warm shower, a bed to sleep in and a fun night out on the town! The total descent today is 1,270m/ 4,167 feet.
Day 7). Machu Picchu – Cusco
After a wonderful night sleep in the hotel, then we will wake up early and board the bus. This will take us back up to Machu Picchu. Here, we will begin a complete guided tour of the Inca Citadel that will take approximately two hours. We will then have free time to walk around, climb up the Huayna Picchu Mountain if this was booked prior (additional cost), and soak up the beauty of this historic place. We include lunch in Aguas Calientes and then we all take an early afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo. From there, we will have a private bus back to Cusco, where we include one final night in the hotel.
Day 8). Onward Journey Home
Your classic 5 day Inca Trail Trek is over. You will be picked you up from your hotel in Cusco, depending on your flight time. We will drive you to the airport in order to take your flight for your onward journey. There are options to join tours to the Amazon, lake Titicaca and other treasures Peru has on offer.
Trek the Inca Trail With us
Why not join one of our Inca Trail treks. We will help you get the right training information so that you can come fully prepared for your trek. This is not an easy hike and should not be underestimated. Therefore, you need to come with the right strength and conditioning to be safe all the way through this Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Read some REVIEWS from our trips and then CONTACT US.