The elevation gains on your 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.
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 at the beginning of the trip in Cusco, Peru. When you are flying into Cusco, which sits at 3,400m/ 11,152 feet, it is extremely important to spend 2 nights at this elevation before going onto the Inca Trail. The more time you can spend at this altitude before starting the trek, the better!
We will spend the first day in Cusco, exploring the city and acclimatizing. Then, the second day, our teams will do a full Sacred Valley Tour. 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). Llactapata
Today, the journey to Machu Picchu starts! The day will begin with a pick up from the hotel after breakfast. There will be a three and a half hour drive through beautiful high Andean landscape, before arriving to Ollantaytambo. You will have a short break there to pick up any last minute items, before jumping back in the car. After another 40 minute drive, you 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 5 – 6 hours through beautiful landscapes. En route to our campsite, we will have lunch at the charming spot of Miskay 2,800m/ 9184 feet. The campsite tonight is is right next to the stunning Incan City of Llactapata, at 2,750m/ 9020 feet. Total distance walked today is 10k/ 6 miles. The lowest elevation reached today is 2,700m/ 9,022 feet and the highest point is 2,950m/ 9,676 feet.
Day 4). Llulluchapampa
After our first night spent in tents, under the starry sky, we will wake early for breakfast. The trek today will continue along the valley, unteil we reach the community of Wayllabamba, at 3,100m/ 10,170 feet. Here we will stop for lunch and have a short rest before we begin our up-hill ascent in the afternoon. The journey uphill travels through some of the most beautiful and dense forest terrain on the trek.
The trail leads us up towards the highest point of the trek, which we will pass tomorrow, the Abra Warmihuañusca, otherwise known as the Dead Woman Pass. We only climb half way up the pass, stopping at Llulluchapampa, where we camp and spend the night. The total trekking time today will be approximately six hours and we will cover a distance of 12 km/ 7.46 miles. The lowest point of elevation today is 2,750m/ 9,022 feet and the highest point is at our campsite, at 3,850m/ 12,631 feet.
Day 5). Phuyupatamarca
After breakfast, we continue our hike up the highest point in the Inca Trail, reaching the mountain pass of Abra Warmihuañusca, or the Dead Woman Pass, at 4,215m/ 13,776 feet. This will take approximately two hours. Immediately after the pass, we descend into the Pacaymayo valley at 3,500m/ 11,482 feet. From here, we then start to climb to the second pass, the Abra Runkurakay 3,970m/ 13,022 feet. 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.
Continuing up an easy climb, we arrive to Chaquicocha, which the lunch spot. After lunch, there is approximately another two and a half 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 one of the more beautiful camp spots on the 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 15 km/ 9.32 miles. It should take us approximately 7 – 8 hours of walking today. The lowest point of elevation is 3,500m/ 11,482 feet, and the highest point is at the Dead Woman’s Pass at 4,215m/ 13,776 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 for lunch with an amazing view of the Urubamba valley from the place called Intipata. 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. Eventuatlly, 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!
Today, we will be walking for approximately five hours and cover a total distance of 11 km/ 7 miles. The lowest point today will be in Aguas Calientes, at 2,040 m/ 6,691 feet and the highest elevation is at 3,680 m/ 12,073 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 Huaynapicchu Mountain if this was booked prior (additional cost), and soak up the beauty of this historic place. In the afternoon, we meet back in the town of Aguas Calientes where we will then take the train back to Ollantaytambo. From there, we will have a private bus back to Cusco, where we includ 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.
Join us to Make the Journey on the Inca Trail
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.