Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 2025

The Inca Trail is famous for the scenery found in the local mountains, which is unlike anything else you can see in the country. And that’s what makes the Inca Trail so iconic, different and extremely appealing to any visitor coming into the country. It’s one of the best ways to explore Peru, while also getting to Machu Picchu and enjoying the scenery, as you take a lot of pictures! And yes, it truly is a crown jewel for Peru!

Machupicchu peru

What’s the Inca Trail availability?

Since they only allow 500 permits per day, you must book yours ahead of time. That’s even more so when you need to hire additional help. The Peruvian government also requires helpers to have a permit. Adequate planning is important since the permits are limited, which means they go out very fast. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu experience is amazing, provided that you have all the tools and things needed to reach the destination. 

Ideally, you want to work with a travel company that can book your permits themselves, ahead of time. In doing so, you are avoiding any downsides, since you will not have to worry about any manual booking. Permits are also required for cooks, porters and anyone on the travel team. A travel agent can be ideal here, because he can assist you with bookings beforehand. The agent will be in touch with the authorities and when new spots are available, they will book the permits for you. Once that’s done, you just need to prepare your travel accommodation and equipment.

Is it necessary to book in advance?

Booking months in advance is ideal, especially during certain seasons. That’s because booking permits will give a peace of mind. In general, you want to book your permits for the Inca Trail 4 day hike early on. You must talk with a travel agent and ensure they book your permits at least a month or two in advance. During the dry season, you might need to book even 3 or more months in advance.  

Best time to go on the trail

For most people, the Inca Trail 4 day hike is the most accessible during the dry season due to the favorable weather. That’s from May to September. There are times during the wet season when it doesn’t rain that much, either. The wet season makes it much harder to browse the trail. That’s why the drier season is usually the best option. You get to push any terrain difficulties away, not to mention you don’t have to deal with mud and more complicated climbing situations.
The Inca Trail is known for taking a lot of tolls on any person’s body. That’s the reason why acclimatization is of the utmost priority. Without adequate preparation, you will find it difficult to explore the mountains and their natural beauty. The routes leading to Machu Picchu in particular can have narrow spots and places where it’s difficult to explore. However, going through all the entire hike is very fulfilling!

cusco camino inca
Machu Picchu Cusco Tour

Inca Trail availability

Upon exploring the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you must figure out when and if the trail gets closed. That’s because the trail is not available during the entire year. For example, during February, the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance. 

An Inca Trail 4 day hike should be scheduled ahead of time, so you can avoid timing inconsistencies. However, it also comes down to the availability. Because the Inca Trail itself might not be available during the entire year, only parts of it. And that’s why we believe that it makes sense to work closely with a travel agency. They can help you acquire the permits you need, while also handling most if not all of the booking process and access to amenities. 

Do you need a map for the Inca Trail?

While it might not be mandatory, having a map when you enter the Inca Trail is an amazing idea, and it will help quite a lot. It’s highly recommended to use a map because it saves time and effort. Plus, maps can be very detailed, and they can make it easy to understand stops, destinations, elevation and other information. 

It can be very difficult for someone new to a region to know where to go and how much time each part of the Inca Trail hike can take. With a map, you can make things easier. It will also offer you a new way of learning the location and trail without dealing with any extra pressure. 

Ideally, your passport needs to be valid when you go to the Trail. If the passport is under 6 months of validity, that’s a problem. That means it’s impossible to visit Machu Picchu or enter the Trail. If that happens and you are the border, any tickets or permits are annulled. The best thing to do is to renew your passport before going to Peru. Otherwise, you will be forced to go back to your country.

cusco peru

Do you need a University Card for the student discount?

A university card needs to be shown if you want to access any student discounts. Getting a student discount is possible for the Machu Picchu visit. However, the card needs to be active, valid and not expired. It should also have your name and photo, along with the university name. If these requirements are fulfilled, you will be allowed on the trek. Otherwise, it is possible for the authorities to ask for a full price ticket. 

Can you find any of the original paths built by the Incas?

The original paths that are over 500 years old are still here, albeit restored over the years. And while on the trail, you can find many archeological sites from the Incan era. The paths will make it easy to go through the mountains. While these paths were restored over the years, they still retain the original directions and look. 

It also adds a lot of authenticity to the Trail, since you feel like being a part of that entire location and experience. In addition, during your trek, you are going through mountain passes too. That adds to the Inca Trail trek difficulty. Weather changes are normal, especially when you are outside of the dry season when it can rain at random. 

Should you choose the classic Inca Trail?

That’s why the classic Inca Trail is a very popular option for tourists, because you have great opportunities to take photos and it’s also quite long as well. Keep in mind that good fitness and proper equipment is needed, due to the increased difficulty of the trek. The benefit of going on the classic route is that it’s very well marked. It does have its places where it can be dangerous, but it’s been optimized and improved to enhance safety as much as possible over the past few decades to this day!

If you want, you can go for a shorter route of the Inca Trail that will only take 2 days to complete. That means starting at a point between Aguas Calientes and Cusco. Then you will reach the Sun Gate and Machu Picchu. It’s by far a good option for budget-minded travelers or those with a time limit for their trip.

Naturally, there are longer options for the Inca Trail too. Some of them might take up to 6 days to complete. It’s also important to note that the trek can vary in difficulty, with some regions being particularly difficult. But it’s all a part of the process when you embark onto a mountain trail spanning multiple kilometers and many natural challenges!


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Classic Inca Trail 4 Days 3 Nights

Are there alternatives in case there are no permits for the Inca Trail?

During the dry season, in particular, it can be difficult to acquire tickets. When that happens, you can try to look for some alternatives. These are Ausangate, Ancascocha or Salkantay, all great treks on their own. However, their length and difficulty will vary. But in general, it’s easier to hike on those trails. Check your timeline and ticket availability for the Inca Trail first, and ideally you want to work with an agency!

How many people are allowed in a group?

The group size will vary based on the Inca Trail experience you want to book. There are Inca Trail experiences that will start with at least 2 people, others will require groups of 4-8 people. You can easily pick the option that fits your requirements. If you work with a travel agent, they can accommodate even larger groups. However, these are only provided on a per-request basis. Create a list with the people you want to bring on the trail as a group, and sometimes it’s even possible to obtain a discount. 

What’s the adventure rating for the Inca Trail trek?

As we mentioned earlier, the Inca Trail can be moderate to challenging in difficulty. There are multiple factors which influence your results, but it’s important to have a good fitness level. Training properly and exercising at home can help improve your cardio. That will help you get past some of the more challenging parts of the trek. 

Also, it matters who is accompanying you as well. The important aspect to keep in mind on the Inca Trail is that if it takes multiple days, the trek can become more difficult. Some previous training will be required, that will ensure you don’t have problems accommodating to the trail and its difficulty level.

Do you need any acclimatization before embarking on the Inca Trail trek?

Coming a few days earlier to Cusco is a great idea. That way, you can get to the location quickly, not worry about any complex challenges. But the overall height of the trail can impede some persons from getting used to the region and location. We highly recommend making sure that you don’t just go on the trail right away, and just explore Cusco for a day or two beforehand. It will make the acclimatization process a lot easier.

It’s possible for the Inca Trail package to be accommodated to your needs, if you choose to work with an agency. That way, they can prepare your trip, including acclimatization time. It’s also easier to ensure that you reach all the destinations with ease and without a problem, which will speed up the process.

The terrain difficulty will vary based on location. But in general, you can expect high passes, stone steps, rocks and lots of dirt. If you go on the trail during the rainy season, it’s also possible to encounter a lot of water puddles and mud. Talk with the guide first and ensure that you have the equipment needed to tackle any potential challenges. In very rare cases, aside from February, the trail can be closed due to bad weather and possible danger for people on it. That’s why it’s imperative to stay in contact with the travel agent and ensure everything is managed ahead of time for your convenience. 


What happens if the trail is very crowded?

It’s possible to find a lot of people on the Inca Trail at times. That’s the reason why you need to book everything beforehand. You can also talk with the travel agent and ensure that you have a good idea when you can avoid crowds. Generally, the dry season is when you will encounter the most crowds on the Inca Trail. That’s the time you usually want to avoid if you want less crowds.


We recommend working closely with a travel agent that will help you book your Inca Trail 5 days 4 nights trip. The agent will also help you with acquiring permits. Also, ensure that your passport doesn’t need any renewal for more than 6 months. Performing all the necessary preparations is always going to help, and it will eliminate potential issues that can arise. We believe that adequately preparing for the trail and improving your fitness will always come in handy!

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