The Inca Trail in Comfort

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Small group
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  • Enjoy a guided tour of Machu Picchu to discover the ruins
  • Visit the Sacred Valley, including Pisac and Ollantaytambo
  • Explore the museums and churches of the ancient Inca capital, Cuzco
  • Take two days to acclimatise before the trek
  • Book the alternative Moonstone Trek or One-Day Inca Trail Option if the Inca Trail permits have sold out



Day 1

Start Cuzco; free time to explore the Inca capital

Set amid hills in the altiplano, the Imperial City of the Incas, Cuzco (11,155ft/3,400m) was the geographic, cultural and political centre of a vast empire which, at its peak, stretched from present-day Quito in Ecuador to Santiago in Chile. After the Spanish conquistadores invaded the city, they started building on top of the Incan structures, resulting in unique architecture, a fusion of the Incan and Spanish colonial styles. Depending on what time your flight arrives, there may be time to wander the cobbled streets, visit the museums, churches and pre-Columbian buildings, such as Qorikancha – the Sun Temple, or to sit in a café and enjoy a coca-tea. There will be a briefing in the evening.

Day 2

Visit the Sacred Valley; continue to Ollantaytambo

Today we visit the magnificent Sacred Valley of the Incas, which runs along the Urubamba River near Cuzco. It’s the true heartland of Incan culture and tradition, with the high Andean scenery dotted with old towns and pre-Columbian villages.

Here we visit the incredible Pisac ruins, a former citadel that guarded a road from the lowlands and gives way to terraces carved into solid rock. We then visit the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo (9,186ft/2,800m), the one-time royal estate of Inca emperor Pachacuti. Here huge stone terraces occupy the valley sides and hint at the scale of things to come.

Day 3

Start Inca Trail trek from km82; walk along Urubamba River, climb to Huayllabamba

The Classic Inca Trail is a tangential branch part of a 27,960mi (45,000km) road network linking the whole empire to Cuzco. It was built in the 15th-century to reach Machu Picchu but was abandoned soon after the Spanish conquest. American adventurer, Hiram Bingham travelled along the trail when he came across Machu Picchu in 1911. The trail opened to the public in 1970.

This morning we follow a track beside the river (45 minutes) to the start of the Inca Trail at Piscacucho, commonly known as Km82. After greeting our trekking crew, we show our passports at the checkpoint and begin the Inca Trail trek. The trail runs alongside the Vilcanota River beneath the impressive snow-capped Nevado Veronica, passing through cactus gardens and fields of corn until we reach the enormous Inca ruins of Llactapata, where we continue up a side valley to camp near the hamlet of Huayllabamba.

Day 4

Cross Dead Woman’s Pass, then descend to Pacaymayu

This is the longest and most strenuous day. A long climb (largely up stone staircases) takes us first through an area of cloud forest to the meadows of Llulluchapampa, then over the Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman’s) pass, at 13,830ft (4,215m) the highest point on the trek. After quite a long, steep descent we camp in the scenic valley of the Pacaymayu River (11,810ft/3,600m).

Day 5

Over Runquracay Pass to ruins of Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca

We start the day with an easier climb past the ruins of Runquracay and over the Runquracay Pass (12,895ft/3,930m). From here, the Inca Trail becomes a clearly defined path of flat boulders. We pass the ruins of Sayacmarca and enter rainforest; at one point the trail passes through an Inca tunnel. We camp at a spectacular campsite on the ridge above the Inca site of Phuyupatamarca (12,075ft/3,680m) to enjoy the sunset and sunrise.

Day 6

Walk down Inca steps to Wiñay Wayna and Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate

From the ridge, we embark on the infamous Inca steps: a 1.2mi (2km) stone staircase taking us rapidly downhill amid a panorama of overwhelming immensity, with the peaks of the Vilcabamba range above, and the river thousands of metres below. After visiting the attractive ruins of Wiñay Wayna, we have an undulating walk through cloud forest high above the river to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku). From here, we get our first full sight of Machu Picchu, with Huayna Picchu rising behind.

The Sun Gate is normally busy with photo-taking trekkers, so we plan to arrive later in the day to enjoy unobstructed views of the magnificent ruins. While most groups choose to visit Machu Picchu today, we’ll pass around the edge of the ruins and exit the site, descending to Aguas Calientes for a well-earned rest, shower and comfortable bed for the night. Our trekking permits allow us one entry into the site, which we use for our tour tomorrow when we are refreshed and more able to enjoy it.

We will be reunited with those who have been on the Moonstone Trek at the hotel this afternoon.

Day 7

Early morning guided tour of Machu Picchu; return to Cuzco by train and by road

To beat the day-trippers arriving from Cuzco and reach the ruins as early as possible, a very early start is required to queue for Machu Picchu; only government-registered buses can make the 30-minute drive up the winding road to the site entrance and during high season (May-October) queues can be long.

Machu Picchu is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world and has a mountain backdrop of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records of it; and so, Machu Picchu remained a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911.

New regulations for visiting Machu Picchu are now fully enforced; of the possible visiting slots, we will purchase the morning slot from 6am until midday (unless unavailable). You will be limited to a maximum of four hours within the site and must be accompanied by a guide. There will also be three set routes to follow around Machu Picchu; we select the most comprehensive route.

We catch an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo (1hr 30min) and continue by private bus to Cuzco (2hr 30min).

Day 8

End Cuzco

The trip comes to an end after breakfast. Either start your return journey home or join one of our exciting extensions, either to explore the jungle trails of the Amazon Rainforest or the high-altitude waters of Lake Titicaca. Speak to your sales representative to book.


  • Four nights in premium hotels and three nights’ full-service camping
  • Four days walking with full porterage
  • Altitude maximum: 13,829ft (4,215m); average: 10,007ft (3,050m)
  • Increased personal weight limit of 22lb (10kg) on trek
  • Travel by private bus and train
  • Countries visited: Peru


  • All breakfasts, four lunches and three dinners
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Sleeping bag hire for trek duration
  • Inflatable sleeping mat for trek duration
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Full porterage throughout trek
  • Exodus kitbag


  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations


Images courtesy of Exodus Travel