How hard is the Inca Trail?
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu covers 28 miles over four days so distances are not great. However, it is at very high altitude (highest altitude is 4,200m) with a number of steep ascents and descents as well as lots of narrow steps meaning that the going can be slow and fairly tough. We can also offer the one-day Inca Trail - you arrive at Sun Gate on foot but no need to camp.
What you get in return for these exertions are four days’ walking in the beautiful mountain surroundings of the Peruvian Andes finished off with the exhilaration of arriving at Machu Picchu on foot in the quiet afternoon. We pace our Inca Trail differently to most, timing it to be half a day behind the main daily intake onto the trail (limited by permit to 500 people in total). Where the majority of hikers are moving along together and sleeping at the same campsites, you walk in peace and sleep with few others in sight.
We also only offer private Inca Trail trips so it is your family, your guide and your porters. No one else. You can therefore set the pace you are most comfortable with.
Day one of our trail is very short, only around two hours of walking . Over the course of a moderate second day, you regain altitude gradually to reach a level similar to Cusco. The third day of our trail is the hardest, pushing over Dead Woman's Pass, the highest point on the trail (4,200m), before going down into a valley and back up over a second high pass at 3,900m to finish on a high plateau at 3,600m. During the day you will be walking up and down long stretches of steps as well as uphill and downhill slopes.
The fourth and final day is also quite long and can be particularly hard on the knees as you walk down a lot of narrow steps on the way to Machu Picchu at 2,400m.
Where most people hiking the Inca Trail cross the high pass on day two, our pace gives you extra time to acclimatise.