This luxury trek makes your trip as comfortable as possible – fit for a king!
If you would like your group to be "closed", meaning you would like a private service only for you or your family or friends, this is entirely possible. With this tour you are given more flexibility to walk at your own pace and have the guide to yourselves. Everything is done so that the trek is nothing of a 'roughing it' experience. You will only carry a small day-pack (which should include items such as a waterproof jacket, sun protection cream, insect repellent, water and camera) – porters will carry the rest of your personal belongings. In general you will have an all round more personal service!
At the time of making your reservation, kindly indicate that you would prefer this option;
In this service you can also request your preference of food!!
The Inca Trail offers the traveler a wonderful combination of scenery: magnificent mountains and lush valleys, subtropical fauna and flora, and of course the amazing Inca ruins. Over 220 species of orchids have been found in the Machupicchu Historic Sanctuary, as well as many species of birds, animals and reptiles. The vegetation is also vastly varied.
In order to undertake this trail you need to have a reasonable level of fitness – age is irrelevant though! The most important factor is acclimatizing properly to the altitude change. The maximum elevation above sea level along the trail is 4,200m, so we suggest that you spend at least 2 or 3 days in Cusco before attempting to walk the trail. During this time you can explore the wonderful city which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We can offer you many other shorts tours which would be ideal for exploring in and around the City for one or two days.
Note: Private service also means private/special treatment for your porters, ie: they get paid more!
| Inca Trail Quick View
- Day 1: Cusco - Wayllabamba
- Day 2: Wayllabamba - Pacaymayo
- Day 3: Pacaymayo – wiñayhuaina
- Day 4: Wiñayhuaina – Machu picchu - Cusco
- Difficulty of trek: Moderate
- Length of trek: 4 Days / 3 Nights
- Start point: Cusco
- End point: Cusco
- We support projects in the Andean communities where many of our porters, cooks and staff come from.
- Type of trek: Archaeological, Cultural, Camping, Ecological, Hiking
Day 01. - Between 5:30 to 6:00 am we pick you up at your hotel in our private bus. Ensure you have your original passport and ISIC student card (if applicable – for a discount on entree fee to Machupicchu).
The journey by bus to km 82 (the starting point for the trail) takes approximately 3 hours. Once we get there and are all ready to go, this first day will have us walking mostly through the valley. It starts at 2380m with a small climb to a plateau overlooking the Incan site of Llactapata and rewards you with superb views of Mount Veronica. Walking times are always approximate depending on weather conditions, group ability and other factors, but generally you will walk about 2-3 hours before lunch. Then after lunch we walk on just past the village of Wayllabamba to reach our first campsite at 3000m.
Approx 14km, 6 hours walking this day
Day 02. - Day 2 is the most difficult day as you walk from about 3000m to 4200m — the highest pass of the trek (known as Dead Woman’s Pass – but don’t be discouraged!). You can walk at your own pace and stop to get your breath whenever you like. You’ll find your energy returns once you continue down to the valley of Pacaymayo, where we camp at 3600m.
You can hire a porter from the village of Wayllabamba to carry your pack to the top of this pass for approximately 70 soles. If you wish to do so you must organize and pay this money directly to the person who carries your items, and please check your belongings upon receiving them at the end of this service as these people are not Sap Adventure staff.
This is the coldest night; between +2/+4 degrees Celsius (in December) and -3/-5 degrees Celsius (in June). Approx 12km, 7 hours walking this day
Day 03.- Day 3 is exceptionally beautiful because of the ruins you will witness and the incredible stone trail you walk one, and also because there is a lot more downhill than uphill! However, there are about 2000 stairs descending from the ruins of Phuyupatamarca to those of Wiñaywayna, so take care with your knees. If you have had knee or ankle injuries an extra porter is recommended so that you are not carrying extra weight and overstressing your joints. There is a guided tour of all the ruins on the way. Camping is usually at Wiñaywayna 2700 mtrs.
Take extra care of your personal belongings at this campsite as all the tours campsites are nearby. As usual, always keep your daypack containing your valuables with you. The only hot shower on the Inca Trail is on this third night at Wiñaywayna. There is a hostel near the campsite with an 8min hot shower for 5 soles, and a bar and restaurant where you can purchase bottled water.
Approx 16km, 6 hours walking this day.
Day 04.- We get up extremely early to arrive at the magical Intipunku "The Gate of the Sun" as the first rays begin illuminating the lost city of Machupicchu down bellow. A further 20 min walk down from here takes us to the famous view from the terraces at the end of the trail. It is a good time to take pictures before the 10:30 crowds arrive. Your tour of Machupicchu should last about 2 hours and finish between 10:30 and 11:00am. Then you have free time to climb Huayna Picchu if you wish (This is the famous peak in the background of most images of Machu Picchu. The trek is about 90 minutes). A maximum of 400 hikers can climb this mountain per day so if you are determined then start immediately after your tour! Or, of course, you may simply just collapse under a tree and quietly reflect in amazement at the mystery, the architectural achievement and beauty of Machupicchu.
From Machupicchu, it is a pleasant walk through sub-tropical jungle down to Aguas Calientes (about 45 mins), but if you are weary you may also take a bus – the $7 bus ticket is included and your guide will give you the ticket.
Once in Aguas Calientes you can have a hot shower, and then store your backpack while you go to have lunch, visit the hot springs or shop around the village.
If you are not extending your stay for one night in Aguas Calientes*, you will leave around 6pm to return to Cusco by train or by a combination of train & bus. Please note that during the high season there are a number of different departure times for the trains that run only to Ollantaytambo, from where buses run onwards till Cusco. The type of return journey depends simply on availability. You will arrive back in Cusco around 9 - 9.30pm.
Approx 7km, 2 hours walking this day.
IMPORTANT – government regulations will not allow reservations to be made unless accompanied by full passport details of the client and full payment of the entrance fee to the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. This is to assist in the 500 people a day rule.
Therefore to guarantee your place on the inca trail trek or tour you must provide a scanned copy of your passport and a non refundable deposit of 50% the trek price. Your reservation will only be confirmed when we have your entrance ticket in our hands. In case of passport number change this information must be relayed to us or you will lose your booking. Original passport must be carried on trail.
All times noted are approximate.
The times cited in this itinerary are approximate. Walking times depend on the group and the guide can change lunch spots and campsites, depending on the progress of the group. Each guide has their own preferred route and it might not correspond exactly to the route described here.
- An extra night in Aguas Calientes can easily be arranged if we are advised WELL IN ADVANCE. We can change the date of your train ticket to the following day. Hotels costs and costs associated with returning to Machu Picchu the following day are additional to trek costs. Please also note that your entry ticket to Machu Picchu is valid for one day only, if you wish to visit the ruins on a second consecutive day you will need to purchase the ticket again, valued at approx $40 US.
what's included at the inca trail?
- Pre trek Briefing
- Collection from your hotel in the morning of trek departure.
- Transport from Cusco to the trailhead at the beginning of the trek
- Entry fee to the Inca trail and Machu Picchu
- English/Quechua/Spanish speaking professional guide (you will have an assistant guide for groups over 8 people).
- Tents - 2 people in a 4 person tent which allows for greater comfort, and also storage of backpacks.
- Basic foam mattress. If you require greater comfort during the trek we can hire you an inflatable mattress (eg. Thermarest) for $5 per day.
- Cook and Cooking equipment (Assistants are provided for larger groups)
- Toilet tent
- Meals as indicated 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 afternoon snacks (hot drinks, biscuits and popcorn) and 3 dinners ( dinner and lunch in Aguas Calientes on the last day are not included) (optional vegetarian food). Our professional cooks prepare meals that incorporate elements of the western diet and also traditional Peruvian delicacies. (Please communicate with your guide/cook during the trek if you have a preference for certain types of dishes). Salads, if served, are washed in boiled water.
- Hot coca tea every morning in your tent for a gentle and fortifying wake up!
- Hot water every morning and evening for washing purposes, and boiled purified water to fill in your water bottle every morning
- Porters (for equipment and personal items) They carry camping equipment, food and kitchen utensils. We provide duffel bags at your briefing for your personal items (up to 7 kg per person). If you wish to take more, you can hire a porter, please contact us for costs.
- Dining tent with camp tables and chairs & Kitchen tent for the cook to prepare meals
- Tents for our staff to sleep in, sleeping bags & mattresses plus a budget for their meals.
- First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle - but not blister treatments as known in western countries.
- Bus from Ollantaytambo to Cusco
- Train ticket from Aguas Calientes - Ollantaytambo.
- Bus down to Machu Picchu
- Box lunch final day in Machu Picchu
- A light day pack with a change of clothes for the whole period of the trek - prepare for a vast range of changes in temperature
- Rain gear (jacket and pants if available) or rain poncho. Plastic ponchos can be bought for about $1 in Cusco.
- Strong footwear, waterproof trekking boots recommended. Extra socks are a must.
- Sandals or plastic slip on thongs are also good to give your feet a chance to breath in the evenings if you wish to carry them.
- Warm clothes, including jacket, fleeces, gloves, scarf and beanie/touk.Thermal clothing is also recommended, especially for sleeping.
- Sleeping bag (we can hire these to you)
- Torch/ Flashlight and spare batteries
- Camera, films and batteries (batteries consume more quickly under cold conditions)
- Hat or cap to protect you from the sun, rain and cold
- Sun block
- After-sun cream or hydrating cream for face and body
- Insect repellent - minimum recommended 20% DEET - although no malaria risk has been reported
- Toilet paper, pack in & pack out
- Snacks: biscuits, energy bars, chocolate, raw fruits, muesli, etc.
- Non-disposable canteen (Nalgene type) and water for the first morning.
We advise you to bring water sterilizing tablets in case you collect water from streams.
- Your own medical kit with any special medications that you might require, paracetamol, second skin for blisters etc.
- Small towel or sarong
- Bathers/swimsuit (if you intend on swimming in hot springs)
- Cash - sufficient for your final lunch in Aguas Calientes, tips and souvenirs.
- Original passport & ISIC (International Student Identity Card) if you have one.
- Walking sticks or poles (we can hire these to you. Please note poles with metal tips cannot be carried into Machu Picchu and should be left at your hotel on the final day)
- Binoculars (if you have them)
optional extras we can hire the following to you.
- Sleeping Bag suitable for -5deg. ($4.00 per day)
- Deluxe Sleeping Bag suitable for -10deg. ($6.00 per day)
- Walking stick lightweight aluminum ($1.00 per day)
- Inflatable mattress (eg. Thermarest) ($5.00 per day)
- Two sticks are recommended for tough hikes.
- Porter - $28.00 per day Most people carry their own day pack with up to 5-10kg of their things - a change of clothes and wet weather gear etc. However, if you think that you will have much luggage and you want a very light day pack (eg. just camera and water) then its advisable that you hire an extra porter. ($100 for the whole trek, including the porter wages, food, and Inca Trail entry permit).
available discounts (these discounts are not cumulative)
- 5% discount for members of South American Explorers Club (SAE)
- Students: US$ 40.00 (students require a valid International Student Identity Card and must be below 26 years of age. Please beware that Youth Travel Cards are not valid)
- Teenagers: US$ 30.00 (up to 15 years of age, passport copy required for all bookings)
- Children: US$ 45.00 (up to 10 years of age, passport copy required for all bookings)
F.A.Qs of Inca Trail
Do I need to be fit?
Yes. As all our treks (the Inca Trail, Lares, Salkantay, Ausangate, Choquequirao, etc.) are moderately difficult, long and mountainous, we highly recommend that you are relatively fit - and acclimatized - before undertaking them (stair master helps!). During the months (or at the very least, one month) before your trip, you should take regular, moderate exercise. We want you to have an amazing experience and the fitter you are, the more enjoyable the treks will be.
Since we go over heights of 4200m/13750ft to 5200m/17000ft during these treks, we also strongly suggest that you stay in Cusco (3334 metres/10900ft) or another high altitude city (Arequipa (2320m/7586ft) Puno (3850m/12589ft) for some days before leaving on any of these adventure trips. It generally takes 4 weeks to fully acclimatize, however a 4 to 5 day period in a high altitude city will give your body time to adjust and reduce the possibility of altitude sickness affecting you.
*Some recommendations to help your body acclimatize are:
- Avoid over-exerting yourself when you first arrive (however, some gentle activity during the day is better than sleeping)
- Eat lots of carbohydrates
- Drink lots of fluids
- Avoid cigarettes and alcohol
- Avoid taking sleeping pills
- Drink coca (ancient traditional leaf) tea.
Why do I need to book in advance and how far in advance should I book?
Due to regulations brought in in 2002, the Inca Trail (4 or 2 days) is limited to 500 people per day (including Guides, porters and cooks). It is therefore necessary to book in advance to guarantee a place on the date you want to leave. For Inca Trail treks in the high season (May,June, July, August and September) it is advisable to book at least 5 months ahead.
How can I book a place on the trail?
*If you want to confirm your reservation: Please provide us with the following reservation information in order to process your reservation:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Passport number (it is important that we receive the passport number that you will use whilst on the trek; please advise if you think you will change your passport before you do the Inca trail)
*Confirm whether you are a student (it is necessary to have a valid ISIC card to qualify as a student) and if so scan and email it. (We need to present a copy of your card now and you will also need to take the original on the Inca Trail. If for any reason, you will not have your original card when you are going to enter the Inca Trail, please advise us as soon as you know this - the Inca Trail authorities are extremely strict and will not allow you to enter the Inca Trail if you have booked as a student but do not have your original card at the time of entering).
*Decide whether or not you want an (1) extra porter who would carry your personal belongings (the 2010 price of this service is USA$100, for 2011 the price is $110). By hiring a porter you will only need to carry a very small day pack. (Please note, you can also share one porter between two people - up to 7 kilos*each (7kl. includes sleeping bags and mats)–costing USA$50/$55 each.) We provide you with a duffle bag in which to put your belongings that your extra porter will carry. If you do not hire a porter, you will carry your personal belongings including sleeping bag and sleeping mattress.
*Please note that sleeping bag, sleeping mattress, clothes, etc are carried by the tourist if no extra porter is hired.
Pay a deposit (Non-refundable)
A 50% deposit is required in order to process the reservation for any tours. The final payment or valance will have to be paid at your arrival to lima or Cusco where we meet to begin the tour. And after we have received the Deposit payment we will also send you general pre-departure information which includes a detailed itinerary with comprehensive instructions and useful background information any health or visa requirements.
If the balance is not received by the appropriate date, the reservation will be cancelled immediately. All services must be fully paid in Lima or Cusco before the trip starts.
Payment can either be made by wire transfer, direct deposit or credit card. Sap Adventures accept all major credit cards. In case of a bank transfer all wiring and transfer costs should be assumed by the Client. Let us know if you have any special dietary requirements or medical conditions that we should know about.
Why do I need to send a deposit?
We use your deposit (Non- refundable) to pay official fees when making your official reservation. For example, we need to pay tourist and porter’s entrance fees and taxes (19%). We also use it to secure cooks, porters and horses for our different treks.
Is an extra porter really necessary and how many kilos do they carry for us?
An adventure does not have to mean pain and by hiring an extra porter that carries up to 14 kilos of your personal belongings you will definitely have time to enjoy, take your time and relax more. In addition, you will be creating a job for one more porter and thus helping us to help the local community.
- In hiring an extra porter, you will only need to carry a daypack containing water, sun cream, insect repellent, snacks and a coat.
- If an extra porter is not hired you will be carrying everything you decide to take on the trail including your sleeping bag and the mattress (a foam sleeping mattress is provided)
Are the porters treated well?
All our porters are trained and equipped with proper bags to carry the equipment, back supports, t-shirts for the day, body warmers for the cold nights, ponchos for the rain, drinks, snacks and plenty of food.
Can I cancel my porter after I have booked it?
No. Unfortunately you cannot cancel your porter after you have booked it. Porters are booked well in advance and a fee is paid to get their permits.
Is there an age limit to do the trail?
There is not an age limit but if you are older, we advise you to have a medical check-up before your trip, try to acclimatize to the altitude (see altitude sickness) and train for the trek. We have taken children as young as 7 and people up to the age of 68 many times. Do not worry; we are here to help you do it!! Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way....!
Do I need Insurance?
We strongly advise you to get travel insurance that covers accidents, medical expenses and emergency repatriation, including rescue and air ambulance. We also recommend that it covers bad weather tour cancellations, loss of luggage, etc.
What if I am very slow or want to see or enjoy more?
You will never be left alone if you are the last one in your group! as long as you arrive at the camps before it gets dark all is perfectly fine; the guides will keep you informed of distances and hours to be covered after every break, as an average people walk at a rate of 1.8 km per hour meaning a slow pace and resting while you are receiving explanation about the Inca sites and environment from our guide.
How many guides are for the group?
For groups of 9 or more people you will always have 2 professional guides! 1 comes with the back person -if you the last you will never be alone and the other guide will be at the front. In case you have only 1 guide (for groups or 8 or less people) the guide always comes with the last person in the group.
Once I have booked my place on the trail, can I change my departure date?
No. Unfortunately once your reservation is officially confirmed with the Inca Trail Authorities (INC Reservation Office) it is not possible to change or postpone your departure date. You would need to make a new reservation with a new deposit for your new date (this date needs to be one which is at least 5 days before or after your prior departure date). Please note that this is not an agency decision but a local authority regulation.
Where are the other people in the group from?
You will find all our groups to be very mixed in: age, gender, nationalities. There are cases when our groups consist of only older people and in other cases only younger people but as an agency we can't guarantee how old or where our tourists will be from.
What's the Private Service?
It is a special service (no other people you don't know/want will be part of your trip) - all inclusive - to spoil you! You could be honeymooners, a family, a group of friends, etc. It is normally a small group (but can also be a big group). In this service, we included private porters who carry up to 7 kilos of personal belongings in duffle bags (provided by the agency). No one you don't know/want joins your group unless this is requested to share to lower the costs.
What about the food?
We have excellent trained cooks who will provide you with an incredible variety of dishes:
- Breakfast: This varies depending on the difficulty of the day ahead. There will usually be a selection of some or all of the following - porridge, scrambled eggs, pancakes, bread and jam. Drink-wise, you can have hot chocolate, coffee, English tea and/or a selection of herbal teas (chamomile, lemon grass or simply traditional coca tea).
- Lunch and Dinner: You will always have a bowl of soup followed by a main course (chicken, beef, fish etc. with rice or pasta). After this, a dessert and herbal drink will be provided.
- Afternoon snacks (Happy Hour!): On finishing the trek every day we will have hot drinks, popcorn, biscuits, bread and jam, chocolate, milo, etc, etc)
- Snacks: Before beginning the trek for the day, you will be given - a piece of fruit, a chocolate bar, a small packet of biscuits and some sweets.
Do you have a vegetarian option?
Yes. We do provide vegetarian food on request. Please specify your dietary requirements when making your reservation.
Do you provide us with drinking water?
We provide you with water that has previously been boiled or at least 5 minutes (you do not need purification tablets). Therefore, you only need a bottle of water for the first part - till lunch time - of the first day and then from there on we will re-fill your bottles all the way to Machu Picchu or to the end of your trek.
Are there many toilets along the Inca trail?
Toilets have improved a lot in the last couple of years and all of the larger campsites have toilet blocks with flush toilets and running water. On the whole they are kept pretty unclean. If you do need to go to the toilet between campsites then defecate well away from the trail and water supplies; dig a hole, or cover your faeces with a rock, and take the paper with you in a bag to deposit in one of the several bins along the way. There are hot shower facilities are Wiñay Wayna on day 3, although they are usually pretty unclean.
How many people in the groups?
The maximum allowed group size is 16 persons with 22 porters. Our average group size is about 8 to 10 people but there are times with even 2 people (the minimum number required to run any adventure trip).
How many people go in each tent?
The tents for all our treks are 4 man tents but actually 2 enter in each thus allowing you more space and comfort. If you travelling alone and there is an even number of people in your group, you will share the tent with somebody else unless a single supplement is requested ($15).
Why and How much should we tip the porters?
Sap Adventures fully complies with the porter's Law (27608) requirements of payment and insurance. However, tipping (normally on the 3rd night of your trek) is a tradition on the Inca Trail that has been taking place for the (at least) 20 years as a way of showing the porters your gratitude. Generally the groups prepare a collective tip which is shared out between the cook, head porter and porters (cook and head porter receive more than everyone else). Suggested amount to tip is 40 soles to each porter and double to the cook (from the whole group not from each tourist).
Please NOTE that the amount you tip (or if you tip) is a PERSONAL DECISION and it is not an obligatory.
Should we tip the guide?
Tipping the guide is again a personal decision. If you decide to tip we recommend that it is according to his/her performance, knowledge and skills while on the trail.
Where do I store the bags I don't need when I go on the trail?
All hostels and hotels in Cusco are accustomed to trekkers leaving belongings whilst on the trek and will have storage facilities at no extra cost. Optionally you can leave your bags with us in our storage.
Where do I store the bags before the Machu Picchu guided visit?
There is a storage near the control gate where tourists leave their personal belongings, please note that you can only visit Machu Picchu with a small daypack and without food (walking sticks are not allowed either unless is really necessary i.e. age of tourists etc.) ; this storage service is sometimes free and sometimes you get charged 3 soles ( you are in Peru) !
What if I get ill and need to turn back?
We have a very low rate of people turning back once on the trek. Our priority is to help you complete it; all our guides are properly trained and carry a first aid kit and a bottle of oxygen for emergencies. Please do not think about this (you are in good hands!)
What about the weather?
In Cusco dry seaso starts in April to October, the days are usually sunny and hot but temperatures drop abruptly after 5-6 pm until 7-8 am.
Weather is very changeable from November to March and heavy rains are expected being the wettest month December to March although is not as cold as it is in the dry season.
- Please note: Temperatures are for the Valley of Cusco at 3400masl. And temperatures change depending on the altitude (higher altitude = colder orviceversa) Also note that it could be a bit more wet on the 3rd and on the 4 day of the Inca Trail (cloud forest regions).
Can we avoid the crowds?
If you choose to do the Inca trail, we want it to be the crowning experience of your South America trip. We therefore have some recommendations for a quieter trek:
As the dry highland months coincide with the high tourist season (due to vacations in North America and Europe) there are generally a lot of tourists on the Inca Trail at this time. If you want to avoid the crowds and have a more relaxing trail, we suggest that you hike it in March, April, May, October or November, although there is a possibility of rain in these months.
Another alternative to avoid crowds is to hike the trail in *5 days and 4 nights. During this tour, you will have more time to 'take it easy' and explore the trail (Inca Sites, flora, bird-watching etc.). You camp in places behind the normal campsites, where fewer people camp and as you are camping at higher altitudes, the views of mountains and sunrises will be amazing. (Please note that due to the higher altitudes, these campsites are a little colder than those on the 4 day Inca Trail.)
What about the train back to Cusco?
The train included in all tours is the cerrojo backpacker (to/from Ollantaytambo), train times will only be confirmed close to the time of the trek.
- Please Note: train times are subject to change depending on Peru rail timetable and availability.
- If organized in advance, the train can be upgraded to Vistadome (larger windows than the backpacker cerrojo train) for an increased price.