Complete Idiot's Guide to Hiking the Inca Trail

Are you curious about hiking the Inca Trail?  Are you concerned about the altitude, your knees, your feet and "what if?"  Then this is written for you.

You are not alone.  Eleven months of the year, up to 250 permits are available for foreign visitors every day to hike the Inca Trail. (Beginning 2016, permits for 1-day Inca Trail were separated from permits for 4-day Inca Trail. Why? Read more) And many ask the exact same questions. It's not common for hikers to turn back before reaching the Machu Picchu ruins. The good news is that it's rare for people not to finish the hike.

If you're concerned about making it on the full 4-day Inca Trail hike, then consider the 2-day Inca Trail hike. The 2-day trip includes 1 day of hiking on the Inca Trail for 12 KM/7.5 miles, an overnight in a hotel in Aguas Calientes and a guided tour of the Machu Picchu ruins on day 2. And no camping! 

Click links below to see cost and description for each hike: 
Contact our US office with questions or to make a reservation. 757-714-6649 (eastern time) 

2017 Inca Trail permits are on sale now.

It's easy to make a reservation:

  • choose your dates: every Tuesday for small groups, or any date for private groups that permits are available (min 2)
  • contact our US office by phone or email to ask questions or confirm availability - 757-714-6649 (eastern time) 
  • email copies of passport for each person
  • call our US office to process your payment with any major credit card

We provide a list of questions below to help you make an informed decision. Hikers come in all shapes, sizes and ages. So don't let those factors influence your decision. If you have doubts, these tips may help you decide:

  • Are you active at home? You don't need to be a "hiker," but you should participate regularly activities that require physical exertion. Could be biking, vigorous walking, swimming, gardening, or employment that involves lots of movement
  • If you don't have a mountain nearby, test yourself by climbing the steps in a high-rise building. How many floors are you able to climb before becoming exhausted?  If less than 4, then you definitely need to "get in shape!"
  • Can you walk or hike at a pace of 3-4 miles per hour at sea level?
  • If you have a "bum" knee or ankle, does it respond to OTC treatments?  The Inca Trail involves ascending and descending, sometimes for hours. Your joints will be tired and even sore. Some hikers use support braces, massage & take oral pain relievers.
  • Healthy children, under 12 are physically capable of hiking, but may not have the interest. Assess your child carefully before deciding.
  • Are you over 50? If you regularly participate in physical activities, there's no reason why you can't hike the Inca Trail. We have organized hikes for people in their 70's.
  • If you are out of shape, reserving a hike is a great motivator to get back on track with your fitness plan.
  • Altitude affects everyone differently and there is no way to acclimatize in advance when arriving from sea level.  All our hiking tour packages start with 2 days in Cusco (11,000 ft/3413 m) to allow acclimatization prior to hiking.  If you're making your own arrangements, be sure to schedule time to adjust to the altitude.  The good news is that the altitude at the trail head is 9000' /2743 m, which is lower than Cusco 11,000' /3350 m.
  • If you're hiking the 2-day trail, there is a time limit for the hike.  The day begins by driving about 1.5 hours from your hotel in Cusco to the train station in Ollantaytambo. We normally book trains around 7 am.  This means you get on the trail about 1.5-2 hours later.  And you must be through the exit gate at Machu Picchu by 5:15 pm to get the last shuttle bus down to the village where your hotel is located. There are no cars or taxi service. The walk to the village is 1-2 hours. But it's mostly downhill!

All groups are small. 7 people or less. Our Inca Trail hiking dates will work for solo travelers, as long as permits are available.

This is a list of people who should definitely not hike the Inca Trail:

  • Anyone who has difficulty walking, whether it be on flat surfaces or inclines.
  • People over the age of 70 unless they are dedicated hikers at home.
  • People with chronic health conditions that affect their mobility or activity level
  • Asthma is not affected by altitude, but we recommend you discuss your plans with your physician prior to booking.
  • Pregnant women should not hike. There are no medical services available near the trail.  

Got questions? Call our US office in Virginia 757-714-6649
Send an email to Adios staff in the US office. They've hiked all the trails in Peru.