These different tours have some similarities and differences that one should know in order to make the best decision at the time of booking a tour.
No matter which tour you take; we guarantee an unforgettable adventure. Be you young or old, in good shape or not so good, the Inca Trail is for everyone. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has four different alternatives.
The Classic Four-day Inca Trail
The classic four-day Inca Trail is the most transited route by tourists. Like every other route, this tour starts at the 82 km. It is in this location where one must check in with the park rangers. The four day Inca trail covers a total distance of 26 miles /43 km. A few things differentiate the four-day Inca trail hike from the five-day alternative. That is the starting point on day one, the distribution of campsites, the number of incan sites that they visit, and the arrival time to Machu Picchu on the last day.
As I mentioned above, the entry point to the four-day Inca Trail is the 82km or Piscacucho. Once people check in with the park rangers, they walk across the bridge on the Urubamba river and continue their hike on the left bank of this river.
People need to understand that these campsites are distributed by the Peruvian government on a first-come, first-served basis that takes place on the website assigned to the tour operators by the Ministry of Culture of Peru.
So, most people who hike this route will camp in the following campsites.
Day One. Hatunchaka and Huayllabamba campsites. Some others who start the hike much earlier will camp a bit further than these campsites at Ayapata.
Day Two. Pacaymayu Alto. (for those who camped at Huayllabamba and Hatunchaka) and Chaquicocha (for those who camped at Ayapata)
Day Three. Winaywayna for the ones who camped at Chaquicocha and Phuyupatamarca and Winaywayna for the ones who camped at Pacaymayu alto.
Day Four. Machu Picchu tour and return to Cusco
In addition, all of those people who camped at Winaywayna will arrive in the Sungate of Machu Picchu at around 630AM more or less. In contrast, the ones camping at Phuyupatamarca will arrive in the Sungate of Machu Picchu around 930 Am.
As far as attractions such as the Archeological sites that can be seen on this itinerary, people can visit:
Also, on day one, they can get an impressive view of Llaqtapata, but they don’t get to visit this site.
Day Four. Machu Picchu tour and return to Cusco
Five-day Inca Trail
The five-day Inca Trail is the least transited route by tourists. According to the Ministry of Culture of Peru, only 1% of the people who hike the Inca Trail get to take this itinerary.
The five-day Inca trail is the best way to hike to Machu Picchu. It is a more complete and longer trek; Its itinerary differs from the four-day Inca Trail in some important ways. Perhaps, the most important one is the fact that on this hike, one gets to enjoy the trail without the crowds that swarm the four-day itinerary.
Also, On this hike, one gets to experience Incan sites that are not seen by the ones hiking the four-day Inca trail.
Overall it is the best choice one can make at the time of deciding which itinerary to take.
The entry point for the five-day Inca trail is not the 82KM at Piscacucho but the 88KM at Qoriwayrachina.
This location was the official starting point of the Inca Trail in the 70s,80s, and mid-90s. The reason why is because the local train will drop off the hikers at this location, and they would have to start the Inca Trail from here.
Hikers who take this route will start their adventure at the 82km, but they would do the hike on the right back of the Urubamba river, the road they follow on day one is very different than the. four-day Inca Trail.
It is at the 88 KM, where they will walk across the bridge on the Urubamba River.
It is in this location where one must check in with the park rangers. The five-day Inca trail covers a total distance of 34 miles/55 km.
The campsites that are assigned for this itinerary are the following:
Day One. Chamana and Patallaqta campsites.
Day Two. Llulluchapampa
Day Three. Phuyupatamarca
Day Four. On this day, hikers arrive in Machu Picchu around three in the afternoon and initiate their first partial visit of Machu Picchu.
Day Five. Machu Picchu guided tour and return to Cusco.
As far as attractions such as the Archeological sites that can be seen on this itinerary are the following:
- Wayna Qente
- Machu Qente
The Short Inca Trail
The Short Inca Trail tour is a great alternative for those people who don’t have the time or the will to hike any of the previous alternatives.
This hike differs greatly from the four and five-day alternatives. For instance, the starting point of this hike is the 104 Km at Chachabamba.
Unlike the four and five-day options, the people who take this hike, do not get to the starting point of this hike by car but train. Most people board their trains at Ollantaytambo; the train ride takes about 1.5 hours.
It is at the 104Km or Chachabamba where hikers must check in with the park rangers.
This particular hike does not allow for camping. People must get to Machu Picchu in the afternoon and visit Machu Picchu on their second day.
In short, this is a day hike, followed by a second day where people visit the city of Machu Picchu.
As far as archeological sites can be seen on this itinerary, they can visit Chachabamba and Winaywayna archaeological complexes.