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The Inca trail to Machu Picchu is a famous  25-mile/ 43-km stretch of a paved ancient incan road that connects the Sacred Valley of the Inca with Machu Picchu, which was once part of a massive 20,000 road system that the incan rulers built in the XV and XXVI centuries. According to historical records, the Inca empire was called ‘Tahuantinsuyu’ or the ‘four regions of the Sun’, which were connected to the capital of the Inca empire, the city of Cusco or ‘Qosqo’ in the native Quechuan language by four main roads or highways. 

The Inca rulers built upon and expanded on existing roads as part of their quest to expand their borders to every corner of the Andean world, where they became the most powerful kingdom of the Americas. The origins of the Inca Trail began when Inca Pachacuti became the Inca Emperor.

He is credited with creating the Inca empire and expanding its borders to the most remote areas of the Andes locates in western South America. Huayna Capac Inca, Pachacuti’s grand son, ordered the expansion of the road from Cusco to Quito, which was constructed throughout the mountains and rivers, and resulted in a marvelous creation. 

The Inca Trail was established between the 1300s and 1400s. 

It automatically grew because of its military strength and brilliant rulers. Moreover, the Inca rulers created the Inca Trail mainly because of the ceremonial rights and sacred rituals to venerate the mountains and the landscape around which they considered holy.

Also, in modern times, the Inca trail has become one of the most famous treks in the world. The Ministry of Culture of Peru (Ministerio de Cultura) has opened six routes for travelers to hike within the Machu Picchu National Sanctuary. Each route provides a different itinerary and access point, allowing different campsites along the way. 

The most transited Itinerary is the four-day Inca trail or route one, which starts at the 82 Km or Piscacucho. Conversely, hikers can choose to take route five or the two-day hike on the Classic Inca Trail. These two- days of hiking will be a much easier and faster way to reach the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. 

In addition, the best way to hike the Inca Trail is by doing route two, which allows for a more leisurely pace, a chance to visit off-the-beaten-path Incan sites and the most breathtaking campsites of the Machu Picchu  National Sanctuary.

Also, Route three is the longest and most difficult of all routes as it traverses the area adjacent to the  Salkantay mountain and joins the classic Inca trail at Wayllabamba. Route six also enters via the Salkantay mountain, but it ends at the 82km. 

Furthermore, the Inca Trail limits its tourists to 500 persons daily to halt the government’s fear of erosion.  Moreover, the weather on Inca Trail varies throughout the year. The rainy season months -December to March- will be slightly warmer than the Dry season months -April to September- but a lot wetter. On the flip side, the dry season months provide a great chance to enjoy the magical views of the Andean mountains as the skies are almost always clear. 

Additionally, the land of the Inca Trail is distinguished by rough, mountainous terrain, and it connects two mountain ranges called Vilcanota and Urubamba. It encompasses a region between 4,200 and 2,000 meters above sea level.

Besides, the trail has many archaeological sites that also became an essential part of Peru’s culture. The buildings, temples, and palaces were made with different stone carvings, which provided them with unique characteristics that made the walls solid and important. 

Moreover, the Inca Trail has become prominent in Peru’s economy as it has had a big and beneficial impact on the country. Hiking Machu Picchu has been a bridge for tourism, sustainability, and economic development of the people’s living within the Machu Picchu sanctuary, the Sacred Valley and Cusco. 

Also, there are four hiking itineraries to the Inca Trail for tourists to take. The first tour is the 4-day classic Inca Trail hike, which is the most traversed route on the Inca Trail; it takes four days and three nights to complete this itinerary. However, hikers can take the 2-day Inca Trail hike or the short Inca trail, which is a much easier and faster way to reach Machu Picchu.

Other options are the 5-day Inca Trail tour that provides hikers an extra day to explore all the Inca sites of the Inca trail while camping away from the crowds and getting the most scenic campsites.

Moreover, a more extended version called the Salkantay trek plus Inca Trail connects the Salkantay trek and the Inca trail; this hike takes between six and seven days, depending on the operator people take. 

In addition, the weather on Inca Trail during August will be colder, with a ranging temperature of 20 degrees Celsius, and drops at night to 12 degrees Celsius. However, its temperature during the day will range to 25 degrees Celsius with intense sunlight. Additionally, the land of the Inca Trail is distinguished by rough, mountainous terrain and a stone paved road built by the Inca in the XV century. 

Furthermore, the Inca Trail connects to the two mountains called Vilcanota and Urubamba, and it encompasses a high altitude region between 4,200 and 2,000 meters above sea level. Moreover, Inca Trail has become prominent in Peru’s economy as it has a big and beneficial impact on the local populations of Cusco and the Sacred Valley.

Besides, the trail has more than 30 archaeological sites that also became an essential part of Peru’s culture. The Inca buildings along the Inca Trail were built with different types of rocks with unique characteristics that made the walls strong.

Furthermore, the Inca Trail limits its tourists to 500 persons daily to prevent the site from getting damaged by erosion caused by people’s activity.  

What is the history of the Inca Trail?

The Inca Trail was built in the 1400s to 1500s but was re-discovered by Hiram Bingham between the years 1912 to 1915. Hiram Bingham was an American archaeologist, researcher, and politician who is considered the scientific discoverer of Machu Picchu.

After he discovered Machu Picchu, he thought another trail was coming to Machu Picchu from somewhere else. He brought his team and hired labor workers to work on finding the trail, which was fortunately found together with many archeological sites along the way, all of which became known internationally.

Additionally, there is also a modern-day scholar named Richard Burger, who conducted a research study about the comparison of the road systems of the Inca to the Roman road systems. He wrote the book about Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas. It discussed the ruling of the Inca Emperors and its mysteries.

Moreover, during the 1980s, a man named Johan Reinhard hiked an Inca Trail leading to a volcano and discovered some Inca Mummies. Reinhard believed that those mummies were sacrificed to the gods of the Incas.

A more concise explanation of his findings is laid out in a book he published with Maria Constanza, Inca Rituals And Sacred Mountains: A Study of the World’s Highest Archaeological Sites. 

In addition, the highest point on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is the famous Dead Woman’s pass which is called that way because the mountains in the area look like a profile of a woman looking up in the sky.

Also, the trail connects to other roads that were once used exclusively by members of the royal blood of the Inca Empire. Along with these facts, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu has a crown jewel where tourists can view the Machu Picchu citadel from an Inca lookout called the Sun Gate. Unfortunately, Inca Trail is not part of World Heritage but has become part of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage site. 

During Inca times, the Incan trails became an essential part of the Pan Andean world because of its extensive system of trails with more than 23,000 kilometers. This network of roads extended to a large part of modern Latin America from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Bolivia. In addition, 15 paintings were made in relation to Inca Trails.

What are the theories about the origin of the Inca Trail?

Below are a list of the most important theories about Machu Picchu.

  1. The most important theory about the Inca Trail considers that it probably was a holy pilgrimage that started in Cusco and ended inside the walls of Machu Picchu. 
  2. Scholars believe that because of the impressive landscapes that comprehend waterfalls, snow peak mountains, and other natural features, the Inca trail was considered holy for providing a marvelous nature attraction.
  3. It could have been a summer resort for the inca rulers to escape from the cold winters in Cusco.
  4. Some archeologists think that it was a military and administrative outpost placed at the furthermost frontier of the Inca empire and the amazon jungle

What are the myths about Inca Trail?

Listed below are the myths about Inca Trail.

  • Myth #1: Inca Trail is the only way to reach Machu Picchu. 
  • Myth #2: Tourists have to ‘rough it’ on the Inca Trail.
  • Myth #3: Porters on the Inca Trail are treated fairly and all tour operators are equally sustainable.
  • Myth #4: The Inca Trail is crowded.
  • Myth #5: The Inca Trail is the only hikign destination in Peru.
  • Myth #6: Tourists can hike the Trail without a guide/porters.
  • Myth #7: The Inca Trail is only for young, fit, active people.
  • Myth #8: Tourists can plan their hike on Inca Trail at the last minute.
  • Myth #9: The Inca Trail is unsafe.
  • Myth #10: If tourists stay at Sanctuary Lodge, they can explore Machu Picchu after everyone has left.
Inca Trail Peru Guide: Tours, Hiking, Maps, Buildings, Facts and History


When was the Inca Trail constructed?

The Inca Trail trail was constructed sometime between the XIV and XV centuries at the height of the Inca empire rule. One of the most underrated Inca trail facts is that the Inca built upon, improved, and expanded an already existing system of roads that the Inca ancestors and other kingdoms had left for them. “In the glory days of the Inca empire, which lasted less than a century, this system of roads was one of the marvels of the pre-Columbian world. Stretching more than ten thousand miles in length, the Royal Road, as the Spaniards dubbed it,

was the nervous system of the empire”. Turn right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams. Furthermore, the collapse of the Inca empire in 1532, as a direct consequence of the clash with the Spaniards, signified the end of the Incan political, social, and economic system. In 1572, the Incan resistance was dealt a devastating blow that had lasting consequences.

The last Inca King, Tupac Amaru had been killed by the Spaniards. As a result of this loss, many sacred sites and the roads that led to them were abandoned and evacuated, leading to the decline and eventual obscurity of one of civilization’s most incredible feats – Machu Picchu.

Where is the Inca Trail Located?

Inca Trail is situated within the National Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, in the Urubamba province, Cusco region, on the Southern side of Peru. The hiking trail traverses the Andes mountains, together with other ecological ecosystems.

Also, its track goes through the Cloud forest, Alpine tundra, and Andean grasslands. Tourists also walk across the Urubamba river during their trekking adventure. Machu Picchu is at the end of the Inca Trail, a marvelous mountain connected to the Inca Trail.

Inca Trail Peru Guide: Tours, Hiking, Maps, Buildings, Facts and History

What are the coordinates of Inca Trail?

The geographical coordinates of the Inca Trail, Peru, have a latitude of S 13° 15.6192′ and a longitude of W 72° 26.6724′-72.44454. It has highest point has 4, 215 metres (13,829 feet) of elevation above sea level.   

Is the Inca Trail safe?

Yes ,the Inca Trail is safe. It is because the crime rate on the trail is low. Peru’s government prioritizes the safety of their tourists. They have placed park rangers, private security guards and police officers on different parts of the trail to double the safety assurance. 

What are the tours for the Inca Trail?

Below is the list of Inca Trail tours:

  1. Group tours: There are two different types of group tours; the 4-day classic Inca trail group tour and the two-day Inca trail tour. Both of these tours give people a chance to join other participants from different parts of the world.  The maximum number of people allowed in these group tours is 16, and the quality of the service, meals, and camping gear people get is essential. Group tours for the four-day Inca Trail cost between 750 USD and 950 USD, and two-day group tours cost between 600 USD and 750 USD, depending on the tour operator.
  2. Private tours: The five-day Inca trail tour and the six-day Salkantay plus Inca trail tour are mainly operated on a private basis. These tours are organized only upon request and differ from group tours in the type of service, quality of meals, and camping gear. Usually, they are of superior quality and allow for a more leisured experience. In addition, the 4-day Inca trail tour and the 2-day Inca trail tour can also be operated on a private basis but mainly upon request. The 5-day private tour costs between 1200 USD and 2400 USD per person, and the 6-day Salkantay plus Inca trail costs between 1500 USD and 3000 USD per person. 
  3. Glamping tours: are also operated on the 4 and 5-day Inca trail tours and the 6-day Salkantay plus Inca trail tour. They are upscale, exclusive tours catered for those who crave luxury and comfort while hiking on the Inca Trail. Glamping tours are the most expensive on the Inca trail and cost between 4000 USD and 6000 USD per person.
Inca Trail Peru Guide: Tours, Hiking, Maps, Buildings, Facts and History

What are the Hiking Routes for Inca Trail?

There are four hiking routes on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Below is the list.

  1. The classic four-day Inca Trail is the favorite tour for most tourists as it provides an excellent opportunity to enter Machu Picchu via the Sungate at sunrise on the 4th day of the tour. Proper acclimatization and decent physical fitness is recommended for those planning to hike this tour. The four-day tour prices in 2023 range between 750 USD and 850 USD.
  2. The Short Inca Trail is the shortest version of all Inca Trail tours. The Short Inca trail tour highlights are the scenic train ride to the 104km or Chachabamba and the Winaywayna archeological site. The hiking distance of this tour is 12km or 8 miles which is covered in only one day. People can camp at the Puente Ruinas campsite or sleep at a hotel in Aguas Calientes on the first night of this tour. The two-day Inca Trail is recommended to everyone, including families and children. The four-day tour prices in 2023 range between 600 USD and 750 USD.
  3. The 5-day Inca Trail hike is the preferred route for those who want to avoid crowds when hiking the inca trail. On this tour, hikers enjoy the trail without crowds and explore some of the most magnificent incan archeological sites of the Machu Picchu sanctuary. In addition, hikers who take this tour have the privilege of visiting Machu Picchu twice, first at sunset on day four and again at sunrise on day five. The five-day tour is recommended for families and elders in good physical condition and adequately acclimatized to the altitude. The five-day tour prices in 2023 range between 1400 USD and 2500 USD.
  4. The 6-day Salkantay trek plus classic Inca trail tour is the most challenging for all Inca Trail hikers. It combines the majestic views of the Salkantay route via Inkachiriaska and the magical path of the classic Inca trail. This combination makes this tour the best of all Inca Trail tours. The Salkantay trail plus Inca Trail tour is recommended to experienced hikers and people with good physical fitness conditions. The prices for the six-day tour in 2023 range between 1500 USD and 2500 USD.

How many miles is the Inca Trail trek?

The Inca Trail trek has 26 miles or 43 km and can be achieved during four days of trekking/hiking. In addition to a lengthy adventure, the Inca Trail track is rugged, and steep but moderate. You will need a good pair of hiking boots, trekking poles and a super comfy backpack to cover this distance during the day and a warm light sleeping bag for the evenings.

Inca Trail Peru Guide: Tours, Hiking, Maps, Buildings, Facts and History

What are the Closest Destinations to the Inca Trail?

During the visit to Peru and before hiking the Inca trail, exploring different destinations and attractions is highly recommended to acclimatize appropriately for the excellent hike. Below is the list of the closest destinations to the Inca Trail. 

  1. The city of Cusco is where most tourists will arrive before hiking the Inca Trail, as Cusco hosts the Alejandro Velazco Astete International Airport. Cusco has many restaurants, hotels, museums, archeological sites, and other tourist attractions that are worth the visit. 
  2. Ollantaytambo is the nearest town to the Inca Trail. Many people choose to stay in this location before their Inca trail tour as it is located only 40 minutes away from the trailhead at 82km. Ollantaytambo is a beautiful, picturesque Andean town that sits on the old layout of an incan city. 
  3. Urubamba is the capital of the Urubamba province where Machu Picchu is located; it is a beautiful town that serves as a base camp for people to explore the Sacred Valley before the Inca trail tour. While on the Sacred Valley, people can explore Chinchero, the Moray circular terraces, the Maras salt mines, the Pisac town, and the Pisac archeological site.
  4. Aguas Calientes is located at the end of the Inca trail and only 8 km from Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail brings in plenty of tourists every day and year, boosting the number of tourists to its different destinations.   

 What are the nearest attractions to the Inca Trail?

Listed below are the nearest attractions to the Inca Trail.


  • Moray: The Inca were the ones who constructed Moray as their agricultural compound. Moray’s purposes are the cultivation of crops. Moray also has many Inca ruins, but the most known are the circular terraces.
  • Patallacta: The Patallacta ruins still contain a dozen walled homes and other structures that can still be explored today. 
  • Sitio Arqueologico Pinkuylluna: The Arqueologiccal site of Pinkuylluna is a historic place with impressive structures on the mountain’s edge.
  • Ollantaytambo Sanctuary: The Ollantaytambo Sanctuary is a town created by the Inca, and their descendants currently remain in the Valley. The stones in the Ollantaytambo Sanctuary remain impressive witnesses of the Inca might and can be seen all over its temples, fountains, and terraces. 
  • Templo del Sol: The ‘Templo del Sol’, or temple of the sun, can be found in Ollantaytambo. Templo del Sol was built by the Incas using massive pink granite stones with incredible views. 
Inca Trail Peru Guide: Tours, Hiking, Maps, Buildings, Facts and History

What are the archaeological sites on the Inca Trail?

Listed below are the archaeological sites on Inca Trail

Llactapata: The name Llacpata means ‘High City’ in Quechua, the language of the Inca. The whole place was made up of the ceremonial center of Pupituyoq, the urban sector, the cultivation area, and the graveyard. Llactapata is situated at the geographical point of the Cusichaca and Urubamba Rivers.

Runkurakay: Runkurakay is an archaeological site in Peru. The ruin is placed in the center of the Inca Trail. Also, the ruin can be described as peculiar for having circular structures, which was a unique design in the early days of the Inca.

Sayacmarca: Sayacmarka is an impressive Inca city built on top of a natural outcrop facing west to the sunset. It has a magnificent oval building that is considered a temple and a massive boulder that the Incas worship during their religious ceremonies.

Phuyupatamarca: Phuyutamarca means “town in the clouds” because its location reached more than 3,600 meters above sea level. It is also a stunning wall structure that can be located at the highest part of a mountain. Also, its ruins have 15 buildings, 6 ceremonial baths, bridges, steep stairs, water channels, two squares, and observation platforms. Trekking from Phyupatamarca to Intipunku will take about 4 hours and 10 minutes.

Intipata: On the Trail of Inca to Machu Picchu, Intipata is one of the most spectacular archaeological structures in Peru. It is situated between the historical sites of Winayhuayna and Intipunku. However, only a few tourists would dare to venture into the ruins of Intipata because of its high and challenging location.

Wiñaywayna: is one of the most beautiful incan sites of the Inca Trail due to its striking structures, which challenge the beauty of those located in Machu Picchu. It has a semi-oval building that was built to worship a nearby waterfall, and its main gate frames the Waqay Willka mountain on the east as if it was carefully dedicated to worship this mountain.

Intipunku: Intipunku, known by hikers as the Sun Gate, is positioned at the entryway to Machu Picchu. During the early time of the Incas, there were guards stationed in the Intipunuku. The site is mainly located in the southeast of Machu Picchu, where hikers from the Inca Trail enter.

Chachabamba: is located at the entrance of the short Inca trail and consists of a magnificent altar carved on the living rock surrounded by a vast amount of ceremonial fountains where the Inca worshipped the water goddess.

Other archeological sites that are located within the Machu Picchu national sanctuary are Wayna Qente, Qorihuayrachina, Paucarcancha, Torontoy, and Choquesuysuy.

What to know before going to the Inca Trail?

Listed below are the things to know before going to the Inca Trail.


  • Book Tours in advance: Hiking on the Inca Trail will not be possible at the last minute or upon arrival in Peru. Permits must be secured before the date of arrival.
  • Decide on what type of tour: Inca Trail has two types of a tour that would take 4 days and 2 days to complete the trip.
  • Plan on what season to travel and hike: Peru has two seasons and its temperature will depend on it. Deciding on what season to travel to can affect the adventure that awaits in Peru.
  • Appropriate Clothing and Shoes: Hikers are advised to wear long pants to avoid being bitten by mosquitos, especially at night. Also, hiking shoes or boots are the most appropriate shoes to wear during hiking to have proper support.
  • Inca Trail is expensive: Tourists might need to save a good amount of money to hike the Inca Trail. Each person is charged $700 as a starting price and can range up to $1,500.
  • What to pack during the hike: Tourists are advised to pack light essential things and two different bags for clothes, depending on the temperature on the Trail.
  • Tourists can bring their families: Inca Trail tours offer a service that can cater to families, even elderly members.
Inca Trail Peru Guide: Tours, Hiking, Maps, Buildings, Facts and History

When is the best time to visit Inca Trail?

The best time to hike the Inca Trail is before and after the rainy season. April, May, September, October, and November are the shoulder season months to have great views and fewer people.

The weather conditions during the shoulder season are sunny, bright, and lush, ideal for hiking, photography, and incredible views. Additionally, the temperatures will be much shivery in the rainy season, which can be bothersome when having a nature escapade.

When is the Inca Trail Open?

Inca Trail is accessible from March 1 to the end of January but not during February, when it is closed due to the rainy season and for maintenance purposes. The Inca trail opens even on holidays and weekends, and only authorized people can enter its premises.

What is the Inca Trail Itinerary like?

The Inca Trail itinerary consists of the following days and times. 


  1. On the first day of the hike, tourists must depart early (between 4.30 am and 5.30 am) from Cusco and go on a two-hour car ride to Ollantaytambo. At Ollantaytambo, tourists can eat breakfast and buy other last-minute essential things for hiking. Then they will continue for another 45 minutes until they reach the trailhead at the ’82 km’. Hikers will check in with the Inca trail park rangers to start the hike at this location to officially begin their adventure. 
  2. Day two of hiking the Inca Trail will be the most challenging part. Tourists will climb the highest location of the Inca trail, the Dead Woman’s Pass, which has an elevation of 4,200 m (14200 ft). 
  3. Day three is considered to be the most spectacular but longest day. Hikers will reach and pass the ruins of Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, and Intipata before reaching their campsite at Winaywayna, which is located only two hours away from Machu Picchu.
  4. Day 4 is the last day of the hike, which is the easiest and best part. Hikers will finally arrive at the end of the Inca Trail and arrive at Machu Picchu.  
Inca Trail Peru Guide: Tours, Hiking, Maps, Buildings, Facts and History


How much does it cost to visit the Inca Trail?

Prices for the Inca trail depend on the type of service and itinerary hikers choose to take. For instance, a group short Inca trail or 2-day Inca trail costs between 550 and 650 USD and between 650 USD and 1000 USD for private tours. 

In addition, the cost of the 4-day group Inca Trail is between 750 USD and 950 USD, and between 950 and 1200 USD for private tours. Furthermore, a private 5-day Inca trail tour costs between 1400 USD and 2400 USD, and the 6-day Salkantay plus Inca Trail costs between 1500 USD and 2500 USD. 

Some of these prices include the basics such as round-trip transportation, entrance fees, permits, meals, camping tents, English-speaking tour guides, and porters to carry dining tents, meals, and other gear.

Porters do not transport the personal belongings of tourists, such as sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and other personal items such as clothes and hygiene kits.

Read more about the Inca Trail on this Lonely Planet post.

What is the best vehicle for visiting the Inca Trail?

The best vehicle for visiting the Inca Trail is a passenger van o a private bus. Most tour operators provide comfortable buses and private vans to transport their clients to the trailhead located at the ’82 km’. 

In addition, the best vehicle to get to the trailhead of Short Inca Trail at Chachabamba, or 104 km, is the train. PeruRail and Inca Rail operate trains from the city of Cusco and Ollantaytambo daily. These two types of trains have different prices, depending on the types of service and schedules.

The cheapest service on PeruRail is called the expedition, which only costs $60 per trip, while the most affordable service on Inca Rail is the Voyager train which ranges around the same price as the Peru Rail.

Other services to consider are the vistadome train and the 360 Inca Rail trains, which are more luxurious than the ones mentioned above. On these trains, tourists can get snacks and drinks during the trip while enjoying the magnificent views of the Urubamba river from an open-deck car. 

How many days should a person spend on the Inca Trail?

A person should spend between four and five days to complete the 26-plus miles of steep tracks and plenty of attractions to visit along the way, and six days if they choose to hike the 36 miles of the Salkantay plus Inca Trail.

Each day of hiking consists of impressive views of breathtaking mountains and rivers and different mysterious archaeological sites. However, tourists can only spend two days if they take the short Inca trail. 

Inca Trail Peru Guide: Tours, Hiking, Maps, Buildings, Facts and History

  How to Get from Cusco to the Inca Trail?

Listed below is a guide for tourists to go from Cusco to the Inca Trail.

  1. You can get picked up from your hotel in Cusco by your tour operator. This is the most common way tourists are transported to the Inca Trail. You will be collected from your hotel and taken on a two-hour car ride to the ’82 km’. 
  2. You can meet your group tour at Ollantaytambo or Urubamba in the Sacred Valley. Some tourists explore the beautiful attractions of the Sacred Valley before their Inca Trail tour. After this, they can meet their groups at the places mentioned above. 

Which Civilization used the Inca Trail for what?

The Inca Civilization used the Inca trail for religious and ceremonial purposes taking pilgrims from the Inca capital in Cusco to Machu Picchu, which was thought to be a holy city.

Also, the Inca trail was part of a massive network of roads that the mighty Inca ruling class built across the Andean world to connect administrative and political centers with Cusco, the capital.

Scholars believe that the Inca had built about 20,000 miles of roads at their height to facilitate the movement of goods, information, and armies. The Inca road system is as impressive as the royal roman roads and is thought to have played the role of an instrument of social control as it displayed the power of the Incan rulers.

Furthermore, the Spaniards used the Incan roads to reach the city of Cusco, where they successfully looted the gold, silver, and riches that adorned the most important buildings of this place.

What is the Geography of the Inca Trail?

The geography of the Inca Trail is rugged, with a steep, mountainous landscape. The Inca Trail passes through different mountain passes and ecosystems, such as elfin forests, cloud forests, and alpine tundra forests.

This all contributes to creating a unique geography that continues to fascinate geologists. The Machu Picchu mountain and Huayna Picchu mountain flank the Inca citadel.

What is the Geological Profile of the Inca Trail?

The dramatic and awe-inspiring Eastern Cordillera of Peru swooping across the horizon was formed millions of years ago through an inversion process.

The area around Inca Trail to Machu Picchu reflects a similar pattern with granitoid bodies emplaced at its highest altitudes alongside scattered rocks composed mainly of Precambrian and Lower Paleozoic metamorphics which were initially part of an original rift system.

The most remarkable aspect of this area is its unique batholith, called the ‘Vilcabamba Batholith,’ which was formed during the Permo-Triassic era and can still visible nowadays.

What are the findings on the Inca Trail?

Scholars consider that the most significant relic found in the Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is the untouched remains of the Inca trail itself. The roads show the jaw-dropping ability the great Inca people had to build these roads.

The Inca trail was a religious path that connected Machu Picchu to the historical Inca Empire of Cusco.

It is considered a relic as it was made of stones, using bronze tools, allocated in the most inaccessible places of the scarped Andean mountain.

Since the discovery of Machu Picchu, archeologists have found many archeological rests of hidden incan settlements along the stoned paved path built by the Inca in the XXIV and XV centuries. These impressive incan sites stand as silent witnesses of the glory of the Inca people. 

Inca Trail Peru Guide: Tours, Hiking, Maps, Buildings, Facts and History

What is the nearest city to Inca Trail?

The closest city to Inca Trail is Aguas Calientes, and it is only 30 minutes by car from Machu Picchu. Also, hikers can walk for nearly 2 hours from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes.

Also, Aguas Calientes city has high-rise buildings with two primary streets. Its main streets are Avenida Imperio de Los Incas, where the old train station is located, and Avenida Pachacutec, where most restaurants, hotels, and bars can be found.

What are the books about Inca Trail?

Listed below are the books about Inca Trail.

  • Inca Rituals And Sacred Mountains: A Study of the World’s Highest Archaeological Sites: It was written by John Reinhard, who explored the mysterious Trail of Inca, which led him to discover the mummies in the mountain. It led him to write the book mainly about ceremonies and rituals during ancient times.
  • The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire:  It is a book written through the collaboration of four authors; Ramiro Matos Mendieta (Editor), Jose Barreiro (Editor), David Penney (Foreword), John Oschendorf (Contributor). This book features an amazing collection of essays inviting readers to learn about the secrets and mysteries of the Inca woven through more than 600 years of history. It shines a light on the magnificence of the Qhapaq nan, an ancient network of roads spanning across Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and other South American territories. The book speaks about the ancestors of the Inca, Cusco as the center of the Inca Empire, the creation of the Incan road system, its transportation, and much more.
  • Inca Trails: Journey Through The Bolivian and Peruvian Andes: This fabulous book narrates the chronicles of a thrilling expedition across some of the most breathtaking Peruvian and Bolivian Andes while uncovering the captivating history of one of South America’s most powerful pre-colonial civilizations: The Incas. 
  • Discovering Machu Picchu: The Inca Trail and Choquequirau: Written by Jose Miguel Helfer Arguedas. The book is about the history of the Inca Trail and Choquequirao, which is considered Machu Picchu’s twin sister city. 
Inca Trail Peru Guide: Tours, Hiking, Maps, Buildings, Facts and History

Which scientists worked on the Inca Trail?

Below are the Peruvian and foreign scientists who worked on the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu.


  • Paolo Canuti. University of Florence | UNIFI · Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra
  • Giuseppe Delmonaco. Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) | ISPRA · Geological Survey of Italy
  • Rualdo Menegat, from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. 
  • Kyoji Sassa of Kyoto University’s Disaster Prevention Research Institute.


  • John Henry Hemming. McGill University, University of Oxford. Vancouver, British Columbia,
  • Federico Kauffmann Doig. National University of San Marcos, Lima Peru


  • Jose Fernando Astete Victoria
  • Jose Bastante
  • Alfredo Valencia Zegarra
  • Roland Fletcher. MA Ph.D. CambProfessor of Theoretical and World Archaeology


  • John Verano. is a professor of anthropology at Tulane University. 
  • Richard Burger. Ph.D. Professor of anthropology at UC Berkeley, California
  • Bethany L. Turner, Ph.D. Professor of Anthropology, Georgia State University. 

Civil Engineering 

  • Kenneth R. Wright, Ph.D. Loma Linda University


  • Johan Reinhard. 

In which district is the Inca Trail located?

The Inca Trail is located in the district of Machu Picchu, province of Urubamba, in the Southern Region of Cusco. Additionally, the Inca Trail will pass through numerous other towns such as Ollantaytambo, Qoriwayrachina and Wayllabamba.

Inca Trail Peru Guide: Tours, Hiking, Maps, Buildings, Facts and History

How did people on the Inca Trail live in the past?

Scholars believe that people’s way of life on the Inca trail did not differ much from how people lived across the Inca empire. The Inca Empire was established in Southern America of the Andes Region and has progressively expanded due to its monarchs’ military capabilities and diplomatic skills.

The Inca state had almost twelve million people with hundreds of distinct ethnic groups who lived under their rule. Some people were farmers that were in charge of taking care of the agricultural system of the Empire.

People were dedicated to their ordinary labors based on a specialization policy imposed by the Inca rulers; miners were confined to the mines, weavers to weaving, and so forth, depending on what people were dedicated to.

How was Agriculture in Inca Trail?

The agriculture on the Inca trail strictly followed the principles and practices of agricultural production throughout the Inca empire. As the main economic activity, the farming system of the Inca was characterized by a centralized organization and the practice of sustainable techniques.

Farmlands were distributed to the Ayllus (community groups based on ethnic backgrounds) to sustain their members, who had to pay tribute with products or labor. Any surplus production was kept and stored in warehouses as part of a collective good. 

Ancient incan farmers created a complex terracing system using the mountainous landscape to produce crops tailored to their environment. With each contour painstakingly built and cared for, they enabled thriving agriculture even in rugged terrain.

The Inca used ‘guano’ bird manure as the main fertilizer and worked together to build a system of irrigation canals and irrigation ditches that allowed a sustainable use of water. 

How was Mining in Inca Trail?

There is little evidence that the Inca people performed mining tasks on the Inca Trail. However, In the Inca Empire, gathering precious metals like gold and silver was a highly regarded endeavor. As such, dedicated miners used huayras- traditional clay-fined furnaces designed to utilize natural breezes as bellows for fanning fires – to heat ore and extract vaporized metal from its source.

How was the economy of Inca Trail?

The economy on the Inca trail followed the same dynamics of the Incan economic system, which were deeply rooted in ancient Andean traditions. The Inca rulers had monopolized the means of production and the productive forces. In the absence of a commodity exchange system, they relied heavily on labor taxation and non-monetary exchange.

Political standings often determined how valuable these exchanges would be, with the Inca rulers incentivizing hard work by providing elaborate entertainment for those loyal to them. As part of an ancient system of reciprocity, ordinary people had to work hard for their rulers, even though sometimes they were coerced into doing so.

How was Daily Life in Inca Trail?

Strong family ties and agricultural production characterized day-to-day life in the Inca Empire. Also, men were required for military service at a young age. The daily life of the Incas depended on what type of labor or skill they were good at. During the childhood of each Incas, they were trained by their parents to work at a young age. Until the child grew, they still continued to work to help expand their Empire.

Moreover, childhood life during the Inca Empire’s early days differed from today’s generation.

Children in the Inca culture must observe their parents and work from a very young age and learn to trade. Boys and girls, ages five to nine, were required to watch after the domesticated animals, while elders had to look after young kids while the parents were working elsewhere. 

What was the Religious Beliefs of the people on the Inca Trail?

The Incan religion was polytheistic, with a pantheon of gods and goddesses that were worshipped in state-sponsored ceremonies. At the center of their faith was Viracocha – creator supreme who generated all things & beings they knew.

Sun God Inti was revered above all as an omnipresent force allowing life to thrive through its powers of agriculture, fertility, and more.

The worship of the sun ran so deep within the incan elites, who proclaimed themselves to be direct descendants of its brilliance. The Inca built numerous shrines in his honor on the Inca trail and performed grand festivals such as Inti-Raymi (festival of the sun) and Capac-Raymi (Great festival). These celebrations occurred during the winter and summer solstices in June & December, respectively.

 How is the Past of the Inca Trail presented to the visitors?

When hiking the Inca trail, visitors can learn in-depth about the great Inca empire’s history and the incan society. The presence of an abundant number of archeological sites creates the conditions for tour guides to present evidence of the Inca trail’s decisive role during Precolumbian times.

For years, the purpose of Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail itself, and the many ancient incan sites along the way was a mystery. Recently, it was revealed that the Incas built the Inca Trail and crafted breathtaking settlements to blend perfectly with their captivating natural environment – a highly spiritual way for this pre-Columbian society to interact in harmony with nature.

 How is the Preservation of the Inca Trail?

 The government did not allow the Inca Trail to be damaged by plenty of tourists daily. Peru has partnered with the agency to help preserve and protect the Trail.

The agents of the agency have been applying measures for the preservation of the environment around the Trail. They put protection to the natural heritage of the Trail and also collect harmful waste that some hikers clutter.

 Is there a modern town on the Inca Trail?

 No, there are no modern towns along the Inca trail, only small shanty towns inhabited by local farmers who dedicate their free time to work i the travel industry. Also, the nearest modern city to the Inca Trail is Aguas Calientes.

Inca Trail Peru Guide: Tours, Hiking, Maps, Buildings, Facts and History

How is the Map of the Inca Trail Layout?

Inca Trail Peru Guide: Tours, Hiking, Maps, Buildings, Facts and History

How was transportation on the Inca Trail?

The road system of the Inca trail is known in history as a royal road exclusively used by the Inca rulers to maintain their grip on the people and nations under their control. The Inca Empire used the road primarily for the transportation of goods, military, and communication.

The use of llamas as beasts of burden was widespread, and young men were used as runners called ‘Chaski’ to carry information from one place to another. The Incan people did not permit the free transit of people on these trails, and peasants were allowed to walk on these roads only upon explicit command of the Inca rulers. 

Does the Inca Trail have a No-fly Zone?

Yes, The Inca Trail has a no-fly zone Under Peruvian regulations. The Peruvian government banned commercial flights of helicopters in the Machu Picchu sanctuary in 2015. The government decided to have a no-fly zone on the Inca trail since their environmentalists announced that plenty of wildlife animals and plants are affected by low-flying helicopter tours. Also, the use of drones was prohibited in 2017. The decision of the government aims to preserve the wildlife inside the Trail. 

 Is the Inca Trail a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

 No, the Inca trail is not a part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Unfortunately, the Inca Trail is not included on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. For Inca Trail to be chosen as one of the UNESC’S historical lists, the location of the Inca Trail should be valued, which brings importance to the next generation of society.

What is the contribution of the Inca Trail to Tourism in Peru?

The Inca Trail has a significant contribution to Tourism in Peru. The Trail attracts tens of thousands of hikers to enjoy their holidays in the country. According to the Ministry of Culture of Peru, almost 4,636,000 USD is collected from Inca trail permits alone and millions more are obtained by tour companies for selling their services to tourists.

The Trail receives nearly 500 visitors daily, including tour guides, porters, and cooks. Tourists pay between 600 USD and 700 USD for a tourist package to enter the Inca Trail tour, which, multiplied by 200 tourists, makes approximately 36 million US dollars annually. In addition, people who hike the Inca Trail spend money on other items such as hotels, meals, and transportation outside the Inca trail, making a multi-million dollar industry.

Is the Inca Trail endangered?

Yes, the Inca Trail is endagered. Peru’s Ministry of Culture is actively working to protect the Inca Trail, a soaring relic of incan times. Strict regulations have been set in place to ensure its preservation: only 500 people, including tourists, guides, and porters, are allowed access each day.

Porters are used to helping tourists but with an approved list of supplies that meet specific criteria – all monitored closely by local park rangers. To further aid conservation efforts during high rainfall season (February), the sacred path is shut off from visitors for maintenance purposes.

Is the Inca Trail floated in the past?

No, The Inca Trail is not floated in the past, and the Inca Trail is south America’s most adventurous trekking place. No Incan people currently live on the Trail, and the Trail consists of plenty of Incan historical places. Also, the Trail became a tourist destination that attracts tourists from all over the world who want to conquer the Inca Trail.  

How many Artifacts exist on Inca Trail?

There are no data that shows of artifacts existed in Inca Trail.

What is the difference between Inca Trail and Salkantay Trek?

Below are the main differences between the Inca Trail and the Salkantay Trek:

  1. Importance and preservation: The Inca Trail and Salkantay Trek offer a myriad of opportunities. But when it comes to protection and preservation, one stands out: The Inca trail is subject to enforced regulations monitored by park rangers along its entire route, thus making permits mandatory. On the other hand, no external management or regulation exists on the Salkantay trek as people are free from oversight—except on select routes known as “Salkantay plus Inca Trail” which require permits due to their inclusion within Machu Picchu sanctuary boundaries.
  2. Conveneince to get to Machu Picchu: For a truly spectacular entrance to Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail is the way to go. Those who take this ancient path catch their first glimpse of its iconic ruins through the Sungate at sunrise – an experience far beyond that offered by alternative routes such as Salkantay Trek, which finishes in Aguas Calientes and requires travelers to continue onwards via bus.
  3. Difficulty: While the Salkantay trek is longer than the Inca Trail, adventurers will find much more of a challenge in traversing its 26-mile course, with three mountain passes to tackle along the way. In comparison, though slightly shorter at 28 miles long, tackling just one pass makes for a less rugged journey on the Salkantay trail.
  4. Cost: When it comes to price, the Inca Trail and Salkantay Trek offer vastly different experiences. The cost of a group tour to follow in the footsteps of the ancient Incas can range anywhere from 700-850 USD – roughly $150-$350 more than heading out on an adventure along the much less expensive route provided by the Salkantay trek (between 450-600 USD). These higher costs are mainly because porters are required for any journey through the iconic inca trail.
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