Can a Beginner Hike Machu Picchu?

by | Dec 2, 2023 | Inca Trail | 0 comments

Inca Trail Hiking for begginers

Are you ready to cross off hiking Machu Picchu from your bucket list? My question is Can a Beginner climb Machu Picchu? Can you do the Inca Trail without a guide? This comprehensive guide is here to help you embark on this unforgettable journey.

If you’re a novice when it comes to high-altitude treks, the thought of embarking on this journey can seem daunting. Even a multi-day trek in less challenging terrains, like the Irish hills, can appear intimidating to first-timers!

However, if you’ve been captivated by the allure of the ancient Inca site of Machu Picchu, there’s no need for apprehension. While it undeniably presents a rigorous physical challenge, it is by no means a task reserved solely for seasoned mountaineers. So, the question arises – can beginners trek to Machu Picchu? Let’s delve into it…

RELATED: Hike The Classic Inca Trail 4 Days

Can a Beginner Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

Absolutely! You don’t need any technical skills to trek to Machu Picchu. However, that doesn’t mean you can just rock up in a pair of hiking boots and go trekking.

As with any multi-day expedition, you need to train and get as fit as you can before you depart. The fitter you are, the more enjoyable it will be!

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Inca Trail Porters
Our beginner hikers trekking to Machu Picchu?

Beginners Fitness Requirements for Hiking Machu Picchu

If you are wondering, “How fit do I need to be to hike Machu Picchu?” here’s a general guide. You should be able to comfortably handle hillwalking for 7 hours per day, for two consecutive days. The best way to reach this fitness level is by regular hiking, ideally at least twice per month as you prepare for this expedition.

In the three months leading up to your departure, include two long training hikes (6-8 hours) at a steady, comfortable pace on back-to-back days. These hikes should be done with an 8kg rucksack to simulate the actual trekking conditions. In addition to trekking, incorporate cardio training into your routine as well. For more detailed guidance on how to train for Machu Picchu, please refer to our [Training Guide](

Short Inca Trail 2 days
Short Inca Trail 2 Days or 4 day Inca Trail which is the best option to see Machu Picchu twice?

High Altitude at Machu Picchu

Regardless of your trekking experience, high altitude can affect anyone. The most effective strategy to mitigate the risk of altitude sickness is to adopt a slow pace, take adequate rest, maintain hydration, and eat regularly.

The unique aspect of our Machu Picchu trek is that we start at a higher altitude and descend, unlike other expeditions. However, this can still pose a challenge. For an in-depth understanding of how to cope with the altitude, please refer to our blog post.

Overview of the Begginer Journey to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, a world-renowned hiking destination nestled in the heart of Peru, offers an exhilarating trek that takes you to an altitude of 7,972 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level.

With temperatures swinging between 50°F (10°C) to 70°F (20°C) during the day and dropping to around 32°F (0°C) at night, it’s a hike that truly tests your endurance. The terrain is a mix of steep paths, stone steps, and narrow trails. The total distance depends on your chosen route, with the classic Inca Trail spanning approximately 26 miles (42 kilometers).

Choose Your Route Wisely

The difficulty of the hike varies depending on the chosen route. The classic Inca Trail is moderately challenging and suitable for individuals with a good level of fitness and hiking experience. For the more adventurous, the Salkantay Trek and the Lares Trek are tougher, with higher altitudes and longer distances.

For beginners, the Short Inca Trail is your best bet. It’s less strenuous and covers a shorter distance but doesn’t compromise on the breathtaking views and the experience of the beauty of Machu Picchu.

Ancascocha Lagoon
Ancascocha Lagoon and Our Team

Alternative trail to Machu Picchu, Unique Adventure

At Tour Leaders Peru, we offer an alternative trail to Machu Picchu for those looking for a unique adventure. Our trail gives you the chance to explore this world-famous site as well as some of its lesser-known surrounding areas.

Along the way, you’ll get to experience breathtaking views and learn about Inca culture from our knowledgeable local guides. If you’re looking for something different than your typical Machu Picchu tour, then this is the perfect option! So join us today and let us show you why this alternative route offers an unforgettable experience. Trust us – it will be well worth it!

Pack Smart – Essential Gear and Supplies

To conquer Machu Picchu, you’ll need:

  • Sturdy hiking boots with ankle support
  • Comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing (layers recommended)
  • Waterproof and windproof jacket and pants
  • Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for sun protection
  • A backpack with a capacity of at least 30 liters
  • A sleeping bag suitable for cold temperatures
  • Trekking poles for stability and support
  • First aid kit with essential medications, including altitude sickness medication
  • Water bottles and water purification tablets
  • Snacks and high-energy food
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Personal toiletries and hygiene products
  • Cash for entrance fees and additional expenses

Fitness and Preparation – Getting Your Body Ready

Start a regular exercise routine to improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Gradually increase physical activity and incorporate hiking or walking on uneven terrain. Practice hiking with a loaded backpack to simulate the conditions of the trail.

Stay hydrated and maintain a healthy diet before the hike. Spend a few days in Cusco or other high-altitude locations before starting the hike to acclimatize to the high altitude. Learn about altitude sickness prevention techniques.

Hiring a Guide – The Key to a Safe and Enjoyable Hike

We highly recommend hiring a professional guide or joining a group tour when hiking Machu Picchu.

They provide valuable knowledge about the trail, ensure safety, and offer cultural insights. A guide can also assist with navigation and assist in case of emergencies.

Respect the Local Community and Environment

As you take in the breathtaking views and rich history of Machu Picchu, remember to respect the local community and the environment.

Follow the principles of Leave No Trace, which include packing out all trash, staying on designated trails, and respecting the cultural heritage of the site. Also, consider supporting local businesses by purchasing souvenirs and services from them.


Embarking on the journey to Machu Picchu is not just a physical endeavor don’t worry if you are beginner you can hike machu picchu on your own schedule. Prepare well, respect the surroundings, and enjoy every moment of your hike. Happy adventuring!


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Cesar Conde

Cesar Conde

Position: Tour Leaders & Digital Creator

I’m Cesar Conde, owner of Tour Leaders Peru & Travel Advisor and my other side job is Nomadic Digital. I share my own amazing Tour Experiences, travel stories, guides, and itineraries for travelers like you and me!


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