Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Difficulty

by | Feb 19, 2024 | Inca Trail | 0 comments

Inca Trail Royal Trek To Machu Picchu 5 Days

There is a common misconception about the Machu Picchu trek difficulty. How difficult is the Inca Trail Hike? The Machu Picchu trek difficulty depends on your skill level and various other factors. Is the Inca Trail hard? You can learn everything you need to know about the Inca Trail and whether people find the Machu Picchu hike difficult. So, how difficult is the Inca Trail? The answer is that some people find the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu difficult, and others do just fine with it.

Is The Inca Trail Dangerous?

How Difficult is the Inca Trail?

Is the Inca Trail hard? The most straightforward answer to the Machu Picchu trek difficulty question is that it depends. People are afraid because they wonder, “Is the Inca Trail hard?” There are some things to consider about this hike’s difficulty level. Several factors will determine just how challenging this hike was, including:

  • Fitness level
  • Experience hiking
  • The way that the guides run their tour
  • Weather

READ: Peru Travel and Tours – by BTE

These are just a few of the factors that can impact how difficult people find the trip. The 4-day hike is an estimated 26 miles, which is often broken down so that people can enjoy more of the scenery as they take this hike and allow for plenty of rest in between hiking. The first day starts bright and early, typically hiking about 6.8 miles. The second day is often considered the most challenging day, where you hike for 7.5 miles and visit Dead Woman’s Pass. This area is where you come across the highest altitude on this trip, of about 13,000 feet. This second day is considered the highest due to the altitude, not because of the distance. The 3rd day is a hike of about 10 miles, and the 4th day is the shortest day consisting of 2.5 miles. Then you get to Machu Picchu and can take those magnificent pictures of the area.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Difficulty
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Difficulty.

What to Know About the Inca Trail

People sometimes find the Machu Picchu hike difficult, but this can be such an exceptional adventure. Is the Inca Trail hard? It can be for some people, but this is the adventure of a lifetime if you let it. This trip is so popular for people, whether they plan their trip around this hike or travel to the area and experience it. There are some essential things for you to know about this trip. First of all, you are required to have a guide when you hike this trail. You can opt for a single guide or splurge for an organized group where you can enjoy more luxuries, such as large tents and better food.

You also have to have a permit to take this hike. This rule limits the number of people who can make the trek, allowing visitors to have a more pleasant experience and protecting the local area. However, you should know that these permits need to be booked well in advance to ensure that you get to enjoy this hike.

Something that may surprise people when they take this hike is to experience several climates in one day. You can get pretty cold at night but deal with humidity during the hike. There are several different microclimates that you will encounter on this hike, so it’s essential to have layers of clothing that you can take on or off as needed. This gear includes having a waterproof coat in case of rain.


To avoid altitude sickness while trekking at high elevations, it is important to acclimatize properly. This means gradually ascending to higher altitudes and taking frequent breaks to allow your body to adjust. It is also recommended to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol.

In addition, it is important to pay attention to any symptoms of altitude sickness and not push yourself too hard. If you do experience symptoms such as headaches, nausea, or fatigue, it is best to descend immediately and seek medical attention if necessary.

Another factor to consider while trekking in Peru is the weather. The Inca Trail is generally warm during the day, but temperatures can drop significantly at night. It is important to pack warm clothing such as woollies and thermals to stay comfortable during chilly nights.

If trekking during the wet season, which runs from mid-October to mid-April, be prepared for warmer, wetter, and more humid conditions. This may require packing additional rain gear and being cautious of slippery terrain.

By properly preparing for high-altitude trekking and being aware of potential risks such as altitude sickness and changing weather conditions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the Inca Trail in Peru.

How Hard Is The Inca Trail?

The Inca Trail is a popular trekking route that leads to the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru. It stretches for more than twenty-six miles and is not for the faint-hearted. The trail features steep inclines, rough cobbly terrain, and tricky switchbacks that require a great deal of stamina and determination.

Although it may seem like a daunting challenge, the good news is that the Inca Trail does not require any technical skills or special equipment. As long as you are reasonably fit, you have a good chance of completing the trial. It is rare for anyone to be forced to abandon the trek.

However, this does not mean that the Inca Trail is easy. You will still face many challenges along the way and will need to push yourself physically and mentally. One section of the trail that most people consider the toughest is known as ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’. This stretch involves climbing up a staircase at a high altitude, reaching an elevation of nearly 4,200 meters. It can be exhausting and may leave your legs feeling wobbly.

But don’t let this discourage you! Once you conquer Dead Woman’s Pass, the rest of the journey becomes smoother and less strenuous. And all your hard work will be worth it when you finally lay eyes on Machu Picchu, one of the most awe-inspiring sights on earth.

So if you’re up for an adventure and ready to challenge yourself physically and mentally, then trekking on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu should be on your travel bucket list. The sense of accomplishment you’ll feel at the end will be immeasurable, and witnessing Machu Picchu with your own eyes will truly take your breath away.

How Do I Have To Prepare For The Inca Trail?

In addition to increasing your general strength and stamina, it’s important to also focus on specific exercises that will help you cope with the altitude on the Inca Trail. High altitude can cause symptoms like shortness of breath, dizziness, and nausea, so it’s crucial to prepare your body for these challenges.

One way to do this is by including interval training in your workout routine. This involves alternating between high-intensity bursts of exercise and lower-intensity recovery periods. For example, you could jog for 2 minutes and then sprint for 30 seconds before returning to a jog. This type of training mimics the changes in oxygen levels that you’ll experience while hiking at high altitudes and will help your body adapt more quickly.

Another helpful exercise is stair climbing. Look for a nearby park or stadium with stairs and incorporate them into your workouts. This will not only build strength in your legs but also get you used to climbing uphill.

When doing any type of physical activity, remember to listen to your body and take breaks when needed. It’s better to go slow and steady than to push yourself too hard and risk injury or exhaustion.

Finally, don’t forget about proper footwear for your trek. As mentioned before, it’s important to break in new boots beforehand. It’s also a good idea to invest in quality hiking socks to prevent blisters and discomfort on the trail.

By following these tips and consistently incorporating challenging aerobic exercises into your routine, you’ll be well-prepared for the physical demands of the Inca Trail trek. And don’t forget – stay hydrated throughout your training as well as during the trek itself!

Tips for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

You may or may not find the Machu Picchu hike difficult, but some things can make the Machu Picchu trek difficulty easier for you. Is the Inca Trail hard? People have a misconception about how difficult the Inca Trail that makes them hesitant about taking the plunge. These are some tips that can help you make the most of your trip to have a more enjoyable experience. These tips include:

  • Doing exercises before your trip that can strengthen your legs, core, and lower body
  • Help acclimate yourself to the area’s high altitude by staying in Cusco for a day or two before your trip.
  • Make sure that you pace yourself so that you can better enjoy your trip.
  • Hiking boots can help make the hike easier on your ankles. These aren’t necessary, but they do help.
  • Hiking poles are also often recommended because they can make the hike easier on your knees.
  • Be sure to pack a light bag as you don’t want too much extra weight as you are hiking on this trail.

Conclusion about the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Difficulty

After much research and contemplation, it’s safe to say that the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a challenging but extremely rewarding trek. The high altitude and steep terrain make it physically demanding, while the limited availability of permits adds an element of difficulty in planning and booking the trip.

However, for those who are up for the challenge, the Inca Trail offers an experience unlike any other. The breathtaking views, rich history, and unique cultural immersion make it a once-in-a-lifetime journey. And with proper preparation and training, anyone can conquer this iconic trail.

But aside from personal satisfaction, choosing to take on the Inca Trail also supports sustainable tourism in Peru. By obtaining permits through registered tour companies and following responsible travel practices.


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Cesar Conde

I’m Cesar Conde Licensed Tour Guide in Peru, owner of Tour Leaders Peru and Travel Advisor. My other side job is a Digital Nomad. I share my amazing travel experiences, stories, guides, and itineraries for travelers like you and me!


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