A Comprehensive Guide to the Inca Trail Hike Difficulty

by | Jan 7, 2021 | Inca Trail | 0 comments

Complete Guide For Inca Trail

Inca Trail Hike Difficulty Personal Tips and Advice was written by Cesar Conde top Tour Guide and Blogger for Tour Leaders Peru. When you are looking for a perfect and classic location for outdoor activities, there is a high possibility that you have heard of the classic Inca Trail for 4 days in Peru. The Inca Trail is a world-famous location, a multi-day trail, and an exciting experience for anyone. The Inca Trail is ranking difficult based on the elevation it gains as your distance increases. In this article on Inca trail hiking tours, we will take a deeper look at what exactly the Inca Trail is, why it is so popular, what it’s the Inca trail costs, the Trail elevation gain, and how long the Inca Trail is. Let’s get right into it.  

Related: When Is The Best Time To Visit Machu Picchu?

What Is The Inca Trail Difficult to Hike?  

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a classic 4-day, 3-night hike into Machu Picchu – through a journey of 40 km outside the town of Ollantaytambo. The hike is taken through the popular Sun Gate, also known as the Inti Punku. Although there were many trials in the Incan Empire – the Incan Empire consists of a large part of Peru, a large part of modern Ecuador, northwest Argentina, north and central Chile, western and south-central Bolivia, and part of southwest Colombia – but the 4-day Inca Trail is seen as the most classic of them all.  

READ: How old do you have to be to hike the Inca trail age limit

Inca trail To Machu Pichcu 4 Days - K 82
IS The Inca Trail a Dangerous Hike For Altitude sickness?

Talk about a landscape of ruins that are centuries old; Steep Mountain passes, peaks, and green-cloud forest with birds to bring it to life. We are talking about an epitome of universal beauty. The Inca trail is simply a microcosm.  

No doubt, the beauty of the Inca trail adds to its popularity; the major reason why it has become so popular is because of the last day of the hike when travelers experience the magical sighting of Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate – one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Despite this beautiful experience, getting to the Sun Gate holds the difficulty of the hike itself. It is a trip fear by many, but yet it is a feature of many people’s bucket list wishing to visit South America. 

READ: Is the Inca trail to Machu picchu hard?

The Difficulty of The Inca Trail Hike

As we have earlier established the Inca trail. Is a world classic 4-day hike and a leading location for outdoor activities. The difficulty of the Inca Trail starts with the distance to be coverer – about 26 miles or 41 km over 4 days and 3 nights.

Throughout this period, you are faced with 2000 meters to pull yourself up and down with more than 3000 steps to overcome in total. The first and the last days of the hike seem to be the easiest of the 4 days. The second and third days pose more challenges, mostly because of the “Dead Woman’s Pass”. Before we go into the trip itself, let’s talk about preparation. 

4 days Inca Trail To Machu pichcu
Going all the way to the dead woman passes 4200m (Picture by Cesar Conde Nikon 7500)

How to Prepare For Inca Trail

The importance of preparation for a hike, like the Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, cannot be overemphasized. It is vital to plan the trip based on the time of the year.

There are many things you need to consider when preparing for your hike; you don’t just put on your hiking boots and hope for the best. Some questions you must ask yourself: 

  • How fit are you for the hike? 
  • What do you need to pack? 
  • What time of the year are you going for the hike? 
  • Do you need insurance?  

You need to take note of the first question on how physically fit you are for the hike. The Inca Trail hike isn’t just a walk in the park; it is a physically challenging hike. Although you don’t need to be a vast experienced hiker to get through it, being physically fit before arriving in Peru will make the hike more enjoyable and easy for you.  

Another thing you must note when it comes to the hike is the time of the year. If you are traveling around April or September. You need to make early reservations – sometimes around October of the previous year or earlier. The reason for this is due to the sales of hiking permits. Which usually have restrictions to 500 people per day on the trail. This means you must make adequate preparations for any time of the year.

Personal Advice About Inca Trail Hike Difficulty

Details Of The Inca Trail Trip  

The Inca trail is a combination of the Inca ruins, Steep Mountains, exquisite vegetation, ecological prowess, and forest. There are simply unforgettable views through high passes and cloud forest, which leads to subtropical vegetation with more than 200 Orchid species in the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary. Then you come across various species of animals, birds, reptiles, and even endangered species of animals. Usually, different tour operators have different preferences when it comes to breaking down their journey, but many trips fall under the following breakdown:  

  • Day 1 – usually 6.8 miles of the trek 
  • Second D – around 7.5 miles of trek going through the Dead Woman’s pass 
  • Day 3 – about 10 miles of the trek  
  • Day 4 – about 2.5 miles through the Last city of the Incas called Machu Picchu.

During the hike, be sure to experience lengthy elevation changes, especially during day 2 with a lot of uphill stretches of more than 4000 feet followed by a descent on day 3 with over 3000 feet. Day 4 brings with it a great reward as you go through the Sun Gate into Machu Picchu.  

Personal Advice About Inca Trail Hike Difficulty

You can ease the difficulty of the Inca trails by following these simple tips:

  1. Engage in leg muscle exercises, squats and lunges, and aerobics exercises to strengthen your lower body  
  2. Accustom yourself to the Andes region before beginning your hike. Spend time in the Cusco region of the Sacred Valley to allow your body to get ready for the Inca Trail hike  
  3. Practice hiking before starting the Inca trail hike.  
  4. Get mentally prepared for the hike.  
  5. Pacing yourself on the hike and listening to instructions from the guides can make your hike more impactful and easy. 

The Inca Trail hike is an incredible experience that can impact you both physically and mentally – above all; it is an event that is enjoyable. Following these tips can help you ease the difficulty of the Inca trail and experience one of the Seven Wonders of the World at the Sun Gate.  

Tour Leaders Peru is a leading Peruvian travel and adventure operator that is regulated by Consumer Protection in Peru and Licensed travel sellers in the State of California. Known for Bilingual guides, affordable prices, and top-notch services, Tour Leaders Peru is dedicated to giving you a travel experience like no other.


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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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