Cusco, Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and Tambopata Jungle Tour 10D/9N
This exciting tour combines the world famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with tours of Cusco, the experimental Incan agricultural site of Moray, and the ancient salt mines of Salinas de Maras. On this tour, we will provide you with accommodation for your entire stay in Cusco.
For the Inca Trail, reservations should be made at least 4 months in advance because the Peruvian government has a strict limit on the number of people allowed on the Inca Trail. Permits are issued to about 200 trekkers and 300 porters per day. Your trek departure will be booked for the fourth day of your tour.
If you have a group of four or more people, we can open a departure on any date.
Please be aware this trek may not be suitable for travelers with vertigo.
Day by Day
Day 1: Arrival in Cusco
We will greet you in the Cusco airport and take you to a local hostal where they will welcome you with cups of coca leaf tea. Coca leaf tea is a traditional drink that naturally combats the effects of altitude. We recommend that you spend your first day in Cusco relaxing, resting, and acclimatizing to the altitude.(Oxygen tanks are available 24/7 if you should need them.) We advise you to get an early flight because you are likely to spend your first two hours in Cusco doing nothing but trying to catch your breath! If you are feeling fine in the afternoon, you can go to the Cusco Folk Dances and Music at Cusco Art Center in the main Ave el Sol. These attractions start at 6:30 p.m. and are included on your tourist ticket.
Accommodation: Ecopacker Hostel or similar hostel
Day 2: Exploring the City
You will have the morning free to rest or explore the artisan area of San Blas, which is filled with painting and sculpture workshops. Visit the Inca Museum near the main Cathedral on Cusco´s main plaza, then you can visit the new Machu Picchu Museum, just two blocks off the Plaza. At 1:30 p.m., we will meet in the Inka Trail office for a guided tour of Cusco. We will have four hours to explore the famous temple of the sun at “Koricancha”, Cusco´s Cathedral, and the four Inca sites of Saqsawaman, Tambomachay, Qenqo, and Pucapucara. The Tourist Ticket you will need to enter these sites is not included.
- City Tour Start Time: 1:30 pm
- City Tour End Time: Approximately 6:00 pm
- Difficulty: Easy
- Accommodation: Ecopackers Hostel or comparable hostel
Day 3: Tour of Moray and Salinas de Maras
We will pick you up from your hotel at 8:20 a.m. and travel for one hour to the salt mines of Maras. At Maras you will see the pans fed by saline spring water that are built on steep terraces along one side of a narrow valley. The water is sent through the pans by a network of channels where it slowly evaporates, leaving the salt behind. Salt has been collected from Maras since Pre-Incan times, and it is thought that a collective of salt ‘miners’ has maintained the terraces and channels for hundreds of years.
We will then countinue our journey to Moray in order to see the fascinating site used by the Incas for agricultural experiments and cultivating seeds. There you can learn how they cleverly designed a drainage system at the bottom to avoid flooding during the rainy season.
On our return to Cusco, we will stop in Chinceros, a town where the local people will give you a fascinating demonstration of how the wool is washed and dyed using native plants and minerals. You will have time in Chincheros for a quick visit to the famous church and archeological site before we leave return to Cusco at about 2:30-3:00 p.m.
- Tour Start Time: Approximately 8:00 am
- Tour End Time: Approximately 3:00 pm
- Difficulty: Easy
- Accommodation: Ecopakers Hostel or comparable hostel
Day 4: The Start of the Adventure! Km 82 – Ayapata
We will start our journey by picking you up early from your hotel between 4:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. We will travel by bus to a breakfast stop (not included in the price of this trek) in Ollataytambo to load up on energy. After breakfast, we will reload the bus and travel to Piskacucho (also referred to as kilometre 82) where we will begin our trek. Upon arrival at kilometre 82, you will need to present your entrance tickets, passports, and (if paying the student rate) student cards.
The start of the Inca Trail is at an elevation of 2,720 m/8,923 ft. From here, we will cross the Vilcanota River and follow its route to the right. The first day is relatively easy, a warm-up on the flat Inca terrain. We will have great views of the Incan fortress Huillca Raccay, the vast and incredible Inca site of Llactapata (officially called “Patallacta”), the Urubamba mountain range that divides the jungle, the Andes, and the beautiful snow-capped peak of W’akay Willca (5,860m/19,225ft), also known as Mt. Veronica. Our first campsite at Ayapata will be a 90 minute hike from the small village of Wayllabamba, at an elevation of 3,000m/9,842ft in the temperate green valley. The temperature at night here is usually around 10°C/50°F.
- Walking distance: 8.7 miles / 14 km (6-7 hours)
- Campsite altitude: 3,000 meters / 9,842 feet above sea level.
- Difficulty: Moderate (warmup to the Inca trail)
- Weather : Warm and windy
Day 5: The Trail’s Most Challenging Day
After an early wake up between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. for a hearty breakfast, we will start a steep ascent towards the highest pass of the trail, Abra de Huarmihuañusca, or “Dead Woman’s Pass”, at 4,200m/13,779ft. En route, we will be able to see hummingbirds and other wildlife. We will also have time to appreciate an incredible variety of native plants and trees such as the Polilepys or Q’ueuña, which grow in the astonishing cloud forest at 3,650m/11,972ft above sea level. A true sense of achievement is felt when reaching the top of the mountain pass. After a break at the top of the pass, we will begin the descent to the lunch stop which is located at Pacamayu, at 3,550m/11,646ft. After lunch is another steep climb to the Runkuraqay Pass, at 4,000m/13,123ft. We will arrive at our campsite by 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. This will be a very long day, but filled with spectacular views. The temperature at this campsite will be around 6°C / 43°F at night.
- Walking distance: 9.94 miles/16 km (7-8 hours)
- Campsite altitude: 3600 meters / 11,811 feet above sea level (chilled weather)
- Difficulty: Challenging (we will summit two passes)
- Area: Andes and the cloud forest
- Weather: Cold and rainy
Day 6: Trekking Through the Past — The Trail’s Most Impressive Day
We will wake up for breakfast at 6:00 a.m. and start the day with a gentle climb to visit the archaeological site of Phuyupatamarca, which means ” the town in the clouds”. This will be the third highest point on the trail, at an elevation of 3,680m/12,073ft. The views of the mountains, canyons, and surrounding areas are spectacular. The ruins of Phuyupatamarca is located a few minutes walk from the third pass. After visiting this site, we will continue walking onwards through the cloud forest to the impressive agricultural Inca site of Intipata before reaching our final campsite, Wiñay Wayna, at 2,680m/8,792ft. Day 3 requires approximately only 5 hours of walking to reach Wiñay Wayna, which means “forever young”. An Inca site of the same name is located a short distance from this campsite. Even if you are tired after Day 3, don’t miss out on visiting the most impressive site on the trail.
- Walking distance: 6.2 miles/10km (5 hours)
- Campsite altitude: 2,600 meters / 8,530 feet above sea level (Chilly weather)
- Difficulty: Easy (Downhill walking)
- Area : High cloud forest
- Weather : Warm and very humid
Day 7: Tour of Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes – Cusco – Overnight Bus to Puerto Maldonaldo
We will wake up very early for breakfast at 4:30 a.m. to hike to Inti Punku, the “Sun Gate” in time to witness the sunrise. This is where you will have your first dramatic view of Machu Picchu, at an elevation of (2,400m/7,873ft). After some time admiring the view from the Sun Gate, we will walk down the last part of the trail to the spot where you can take the classic photo (postcard shot) of this ancient city. Finally, we enter Machu Picchu itself!
Once you arrive in this modern wonder of the world, you will have a two hour walking tour of the ancient site. After the tour, you will have several hours of free time for your own exploration of the city.
At about 1:30 p.m. we’ll meet at a restaurant in Aguas Calientes to have our last lunch together. After lunch, you will be given your train tickets for your return journey to Cusco. We´ll arrange to meet 40 minutes before your train departs and then go together to the train station. The train will depart Aguas Calientes at approximately 2:30 pm. When it arrives in Ollantaytambo, transportation will be waiting to bring you to Cusco, where you will arrive at about 6:00 pm. After some dinner (not included), you will board an overnight bus to Puerto Maldonaldo at approximately 9:00 pm for your journey to the jungle!
Day 8: Puerto Maldonado
Upon arrival in Puerto Maldonado (at approximately 5:00 am), you will be greeted at bus station by our staff and taken to your lodge. During the trip, we will be able to observe the local farms, while groups of birds pass over the boat. With any luck, you will see families of ronsocos, the largest rodents in the world. When we reach the lodge, we will have lunch and you will settle in to your accommodations for the night. After a short rest we will have a brief introductory walk through the nearby jungle to learn the basic principles of ecology and some history of the natural wildlife in the area. After our walk, we will return to the lodge for dinner, after which we will head back to the jungle to observe the nocturnal life of insects, frogs, and perhaps even encounter some nocturnal mammals! The diverse sounds of the jungle will lull us to sleep on our first night in the lodge.
Day 9: Macaw Salt Lick
We will wake up very early (4:00 a.m.) and have a light breakfast before departing for the “Collpa.” We will travel up the Tambopata river, or “Bahuaja” in the local dialect, for an hour and a half, then observe from a safe distance one of the greatest spectacles of wildlife: hundreds of parrots and macaws of various species enjoying their diet of mineral salts on the clay wall–an unforgettable experience! We will stop on the river bank to have a snack (fruit), then return to the lodge to have breakfast and rest. After lunch, we will enter the vibrant jungle on a special trail to observe the habitats of peccaries, deer, and other wildlife. We will spot the tracks of these animals on the jungle floor, and we might even come across a troop of monkeys travelling through the forest in search of food. Time permitting, we will be able to return to enjoy a relaxing swim in a waterfall. After dinner we can make another trip through the jungle, this time in search for caimans. You will also have the option to relax in our lodge surrounded by the exotic nocturnal sounds.
Day 10: Lake Sandoval
After breakfast and a morning exploring, we can relax in our bungalows and enjoy a tasty lunch. After lunch, we will leave and travel for twenty minutes on the Madre de Dios River to the access trail to Lake Sandoval, a beautiful rainforest lake. After a 5 km hike to the lake, we will board a canoe to paddle around the lake while enjoying the beauty of the landscape and observing the wildlife, such as kingfishers, herons, hoatzins (unique pre-historic-looking birds), monkeys, and other animals. If we are lucky we might see the family of giant otters which live in the lake. We will have the opportunity to fish for piranhas and to swim in the lake. Prepare yourself for a spectacular sunset over Lake Sandoval in the evening. After the sunset, we will start our return trip to Puerto Maldonado. We will stay overnight in a comfortable bungalow in the Yakari Maldonado Lodge. After dinner, we will be able to rest or explore the city on foot or on bicycle. You will have the rest of the night free to enjoy the city´s nightlife.
Day 11: Puerto Maldonaldo – Cusco or Lima
On the final day of the the tour, we will take you to the Puerto Maldonaldo, where you will board your flight to either Cusco or Lima. This flight is not included and you must arrange it yourself.
After we have received your booking form and confirmation your deposit was made, we will send you an electronic receipt confirming your trek has been officially booked and the exact departure date of your trek.
- Don´t need a personal porter? – US $30 discount.
- Student Discount – US $20 discount.
Important Notice Regarding Student Discount Eligibility
We offer a student discount (USD $20.00). However, due to several incidents of users falsifying personal data, the ISIC card is no longer valid for purchasing a discounted tour. As of July 1, 2017, the rules for purchasing student tickets to Machu Picchu have changed: discounts are only available with presentation of a student visa granted by the Peruvian embassy or consulate in the student´s country of origen and/or by the National Superintendent of Migrations. These documents must be provided at the time of purchase; discounts cannot be applied retroactively and refunds or reimbursements in this case are not available. Please send us a scan or photocopy of your passport, student visa, and university ID card or transcript so that we are able to secure your discount.
Optional Activities in Machu Picchu
Huayna Picchu Mountain $20 per person
Machu Picchu Mountain $20 per person
Extra in Aguas Calientes $20 per peson
Please note: This $20 rate to add Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain is valid only before we book your entrance fees. If for some reason you want to add this extra climb once we have booked the ticket, it will cost you $65 additional per person.
Sleeping bags $20
Walking poles (sticks) $20
For the Inca Trail, we will provide you with a small duffel bag at the briefing the night before the trek to put some of your belongings in. By using standardized bags, we can ensure that all of your belongings will fit properly in the porters´carry bags. The duffel bags easily fit 7 kilograms /14 pounds per person, including your sleeping bags and mats.
However, you will still need to carry your day pack with all of your essentials like water, sunscreen, passport, etc.
- 3 nights of accommodation in Cusco at Ecopacker hostal or comparable hostal
- 3 nights of accommodation in Puerto Maldonado in Yakari Lodge
- Tourist bus for the city and the Maras salt mines
- Professional guide who is fluent in English for the Inca Trail
- Assistant Guide (for groups of 9 or more people)
- Private bus to the start of the trail
- Porters that will carry your personal belongings (up to 7kg) – no extra fee
- Entrance fee to the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
- Two-person tents with plenty of room for your belongings
- Sleeping mattress
- Meals cooked by an experienced chef: 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners, and snacks!
- Delicious food that is rich in carbohydrates and suitable for trekking
- Coca tea served each morning in your tent for a gentle start to the day
- Boiled water after breakfast, lunch and dinner to refill your water bottles.
- Happy hour including hot drinks such as mate de coca and locally grown coffee which is prepared by our cook.
- Snacks every morning
- Porters to carry the tents, food, cooking equipment, dining and kitchen tents
- First aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle
- Bus ticket from Machu Picchu down to the village of Aguas Calientes
- Expedition train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo
- Bus from Ollantaytambo to Cusco
- Overnight bus from Cusco to Puerto Maldonaldo
- Tourist Tickets or Boleto Turistico (70 Soles)
- Meals while you are in Cusco
- Lunch in the Maras Salt mines
- Breakfast on the first morning of the Inca Trail
- Lunch in Aguas Calientes on the final day
- Entrance to the thermal springs in Aguas Calientes (optional: 10 Soles)
- Sleeping bags
- Tips for the guide, cook and porters
What you need to bring
- Tourist Ticket
- Original passport
- For students: original ISIC card
- Insurance card/certificate
- Hiking boots
- Waterproof jacket or rain poncho
- Warm jacket
- Hat and gloves
- 2-4 t-shirts
- 2 pants (1 for hiking, 1 for when you are relaxing)
- Thermal underwear for sleeping
- Hand sanitizer
- Comfortable trousers
- Sun hat or cap
- Insect repellent
- Water for the first day
- Toiletries/ Toilet paper
- Personal medication
- Cameraand Batteries
- Torch or headlamp
- Cash (in Peruvian nuevos soles)
Why does Inka Trail Backpacker charge less than other Inca Trail operators?
At Inka Trail Backpacker, we offer you the basic and essential version of the popular treks in the region. We are a 100% local company that wants to provide everything you will need at the real cost of operations—never unfair upcharging! That is why our slogan is “Fun, Not Fancy Trip.”
Are you a certified company?
Inka Trail Backpacker has been a Licensed Inca Trail Tour Operator since 2014. All companies managing the Inca Trail must be certified and have an Inca Trail operators license. This license is issued annually each December; Inka Trail Backpacker is licensed through the year of 2018.
Our license as an Official Travel Agency is under the name Inka Trail Backpacker E.I.R.L
Our License as an Inca Trail Operator is under the name of INKA TRAIL BACKPACKER E.I.R.L We also work with partner company licenses, such as INTI SUN TREK E.I.R.L and GRUPO CAMINOS DEL PERU E.I.R.L. For tourists´protection, getting the permit for the Inca Trail from the government is a complicated and stringent process: in order to guarantee an Inca Trail Permit for all the tourists that have decided to book their adventure with us, we are registered to book using any of the above mentioned company licenses. We are all registered on the official Government web site: www.machupicchu.gob.pe.
Does Inka Trail Backpacker care for their porters?
Yes, we absolutely take care of our porters. We do not charge you less than other companies at the expense of our porters’ pay and wellbeing. Since the end of 2014, Inka Trail Backpacker has been paying our porters a wage of 200 soles for the 4 day trek, plus their transportation costs. That is nearly 20% above the legally required minimum wage agreed upon with the Porters Union. Following talks with our porters, they have told us that they know of only a few trekking companies that offer such competitive pay and benefits. Only two companies pay slightly more (and charge their clients almost US$100 more than us). Of the remaining 170 other licensed trekking operators, only about 60% pay the legal wage and 40% pay less than the legal wage. Some companies pay only 70% of the legal wage. Unfortunately, this is difficult to prove as their porters receive a low wage but are asked to sign receipts showing they received more!
However, improving porter welfare is not just about paying fair wages. It is important that the porters have adequate food, a warm and dry place to sleep, and access to medical attention, just the same as any other member of the group.
The wages that the porters get paid are by no means high by Western standards, but you have to look at wages relative to other professions in Peru. For example, a school teacher gets paid the equivalent of about US$350 per month and has trained for 5 years to become a professional. A porter, if he works 4 treks a month, receives about the same if you include his tips. Most porters are seasonal workers and have no formal qualifications. For just 16 days work per month, they receive wages similar to a teacher who works 22 days. Inka Trail Backpacker also tries to help the porters in additional ways, such as financial and educational support for their families.
Trek with Like-Minded Travellers
As a traveller, you know that one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of going to new places is meeting people along the way. When you book a tour with us, you can be confident that your group will be filled with similar travellers looking for adventure in the Peruvian Andes. Our groups provide a great opportunity to meet new people and bond with them in an exciting environment. You never know who you will meet!
We are really proud of the work we do for our community. This is a main focus for our company. We have worked with villages directly to help supply them with needs, buy all our food from local farmers and markets, and serve the freshest ingredients.
100% Guaranteed Departures
At Inka Trail Backpacker, we like to think we do trekking a little differently than our competitors. We stand by our customers and guarantee that we meet 100% of our departure dates on our treks even if you are a solo traveler.
Our office is located at 392 Calle Triunfo (the street is also called Sunturwasi), inside the Centro Artesenal Arte Inka Building, which is on the corner across the street from the Museo Arzobispal and the Twelve-Angled Stone, by a small fountain. We are on the second floor, in Suite 209.
At Inka Trail Backpacker, providing a personal experience and ensuring you are thoroughly prepared for your trek is very important to us. Before you depart on the Inca Trail trek, you will receive a briefing in our office. At the briefing, you will get to meet our staff, receive maps and a detailed description of each day of your tour, be given duffel bags if you have hired a porter, and have the opportunity to ask questions.
Do the tour guides speak English?
Our team of guides are all local to the Cusco area and speak both Spanish and English fluently. Many of them also speak Quechua (the native language of Peru). With degrees in tourism and with two years minimum of experience under their belts, they are full of energy, information about the native flora and fauna, and the Inca sites, with a vast knowledge of Andean stories and legends.
How many people are there per group?
The size of your group depends on the day’s activity. Your tour of the Sacred Valley will be in a group of twenty to thirty people. The maximum size of our Inca Trail group service is sixteen people. For groups of over eight people, we also employ an assistant guide to help out (the assistant guide is a fully qualified guide but may lack some of the experience of the main guide or still need to improve his/her English skills.)
Is the Inca Trail difficult? Do I need to be fit?
The Classic Inca Trail Machu Picchu is a 42 km (24.4 mile) hike through the Andes in the Cusco region. The maximum altitude reached is 4,217m/13,907ft. On the second day of the trek, we climb two mountains. The Trail is a fairly difficult trek; you should be well prepared and healthy prior to starting it. You have to be moderately fit and exercise regularly.
In preparation, try walking fifteen kms per day or go to a fitness club in the months leading up to the trek. It is also important to be well acclimatised to the altitude. Try to spend at least two or three days in Cusco (3350m/11,047ft) prior to starting the Classic Inca Trail Machu Picchu.
Renewal or change passport number?
If you plan to renew or change your name on your passport between making your trek booking and starting your trek, you can book your trek or tour with your current passport number or name, but you must send us a copy of your old passport and a copy of your new passport when you have them. We can then make the change with the government before you arrive. The extra cost to make the change is US$25 per person. (This will cover the change in number or name for your Inca Trail Permit, Machu Picchu Entrance, and train.)
If you do not advise us of the change or do not want to pay the fee, bring the original of both passports (the old and new one). You can enter Peru with your new passport but you must show the government authorities your old passport in order to enter the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu or train. If you cannot do so, you will not be allowed to start your trek by the government officials. All names and numbers must match!!
Return train at the end of the Inca Trail: Your return train to Cusco is the Expedition train, which departs either at 8:50 am. We can also book an afternoon or evening train (2:55 pm, 4:35 p.m, or 6:20 pm) for you if you prefer, at an extra cost of US $25. The train we will book depends on availability and will be confirmed at your briefing. There is also an option to upgrade your train to the Vistadome train which is an extra US $65 per person. Please let us know your preference at the time of booking the tour. Unfortunately, none of the trains go straight to Cusco—they run either to Ollantaytambo or Poroy. In either case, we will transfer you back by bus to your hotel in Cusco.
Can I change my return train ticket?
It may still be possible to make changes to your return train ticket if you don’t want to take the train you originally booked. You will have to take your train ticket personally to the train station in Aguas Calientes and ask them to change the return ticket for an early one. You will probably be asked to pay an extra administration fee, which will depend on the train service and departure time. Changing the ticket will be subject to availability of spaces on the train.
What about toilets?
Toilets have improved a lot in the last couple of years and all of the larger campsites have flushable toilets and running water. Overall, they are kept pretty clean. If you do need to use the toilet between campsites, then please defecate away from the trail and water supplies; you can dig a hole, or cover your feces with a rock, and take the paper with you in a bag to deposit in one of the several bins along the way. There are hot shower facilities in Wiñay Wayna on Day 3, although they are usually not very clean.
Important: As a sustainable tourism operator that takes care of our porters we do NOT take portable toilets.
Tips for the Staff: Tips for porters, cooks and guides are always welcome. The porters are also very grateful for small gifts, such as clothing and school equipment for their children. A normal amount is S/60-80 for each porter and S/120 for the chef. The group will pool money for the tip, this is not an individual amount.
Refunds: If Inka Trail Backpacker fails to confirm the reservation, your payment will be refunded in full.
Health and Safety: A participant must declare if he/she has any sickness or medical disorder and must bring his/her own medication. We recommend that you meet with a doctor before you book the trek if you have questionable health.
Huayna Picchu Climb: Only 400 people can climb this mountain per day. If you are interested in climbing Huayna Picchu, tickets need to be booked in advance. The price for the ticket is US $65. It is recommended to climb Huayna Picchu Mountain at 10:00 a.m. Otherwise, you will miss out on the walking tour of Machu Picchu.
Food on the Inca Trail: Always fresh and featuring organic ingredients, the food on the Inca Trail is always something to look forward to. There is always plenty to eat and lots of options including vegetables, meat, chicken, fish and other sources of protein and carbohydrates. On our tours, everyone sits down to eat together and enjoy each other’s company.
Can I have vegetarian, vegan, or special meals?
We offer standard meals as well as a vegetarian meal option. Just let us know if you want vegetarian meals when you book your trek.
Vegetarian meals have no red meat, chicken or fish. We will assume that eggs and dairy are OK. We are unable to cater specifically for vegans as it is too complicated for our cooks (remember they are cooking in a tent). Most of our main meals in the evening are served as a buffet service so you can always leave out what you don’t like. If there is a particular food that you don’t like (i.e. tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, etc) we will ask the cook to do his best to leave them out of the dish, but we cannot guarantee this. We can also cater to lactose-intolerant and gluten free diets (mild reactions only, no life threatening allergies accepted- see below). We reserve the right not to accept a trek booking based upon dietary requirements, this may be because we already have several people booked requiring special meals and don’t want to further inconvenience our cook. Thanks for your understanding.
Standard (no dietary requirements, will eat everything)
No red meat (chicken & fish ok)
No fish (red meat and chicken ok)
Lactose-free (mild reactions only)
Gluten free (mild reactions only)
Unfortunately, we don’t offer a combination of the above i.e we don’t accept vegetarian AND gluten-free.
Storage during your trek: You can leave any of your belongings that you do not want to bring on the trek at your hotel or hostel you were previously staying in. These hostels/hotels usually have a secure, locked room where you can store your belongings. If you do not trust your hostel, we would be more than happy to securely store your belongings for you.
When do I need to pay the balance for my tour??
We require everyone to be in Cusco at least two nights prior to starting the trek, although three nights is even better. You must pay your trek balance at least two days before the trek departure. For example, if your trek departs on a Monday you must come to our office before 7:30 pm on Saturday to pay the trek balance. This ensures that everyone in the group is well acclimatized to the high altitude before starting the trek.
How many days will I need to acclimate to the altitude before the Inca Trail Trek?
It is very important to be well acclimated before exerting yourself on a trek. This is why we require everyone to be in Cusco for a minimum of two days prior to regular treks like the Inca Trail. However, if you are doing one of our longer treks like the 6 day Combined Salkantay/Inca Trail Trek, you will need at least four days to acclimatize because these treks occur at much higher altitudes than Cusco. You can use this time spent acclimatizing to visit the city of Cusco, nearby Inca ruins, and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Can I wear sneakers on my trek? Why do I need hiking boots?
No, sneakers are not recommended for the Inca Trail! The terrain is very steep, with loose gravel, puddles, mud, and other obstacles. You must have sturdy, waterproof footwear designed for this type of terrain, with good traction and ankle support. Be sure to break in your hiking boots before your trek! Wear them on several shorter walks or hikes before your trip, so that your feet can get used to them.
If you do not have hiking boots, or they are too bulky for your suitcase, you can rent them in Cusco for under one hundred soles.
Should I hire an extra porter?
About thirty percent of the group hires the services of an extra porter to carry their personal items. A ‘half porter’ can be hired for the four day trek for US$85 (2017). This price includes porters entrance fees, meals, transport and wages. If you hire the services of a half porter you can give him a maximum of 6kg (13lbs) to carry, which is usually sufficient for your sleeping bag (about 2.5kg), mattress (1 kg), and change of clothes (about 2.5kg). However the porter will not walk at your side during the trek, so you will still need to bring a day pack to carry essential items such as water, snacks, camera, a warm sweater, and rain jacket. When you pay the trek balance in our office in Cusco, we will give you a duffle bag so that you can put your items in that, which you will give to the porter on the day of the trek.
Can you guarantee that the group will camp at Wiñay Wayna on the third night of the Inca Trail ?
Wiñay Wayna is the campsite closest to Machu Picchu, so it is everybody’s favourite campsite. Wiñay Wayna is about a two hour trek from Machu Picchu so it allows the group to arrive at Machu Picchu very early in the morning. However, there is not enough space at Wiñay Wayna for all the Inca Trail groups. The next nearest campsite is Phuyupatamarca, which is a five hour trek from Machu Picchu. When we buy the trek permits for the group, we are allocated the campsites by the government. We highly recommend that you book your Inca Trail permit on a day with more than 160 available spaces. Otherwise, you may not be able to camp in Wiñay Wayna campsite.
How warm are the sleeping bags that you rent?
Our sleeping bags are rated for temperatures as low as -10°C, but are more suitable for temperatures of about -5°C. Since you won’t find temperatures as low as this on the trek, we rate them as very warm and cozy! We charge US$20 per person for the whole trek.
Is there an oxygen bottle available during the trek, just in case?
Yes, all our tour guides take an oxygen bottle with them along the trail and will provide oxygen as needed.
Where do I have to be on the morning of the trek and where will I be dropped off at the end of the trek?
On the morning of the trek departure, we will pick you up from inside your hotel in Cusco (don’t wait outside in the street) and drop you off either in the Plaza de Regocijos ( next to the main square) or Plaza San Francisco (two blocks from the main square) upon your return to Cusco. You won’t be dropped off directly at your hotel/hostels.
It helps us if you try to stay in a hotel/hostal that is within a few blocks of the Plaza de Armas (Main Square). If your hotel/hostal is far away from the main square we will ask you to come to our offices with the exact location and name of your accommodation.
The guide will come into your hotel and ask for you at reception. Because the centre of Cusco is full of small cobblestone streets, our larger bus/van is not permitted to enter certain zones in the city centre, so you will then have to walk a short distance to where the bus/van will be waiting for you. Traffic regulations prohibit large buses/van from entering the main square but usually after 10pm we don´t have a problem and will be able to drop you off in the main square upon your return. You can then take a taxi back to your hotel (between US$2 to US$4 for a taxi).
If we have to drop you off in Plaza San Francisco, you may be a bit disoriented (some people may need to be woken up!!) but we recommend that you ask for directions to the Plaza de Armas and our guide or driver will be happy to help. It’s only two blocks away, but usually it’ll be quite late at night so it is best to walk together as a group back to the Plaza before taking a taxi or walking back to your hotel.
Is there a minimum group size and what happens if Inka Trail Backpacker does not meet the minimum size?
We require a minimum group size of just four people. During the last few years, Inka trail Backpacker has always managed to meet the minimum group size for ALL of our departure dates and have never had to cancel any group departures due to group size.
If in the unlikely event that we do not reach the minimum required number of persons we reserve the right to combine our clients with another trekking company of similar cost.
If I am travelling alone, can I have my own tent?
If you are travelling alone and are willing to share a tent with a member of the same sex, then there is no additional cost. If, however, you would like your own tent then there is an additional supplement of US$40.
Are all activities on the tour mandatory? How flexible are itineraries?
At Inka Trail Backpacker, we are committed to providing your ideal experience in Peru. Therefore, if there are any adjustments you would like to make to reflect your fitness level, lifestyle, or personal interests, we are happy to help! Our itineraries are reasonably flexible and activities can be removed or substituted as necessary. However, the itinerary for the Inca Trail trek (Days 4-6) cannot be modified. Your trek departure will always be booked for the fourth day of your tour.
How far in advance should I book my tour?
We recommend that you book your tour approximately two months in advance. This allows you maximum choice in selecting the details of your day at Machu Picchu; morning entrances to the site are extremely popular and sell out quickly. Although it is possible to book your tour closer to your expected travel date, your options will be more limited.
Is transportation to and from the Cusco and Puerto Maldonado airports included?
Yes, transportation to and from the airport is included in your tour. Please be sure to send us your flight details as soon as possible.
What is the difference between the three circuits at Machu Picchu?
As of July 1, 2017, visitors to Machu Picchu must follow one of three circuits through the site with their guide. Circuit 1 is the most physically demanding, and follows the classic route through the upper portion of the site before curving down to the lower portion. Circuits 2 and 3 will take you through the middle and lower portions of the site. You must choose which circuit you want when you buy your ticket.
What is the difference between Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu?
Huayna Picchu is the small mountain behind the Machu Picchu ruins, which can be seen in the background of nearly every photography of Machu Picchu. A limited amount of visitors are allowed to hike the mountain per day for an additional cost; entrances must be booked several months in advance and cannot be booked separately from your entrance ticket to the Machu Picchu archeological site.
Machu Picchu Mountain is the other peak at the Machu Picchu site which is available for visitors to hike for an additional cost. It is usually not visible in any photographs of Machu Picchu. The steep ascent takes about an hour and a half to complete, and ends at the mountain´s 3,082 masl peak, where there are incredible views of the region. Four hundred visitors a day are permitted to do this trek; like Huayna Picchu, entrances must be booked in advance and cannot be booked separately from your entrance ticket to the Machu Picchu archaeological site.
Is there a direct train to Cusco from Machu Picchu?
The train travels between the town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley and Aguas Calientes, a small town located fifteen minutes below the Machu Picchu complex. The journey from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes is an hour and forty minutes. (The return journey will be about three and a half hours, because the drive from Ollantaytambo station to Cusco is about an hour and forty minutes.) From Aguas Calientes, it is either a fifteen minute bus ride or hour hike up to Machu Picchu. There is no direct train from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Although there is an additional station located at Poroy, about 25 minutes from Cusco, it is not always open. Train service from Ollantaytambo, meanwhile, is constant and reliable. Furthermore, taking the train from the Poroy station extends the total length of your journey between Cusco and Aguas Calientes to more than four hours, instead of three and a half.
What type of hostel does Inka Trail Backpacker use for this trek?
We always book through the Continental, El Tambo or Machu Picchu hostels in Aguas Calientes, which offer private double rooms. These hostels offer comfortable beds, hot showers, WiFi, and breakfast.
However, we can only guarantee these hostels will be reserved for you if you book your trek 2 months in advance. Otherwise, we may be forced to offer you an alternative hostel to stay in.
Can I upgrade the hostel to a hotel in Aguas Calientes?
Every traveller has their own expectations for accommodation and that is why we offer you the option to book your own hostel independently. The three hostels that Inka Trail Backpacker books are considered basic and if you wish to upgrade to a hotel you need to either do this yourself or ask us to book the new hotel for you.
If you wish to book a hostel independently, a US $10 discount is given per person off the tour price. You can use this money to pay for an alternative hostel.
What is the Tourist Ticket? Is it included?
The Tourist Ticket (or Boleto Turistico) will be necessary to enter the many of the tourist attractions on your City Tour and Sacred Valley Tour. The full ticket costs 130 soles and can be used for entry to fourteen historic and archeological sites in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. It can be purchased at most major sites and is valid for ten days. There is also a partial ticket available for 70 soles, which can be used for entry to a limited selection of sites and is valid for only two days. If you do not want to pay for the Tourist Ticket, you can skip entering these sites; however, we at Inka Trail Backpacker feel that exploring the ruins is worth the money!
What if I get sick on the trail during my tour?
In the event of illness or injury, we will offer all of the support and care we are able; however, you should carry any medications you expect to need with you (ask your doctor for specific recommendations or prescriptions for altitude sickness, traveler´s diarrhea , colds and sore throats, and pain or inflammation). If you are not capable of completing the trek, we will transport you back to Cusco, where you can seek medical treatment. However, the cost of this transportation is not included in your tour and you will be expected to pay the additional expense—for this reason, we highly recommend travel insurance for your trek.
Will I have a private bathroom in the hostel?
Yes, in all of the hostels that we book for you, you will have a private room and bathroom.
Do I need walking poles?
Although not required, walking poles are recommended for any trekkers worried about joint stress or balance. They also are quite helpful in providing stability and leverage on especially steep climbs and descents. If you do not have poles or are unsure how to use them, we are able to rent them to you and provide instruction.
What documents do I need to bring to Machu Picchu?
As of July 1, 2017, you must have your original passport to enter Machu Picchu. You also need to have your entrance ticket, which your guide will give to you at the appropriate time. The passport that you bring to Machu Picchu must be the same one that you used to book your tour and entrance; if you change or renew your passport between booking and your trip, please be sure to bring the originals of both.
What vaccines do I need for my trip? Will I need malaria pills?
Before traveling to Peru, you should consult your doctor. Routine vaccines, Hepatitis A, and typhoid vaccines are recommended for most travelers by the CDC. Some travelers may also need vaccines for Hepatitis B, rabies, and yellow fever. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should also be advised that the Zika virus is present in Peru. You do not need malaria pills for this tour.
Do you recommend a rain poncho, or is a rain jacket okay?
The rainy season in Cusco is generally from November to April, when there are near-daily showers and the ground—especially in trekking areas—is wet and muddy. However, there are occasional showers throughout the rest of the year; you should always pack a rain jacket, regardless of when you plan to visit. For treks, a rain poncho is highly recommended—since you will be walking through rain for potentially several hours without shelter, a poncho will be much more effective at keeping all of your belongings and your base layers warm and dry. Waterproof shoes are also strongly recommended.
How do we travel from Cusco to Puerto Maldonaldo? How long is the journey?
On Day 7, we travel from Cusco to Puerto Maldonaldo by overnight bus, on the Cruz del Sur bus line. The journey is approximately eight hours long: departure is at approximately 9:00 pm and arrival in Puerto Maldonaldo is at approximately 5:00 am.
Where does the tour end?
The tour ends in Puerto Maldonaldo on Day 11. We do not provide flights back to Cusco. You must arrange your own flights back to Cusco or Lima, although we will provide your transportation to the Puerto Maldonaldo airport.