The Ultimate Travel Hacking Guide to Trekking to Machu Picchu

Trekking to Machu Picchu: The Ultimate Travel Hacking Guide

If you’re planning to trek Machu Pichu in the near future, then you know it’s one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. It’s also one of the most popular treks, with over 3,000 people visiting Machu Picchu via this trail every day of the year and hundreds attempting it every day of the week. Since you want to make sure your trek goes smoothly, here’s the ultimate travel hacking guide to trekking to Machu Picchu from start to finish.


What is the Inca Trail?

The Inca Trail is a hiking trail in Peru and one of South America’s most famous treks. It was once an ancient road that connected Cusco with Machu Picchu, also known as the Lost City of Gold, a sacred site built by the Incas around 1450 AD. The entire length of the hike takes four days and passes through spectacular landscapes with mountains, canyons, and jungles on the route.

How Much Time Do I Need?

The trail is approximately 31 miles (50 kilometers) long and takes four days, assuming you’re hiking at a moderate pace of about 10 kilometers per day. If you hike slower or faster than that, you may need to adjust your trip accordingly. Although not required, you’ll need a minimum of 4-5 days if you plan on visiting Machu Picchu.

How much does trek cost?

Trekking to Machu Picchu costs about $700-$1000 USD for 4-5 days but is totally worth it. It’s actually a little underpriced for what you get and can easily be done on a budget of $600-$700 if you do it on your own. Don’t worry, though! The most important thing is that whether you spend $700 on your own or $1000 with the help of a tour operator, YOU GET TO GO! Isn’t that all that matters? Pack light: Bring only what you need and don’t plan on buying anything else along the way.

What Should I Take on my Trek?

First and foremost, you’ll need a backpack. While it can be tempting to try and pack as little as possible when taking on a trip like trekking to Machu Picchu. Bringing unnecessary weight will only slow you down and put a strain on your body. Experts recommend choosing a backpack that’s 50–60 liters in capacity.

How Hard Is the Trek?

The first thing you need to know about how hard it is to trek to Machu Picchu is that it’s moderately difficult. The Inca Trail has been dubbed one of the world’s best treks, a well-deserved honor that means hikers must be physically fit and willing to brave more than 15,000 feet (3300meters) in elevation changes over four days.

Are There Any Other Options?

When people think of trekking in Peru, they most likely associate it with one trail: The Inca Trail. But what happens if you don’t have time for or just don’t want to do that? You could always visit Cusco and Machu Picchu another way. Perhaps there are other trails nearby where you can get an equally great experience at a fraction of the cost. When hiking on a budget last on your bucket list? Check out Choquequirao instead!

Should I Hire a Tour Operator?

Many people who are keen on trekking through Peru, or anywhere else for that matter, want to do everything on their own. But it’s important to ask yourself whether you’re fit enough and have enough time and resources to take on a trip of that magnitude. Hiring a tour operator can help you reach your destination safely while freeing up your time to immerse yourself in Peruvian culture—and avoid any unpleasant surprises along the way.

Which Tour Operator Should I Choose?

Selecting a tour operator is one of the most important decisions that you will make on your trip. Not only will it greatly affect your quality of experience, but it can also impact your safety and security while in Peru. There are over 20 licensed agencies authorized by the Government of Peru that provide Inca Trail tours, so you may be confused about which company to choose. They all claim to be certified and legal, but how do you know which are safe? I personally recommend PeruforLess.

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Tips on Packing, Weather & Climate, etc.

Before you go, be sure to check out a detailed weather forecast for Cusco. Pack your belongings in layers so that you can adjust based on any weather changes throughout your hike. Your pack should contain items such as rain gear, a hat, lightweight pants and shirts (you’ll want at least one waterproof layer), sunscreen, insect repellent, and water purification tablets. Waterproof gloves or mittens can also be very useful if you plan on hiking during the rainy season (June through September). Don’t forget that an international power adapter is also an essential packing item—especially if you plan on bringing electronics along with you! Have a look at this page essential trekking gears for more information about gears.

Final Considerations Before Your Trip

The Inca Trail (Machu Pichu) can be an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just make sure you understand what you’re getting into before you start planning. This guide was created by someone who has completed an Inca Trail hike and put everything you need to know in one place. From how much time it takes to complete, to tips on being prepared for hiking and altitude sickness, it’s all right here. Hiking through Machu Picchu might not be easy, but with a little bit of advice and practice, you can conquer your fears of heights and get ready for one of the most epic experiences ever!

Things To Do On Arrival in Cusco/Machu Picchu

It’s an accomplishment for sure, but trekking to Machu Picchu is not without its difficulties. The most important thing you can do before starting your trip is to spend some time in Cusco. In fact, if you can, book yourself a place to stay here at least one night before your hike. You will want ample time to get used to your new altitude and acclimatize—not just on Day 1 of your hike but every day leading up until then as well (you’ll likely start feeling symptoms anywhere from 10-24 hours after arriving). You also want enough time to make sure that you know how much weight and bulk you’re going to be carrying on your back

Travel Insurance

Don’t let a small mishap like bad weather or sprained ankle ruin your trek. You may already have travel insurance through your credit card, but you may not realize that it doesn’t cover certain activity-specific risks like rock climbing or hiking. If you want more extensive coverage, consider purchasing additional adventure travel insurance from an outside provider (like Insured Nomads). Or check out our articles on International Trekking Insurance and Backpacking Insurance for information on trip coverage and pricing.


Although you may have thought trekking in Peru was always out of your reach, today’s post should dispel any doubts and make it clear that you can go if you really want to. Getting started on your trip planning is one of the hardest parts about going on a trek, but once you know where you’re going and how much it will cost (and where), all that’s left is packing. And since we understand just how excited you are, don’t worry: We already did all that for you. In fact, if you read today’s guide carefully, Definitely you can plan trekking to Machu Picchu easily now.

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  1. Pingback: 20 best hiking trails in the world - HikePackers

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