Inca Trail General Information

Ascent of the Death Womens pass on the 4 day Inca Trail

The Classic 4 Day Inca trail to Machu Picchu - Information

The 4 day Inca trail is a fixed route that leads from Km84 (84km from Cusco on the railroad) which is close to Ollantaytambo and leads to the citadel of Machu Picchu. The trail includes 3 nights camping and you will arrive at Machu Picchu for the sunrise on day 4. It is rated as a moderate trek but we advise you that it is a difficult trek and in order to enjoy the trek more you should prepare beforehand with exercise and spend a minimum of 2 days (3 days is highly recommended) in Cusco before departure to avoid getting altitude sickness.


When to book

The Inca trail has limited daily permits, which sell out months in advance. We recommend booking at least 6 months in advance. Please see here for available permits. Click on the Queries tab and then select Camino Inka from the drop-down menu. Each year the permits seem to sell out even earlier.

How to book

We can only purchase your Inca trail permits once you have completed our online reservation form and we have received your deposits. Once we receive your reservation we will confirm whether your chosen date is available or not. We will then send a Pay-Pal payment link for 50% deposit, which can be paid online with all major credit cards. Once we have received your payment we will send you a confirmation by email. We also accept payment to our ING bank account in the Netherlands (for Dutch and Belgian customers only).

Change of dates

It may happen that we haven't yet purchased your Inca trail permits but once we have purchased your Inca trail permits then date changes are not possible. Please see Inca trail Terms & Conditions.

Full payments

We require 50% deposit paid through Pay-Pal. Transfers from our Pay-Pal account cost money and therefore we prefer you to pay the balance in cash when you arrive. If you wish to pay the full balance by Pay-Pal then we charge 8% fees on the final 50% balance. (We also accept payment to Rabobank Netherlands (for Dutch and Belgian customers only)

Children and Students

There are certain discounts for children (up to 16 years of age) and students with ISIC student cards (there is no age limit on ISIC cards - Please send a digital photo or scan of your children's passports or student ISIC cards to [email protected] at the time of making a reservation. (ISIC cards scans must show both sides of the card, the name and the photo). Please also make sure that you receive an email from Chaka tours confirming that we have received the scans.


If you do not yet have a passport number (and you are waiting for your first passport) then we will have to use a fake number. Once you have the passport number we will have to change it at a cost of US$25.
You can use your old passport number to make a reservation but you will have to bring the old passport with you for entry into the Inca trail and Sanctuary or you can pay US$25 to change it.

Pre-Trek briefing and final payment

You will have a Pre-Trek briefing at our office at 5.30pm the day before the departure of your trek. If your trek departure falls on a Sunday or Monday then please note:

          Departure day        Pre-trek briefing day
          Sunday                      Saturday before at 10.30am
          Monday                     Saturday before at 10.30am

During the briefing you will meet your guide and the rest of your group. The guide will give you information about the trek and answer any questions you have. You will also be provided with any included or rented equipment. You will also be able to pay the final balance of the trek. Important: The balance due is to be paid in cash USD $ on your arrival to our Cusco office. We don't accept any other methods of payment at our office. Please make sure none of the dollar bills are damaged or marked in any way or they will not be accepted in Peru. If you insist on paying the balance with Pay-Pal there is an 8% charge.

When to go

The best months to do the Inca trail are from May to September when there is very little rain and days are sunny. June, July and August are also the coldest winter months when the nights in the mountains can get very cold, sometimes dropping to - 10ºC.
The Inca Trail is closed in February for maintenance and because this is the month with the  heqviest rainfall, we do not operate any alternative treks in this month.

The high altitude

People can suffer from the high altitude when arriving to Cusco and you will need to take things easily when you arrive. Due to the lack of oxygen your heart may beat faster and you could feel out of breath. We recommend eating small quantities rather than large meals and drinking little or no alcohol and plenty of water while in Cusco (at least before the trek).

Altitude sickness

Some trekkers may get altitude sickness. Symptoms include headaches, loss of appetite, extreme tiredness, sleeplessness and often nausea. Many visitors bring the drug Diamox to help with altitude sickness and many hotels also offer oxygen to help relieve symptoms. If you become sick while on the Inca trail you will be taken to the nearest exit and then to the nearest clinic. Depending on your location this could be back to the start of the trail or on to Machu Picchu town. If things get very serious then we can bring in a helicopter to carry you out, which is a good reason to be covered for such problems with travel insurance.

Travel insurance

People can become sick from altitude sickness or other problems form stomach bugs to water on the lungs and sometimes even surgery is required. For this reason we strongly recommend Travel Insurance. In order to make a claim for insurance you will need a local doctors' certificate for any illnesses and Chaska tours will also provide a letter of cancelation for any losses or cancelations.

Standard 4 day Inca trail 

The standard 4 day Inca trail includes 3 nights camping. Some companies offer 5 Day treks which and includes a hostel at the end of day 4 and an the options for an extra day in Machu Picchu.

  • Day 1 - Transport Cusco to Km84 - Walking 12km / 6-7 hours / Total Ascent: 620m - Camping
  • Day 2 - Walking 11km / 7-8 hours / Total Ascent : 900m - Camping
  • Day 3 - Walking 16km: 5-6 hours / Total Descent : 700m - Camping
  • Day 4 -  Walking 6km: 1.5-2 hours / Total descent : 300m- Tour of Machu Picchu  - Afternoon train to Cusco (Just over 3 hours)

Huayna Picchu & Machu Picchu mountains

It is not possible to add the Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain permit to the joint Inca Trail/Machu Picchu permit. If you are doing the 4 day Inca trail you will need to buy another Machu Picchu entrance, which includes Huayna Picchu. This will cost around US$65 and it would be better to enter Machu Picchu another day in order to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountains. This is a good reason to stay the night in Machu Picchu town on day 4. for more information see our section Things to do in Machu Picchu  and our recommended schedule if you want to visit Huayna Picchu

Selected Campsites

The Ministry of Tourism issues campsites to each tour operator and the following campsites are issued to early bookings. When these campsites are full then alternative campsites are allocated. It is always better to book well in advance. 
  • Day 1 - Ayapata campsite (3,200 masl)
  • Day 2 - Chaquicocha campsite (2,900 masl)
  • Day 3 - Wiñaywayna campsite (2, 455 masl)

Additional costs on the Inca Trail

  • Tips for guides, cooks, and porters (See Porters, Guides & Cooks)

  • Single person supplements (Single tent US$70)
  • Vistadome return upgrade (US$30)
  • Hot shower at last campsite on day 3 (S/.5.00)
  • Hot Springs (S/.10.00)
Souvenirs (Cheaper in the Sacred Valley or Cusco)
Lunch in Machu Picchu town - US$15.00 - 50.00
Emergency S/.350.00 - Just in case you need to leave the trek and return to Cusco - A last minute train journey will set you back 140 Soles approximately
Please note: It is better to take Peruvian currency on the trek - It is expensive to withdraw or change money in Machu Picchu town.

Porters, Guides & Cooks

Due to preservation laws of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, llamas, mules and horses are not permitted on the Inca trail unlike other treks in Peru and so local porters carry the equipment.

  • Maximum weight - Each porter carries a maximum (by law) of 20kg

  • What they carry - The porters carry all the camping and cooking equipment which is provided by the trek operator  

  • Rent a porter - A porter can be hired for 2 or 3 people to share 15kg weight - they will carry all your clothes, sleeping bag, sleeping matt which will make the trek much easier for you.
  • If you rent a porter with Chaska Tours will give you duffle bags to pack. You will then need your own back-pack (a small day-pack will usually do) for your personal valuables, extra snacks, etc.

  • Machu Picchu - If you don't rent the help of a porter then you will need to carry your backpack around Machu Picchu when you arrive on Day 4.
  • If you rent the help of a porter then the porter will leave your equipment at a restaurant or hotel Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town) which your guide will coordinate.

  • Socializing - The porters will be a big part of your experience and you will probably grow fond of them - They are normally timid and shy men from the highland countryside and will need working on to bring them out of their shells.
 Please always treat them with respect.
Toilets - Chaska porters are expected to care of the toilets, which do get into a bad state from other operators and groups. If you are not happy please talk to your guide.

How much to tip

  • Porters - are paid depending on the number of trekkers in the group. If your group is small then they will earn slightly less than a large group. We recommend that each porter should walk away with 50 Soles tips each for a small group (1 - 5 trekkers) and 30 Soles each (6 - 16 trekkers)* 
  • Guides
 - Only fully qualified guides who have studied a special 4 year course are permitted by the Ministry of Tourism to offer tours on the Inca trail or Machu Picchu. Chaska only provides the finest guides, which have a high level of English and knowledge about the history and culture of the Inca empire. Each guide has their own speciality which range from medicinal plants, flora & fauna to archeology making each tour unique. 
How much to tip - You will need to decide as a group how much to give the guide depending on their performance and skills. We recommend the guide walks away with around 80 Soles maximum*. If you are not happy with the service then this is where they will see how well they have done and if they need to improve.

  • Cooks 
- Our cooks are famous for producing delicious meals. We do provide vegetarian and vegan meals but in Peru there are very few vegetarians or vegans and therefore in general these meals are not as tasty as our normal meals. The cooks are responsible for filling your belly with food, drinks and boiled water. If you are not happy with the quantity you must inform your guide as soon as possible.
 How much to tip - We recommend the cooks and assistant cooks come away with 70 and 50 Soles* respectively.

*This is only a guideline for tipping - Tipping is not obligatory as all members of the team receive a decent wage of which they are happy with - However,  tipping is always welcome.

Rules & Regulations

The Inca trail is a protected zone and due to the damage that tourism was causing to the environment the Ministry of Tourism capped the number of people who can do the trail on a daily basis. Every year in February the trail is closed for the big clean up from the mess made from 11 months of trekking groups.
  • Entrance will be refused if you fail to show your passports and student ISIC cards at the entrance to the Inca trail
  • Entrance will be refused if your passport details are different to those on your Inca trail permit
Please don't leave any garbage en-route or at the campsites.

  • Plastic water bottles are prohibited (Please use a non-throw-away water bottle)
Alcohol is prohibited i.e. Wine/Beer bottles or any throw-away glass-bottles or metal cans

  • Walking sticks must have rubber tips (metal type are prohibited because they damage the ancient stone paths)

  • If you need to go to the toilet away from camp and you use toilet paper then please burn the paper.

  • The Ministry of tourism is strict and any of the above harmful items found when entering the park will be confiscated

Trekking gear for Rent

  • Trekking poles: Leki and Black Diamond - 1 for US $ 8.00 and 2 for US $ 14.00

  • Sleeping bag, US $ 18.00 (Our sleeping bags are a mummy model and rated -13 Celsius / 8.6 Fahrenheit
  • Therm-a-Rest self-inflating mattress (USD $ 14.00)
  • Any other equipment can be rented or purchased in the city centre of Cusco