Best of Inca Trail

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Inca Trail
One of the world’s most famous treks, the Inca Trail passes beneath snowy peaks, through misty cloud forest and over high mountain passes before arriving at the spectacular site of Machu Picchu. Seeing the famed Inca citadel at the end of the trek is one of the great thrills of South American travel, though you’ll also encounter other ruins along the way, as well as jaw-dropping Andean scenery. The ancient pilgrimage route was once made only by Inca nobles, though these days thousands of hikers from every corner of the globe make the unforgettable journey.

Typically a four-day walk, previous kimkim travelers have enjoyed making it a five-day trek to avoid the crowds, and to start in the sacred Inca site of Ollantaytambo. The challenging climbs (and knee-pounding descents) aren’t easy, but you’ll be rewarded with staggering views, like the panorama from the cliff-hugging Inca site of Phuyupatamarca “the place above the clouds” with a breathtaking panorama across verdant mountains to the sacred peak of Salkantay.
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Inca Trail Essentials

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Inca Trail in January: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

Despite rainy season being here in earnest, January can be a surprisingly good month to hike the Inca Trail. Once Christmas and New Year crowds have dispersed, there will be fewer hikers on the trail or sightseers in the Sacred Valley than at almost any other time of year. And the sun still comes out between the showers to capture the region in all its beauty, sometimes all the more dazzling for being part-covered in mist and cloud.

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Inca Trail in February: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

The Inca Trail is closed this month for maintenance, but the good news is that Machu Picchu is still open, as are some of the other classic Inca Trail alternative treks, such as the Salkantay trek. The year's heaviest rain this month makes hiking muddier and less appealing that at other times of the year: time, perhaps, to divert to some of the Sacred Valley's indoors attractions.

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Inca Trail in March: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

The Inca Trail reopens this month, seeing a surge of visitors to the hike and to Machu Picchu not seen since the previous October. This is still wet season in the Sacred Valley, but the rains are beginning to subside as the month wears on, bringing better hiking weather. If Easter falls this month, Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations bring even more visitors to the region.

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Inca Trail in April: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

It is hard to envisage a better time to hike the Inca Trail than April. Wet season is over by the middle of the month, and crowds are nowhere near the levels they will be in high season. Flora is thriving across the region after the rains, brightening almost every view, and communities of the Sacred Valley put on colorful Semana Santa celebrations (should Easter fall after the first week of April).

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Inca Trail in May: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

Shoulder season segues into high season as May goes on, which means higher numbers of trekkers on the Inca Trail. But trail conditions are improved dramatically: it is largely dry underfoot and generally sunny during the day, although camping out at night is colder than it has been in recent months. Overall May is one of the best months for hiking the trail, though, and interesting festivals throughout the Sacred Valley add to the color of the experience this month.

Inca Trail in June: Travel Tips, Weather, and More
Inca Trail in June: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

June is high season in every sense on the Inca Trail and in the Sacred valley surrounding it. Weather is at its best for hiking (sunny and dry, although chilly at night) and the daily trekkers on the trail are at their maximum levels. In addition to this, it is big party time as the Sacred Valley celebrates Inti Raymi, the ancient Incan festival of the sun.

Inca Trail in July: Travel Tips, Weather, and More
Inca Trail in July: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

You'll be hiking the Inca Trail in dry, sunny weather this month, and the Sacred Valley resounds with the color and clamor of near-constant festivities. No wonder July is such a popular time of year to visit the region—this is when the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu regularly meet their maximum visitor capacity. Read on for more about weather, crowds, and activities.

Inca Trail in August: Travel Tips, Weather, and More
Inca Trail in August: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

August is the final month of high season and a popular time for North American and European holiday-makers to converge on the Inca Trail (and all Sacred Valley sights, for that matter). The Inca Trail will still likely be at capacity for much of August. If you want to escape the crowds, there are plenty of hikes apart from the Inca Trail to enjoy the great weather and beautiful landscapes in solitude.

Inca Trail in September: Travel Tips, Weather, and More
Inca Trail in September: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

The end of the dry season is a great month for hiking: crowds in the Sacred Valley and on the Inca Trail are down, while bright, sunny weather predominates. Although the chances of rain are increasing, temperatures are sneaking up, too. Altogether, this is one of the best months for outdoor activities in the Sacred Valley before the rains commence in earnest next month.

Inca Trail in October: Travel Tips, Weather, and More
Inca Trail in October: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

October is still officially dry season, and sunny weather persists despite more frequent bursts of rain as the month wears on. Trekkers still descend on the region to make the most of the last spells of dry weather before the wet season kicks off at the end of the month. There are also, as always, important festivities in Cusco—read on for more on October events, weather, and more.

Inca Trail in November: Travel Tips, Weather, and More
Inca Trail in November: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

Wet season is here—but the rain does not stick around all day in the Sacred Valley. If you're one of the relatively few travelers coming to the region this month, you will enjoy sightseeing at the least-crowded time of year and probably still see the sun quite a bit. Trekking is wetter and muddier than usual, but flora is thriving and rising water levels increase the appeal of rafting. An activity that combines both, such as the Inca Jungle Trek, is ideal around now.

Inca Trail in December: Travel Tips, Weather, and More
Inca Trail in December: Travel Tips, Weather, and More

December is a mixed bag on the Inca Trail. The rain is coming down on an almost daily basis, but the flowers and plants are thriving, beautifying the trail views. Crowds can be very low (at the beginning of the month) or very high (over Christmas and New Year). A few memorable festivities take place this month to spice things up pre- and post-hike, too: read on for more about what to expect.

Inca Trail Itineraries

Kayaking on Lake Titicaca
Active Andes: Cusco & Sacred Valley, Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca & More - 11 days

Experience the best of the Andes on this 11-day trip. From Peru's capital Lima, this adventure whisks you up into the mountains to ancient Inca city Cusco. You will then spend several days in the Sacred Valley, including one overnight, seeing archaeological marvels like Ollantaytambo before a trek on the Short Inca Trail to magical Inca citadel Machu Picchu. After hiking to the geological wonder of Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain, you next travel to spectacular Lake Titicaca to conclude your adventure. Here, you will get to try wonderful activities such as kayaking and staying in homestays with local families.

The Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca
Highlights of Southern Peru & the Andes & Short Inca Trail - 11 days

You will begin this 11-day adventure in Lima, before flying to southern colonial city Arequipa and exploring nearby Colca Canyon, one of the world's deepest canyons. You next continue to Puno on Lake Titicaca, Peru's most dramatic lake, and get to visit the lake's iconic islands, including the Uros Islands and Taquile Island. Afterwards, you travel overland on the scenic 'Route of the Sun' to ancient Inca capital Cusco. Your trip finishes with adventures in the beautiful terrain surrounding Cusco, including trekking the Short Inca Trail to the magical Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.

Other popular travel destinations in Peru
Sacred Valley · Lima · Aguas Calientes/ Machu Picchu · Machu Picchu · Cusco · The Amazon · Southern Peru · Puno · Northern Peru · Arequipa & Colca Canyon · Paracas · Arequipa · Trujillo · Chachapoyas · Nazca · Chiclayo · Colca Canyon · Iquitos · Ausangate Trek · Tambopata · Mancora · Ayacucho · Ica