Do you want to do the Inca Trail in 2020?Permits for the Inca Trail sell out like hotcakes and if you want to reach Machu Picchu in 2020, you better start planning your travels to Peru. Continue reading and find out how you can finally make your dreams come true. Vamos!
Reaching Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail in 2020
The Inca trail is one of the oldest pilgrimages in the world and one of the 10 most beautiful walks in the world. To date, scientists do not agree on the role of Machu Picchu, some say it was a fortress in defence of the Inca Empire where other scientists assume that it was a retreat for the kings. What we do know for sure is that the Inca Trail leads to the city of Machu Picchu which was built around 1440.
Today, the Inca Trail is one of the most popular treks in the world, at least the most popular trekking inPeru. Every year Machu Picchu attracts about 400,000 visitors, each day a maximum of 2500 Machu Picchu can enter, of which a total of 500 are allowed to walk on the classic Inca trail. These 500 are divided into 200 tourists who hike the Inca Trail and are supported by 300 porters.
Availability Machu Picchu and Inca Trail 2020
The permits for the Inca Trail 2020 become available in October. However, trekking companies are already taking bookings before October. If you want to do the Inca Trail in 2020, you can book a date of your preference and you can inform your trekking company about your second choice. Trekking companies will always try to obtain permits for your preferred date, but as there are only so many permits available, it is good to have a second choice in mind.
There are 500 permits available per day for the four-day Inca Trail. Because this is divided among tourists and staff (guides, porters and cooks) there are eventually 200 permits available for tourists, the other 300 are made available for staff. There is a shortage especially in the months May to September. As summer is approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, thousands are getting ready to finally to their Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Are you one of them, or are you more into the Short Inca Trail?
For the short Inca Trail (two days) there are 250 permits available per day. In general, these are available a lot longer, but they also sell out quickly. Here, too, we advise you to book as soon as possible. If both are no longer available? Don't be sad because there are alternatives such as the Salkantay and for example Inca Jungle trek. As you can read in this blog post, the alternatives are often even better than the Classic Inca Trail.
Classic Inca Trail Trek in 2020
The Classic Inca Trail is the path that connects Machu Picchu with the rest of the Inca Empire. The route has a length of 45 kilometers and takes three to five days. The path winds through the dense forest over high mountain ranges so you end up with the ruins of Machu Picchu. Where Machu Picchu is located at an altitude of 2340 meter, the highest point during the classic Inca Trail is at 4200 meters, this is also called the 'Dead Woman's Pass'. While walking the Inca trail you will pass the ruins of the villages Phuyupatamarca, Huinay Huayna.
The path of Inca Trail is in good condition. Every year in February the trail is closed for maintenance.
Classic Inca Trail Itinerary for 2020
The following itinerary is as classic as you can do the Inca Trail. In 4 days and 3 nights, you can make it all the way to Machu Picchu, following the most beautiful trail out there, crossing The Dead Woman's Pass and coming through Inti Punku, widely known as Sun Gate. The following itinerary is based on the 4-day Inca Trail as offered by Trexperience.
DAY 1: CUSCO – KM 82 – LLACTAPATA – AYAPATA
Your trekking team will pick you up from your hotel between 4:30-6:30am (depending on your location) and drive you to KM. 82 – arriving at approximately 8.00am. After a delicious breakfast we will head straight to the checkpoint to begin your trekking to Machu Picchu. It’s a relatively easy two-hour walk to Patallacta; the first Inca site along the trail. From a unique, secluded location we will enjoy the breathtaking views of this ancient city. It’s then another two-hour walk to Hatunchaca – located in the heart of the Inca trail – where lunch will be waiting. We will walk for another two hours to the first campsite located in Ayapata, arriving at approximately 5:00pm. Your tent, a snack and a hot drink will be waiting for you. You will then have some time to rest and enjoy the view of the mountains before dinner.
Campsite Altitude: 3300m – 10826ft
Highest altitude: 3300m – 10826ft
Distance: 13.5km / 8 miles
Duration: 8 hours
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 2: AYAPATA – WARMIWAÑUSKA– RUNCURACCAY – CHAQUICOCHA
We will wake you up bright and early with a hot cup of coffee or cocoa tea. Today will be the most challenging part of the Machu Picchu trek and after breakfast it’s a 4-hour trek uphill to Dead Woman’s Pass. At 4215m / 13829ft., this is the highest point along the Inca Trail. At the summit, we will take time to appreciate the serenity of this location while your guide completes a traditional offering ceremony to the Apus (local Gods). After a 2-hour downhill trek to Pacaymayu Valley we will enjoy a well-earned lunch. The second pass is an easier 2-hours climb and we will take time to explore two Inca sites along the way; RuncuRaccay and Sayacmarca. It’s then a 20-minute walk to the second campsite at Chaquicocha (dry lake, 3600m / 11811 ft.), where you will be able to admire a beautiful sunset over the Vilcabamba mountain range before dinner. With an unobstructed view of the constellations, this is the perfect place to stargaze!
Campsite Altitude: 3600m – 11811ft
Highest altitude: 421700m -13835ft
Distance: 16km / 9 miles
Duration: 10 hours
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
DAY 3: CHAQUICCOCHA – PHUYUPATAMARCA – WIÑAYWAYNA
With the hard part of the Inca Trail well and truly over, you can relax and enjoy the easiest and arguably most interesting day of the trek. Today’s route is extremely varied and it is only a 5-hour walk to the final campsite. Along the way you will pass through a number of different ecosystems, experience the atmospheric cloud forest and observe the magnificent panoramic view of Salkantay Mountain (the second highest in Cusco). We will visit two Inca sites; Phuyupatamarka (City in the Clouds) with spectacular views of the Urubamba River and the Machu Picchu Mountain, and Intipata (Terraces of the Sun). At Intipata, there will be time to rest and take in your magical surroundings. We will reach the campsite at approximately 1:00pm to have lunch and you can then enjoy some free time to relax and unwind. Later in the afternoon we will visit another impressive Inca site – Wiñay Wayna – where your guide will explain the history of this remarkable location. We will then return to the campsite for tea and dinner and a special surprise!
Campsite Altitude: 2600m – 8530ft
Highest altitude: 3600m – 11811ft
Distance: 10km / 6 miles
Duration: 6 hours
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
DAY 4: WIÑAYWAYNA – MACHU PICCHU
On our final day of the Inca Trail we have to get up very early to prepare for the highlight of your Trexperience; visiting Machu Picchu – the Lost City of the Incas. We will go straight to the checkpoint and wait until it opens at 5:30 am. As the sky brightens, we will walk for an hour to the Sun Gate, taking in the stunning views along the way. On a clear day you can watch the spectacular sun rise over Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate, which is truly an unforgettable sight. We will then start our one-hour decent towards Machu Picchu, arriving at the final control point at around 7:30am. Your guide will take you on a two-hour comprehensive tour of the city before leaving you in Machu Picchu to explore on your own or climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain (tickets must be booked as far in advance as possible). Your guide will explain how to take the bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes for lunch and then take the train and bus back to Cusco. The Trexperience Team will meet you off the train and return you safely to your hotel.
Highest altitude: 2700m -8858ft
Distance: 6km / 3 miles
Duration: 2 hours
Costs Inca Trail 2020 – Machu Picchu
For the classic route, the prices vary from a small 400 EUR to just over 700 EUR. The difference is mainly caused by the number of days you do the trekking, whether you go for four or five days. In addition, the price of the Inca Trail obviously differs from one provider to another.
The alternatives to the Inca Trail are often slightly more economical than the classic Inca Trail. This has everything to do with the popularity of the Classic Inca Trail and the small number of permits that are available.
Best Season for Hiking Inca Trail in Peru
The Inca Trail can be done all year round, except in February because the route is then in maintenance. From May to October is the best time to travel, in this period there is the least precipitation and the sun is most often present.
The temperature is about the same throughout the year. During the most favorable months, the temperature at night is sometimes below zero Celsius. The number of hours of sunshine is the highest with an average of nine hours of sunshine per day.
No More Permits for Inca Trail 2020 - Now What?
Could you not get a permit for the Inca Trail for 2020?
People who are really set on the Inca Trail 2020 should stick to the Classic Inca Trail and for them, it will also be worth the wait in case it doesn't work out with permits this year. However, for everyone who just wants to get to Machu Picchu and wants a great trekking experience, there are different options worth considering.
The most famous alternative Inca Trail is the Salkantay Trek, but the others are just as great if not better. The Lares Trek, the Choquequirao Trek, the Inca Jungle Trek and the Inca Quarry Trek are all good alternatives for when you couldn't get permits for the Classic Inca Trail for 2020. Believe us, it is a bit of a blessing in disguise.
Inca Trail Alternatives – Salkantay Trek
The Salkantay Trek is an alternative trek to the classic route. The Salkantay trek is considered by most to be the best alternative route. This route to Machu Picchu is offered in a four and five day version and starts and ends in Cusco. The four-day Salkantay Trek is slightly heavier than the Inca Trail because of the altitude to be conquered. On day one we already hike to an altitude of 4200 meters, this night is also the coldest night of the entire trekking.
On day two you hike after an early breakfast in about three hours to the Salkantay Pass which is located at an altitude of 4650 meters. After lunch you descend to an altitude of 2900 meters where you will also spend the night. On day three we trek from Chaullay via La Playa to Aguas Calientes in about six hours. The last day you hike early in the morning to Machu Picchu where there is a two-hour tour after which you can walk around freely until it's time to take the train. At the end of the train ride in Ollantaytambo you will be taken back to Cusco.
Lares Trek to Machu Picchu
The Lares Trek is the least demanding trek compared to the Salkantay Trek and the Inca Trail. In addition, the Lares Trek is also the quietest. The Lares Trek is best known for its contact with Peruvian locals. During the trekking you will pass the Sacred Valley where you will encounter the first locals with alpacas and llamas. On the first day you will reach a high altitude and cross the Amparaes pass at an altitude of 4470 meters. Then you trek onwards to Lares where you can enjoy the warm thermal baths and then descend to Cuncani to spend the night.
On the second day you hike along rocky paths through high lagoons and see in the distance glaciers that provide the locals with fresh drinking water. After reaching the top you descend to camp in a quiet area surrounded by trees. After breakfast the last day starts. You descend to finally end up in Ollantaytambo where you take the train to Aguas Calientes. On the last day you will be driven by bus to Machu Picchu, and at an altitude of 2400 meters where there is a guided tour of about two hours after which you can walk around freely in the city itself.
Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The short Inca Trail has only a total of 12km of hiking. First of all, in the morning you will be taken from the hotel to the train station where you will start with a train ride of about three hours. From there the hike starts from the ruins of Chachabamba and takes you past a refreshing waterfall on your way to the ruins of Winay Wayna. If we continue after lunch we already have our first view on Machu Picchu.
The second day we start with the trip to Machu Picchu where there is a guided tour of about two hours after which you can walk around in the city itself. Alternatively you can choose to climb the Huayna Picchu extra, this has to be booked in advance.
Altitude Sickness Inca Trail – Peru
Altitude sickness can occur while hiking the Inca Trail. From your home country you land in Peru at an altitude of 2,500 metres. Your body hasn't had time to acclimatize and you are planning to go to an even higher altitude. Altitude sickness is determined by a lack of oxygen in the body. A series of symptoms that you may experience due to altitude sickness in Peru are: headaches, lack of appetite, dizziness, insomnia, vomiting and you are more likely to get tired. Altitude sickness is mainly caused by a rapid increase in altitude. For example, if you climb more than 750 metres during the day and you stay at that altitude, your body may have difficulty adapting. As a rule, the faster you ascend, the greater the risk of altitude sickness.
It takes 6 to 12 hours before you get can get complaints about altitude sickness. This means that, for example, you can climb more than 1000 metres in one day, but if you also descend at the same time on the same day, the chance that you will get altitude sickness is small. The many ascending and descending causes the body to acclimatize. The next day it is relatively easier to stay at a higher altitude. Crossing the Dead Woman's Pass during the Inca Trail and the Salkantay will provide a better acclimatization during your trekking.
Where Can I Book the Inca Trail 2020?
There are several websites where you can book the Inca Trail. Important to consider is that the cheap providers are probably not very good for their staff. The income is relatively low in Peru and some organizations like to make use of it.
At Bookatrekking.com we try to make a selection of providers who have everything in order, take good care of the staff and nature. However, they are obliged to indicate their lowest price on the internet. Here you will find our offers for the Classic Inca Trail.
Now that you know all about the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, you might wonder how to get to Cusco. Check out this blog post and take a look at our Peru guide for more useful information. Have you thought about upgrading your Inca Trail by visiting Rainbow Mountain? Always do.