Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Incas created the largest pre-Columbian empire in the Americas. Hike and learn about their grand achievements as you explore sacred ruins, the Inca Trail and iconic Machu Picchu.
Rating (5)
Program No. 19937RJ
13 days
Starts at
Special Offer
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At a Glance

Let your feet carry you into natural beauty, mystery and even spiritual awareness on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The Inca constructed an advanced road and trail system over which agile runners would deliver messages (in the form of knotted cords known as quipu) and even carry fresh fish into the highlands for the ruling class. Led by experts, hike the most famous stretch of this road system, passing through lush cloud forests and alpine tundra and examining Incan ruins before successfully arriving at the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Challenging
Hiking up to six hours a day over varied terrain. Elevation sickness can affect even healthy, physically fit people. Two and a half days in the Sacred Valley are intended to help participants acclimate before starting the Inca Trail. Participants can return to Cusco after the first day if they feel unwell/unable to complete the Inca Trail (additional cost applies). Elevations up to 13,779 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Hike the famed Inca Trail from Piscacucho to Machu Picchu.
  • Experience the “Lost City of the Incas” through an on-site lecture.
  • Learn about the remarkable Incan agriculture system in the Sacred Valley from a local expert.

General Notes

Inca Trail permits are issued in limited quantities and on a first-come, first-served basis. The permits are person-specific and must match the bearer’s passport records. Participants must email or fax a copy of their passport identification page to the Program Coordinator upon enrollment.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Gustavo "Tito" Leon
A native of Cusco, Gustavo "Tito" Leon found himself fascinated with the music of the Andean highlands. This affinity led him to devote his life to the research and preservation of Peru's Andean music. His research has focused on the origins of Andean music, its different forms, influences and instruments. Gustavo is a talented musician and an expert on native Andean woodwind, percussion, and string instruments. His interactive style will get your toes tapping as he performs the various song styles and instruments of the Andes.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Maywa Blanco
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Gustavo "Tito" Leon
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Stone Offerings
by Mike Torrey
Torrey captures the dramatic setting, solitude and intricate construction of the Inca site of Machu Picchu in 100 striking color photographs taken over a few days at summer and winter solstice.
Peru Mammals
by Rainforest Publications
A handy, double-sided laminated card depicting over 60 commonly encountered mammals of Peru. Beautiful and accurate full-color illustrations.
Inca Trail: Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Cusco Map
by Lima 2000
This fact-filled map shows the whole of the Sacred Valley, from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu, on one side, and, on the reverse, the area surrounding the sanctuary in splendid, topographic detail (1:50,000). It's the best map for those making the trek from kilometer 88 to the site and an excellent choice for those exploring by bus or train.
Lima, A Cultural History
by James Higgins
An erudite guide to the cultural gems and literary history of Peru's capital city. James Higgins, who specializes in Peruvian literature, covers the scope of the city's history from its pre-Columbian museums, to its conquistador heritage, to its dynamic present.
Conquest of the Incas
by John Hemming
This classic prize-winning history of the Inca struggle against the Spanish invasion weaves wide-ranging, scholarly material into a gripping narrative.
The Heights of Macchu Picchu
by Pablo Neruda
An indispensable contribution to 20th-century poetry, Neruda’s ode to Machu Picchu celebrates the Incan civilization while abhorring that the ancient estate was built by slave labor.
Turn Right at Machu Picchu
by Mark Adams
Over his head on an arduous guided trek to Choquequirao and other remote sites, Mark Adams mixes entertaining tales of his adventures (he makes himself out to be quite the accidental explorer) with analysis of the rather grand Hiram Bingham in this light-hearted "following-in-the-footsteps-of" account.
The Inca Trail, Cuzco & Machu Picchu
by Alexander Stewart
An excellent overview of local culture and history, including chapters on exploring Cuzco, the Sacred Valley and Lima. Fifth edition.
Machu Picchu, Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas
by Richard L. Burger (Editor), Lucy C. Salazar (Editor)
Burger and Salazar vividly evoke the art, architecture, culture and society of Machu Picchu in this illustrated, up-to-date survey. With Hiram Bingham's original report, archival and modern photographs and excellent chapters on recent archaeology at the site.
Machu Picchu Revealed
by Ruth M. Wright
Wright's handsome little tribute to Machu Picchu includes not only gorgeous color photographs but also a map, color rendering and suggestions for exploring the site.
The Incas
by Carmen Bernard
Featuring archival drawings and photographs, a chronology and chapters on Atahualpa, the Conquistadors and Hiram Bingham, this handy book (previously published as People of the Sun) illuminates the daily life, monuments and history of the Incas.
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
by Thornton Wilder
The classic tale of Franciscan missionaries in 18th-century Lima, Peru by the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. First published in 1927.
Peru, Travellers' Wildlife Guides
by David L. Pearson, Les Beletsky
Featuring 500 illustrations of the birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and insects of the Amazon, Andes and Pacific Coast.
A Sacred Landscape, The Search for Ancient Peru
by Hugh Thomson
Hugh Thomson travels all over Peru with his archaeologist pals, visiting Moche, Chavin, Nasca and other ancient sites in this thrilling account of adventure. His tale is bracketed by an account of his discoveries with Gary Ziegler at Llactapata, a newly excavated observatory barely two miles from Machu Picchu and essentially lost since Bingham happened upon the place in 1912. He concludes with wise words by John Hemming, "Anyone can find a ruin in the jungle; but it can take a lifetime to understand what you have found."
Art of the Andes, from Chavin to Inca
by Rebecca Stone-Miller
This authoritative and concise illustrated survey of Andean art and architecture covers not only Machu Picchu and additional Inca monuments, but also Chan Chan, Nasca and other archaeological sites and cultures.
Peru Map
by Borch Maps
A detailed laminated relief map of Peru at a scale of 1:1,750,000. This is a very clear, colorful map, which also features detailed insets of Lima and Cuzco and even a site plan of Machu Picchu.
Lost City of the Incas
by Hiram Bingham
This first-rate adventure story by the man who brought Machu Picchu to the attention of the world is not just a gripping tale of exploration and archaeology, it also sets the scene for any visitor to the site.
Archaeological Map of Machu Picchu
by Wright Water Engineers
Ken Wright's foldout color site plan shows the monuments, topography and physical features of the Inca sanctuary with exquisite clarity.
Peru, Birds of the Forest
by Rainforest Publications
A handy, double-sided laminated card depicting 100 commonly encountered parrots, motmots, hummingbirds and other forest birds of Peru. We also carry Peru Mammals Guide plastic card. (Item PRU73)
Insight Guide Peru
by Insight Guides
Panoramic in scope, this illustrated overview brings Peru to life in color photographs and vivid essays on history, archaeology and culture.

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