Inca Trail Elevation Gain

Inca Trail Elevation Gain

The extent of altitude increase during your hike on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is determined by the specific trail you choose. There are several variations of the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu, each offering different routes and durations. You can opt for the Classic 4 days Inca Trail or the Short Inca Trail, spanning two days, or even the Inca Trail expedition lasting seven days.

What is the elevation of the Inca Trail?

The classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu typically takes four days to complete, with each day presenting different elevation gains and losses. Here’s a general overview of the elevations for each day:

DayStarting PointEnding PointElevation (meters)Elevation (feet)
1Km 82 (Piscacucho)WayllabambaStart: 2,700 Highest: 3,000Start: 8,858 Highest: 9,842
2WayllabambaPacaymayo ValleyStart: 2,900 Highest: 4,215Start: 9,514 Highest: 13,829
3Pacaymayo ValleyPhuyupatamarca CampsiteStart: 3,600 Highest: 3,970Start: 11,811 Highest: 13,025
4Phuyupatamarca CampsiteMachu PicchuStart: 3,600 Highest: 3,680 End: 2,430Start: 11,811 Highest: 12,073 End: 7,972

Overall, the Inca Trail involves significant altitude changes, with the highest point being at Dead Woman’s Pass and the lowest point being at Machu Picchu itself. Proper acclimatization and physical preparation are crucial for successfully completing the trek.

Inca Trail Elevation Map

Inca Trail Elevation Gain

Itinerary for 4-day Inca Trail with Elevation gain day by day

Day 1: Cusco – Piskacucho – Km 82 – Wayllabamba

We will commence our trek to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail, departing from Cusco at 4:30 am. After a drive of approximately ninety minutes, we will briefly stop at Ollantaytambo to purchase any last-minute equipment and grab breakfast (not included). Continuing our journey, we will reach Piskacuchu (Km 82), the Inca Trail checkpoint. Once we pass the checkpoint, our hike along the classic Inca Trail to Wayllabamba (the first camping site) will begin. Along the way, we will have lunch at Miskay, a Quechuan village, and take a siesta before proceeding to the magnificent archaeological site of Patallacta or Llactapata, the largest Inca site. After your guide explains about Llactapata, we will walk for an additional two hours until we reach Wayllabamba, situated at an elevation of 3,010 meters (9,875 feet), serving as the first camping spot on the Inca Trail.

  • Distance: 12 km (6.835 miles).
  • Time: Approximately 5 hours.
  • Elevation gain: 430 meters (1,410 feet).
  • Starting point: Km 82 (Inca Trail trailhead) – 2,680 meters (9,612 feet).
  • Ending point: Wayllabamba Campsite – 3,010 meters (9,875 feet).

Day 2: Wayllabamba – Warmiwañusca – Pacaymayo

We will embark on the second day of the Inca Trail, commencing early in the morning to take advantage of the mountain’s shade. It is advisable to ascend to the highest point of the Inca Trail, known as Warmihuañusca or “dead woman pass” (4,200 meters above sea level), in order to witness the diverse ecological zones and microclimates that form this area. From the summit, we will be greeted with awe-inspiring views of snow-capped mountains. After capturing our group photo, we will descend towards Pacaymayo (the second camping spot on the Inca Trail at an elevation of 3,600 meters), where we will have lunch and enjoy a free afternoon to explore at our leisure.

  • Distance: 11 km (6.83 miles).
  • Time: Approximately 7 hours.
  • Elevation gain: 1,180 meters (3,871 feet).
  • Starting point: Wayllabamba Campsite – 3,010 meters (9,875 feet).
  • Ending point: Pacasmayo Campsite – 3,600 meters (11,700 feet).

Day 3: Pacaymayo – Chaquicocha – Wiñaywayna

We will commence the day with a nourishing breakfast, followed by a 45-minute hike to Runcurakay Pass (the second-highest pass on the Inca Trail at 3,850 meters above sea level). Along the way, we will visit the Runcuracay archaeological site. Throughout the day’s trek, we will also explore the Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca Quechuan archaeological sites along the Inca Trail. After lunch, we will head towards the Wiñaywayna site, where we will spend our final night on the Inca Trail. A celebratory dinner will be organized to bid farewell to our Inca Trail porters.

  • Distance: 16 km (9.94 miles).
  • Time: Approximately 9 hours.
  • Elevation gain: 453 meters (1,486 feet).
  • Starting point: Pacasmayo Campsite – 3,600 meters (11,700 feet).
  • Ending point: Wiñaywayna Campsite – 2,650 meters (8,530 feet).
What you should know before you hike the Inca Trail 4 days
thing to know bwfore you hike the inca trail 4 days

Day 4: Wiñaywayna – Machu Picchu – Cusco

After an early breakfast, we embark on the final stretch of the Inca Trail towards the captivating lost city of Machu Picchu. First, we will hike to Inti Punku, also known as the “Sun Gate,” which provides a breathtaking panoramic view of the Machu Picchu citadel. Subsequently, we will descend to Machu Picchu, where we will register and embark on a guided tour of the sanctuary city, lasting approximately two hours. Following the tour, we will either take a bus or partake in a portion of the Short Inca Trail to Aguas Calientes, where we will enjoy lunch and have free time to explore the town. Our return journey involves a train ride to Ollantaytambo and a bus back to Cusco.

  • Distance: 6 km (3.72 miles). Time: Approximately 3 hours.
  • Elevation gain: 90 meters (295 feet).
  • Starting point: Wiñaywayna Campsite – 2,650 meters (8,530 feet).
  • Ending point: Machu Picchu – 2,450 meters (8,038 feet).
Inca Trail

Classic Inca Trail 4 Days details

  • Total elevation gain along the Inca Trail: 2,153 meters (7,063 feet).
  • Highest Elevation: 4,200 meters (13,828 feet).
  • Inca Trail Distance: 40 km (25 miles).

Elevation Gain for Short Inca Trail 2 Days

The short Inca Trail 2 days start at KM 104, the elevation of the starting point is 2,000 m, and the highest point is Sun Gate 2,720 m from where you will have the first view of Machu Picchu.

  • Distance: 15 km / 8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 720 meters (2362 feet).
  • Starting point: Km 104 (2000 m / 6561 ft)
  • Ending point: Machu Picchu – 2,450 meters (8,038 feet).

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