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Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley

Machu Picchu, the 15th century Inca Citadel located 2,430m above sea level, is one of the most famed archaeological ruins in the world; and for good reason. Located near Cusco between the saddle of the mountains Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, trekking to these infamous ruins is by no means an easy journey. However, it is arguably one of the most rewarding experiences in the world.

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How to climb Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley

  • How do I prepare for Machu Picchu?

    The best way to prepare for a trek to Machu Picchu is to participate in plenty of cardiovascular activity. Activities such as swimming, cycling, or long-distance running will place you in a strong position to complete the trek with ease. Remember; a happy heart makes for a happy hiker. Learn more.
  • When should I climb Machu Picchu?

    Machu Picchu can be climbed year-round, but travellers should be aware that the Inca Trail is closed in February every year for necessary maintenance. The most popular time to hike the Inca Trail, for example, is June-August and is known to be quite crowded. Learn more.
  • What permits do I need?

    Only 500 permits are allocated per day for the Inca Trail due to the overwhelming popularity of the route and must be booked in advance. Other trails and routes in the area do not need a permit. Learn more.
  • Do I need a guide to climb?

    From 2001, it is a compulsory requirement that travellers on the Inca Trail, in particular, must travel with a registered guide. Many of the alternative trails, however, do not require a guide, and you are able to hike as you wish unassisted. Learn more.
  • How do I get to Machu Picchu?

    The best way for travellers to reach Machu Picchu is to fly into Cusco, Peru. Spending a few days in Cusco prior to embarking on a trek to Machu Picchu will help travellers acclimate, and reduce the impacts of altitude sickness. Learn more.
  • What should I pack and what equipment do I need?

    Walking poles, hiking boots, waterproof clothing and plenty of layers are just a few of the essentials that you will need for your hiking adventure. As for tents and cooking equipment, be sure to check with your tour operator as this may be provided for you. Learn more.

Best Machu Picchu Treks and Routes

  • Inca Trail

    One of the most popular (and famous) treks in Peru, the Inca Trail is the only route that will take you directly to Machu Picchu. The journey may feel like a rollercoaster, filled with steep ascents and descents (including the infamous Dead Woman’s Pass), but it is most certainly a rewarding journey. 

    Distance: 45 kilometres 
    Average duration: 4-5 days 
    Average difficulty: Moderate difficulty. There is no experience required for this type of journey, but you should be in relatively good shape, able to comfortably walk for 5-7 hours at a time, and prepared to sweat. The success rate of completing this trek is high, however, travellers should take time to acclimate before hiking, to reduce the chance of altitude sickness while on the trail. 
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  • The Lares Trek

    For hikers looking to avoid the crowds, the Lares Trek is an equally-impressive route with substantially fewer visitors. Enjoy the peace and quiet on this trail, which allows for sightings of llamas and alpacas, local villages, agricultural terraces, and striking scenery. 

    Distance: 33-45 kilometres, depending on what route you choose
    Average duration: 4 days 
    Average difficulty: Moderate difficulty. There is no experience required for this type of journey however you should be in relatively good shape and able to comfortably walk for 5-7 hours at a time, and prepared to sweat. The success rate of completing this trek is high, but travellers should take time to acclimate before hiking to reduce the chance of altitude sickness while on the trail. 
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  • The Salkantay Trek

    One of the most popular alternatives to the classic pilgrimage route of the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek will take you on a journey alongside the glacial lake of Humantay and past the Salkantay Mountain, all while showcasing the natural beauty of the Andean Jungle. 

    Distance: 55 kilometres 
    Average duration: 5 days 
    Average Difficulty: Challenging. Previous trekking experience is highly recommended, as the days will feature 6-8 hours hiking and you may be trekking at an altitude of over 3,500m. You need complete confidence in your ability to trek for many days over difficult terrain. The success rate of completing this trek is high, but travellers should take time to acclimate before hiking to reduce the chance of altitude sickness while on the trail.
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  • The Choquequirao Trek

    Set your sights on the ruins of Choquequirao, vast forests, and empty trails on this unique journey. If you’re dreaming of a trek that is both challenging and rewarding, the Choquequirao Trek is a step in the right direction. 

    Distance: 65 kilometres 
    Average duration: 8-10 days 
    Average Difficulty: Challenging. Previous trekking experience is highly recommended, as the days will feature 6-8 hours hiking and you may be trekking at an altitude of over 3,500m. You need complete confidence in your ability to trek for many days over difficult terrain. The success rate of completing this trek is high, but travellers should take time to acclimate before hiking to reduce the chance of altitude sickness while on the trail.
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  • The Vilcabamba Trek

    One of the best-kept secrets of the Sacred Valley, the Vilcabamba Trek is reserved mostly for experienced trekkers. If you’re ready to tackle the three consecutive high mountain passes before descending onwards into the jungle, then this could be the perfect route for you. 

    Distance: 62 kilometres 
    Average duration: 5 days 
    Average Difficulty: Challenging. Previous trekking experience is highly recommended, as the days will feature 6-8 hours hiking, and you may be trekking at an altitude of over 3,500m. You need complete confidence in your ability to trek for many days over difficult terrain. The success rate of completing this trek is high, but travellers should take time to acclimate before hiking to reduce the chance of altitude sickness while on the trail.
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  • The Huchuy Qosqo Trek

    A short but sweet journey, the Huchuy Qosqo Trek is ideal for travellers who are short on time. Aside from the major draw of the Huchuy Qosqo ruins, hikers can enjoy low foot traffic and marvellous scenery during the journey to reach Machu Picchu.  

    Distance: 20 kilometres 
    Average duration: 3 days 
    Average difficulty: Moderate difficulty. There is no experience required for this type of journey, but you should be in relatively good shape, able to comfortably walk for 5-7 hours at a time, and prepared to sweat. The success rate of completing this trek is high, but travellers should take time to acclimate before hiking to reduce the chance of altitude sickness while on the trail.
  • The Quarry Trail

    You might not have heard about the Quarry Trail before, but it should definitely be top of mind when considering an alternative to the Inca Trail. Travellers can expect to see the impressive Andean scenery, local villages for unique cultural encounters, and much more. 

    Distance: 26 kilometres 
    Average duration: 4 days 
    Average difficulty: The Quarry Trail is challenging, but definitely manageable. The success rate of completing this trek is high, but travellers should take time to acclimate before hiking to reduce the chance of altitude sickness while on the trail. 

Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley General Facts

Machu Picchu weather

Machu Picchu temperatures and rainfall.

JANFEBMARAPRMAYJUNJULAUGSEPOCTNOVDEC
Average °C151515151514141515151515
Average °F595959595957575959595959
High °C242525252525252526252626
High °F757777777777777779777979
Low °C1313131211991011121313
Low °F555555545248485052535555
Rainfall (mm)1381411516223172224447586121

Machu Picchu Tour and Trips

A TRAVEL MAGAZINE BY TOURRADAR