Hiking the Inca Trail is a guaranteed way to make your friends and family incredibly jealous.
But besides this, there is a long list of reasons why hiking the Inca Trail is worth it.
It shouldn’t take much to convince you to add the Inca Trail to your bucket list.
Breathtaking landscapes, ancient Inca ruins, and a sense of accomplishment are waiting for you.
In this article, I will show you what all the hype is about.
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To Hike The Inca Trail Or Not
Is Inca trail worth doing?
Anyone who loves the outdoors should be thinking of hiking the Inca Trail. There’s a reason this multi-day trek tops travelers' bucket lists. Many people say that hiking the Inca Trail is better than visiting Machu Picchu itself.
I’m not going to lie, there are times on the Inca trail when you will question your decision. I certainly have when hiking the Inca Trail in the past. Most of the way is uphill and there are some steep sections. At times, it seems impossible to press on.
So why even bother?
For statistic lovers, more than 97% of online reviews rate the Inca Trail as a positive experience. That's quite the achievement in a world full of online critics.
The Inca Trail is about more than natural beauty. Completing the hike gives you an great sense of accomplishment.
Inca Trail Price Vs Experience - Is It Worth The Cost?
Mind you, the Inca Trail is not the cheapest of hikes. You can expect to pay around $600-$800 for a good tour operator. It is possible to book with a cheaper company, but be sure to consider porters’ welfare and the overall quality of your experience.
With such a high price tag, is it really worth it?
I think so. Especially when you look at what's included with your tour price.
You will be getting an experienced guide. These guys (and girls) are seasoned veterans when it comes to trekking the Inca Trail. On top of getting you safely from point A to B, guides have a wealth of knowledge to offer. Their unending patience and support is priceless.
Your trek price should include everything you need. Porters carry food and camping equipment on your behalf. This gives you the luxury of enjoying the trek with as little weight on your back as possible. You can also look forward to delicious meals waiting for you at camp.
Most Inca Trail Trek prices also include permits and entrance fees to Machu Picchu. Even if you were not hiking the Inca Trail, you were probably planning on visiting this famous site anyway. Take into account the transport, guide and entrance costs you would have incurred in that instance.
4 Reasons Why The Inca Trail Is Worth Doing
#1 - The Inca Trail Ends At The Sun Gate
The Inca Trail is the only trek to Machu Picchu where you enter the site directly through the Sun gate. On your final morning on the Inca Trail, you will rise early to reach Machu Picchu first thing in the morning. You will never forget seeing one of the new 7 wonders of the world at first light.
Alternative trails to Machu Picchu end at the nearby town of Aguas Calientes. From there, you will need to walk to the site or take a bus the following day. It’s much better to arrive on foot sweaty but happy than with thousands of other tourists packed into a bus.
You may not look your best for the obligatory Instagram selfie, but who cares? Arriving through the Sungate is the prize at the end of an authentic South American adventure.
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#2 - Unimaginable Views
By now, you have seen heaps of pictures of the Inca Trail and that iconic view of Machu Picchu. Photos are great but nothing does justice to seeing the Inca Trail with your own eyes.
Be prepared to be blown away by the Peruvian countryside. You won’t get bored of tranquil scenes of grazing llamas. All your photos will be framed by majestic, snow-capped mountains on every side.
The classic Inca Trail winds through different biomes. Listen to birds call in the cloud and rain forests and experience the true Andean highlands. This is a landscape found nowhere else on the planet. It’s your chance to see the best of Peru’s natural beauty in a single trek.
#3 - Incan Ruins
Machu Picchu is not the only site of Incan Ruins. On the Inca Trail, you will be passing numerous ancient sites. The best thing about exploring these smaller ruins is that you will have them to yourself. Machu Picchu is always crowded and bustling with thousands of tourists. Inca Trail hikers have exclusive access to the ruins along the trail.
These architectural achievements are a marvel. Even if you have no engineering knowledge, you can appreciate the builder's skills. Inca Trail guides are brilliant at bringing these sites to life through stories. It is beyond interesting to walk through these ruins and imagine the daily life of people who lived there hundreds of years ago.
See our article on the history of the Inca trail.
#4 - The Sense Of Accomplishment
There’s a reason hikers head out time and again to face the challenges of multi-day treks. Sure, we may be suckers for punishment but the rewards definitely outweigh the hard parts.
It may not seem like a big deal now but taking your boots off at the end of each day is pure bliss! This feeling is tenfold when you reach Machu Picchu at the end of the trail.
Will you spend part of the trail wishing you hadn’t started? Almost definitely, but I guarantee you will be glad you did! I have yet to meet a hiker who regrets doing the Inca Trail.
Your memories of exhaustion and sore feet will fade in no time. What you have left is a sense of pride and achievement. These are beautiful memories you can cherish for the rest of your life.
When Is It Not Worth Hiking The Inca Trail?
It is almost always worth doing the Inca Trail. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.
Not Into Hiking?
The Inca Trail is a four-day hike. Expect long days of trekking and sleeping in tents. Even though it is not the toughest trail out there, you need to be sufficiently motivated to do this hike.
If you are seriously unfit or not a fan of walking long distances, you won't enjoy this trek. Even the most luxurious Inca Trail experiences involve camping. Bathroom facilities are also very basic.
If you need those creature comforts, look at other experiences around Cusco. There are plenty of options for single-day tours to Machu Picchu. It is 100% possible to see this world-famous site with minimal walking and no camping (see the one-day Inca trail).
Looking for a day tour? Here are my 5 favourite day tours around Cusco:
- Rainbow Mountain day trip (with meals)
- Moray and Salt Mines Quad Bike Tour
- Sacred Valley day tour
- Humantay Lake day tour
- Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu entrance tickets
See more Cusco day trips.
The Inca Trail Is Not For Broke Backpackers
When you look at the price, hiking the Inca Trail is one of the most expensive treks in Peru. You will need to budget around $600-$800 per person for this trip. That's not including flights and other expenses.
If completing this trail has been a lifelong dream, saving up and splurging on this adventure is worth it. If you are not set on ending at the Sun Gate, there are multiple alternatives that will tick your boxes.
Peru is a hiker's paradise. There are loads of cheaper multi-day hikes to choose from. Many options have fewer people and scenery that’s equally as gorgeous.
See other Machu Picchu routes.
Don’t hike the Inca Trail If You Have An Intense Fear Of Heights
To be clear, very few parts of the trail have a steep drop-off. For most people, hiking the Inca Trail might make you a little anxious. Pathways are plenty wide enough to feel safe and there is no scrambling along cliff edges. You are not in any real danger on the Inca Trail.
That said, every person is different. If you suffer from an acute phobia of heights, there are definitely parts of the Inca Trail that will leave you terrified. Know your weaknesses and be mentally prepared to walk at high elevations alongside deep drop-offs.
If you are breaking out in a cold sweat just looking at pictures of the trail, I’d recommend finding a gentler trek.