3 day inca trail hike to machu picchu

3 Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The famous Classic Inca Trail in just 3 Days to Machu Picchu, is designed for travelers who have less time but still want to hike the Classic Inca Trail and visit Machu Picchu Citadel.

This three-day trek also allows you to visit the most beautiful Incan sites along the way to Machu Picchu arriving at the Sun Gate for your first view of the Lost City of the Incas.

It is very important for potential trekkers of the 3 Day Inca Trail hike to understand that you will do the same trail as the usual 4-Day and 5 Day inca trail trek, just at a quick pace. Travelers need to be in moderate to excellent physical condition to be able to do this hike and arrive at Machu Picchu Inka Citadel in time to explore the 3rd day and return to Cusco the same day. 

If you think this trek may be too strenuous and you have never been on a hike above 13,700 ft, please consider booking our Classic 4 Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or the 5 Day Inca trail which follows the same route but at a normal pace with more opportunities to explore Inca sites along the way and enjoy Machu Picchu twice.

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is generally believed to be one of the beautiful hikes the world has to offer. Book early, because permits for the 3 Day Inca Trail are extremely limited and sell out months in advance.

Day 1: Cusco – Ollantaytambo – KM 82 – Lluchapampa

We will depart for your Inca Trail Trek from Cusco at 4:30 a.m. in private transport to arrive at the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We’ll stop in Ollantaymabo for breakfast (not included), then drive to Km 82, the starting point of the Inca Trail. We start the hike walking along the left shore of the Sacred Valley River, following the trail along fairly flat terrain, reaching the community of Miskay (2800 m /9184 ft). The first 2 hours of the hike are relatively easy as we make our way to our first Inca site, Patallaqta. This was an Inca checkpoint for the approach to Machu Picchu. After we arrive at Patallaqta it’s another two hour hike to our lunch stop. After lunch we will hike uphill for another 3 hours until we reach the first night’s campsite at Llulluchapampa (3800m). We’ll arrive at our campsite by 5:30 p.m. and after settling in for a bit you can relax and have a hot drink and snack with your team of porters, chefs and guides. By 7:30 p.m. your dinner will be ready, and afterwards you can get some well-deserved rest.

Total Distance: 15 km (9,320 miles)

Estimated Walking Time: 8 hours

Maximum Altitude Point: 3,800 m

Campsite Altitude: 3,800 m (12,468 ft)

Day 2: Lluchapampa – Dead Woman’s Pass – Runkurakay Pass -Phuyupatamarca

Leave your alarm clocks at home. Instead, your wake-up call will be a hot cup of coca tea in bed but it will be early! We’ll hike for roughly 2 hours to the highest pass of the trek, Dead Woman’s Pass (4215m/13829 ft). On reaching the pass we will stop for a small break to enjoy the views before setting off again to descend to the next valley (Pacaymayo – Hidden River). It’s another 2 hours down the side of the valley to our lunch stop and a chance to refill our water bottles. After lunch we’ll start ascending again to the second pass of the hike. It’s two hours to the pass and along the way we’ll stop at a small Inca site (Runku Raccay) and see two huge waterfalls cascading down the opposite side of the valley. After the second pass, it’s another 3 hours downhill with ‘Inca flats’ (gradual inclines) as we make our way towards our final campsite, Phuyupatamarca (3,680m). This site on the Inca Trail has stunning views of the Salkantay mountain range, as well as abundant flora and fauna. We’ll then reach our camping site, where we’ll get our first view of Machu Picchu mountain and the Sacred Valley river. We’ll settle in to our tents and as the sun goes down we can enjoy the beautiful sunset over the snow-capped peaks of the Andes.

Total Distance: 16 km (10 miles)

Estimated Walking Time: 9 hours

Maximum Altitude Point: 4,215 m (13,821 ft)

Campsite Altitude: 3,600 m (11,811 ft)

Day 3: Phuyupatamarca – Wiñay Wayna – Sun Gate – Machu Picchu

Today, we’ll have a chance to enjoy one of the most spectacular sunrises on the Inca Trail trek, weather permitting. After breakfast you´ll have a guided tour of Phuyupatamarca, and then we will start our way down the long descending stone steps. As we near the bottom of the steps, we’ll take a side path off the main route to visit the site of Intipata (Terraces of the Sun). This site has beautiful views of the Sacred Valley and was an important agricultural site for Machu Picchu. We’ll spend some time at Intipata, and then continue on to Wiñay Wayna (2,650m /8,692 ft) the biggest archaeological site on the Inca Trail, besides Machu Picchu.  After our visit, we will have our last lunch with the porters. At this point, it’s a tradition on the Inca Trail to have a thank you ceremony for all the hard work the porters and cooks have provided. If you wish, you may leave a tip for them at this time. After we’ve said goodbye to our team, we will carry on to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku), where we’ll get our first views of Machu Picchu. It will take about an hour of hiking along a trail of flat stones in the highland jungle to arrive at the Sun Gate. Following this, it’s about another hour down to Machu Picchu itself. After taking photos, you will have a two-hour guided tour by your private English-speaking guide. After that, you will have time to explore Machu Picchu by your own.  When you are done exploring, you can either take a bus, or walk, down to Aguas Calientes for dinner (not included). Afterwards, you will take the 6:30 p.m. train back to Ollantaytambo, and then a bus to Cusco, where you will be brought back to your hotel. You will arrive around 10:30 pm.

Total Distance: 11 km (614 miles)

Estimated Walking Time: 7 hours

Maximum Altitude Point: 3,680 m (12,033 ft)


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