How difficult is the Inca Trail hike?

The Inca Trail, located in South America, is a world-renowned and popular hiking destination that attracts numerous adventurers from around the globe. The trail is considered a singular adventure that takes hikers along ancient narrow paths through the Peruvian countryside and high into the Andean mountains. Along the way, hikers will be able to take in the breathtaking views of perfect Incan ruins, cloud forests, and majestic valleys that are spread out like breadcrumbs, leading up to the ultimate goal of the trail: the iconic Machu Picchu, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest end-points of any multi-day hike on earth.

The Inca Empire (which at its largest joined Peru, large parts of modern Ecuador, western and south-central Bolivia, northwest Argentina, north and central Chile, and a small part of southwest Colombia) created thousands of kilometers of trails to link its important settlements and centers of civilization, but it is this specific 4-day route which is known as the one and only ‘classic Inca Trail’ due to the ancient and well-preserve Inca path.  

Trekking at elevations higher than 2,500 meters above sea level qualifies as high-altitude trekking. Cusco, the Peruvian city you’ll start the Inca trail from, sits at an elevation of 3,400 meters. The Inca Trail is a high-altitude trek and at higher altitudes, your body starts to behave differently. Up high, the air is thinner; there’s less oxygen available. Basically, you’re likely to notice your heart pounding a little more, you get short of breath a bit quicker and you’ll probably tire sooner than you normally would after exercise. The big issue is trying to avoid full-blown altitude sickness. Tell-tale signs include headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, and mega-tiredness.


At Peru & U we do count on a very professional and special group that will take special care of you and suggest anything you have to do. From the guide, coordinators, therapists, porters, and more, are at your order to solve any difficulties you may have. The difficulty of the Classic Inca Trail is considered to be a moderate-level hike. The classic Inca Trail Route is 43 km (26 mi) long and often steep, you will hike over four days at an elevation nearing 13,828 feet (4,215 meters). Although rated moderate, the relentless uphill (and downhill) hiking is tough
Regarding the type of shoes to hike, we will suggest hiking boots, preferably waterproof ones. Mid-height is better for ankle support. You will be walking on a lot of rocky surfaces, so you need shoes with good grip and good ankle support, plus good thick socks (so boots cannot be too tight-fitting).

Now, We will clarify some questions about the Inca Trail that you may have: 

  • Can you get altitude sickness on the Inca Trail? 

    It is possible to experience altitude sickness on the Inca Trail. Many travelers in Cusco may experience mild symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and vomiting, but these usually subside after 12-24 hours of acclimatization.
  • How fit do you need to be to hike the Inca Trail? 

    The Inca Trail does not require a specific fitness level, as people from ages 12 to 70 have completed it. Most of our customers have never done anything like it before, so age is not a barrier. However, being in good physical shape and having a positive attitude can certainly help.
  • Is there cell service on the Inca Trail?

     There is spotty cell reception along the Inca Trail, including at Machu Picchu and the top of Huayna Picchu. However, there may be black holes lasting for several hours.
  • How about Inca Trail Safety?

    Inca Trail is not considered dangerous, each year thousands of tourists travel this hiking route. Accident cases are rare, and most are due to stumbling blocks. However, our team is always ready to assist and help you along the way in case of any eventuality.