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Inca Trail altitude

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Inca Trail altitude

Standing at 2,400 meters, Machu Picchu is one of the lowest Inca Trail altitude points. The highest point on the Inca Trail is Abra Warmihuañusca or 'Dead Woman's Pass which is located at 4,200 meters.


Most of the Machu Picchu hiking tours begin in Cusco, which, at 3,400 meters, is already considerably higher than Machu Picchu. By staying there before your walk, you will give your body time to acclimate to the altitude of the Inca Trail. 


The Inca Trail altitude varies greatly throughout the walk and your body will notice the differences, especially at the highest points. 


The 4-Day Inca Trail begins at a place called Km 82 at 2,600 meters and descends slowly downwards during the morning before ascending in the afternoon to Yuncachimpa at 3,152 meters. Although this is an altitude high enough to cause altitude sickness, if you have spent several days in Cusco beforehand, you will be fine at this time.


The second day is the most difficult on the Inca Trail, as it is spent ascending over the Dead Woman Pass at 4,200 meters. It is almost certain that your body feels the effects of altitude here since the air provides less oxygen than your body is used to. You do not spend much time at this altitude and for the rest of the day, you pass by descending to 3,600 meters where you will camp in Chaquiccocha. 


From Chaquiccocha it is generally easy to go as you descend to the Sun Gate and then to Machu Picchu, where the Inca Trail comes to an end.


Inca Trail Altitude 


Cusco - KM-82 - Wayllabamba 

Difficulty level: Easy 

Maximum altitude: 3000m

Minimum altitude: 2600m

Distance traveled: 9 km 

Approximate walking time: 5-6 hours


Wayllabamba - Paso Warmiwañusca - Paccaymayu 

Level of difficulty: Difficult 

Maximum altitude: 4600m 

Minimum altitude: 3000m 

Distance traveled: 12KM

Approximate walking time: 6-7 hours 


Paccaymayu - Runkuraqhay Pass - Phuyupatamarka - Wiñayhuayna 

Difficulty level: moderate 

Maximum altitude: 4000m 

Minimum altitude: 2650m 

Distance traveled: 16 km 

Approximate walking time: 8 hours 


Wiñayhuayna - Inti Punku (Sun Gate) - Machu Picchu - Aguas Calientes - Ollantaytambo - Cusco 

Difficulty level: Easy 

Maximum altitude: 2650m

Minimum altitude: 2100m 

Distance traveled: 6 km 

Approximate walking time: 2 hours


Inca Trail altitude



Short Inca Trail Altitude 

If you do not have enough time to do the 4-day Inca Trail, or you could not make your Inca trail Book 2023 on time, the Short Inca Trail is a good option, it is a stretch of the Inca Trail. The 2 day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu starts at Km 104 of the Cusco - Aguas Calientes railway line.  


Km 104 - Wiñayhuayna - Inti Punku (Sun Gate) - Machu Picchu 

Level of difficulty: The first hours of walking is a constant climb, then the trail becomes easier, although with sections of some difficulty. 

Maximum Altitude: 2,650 m / 8,694 ft

Minimum altitude: 2,400 m / 7,874 ft 

Distance traveled: 13 km / 8,08 miles 

Approximate walking time: 6 - 7 hours 


Acute Mountain Disease 

Also called, as acute altitude sickness, means that the onset is sudden, begins as something light, moderate and gradually, the symptoms are taxed, the same ones that if they are not treated, they get bigger and can become an acute illness.

In general, to be affected by altitude sickness, it must be above 2,500 meters. Therefore, while Machu Picchu is below this point, Dead Woman's Pass is high enough to cause symptoms of altitude sickness. 


The demand of the muscles depends on the level of activity, but the brain needs a large amount of oxygen (15% of the total). If the brain lacks oxygen for the speed with which it was promoted and made a great effort, it will have the following symptoms:  

  • Difficulty to sleep 
  • Dizziness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Headache 
  • Inappetence 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Fast pulse 
  • Difficulty breathing 


To anticipate the MAM, it is recommended: 

  • Ascend the mountain gradually, resting and follow the guide's instructions; sleep at a lower height and above all, learn to recognize the first symptoms of mountain sickness. 
  • See, with your doctor there are drugs that can help you get used to higher altitudes. 
  • When climbing, drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol, consume carbohydrate-rich foods. 


How to prevent and manage the MAM in the trip to the Inca Trail? 

  • Prepare your body and physical state in advance. If possible, stop smoking. 
  • Consider spending at least 2 days in a city at high altitude, before starting the Inca Trail. 
  • Drink enough liquid (3 to 4 liters per day), especially water 
  • Avoid taking sleeping pills. 
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. 
  • Eat small portions of food frequently, even if you do not have an appetite, avoid excess salt. 
  • If you have symptoms of altitude sickness, you should rest and not ascend, unless you have fully recovered.

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