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Inca trail elevation gain

  • Inca Trail Specialist
  • Updated: August 10, 2023
inca trail elevation gain

Inca trail elevation gain

The Inca Trail is a famous trekking route that winds through the Andes Mountains in Peru, culminating at the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu. It’s a challenging journey that takes hikers through rugged terrain, steep inclines, and high altitudes, reaching a maximum elevation of 4,200 meters (13,780 feet) above sea level. In this blog, we’ll explore the elevation gain on the Inca Trail and what to expect during the trek.

Elevation Gain

The Inca Trail is a 42-kilometer (26-mile) trek that takes four days to complete. During the trek, hikers will experience a total elevation gain of approximately 1,200 meters (3,940 feet), with the highest point of the trail being Dead Woman’s Pass, which stands at 4,215 meters (13,829 feet) above sea level.

The trek starts in the Sacred Valley, where the elevation is around 2,800 meters (9,186 feet) above sea level. From there, hikers will gradually ascend through various microclimates, including cloud forests, alpine tundras, and high-altitude plateaus, before reaching the summit at Dead Woman’s Pass. Afterward, the trail descends to the final destination of Machu Picchu.

What to Expect During the Trek

The Inca Trail is a physically demanding trek that requires a good level of fitness and endurance. The ascent to Dead Woman’s Pass is particularly challenging, with a steep incline that requires slow and steady pacing. It’s crucial to take breaks and stay hydrated throughout the trek, especially at high altitudes where the air is thinner and drier.

The trek also offers spectacular views of the surrounding Andes Mountains and ancient Incan ruins along the way, including the ruins of Wiñay Wayna and Intipata. Hikers should take the time to appreciate the natural beauty and cultural significance of the trail.


The Inca Trail is a challenging trek that requires proper preparation, fitness, and pacing. With a total elevation gain of approximately 1,200 meters (3,940 feet) and a maximum elevation of 4,215 meters (13,829 feet), the trail offers stunning views and ancient ruins, but also presents physical challenges. It’s essential to stay hydrated, take breaks, and acclimate to the altitude slowly. By doing so, hikers can enjoy the journey while staying safe and healthy.


It is important to keep in mind that these numbers are approximate and may vary according to different sources and specific conditions on the trail. In addition, the altitude factor can make the climb more challenging, especially on the second day when you cross the Dead Woman’s Pass (Warmiwañusca) at an altitude of around 4,200 meters above sea level.

If you are planning to hike the Inca Trail, make sure you are physically prepared for the climbs and descents at different altitudes. Prior training and proper acclimatization are essential to enjoy the experience and minimize the effects of altitude.