Inca Trail

Duration: 3 days – 2 nights

Walking distance: 40km

Rating: Moderately Difficult

Altitude: We will be hiking from 3100 m to 4400 m. In the second day we will get to the highest point and then descend back again.

Best time to visit: From June through September since are the driest months. Rain and fog are common at other times of the year.

Observations: This is a challenging and physically demanding trek, especially on the second day because of the high altitude. If raining, mud slogging and cold may add some extra difficulties to it. Even under the more ideal conditions water streams keep parts of the route muddy all year around. Weather in the sierra can change regardless of the season; so raining boots are a must. We will walk in the company of arrieros (mule drivers) and mules, which will carry the gear, equipment and food.

TREK DESCRIPTION: The Inca Trail to Ingapirca is a three-day hike on the Inca Royal Road that once linked Cuzco, the Inca capital, with Tomebamba (where Cuenca now stands) and Quito, which was used to move trade and messengers as well as large marching armies. The hike begins in the tiny village of Achupallas, which is an hour’s drive from the small railway town of Alausí, and ends at the Ingapirca (Inca Wall) ruins. The trail goes mainly thru wild, open páramo, passing through a couple of beautiful lagoons along the way reaching a maximum elevation of 4400 m, making it one of the highest points of the Royal Road in the entire Incan Empire.


Day 1


We leave from Riobamba and head south for a two-hours drive to Achupallas, a small town an hour and a half away from Riobamba. We could also departure from Alausí (an hour away from Achupallas).


While our arrieros (mule drivers) load our baggage and gear on the mules, we will take a small walk around Achupallas to take pictures and visit the place. Achupallas is a very typical town of the sierra andina; one of the few that remain small and that continues to have a slow rhythm pace of life. A beautiful place to be in.


We stark our walk at the Achupallas town toward the páramo, walking through beautiful onion, potato, and barley fields, with beautiful views of small town and the surroundings as we start to climb up. At this point weather is warm and the vegetation is exotic and abundant. After a two-hours walk we will make a short stop to have lunch and enjoy the view, and continue to walk for another two-hours until the first camping spot in the páramo before the Tres Cruces valley. We will camp next to a small river covered from the wind, however cold since we are higher in altitude. We will have dinner and rest to prepare for the next day walk.

Day 2

We will wake up early in the morning to pack the camp up. After breakfast we will continue our walk thru the trail, increasing in altitude since we will reach the highest point of the walk this day. Two hours after departure we will get to the Tres Cruces valley and to the Laguna Las Tres Cruces, and then we will hike to the summit of a beautiful mountain with rock and sand terrain at 4400masl. We will start descending after that, and will eat lunch in a beautiful spot with the first view of the Culebrilla’s lake. In the early afternoon we will be walking in the valley next to the Culebrilla’s lake until we get to a small collection of Inca ruins known as Paredones, by the shore of this lake. We will set camping here after having walked for about 7 to 8 hours. We continue to be in the páramo and it´s still cold here. We will have dinner and enjoy a beautiful night in this uninhabited and beautiful place.

Day 3

After breakfast we pack the camp up and continue our trek. We only have some 3 to 4 hours walk this day, descending from Paredones walking thru the Inca trail until the Ingapirca ruins. A couple of hours after having started our walk we will leave the páramo and enter into pastureland again. Weather will get warm again and once in Ingapirca we will make a small tour in the archeological complex to learn about the Incas and Cañaris. We will have lunch and head back to Quito, to arrive at night.


  • Accomodations in hotel at Riobamba
  • Tents
  • Gas tanks and burners
  • Food and beverages during the trek (breakfast, lunch box and dinner)
  • Private transportation
  • Bilingual mountain guide
  • Entrance to the Ingapirca archeological complex
  • Pack animals


  • Personal equipment (sleeping bag, mat)
  • Tips


  • Swimming suit (in case you want to adventure to take a quick bath in a cold river)
  • Small towel
  • Raining boots
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof pants
  • Long sleeves and easy to dry T-Shirts


  • 30 liters backpack (to carry with you during the trek)
  • Easy-to-dry pants
  • Long sleeves and easy-to-dry T-Shirts (Cotton should be avoided)
  • Polar Tec
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof pants
  • Gloves
  • Sun cap (for sun protection) and beanie (for cold protection)
  • Buff
  • Hiking boots or hiking shoes (to be used when camping)
  • Socks for each day (for trekking)
  • Sunglasses
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Knife*
  • Camera*
  • Personal hygiene kit
  • Sun block (at least 50)
  • Water bottles
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Personal medical supplies
  • Trekking Poles *