G Adventures Inca Trail review: Beautiful hike to Machu Picchu

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If you are a fan of epic adventures, lust for historical places, and love mysteries, then the Inca Trail is the experience for you. It was absolutely something I had always wanted to do, so I booked to go on a G Adventures Inca Trail trek to be able to fulfil one of the biggest bucket list ticks of my travel life.

You can visit Machu Picchu as a day trip from Aguas Caliente or even Cusco; however, the experience of visiting this lost city will be infinitely more magical if you embark on the mystical Inca Trail. A hundred-year-old pilgrimage through the Andes will have you, quite literally, following in the footsteps of a lost civilisation. 

This post covers everything you will experience if you choose to hike with G Adventures and why they are a great tour group to experience these moments with.

Choosing a tour group

Most tour groups will offer similar routes when hiking the Inca Trail. However, the G Adventures Inca Trail tour is a very popular option, and for good reason. I hiked the Inca Trail with G Adventures as part of a longer tour around Peru. If you are interested in seeing more of this country as part of a group travel tour, then this is the tour I took:

Peru: Ancient Cities & the Andes

I highly recommend it!

Even if you are travelling the country independently, if you want to hike the Inca Trail, you will still have to book with a registered company and hike as part of a group. G Adventures offers a variety of treks covering different lengths. Take a look at all the options here.

I have travelled a lot with G Adventures (check out my experience with them in Africa here), so it made a lot of sense for me to book this trip of a lifetime with them. I knew I would be in good hands. And they didn’t let me down! I will use this post to cover what the experience of hiking with G is and why I feel they are an excellent tour group to book with.

Why choose G Adventures for the Inca Trail?

I knew from experience that G Adventures value the experience they provide their travellers, but I also did some research into the way they approach this hike. It is true they are more expensive than most of the other companies, but this is for good reason.

Firstly G Adventures have been awarded ‘Best Inca Trail Tour Operator’ by the Regional Direction of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Cusco in Peru.

Aside from this, there are some things that G offers, does and provides that some of the other companies do not.

The G Adventures team on the Inca Trail

  • Unless you are part of a much smaller group (like I was!), you will have two guides with your group for the trail. One will stay at the front, and the other will be at the end of the group, meaning you are supported throughout the hike no matter the pace you are hiking at.
  • One of the most important things to look at in a tour company is how they treat their porters. The porters are vital to the Inca trail and wouldn’t be possible without them. They work incredibly hard and, as such, must be treated with the respect they truly deserve.
  • G Adventures pays the team a fair wage. And ensure they have all the correct equipment to do the job, including providing hiking boots. Some porters can be seen on the trail in sandals.
  • Each porter has a specific role, from carrying your bags to tents, meat and even garbage. Ensuring everything is thought of.

G Adventures policies

  • They have over 20 years of experience in offering the best tours. As a result, the team is a well-oiled machine.
  • G Adventures is an ethical company. The Planterra Foundation was founded by G Adventures in 2003. This focuses on social enterprise in tourism, which ensures money coming into the area supports locally owned projects.
  • They also offer a ‘Book with Confidence guarantee. As well as lifetime deposits. Both of these can give you peace of mind when booking. You can take a look at their policies here.
  • And finally, one of the great things about G Adventures trips is that they don’t charge a surcharge for a solo traveller. You will be sharing a tent with someone else unless you want to pay more to go solo. But there is no penalisation for not being part of a couple!

What options do you have for hiking the Inca Trail with G Adventures?

Depending on your budget and time constraints, there are different options for which Inca Trail trips you can book with G Adventures.

Trekking the Inca Trail: 4D/3N

  • Four days
  • Starts in Cusco
  • Finishes in Cusco
  • Inca Trail & Machu Picchu
  • Max group size: 16
  • Includes three nights camping on the Inca Trail

Trekking the Inca Trail: 5D/4N

  • Five days
  • Starts in Cusco
  • Finishes in Cusco
  • Inca Trail & Machu Picchu
  • Max group size: 16
  • Includes one night in a hotel and three nights camping on the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail: 7D/6N

  • Seven days
  • Starts in Cusco
  • Finishes in Cusco
  • Inca Trail & Machu Picchu
  • Tour of the Sacred Valley
  • Max group size: 16
  • Includes three nights in hotels and three nights camping on the Inca Trail

What does a G Adventure Inca Trail include?

This will vary slightly depending on which G Adventure tour you book, but largely it remains the same.

  • A pre-tour brief to cover everything you need to know about hiking the trail
  • The option to hire a sleeping bag, air mattress and hiking poles
  • Accommodation in Cusco the night before the hike starts
  • Inca Trail guided hike
  • Full team – Head Guide, Assistant Guide, chef and porters (usually two porters per traveller)
  • Specialist Inca Trail CEO (Chief Experience Officier)
  • A guided tour of Machu Picchu
  • Private transport between destinations
  • All meals included. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea on day 2, dinner and a snack bag given at the beginning
  • The train ride back from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, then a minibus back to Cusco
  • Permit to hike the Inca Trail and entrance fee to Machu Picchu.
G Adventures porters, head guide and chef with travellers on the Inca Trail

G Adventures Inca Trail – Day by Day

The 14-day tour I joined included everything on the 7-day Inca Trail tour. So I have broken down what each day looked like.

If you have more questions about hiking the Inca Trial, check out this post – The Inca Trail Trek – everything you need to know, which covers any questions you might have!

Day 1 – Cusco

Arrive in Cusco at any time. If you are arriving straight into Cusco, make sure to allow yourself a few days to acclimatise if you are coming from a low-altitude area.

Spend the day wandering around Cusco. In the evening, you will have a welcome meeting to meet the rest of the group. Spend the evening sorting out your duffel bag, and leave the rest of your luggage behind. Need help packing? Look at this post: What to pack for Peru: tried and tested list!

Day 2 – Ollantaytambo

As part of the tour I was on, it included an overnight stay in a homestay in Ccaccaccollo. In the morning, we visited a women’s Weaving Co-op. While the overnight stay is not part of this tour, you will still experience the G for Good moment. See local weaving and dyeing techniques used to create garments and souvenirs, and learn how the Planeterra weaving co-operative has impacted the community and those who visit it. 

Afterwards, you will head on to the rural village of Cuyo Chico in the Sacred Valley, a group of families joined together to create a small business based on their traditional adobe ceramic crafts. 

Finally, you will arrive in Ollantaytambo, a town with two groups of people—those who have hiked the Inca Trail and those who are about to. If you are feeling like you want to prepare, you can take a small 45-minute hike to the ruined Inca storehouses, which sit above the town—giving beautiful views down into the valley.

Day 3 – Inca Trail

The first day of the Inca Trail! An early start from Ollantaytambo. You will be picked up by minibus at around 7 am to drive the 45mins to KM82, where the Inca Trail begins. Meet the team of porters and get ready to start.

You pass the first checkpoint and set off around 9 am. Day 1 is considered the easy ‘training day’, with a little uphill. You pass a few smaller ruins along the way. Stop for lunch halfway and arrive at camp, usually between 3 and 4 pm. The porters have already set up your tents, and you will be greeted with a bowl of warm water to wash the day off.

two women standing infront of the Inca Trail sign

Day 4 – Inca Trail

Woken up at 5.30 am by the porters and given a coca tea (which helps with the altitude) and another bowl of warm water. After a hearty breakfast, get ready to leave camp at 6.45 am. Today is the hardest day, with an ascent of 1,150m.

Take today slowly and at your own pace. The highest point is called Dead Woman’s Pass and summits at 4,200m. It is quite an altitude, so make sure to keep hydrated and stop at regular intervals.

You don’t stop for lunch on the trail. Instead, arrive at camp around 2 pm for lunch. It is a welcome meal after the morning! After lunch, you can wash and relax in camp. Some other tour groups decide to carry on in the afternoon, making this an incredibly long day. Personally, it was great to arrive and have some time to rest. You then will have an afternoon tea, before dinner at 6.30 pm and another early night.

Day 5 – Inca Trail

The final full day on the trail. Again, you are woken up at 5.30 am with warm water and a coca tea. Today is the longest distance you cover, approximately 16km. But after the initial uphill stretch, it is mainly downhill. It is 90% original Inca Trail, which means the steps are uneven – today can be a little tough on the knees!

This is also definitely the most interesting of the days, with plenty of ruins to stop and explore along the way. Lunch on this day is also amazing, an absolute feast followed by a treat I really wasn’t expecting!

Day 6 – Machu Picchu/Cusco

The earliest of starts! Woken up at 3 am to a very light breakfast. This is to allow the porters time to pack up camp and make it down to Aguas Calientes for the first train back to Ollantaytambo. You leave camp at 3.30 am and walk a few minutes to the checkpoint. Head torches are needed! Checkpoint opens at 5.30 am, and from there, it is about an hour and a half walk to the Sungate.

Stunning views along the way, and the excitement is really building before your first view of Machu Picchu from the Sungate. A view you only get by hiking the Inca Trail.

Afterwards, walk down to Machu Picchu and stop at a photo stop, which, again, you can only access if you have completed the trail. Then a guided tour of the site before getting the bus to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town). You have a bit of time in the town, and some lunch, before boarding the train back to Ollantaytambo. The train has huge windows from which you can admire the beautiful scenery. It also has a bar that serves beer and champagne!

From Ollantaytambo, you can collect the belongings you didn’t take on the trail with you and then take a private minibus back to Cusco

Day 7 – Cusco

The final day of the tour, and you can depart at any time.

Final thoughts on hiking the Inca Trail with G Adventures

You will finish the tour with a mind teeming full of memories. But on top of that will be the feeling of comradery. Of being part of something and having achieved something so incredible as part of a group of friends. G Adventures are amazing at choosing team leaders who generate the feeling of closeness. If you are travelling solo, it is a wonderful feeling to share this experience with others.

Every convenience is thought of; every team member makes you feel so welcome, and I cannot recommend booking enough!

If you have questions that need answering on EVERYTHING Inca Trail, then make sure to check out this post: The Inca Trail trek – everything you need to know!

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Hiking the Inca Trail with G Adventures

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