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Inca Trail

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is the most popular trekking route and possibly one of the most spectacular walks in the Americas.

The Trail is part of an Inca roads system of more than 30,000 kilometers that integrated the vast empire of Tahuantinsuyo from southern Colombia to central Chile passing through the cities of Quito, Ecuador; Cajamarca, Huanuco, Jauja, Huamanga, and Cusco in Peru; La Paz and Cochabamba in Bolivia; Salta and Tucuman in Argentina. There roads ran mainly along the coast and mountain regions and in some cases they also reached the tropical mountains in the Amazon forest as is he case with the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

When the Spanish conquered this empire, they said that the Incas had the best organised society of the world (16th century). It is known that it took the runners, who were called the chasquis, 3 days to bring a message from Lima to Cusco, while the Spaniards with their horses needed at least two weeks. Fish from the ocean arrived in less than 3 hours in the city of Cusco that is situated in the middle of the Andes.

Inca Trail tourism

Each year, some 25,000 hikers from all over the world walk the 43 km stone-paved trail, built by the Incas to get to the impregnable citadel of Mac hu Picchu, deep in the Cuzco cloud forest.

Over 250 species of orchid have been counted in the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary, as well as numerous birds such as hummingbirds, waterfowl and the majestic Andean Condor. The star of the Sanctuary is the spectacled bear - a shy, herbivorous animal that is extremely rare and close to extinction.

The trail is usually covered in 4 days arriving at the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu for sunrise on the fourth day. The trek is rated moderate and any reasonably fit person should be able to cover the route. It is fairly challenging nevertheless, and altitudes of 4200m are reached, so ensuring that you are well acclimatized is important. If arriving from sea level, plan to spend at least 2 full days in Cusco prior to commencing the trek. This should allow plenty of time for acclimatization and give you sufficient opportunity to visit the city of Cusco and nearby Inca ruins at Sacsayhuaman, Q'enko, Pucapucara and Tambomachay, as well as spending a day or two exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas visiting the tradition market town of Pisac and the fascinating Inca fortress at Ollantaytambo.

The Inca Trail can be hiked year round although the months of April till October are probably more comfortable since the weather is drier. June, July and August are in the high season when the trail can become fully booked so be sure to make a reservation in advance. The 4 day Inca Trail is closed each year during the month of February to allow conservation work to take place. The months of January and March are in the wet season so hiking the trail can be a little miserable unless you have a good rain jacket and waterproof tent.

It is best to plan your Machu Picchu Tour ahead due to the site's popularity, and the fact that only a limited number of visitors are allowed each year.


Inca trail map

Inca Trail Availability

The Peruvian Government has restricted the number of Inca Trail trekking permits to 500 per day. With many individuals and groups vying for an opportunity to trek this spectacular route, obtaining permits has become a bigger challenge than ever. All of our 2005 peak season departures sold out months in advance and long waitlists were not uncommon.

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