Inca Trail

Inca Trail

Things to do - general

Inca Trail

Inca Trail–It’s the most famous hike in South America – perhaps the world, and a must-do, life-changing experience. Hiking the Inca Trail through the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu is both arduous and awe-inspiring. Four days of cold, pain and exhaustion dissipate as the mist lifts to reveal the emerald peaks and terraced ruins of the mystical ancient city. At its most basic, the Inca Trail (Camino del Inca) was a footpath through the Andes leading directly to the gates of Machu Picchu. Contrary to its image as a lone, lost, remote city, Machu Picchu was not isolated in the clouds. It was the crown of an entire Inca province, as ruins all along the Inca Trail attest. Machu Picchu was a religious and administrative center in addition to its other putative purposes. That larger purpose is comprehensible only to those who hike the ancient royal route and visit the other ruins scattered along the way to the sacred city.

More than that, though, the Incas conceived of Machu Picchu and the great trail leading to it in grand artistic and spiritual terms. Hiking the Inca Trail – the ancient royal highway – is, hands down, the most authentic and scenic way to visit Machu Picchu and get a clear grasp of the Incas’ overarching architectural concept and supreme regard for nature. As impressive as Machu Picchu itself, the trail traverses a 325 sq/km (125 sq/mile) national park designated as the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary. The entire zone is replete with extraordinary natural and man-made sights: Inca ruins, exotic vegetation and animals, and dazzling mountain and cloud forest vistas.
Today the Inca Trail – which, as part of the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary, has been designated a World Heritage natural and cultural site – is the most important and most popular hiking trail in South America, followed by many thousands of ecotourists and modern day pilgrims in the past 3 decades. Its extreme popularity in recent years – more than 75,000 people a year hike the famous trail.
There are two principal ways to walk to Machu Picchu: either along the traditional, fairly arduous 4day/3night path with three serious mountain passes, or as part of a more accessible 2-day/1-night trail ( this trek covers just the last part of the trail, which is suitable for inexperienced walkers or for ones who don’t have enough time). You have porters to haul your packs or suck it up and do it the hard way. Independent trekking on the Inca Trail without an official guide has been prohibited since 2001. You must go as part of an organized group arranged by an officially sanctioned tour agency. Find your adventure of your life on Peru Summit

Country Peru
Visa requirementsYes
Languages spokenSpanish
Currency usedPEN
Area (km2)Inca Trail - length 43 km

Sports & nature

Trekking, Hiking, Glamping, Made for history lovers, adventure lovers, nature lovers. Made for outdoor types.Sports and nature image

Nightlife info

No, night party or similar activity, because it's an outdoor adventure and practiced in World Heritage natural and cultural site. Except of the great night vistas of the sky. Nightlife image

Culture and history info

The Inca path system was the most extensive and advanced transportation system in pre-Columbian South America. It was about 41,000 kilometres (25,476 mi) long. The construction of the paths required a large expenditure of time and effort, and the quality of that construction is borne out by the fact that it is still in quite good condition after over 600 years of use. The network was based on two north-south roads with numerous branches. The best known portion of the road system is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Part of the road network was built by cultures that precede the Inca Empire, notably the Wari culture. During the Spanish colonial era, parts of the road system were given the status of Camino Real. In 2014 the road system became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The eastern route ran high in the puna grasslands and mountain valleys from Quito, Ecuador to Mendoza, Argentina. The western route followed the coastal plain not including in coastal deserts where it hugged the foothills. More than twenty routes ran over the western mountains, while others traversed the eastern cordillera in the mountains and lowlands. Some of these roads reach heights of over 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) above sea level. The trails connected the regions of the Inca empire from the northern provincial capital in Quito, Ecuador past the modern city of Santiago, Chile in the south. The Inca road system linked together more than 41,000 kilometres (25,500 mi) of roadway, and provided access to over 3,000,000 square kilometres (1,200,000 sq mi) of territory. Situated between 500 to 800 metres (1,600 to 2,600 ft) above sea level, this monumental road, which could reach 20 metres (66 ft) in width, connected populated areas, administrative centres, agricultural and mining zones as well as ceremonial centres and sacred spaces. Although the Inca roads varied greatly in scale, construction, and appearance, for the most part they varied between about 1 to 4 metres (3.3 to 13.1 ft) in width. Much of the system was the result of the Incas claiming exclusive right over numerous traditional routes, some of which had been constructed centuries earlier mostly by the Wari Empire. Many new sections were built or upgraded substantially: through Chile's Atacama desert, and along the western margin of Lake Titicaca, serve as two examples. The Incas developed techniques to overcome the difficult territory of the Andes. On steep slopes they built stone steps resembling giant flights of stairs. In desert areas near the coast they built low walls to keep the sand from drifting over the road. The Qhapaq Ñan (English: Great Inca Road, or Main Andean Road, and meaning "the royal path") constituted the principal north-south highway of the Inca Empire traveling 6,000 kilometres (3,700 mi) along the spine of the Andes. The Qhapaq Ñan unified this immense and heterogeneous empire through a well-organized political system of power. It allowed the Inca to control his Empire and to send troops as needed from the capital, Cusco. The most important Inca road was the Camino Real (Royal Path), as it is known in Spanish, with a length of 5,200 kilometres (3,200 mi). It began in Quito, Ecuador, passed through Cusco, and ended in what is now Tucumán, Argentina. The Camino Real traversed the mountain ranges of the Andes, with peak altitudes of more than 5,000 m (16,000 ft). El Camino de la Costa, the coastal trail, with a length of 4,000 kilometres (2,500 mi), ran parallel to the sea and was linked with the Camino Real by many smaller routes. The Inca used the road system for a variety of purposes. Not only did the road simply provide transportation for people who were traveling through the empire, the road also provided many military, economical, political and religious purposes for the Inca. Culture and history image

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