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
|Area (km2)||Inca Trail - length 43 km|