The Inca Trail in Peru Travel Guide


About the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is a 26-mile route that lies within the Machu Picchu Sanctuary that is under the management of Peru’s National Institute of Natural Resources. The number of people permitted to trek the trail is limited by the government in order to conserve the landscape and prevent erosion of the ruins. Visitors must book their reservations 6 months or more in advance. Many tour agencies operate out of Cuzco, the capital of Peru. A number of multi-day tours are available. Hired porters are available to carry extra equipment, if required.

Along The Trail

Tiny communities along the way offer a look at life as it was hundreds of years ago
Trekkers can view cloud forest, alpine tundras and spectacular vistas of the Vilcabamba mountain range. The trail is broken up into several sections per day, with overnight stays at campsites. Eighteen separate archaeological sites can be seen along the Inca Trail than include ancient housing, agricultural terraces, irrigation canals, shrines and walls. Q’ente, Pulpituyoc, Kusichaca and Patallac are just a few of the ruins seen along the way. Canyons, bridges, lagoons and stone steps await trekkers View dwarf deer, river otter, the Andean fox and puma. Enjoy the vast variety of trees, ferns, cactus and orchids. The trail can be steep. Altitude sickness can be a problem for those unaccustomed to the height. Acclimating yourself to the altitude is recommended.

Machu Picchu

At the end of the Inca Trail lies the ancient city of Machu Picchu, set 7,000 feet above sea level in a saddle between two mountains, Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, in the Andes. The Incas built it during the 15th century as a religious sanctuary for their leaders. It was abandoned 100 years after its construction. The Spanish conquistadors never found Machu Picchu, and so it was spared the destruction that other ruins experienced. The city is divided into an urban section and agricultural section, divided by a wall. Throughout the city, fountains and channels delivered water to the various sections. The walls of the city are constructed of polished, regular stones. Within the city lay 140 structures, including residences, temples, sanctuaries and parks. Machu Picchu is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.

When To Go

Though the city of Cuzco lies in a temperate climate zone, with warm days and cool nights, Machu Picchu itself is in a sub-tropical climate that is warm and humid in the day hours and cold at night. November to March is the rainy season, which often closes the roads and trail areas. The best season to trek the trail to Machu Picchu is April to October.

What To Bring

Your trekking experience will go smoother if you are prepared with the right equipment. Good hiking shoes are the most critical piece of equipment for your hike. Make sure they fit well and are properly broken in ahead of time. A sleeping bag suitable for low night temperatures should be purchased or rented. Bring a heavy jacket for the cold, light jacket, long sleeve shirts, rain gear, hat, gloves, insect repellent, sunglasses and sunscreen. Pack tee-shirts, underwear and personal items. First-aid kit, toilet paper, flashlight and water container are also important. Snacks and a walking stick will complete your supplies. Invest in a well-constructed and comfortable backpack to hold all these items.

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