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The Inca Trail

Listed under Trekking in Sacred Valley, Peru.

  • Photo of The Inca Trail
  • Photo of The Inca Trail
  • Photo of The Inca Trail
  • Photo of The Inca Trail
Photo of The Inca Trail
Photo by flickr user Lee Coursey
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I have to prefix any review on the Inca Trail with the knowledge that it has changed dramatically since I first travelled it in 1988 (pre hoards I’m told) and is probably different again since my last trip taken in 2002 when it began to be considered the ‘thing to do’ and around 25,000 people a year were treading the path. I cannot in good faith see this journey missing from the list of the world’s best experiences, even if it is now busy enough to warrant booking a permit for the trail ten to twelve months in advance at least. The Incas built some 20,000 kilometres of roads through South America, but this portion (usually 43 - 50 kilometres) is some of the most spectacular and leads to that prize of Inca prizes, Machu Picchu, so the most popular. Most people train out of Cusco to kilometre 88 of the railway line between Cusco and Quillabarnba (I would advise acclimatising in Cusco at least over night before beginning.) and hike through the cloud forests up to the plains of the baby Andes passing ever more impressive Inca settlements along the way before climbing the famous stairs to Machu Picchu about four days later. After finding the trail head it begins with a cable bridge river crossing and follows the river through a eucalyptus grove before joining another river to follow on which the now ruined settlements of Kusichaca and Llactapata rest. You can camp (I think) or find accommodation (pre-booked!) in Llullucha. The second day covers only around seven kilometres but is an eight hour journey directly up and directly down into the Paqaymayo River Valley. It’s on the second day when the stones of the trail become more evident. The third day is usually the longest - depending how far you make it on the second and how long you linger admiring the ruins of Runkuraqay, Sayaqmarka, Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayna, surrounded by beautiful wildflowers (and it‘s own visitors centre.9. By this stage there are well managed camping sites at regular intervals - all which you may find quite full (I have heard stories of people running into people from a few towns over on the Inca Trail - a grim thought, but not enough for me to not want to recommend you take this journey.). Machu Picchu is reached on the fourth day. I would suggest an early start to get in at dawn before it is swamped with tourists fresh off the train. Stand hushed in the sun gate and admire from afar before wandering the ruins. And it’s well worth the flies, humidity and any blisters or altitude sickness you may have felt on the journey… If you’re disappointed by the crowds wander up the hill to Wayna Picchu and observe its sprawling majesty from above and breathe in the serenity.

Virtual Trip along the Inca Trail.

Written by  Stuart James.

Other expert and press reviews

“The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu”

By John Borthwick for Travel Intelligence In Cusco, the Inca capital, the ancient masonry is so supple you'd swear that the stones were woven. We leave it one frost-fanged morning on the six a.m. train for our destination, Machu Picchu. The old pistons… Read more...

Written by press. Full article on Travel Intelligence

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