Inca Trail

Map of Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is Peru's best known hike, combining a stunning mix of Inca ruins, mountain scenery, lush cloud-forest and rich subtropical jungle. It is located inside the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. As it is a protected area there are a number of regulations to protect the trail and archeological sites.

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.

The Inca Trail between the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba River and the mysterious abandoned citadel of Machu Picchu is one of the world's classic treks. Climbing out of the river valley, crossing rugged mountain passes over 13,000 ft high, the trail winds through the Andes, passing numerous significant Inca ruins en route before descending through the Sun Gate to the silent stone city of Machu Picchu.

The Trail is part of a 30,000 kilometer highway system, that integrated the vast Inca Empire of Tawantinsuyo (The Four Ways), running from southern Colombia to central Chile passing through the cities of Quito in Ecuador; Cajamarca, Huanuco, Jauja, Huamanga and Cusco in Peru; La Paz and Cochabamba in Bolivia; and finishing in Salta and Tucuman in Argentina. These highways run mainly by the coast, through the Highlands and in some cases reached the tropical mountains near the Amazon forest.

The mysterious Inca citadel communicated with Cusco and the rest of the Inca Empire through a network of excellent first class roads. These roads, made to the measure of man were built in perfect harmony with their natural surroundings, using advanced technology and showing a very strong sense of aesthetic sensitivity. This pre-Spanish road network was a cause for admiration to the first Europeans that travelled through the old Inca Empire, and they did not hesitate to compare it to its Roman equivalent, the only such giant enterprise to be found in the Old World.

The hike begins in Qorihuayrachina, on the other side of the bridge that crosses the Urubamba River. It ascends adjacent to the ruins of Llaqtapata, and then continues along towards Huayllabamba, the last place where it is possible to find food. Warmiwa├▒uska is the highest point of the tour (4,200 meters/13,776 ft. above sea level). The trail descends until the Pacamayo river valley, and after passing by several ruins and Inti Punko, you arrive at the citadel of Machu Picchu.

Hiking the Inca Trail is a highly rewarding. It is the best of its kind in the world, due to its exquisite natural beauty and unforgettable views offering a wide variety of ecological areas, from deserts to tropical Andean cloud forest; home to exotic plants and animal life.

On the Inca Trail, there are over 250 known species of orchids , and in the different ecosystems, numerous rare birds, animals, and reptiles including several species considered to be in danger of extinction.

Walking the Inca trail can be very rewarding and is possible for all ages as long as you are fit. Over the course of the Trail, you gain and lose 1000 meters several times, all of which is over 3000 meters where oxygen is noticeably thinner. Acclimation to the altitude is a must, and good physical condition advised. The journey winds through the valleys and hills of the surrounding area, taking you the through the scenic landscape, from high alpine to cloud forests.

 

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