Many think that hiking in Machu Picchu was always solitary as the city is remote and highly isolated. In reality, the world-renowned Inca Trail let towards the Andes straight through Machu Picchu, making the city one of the most important ones in the entire Inca province. You can easily realize that this is the case when you hike the history lover’s delight in the ancient royal route.
Hiking The Inca Trail
Out of all the hikes that are available in the region, the Inca Trail (locally referred to as Camino del Inca) is the one that you absolutely need to experience. When the trail was designed, the main facts taken into account were spiritual and artistic. This trail goes through the 235 square kilometers Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary national park. You will find so many man-made and natural sites that are truly extraordinary, including exotic animals, exotic vegetation, the Inca ruins, cloud forests and mountains.
Nowadays, this trail is a World Heritage cultural and natural site. It stands out as the most popular and important of the South America hiking trails. There are over 75,000 people that visit the trail every single year so you can be sure that the experience will be truly wonderful.
Hiking To Machu Picchu
There are basically 2 ways to get to Machu Picchu:
- The Traditional Way – an arduous 4 days – 3 nights path that features 3 mountain passes
- The Accessible Way – a 2 days – 1 night trail.
The inexperienced walker can also consider a 1 day trek that only covers the trail’s last part. Porters can be hired in order to haul all packs. You should know that you are not allowed to go trekking without an authorized guide ever since 2001. In order to hike to Machu Picchu you will be forced to be a part of a group that is organized and that is put together by a tour agency that is officially sanctioned. The good news is that there are 140 such agencies so you will find what you are looking for.
Getting Ready For The Trek
Most people want to be on the 4 days route because of all that is offered, including the spectacled bear and 420 bird species. This is a trek that will start close to Ollantaytambo, 88 km on railway away from Cusco. The route is 43 kilometers long and will go through mountain passes that are formidable. The altitude is high and groups will get to the Machu Picchu ruins on day 4.
The shorter 2 days trek is locally known as Camino Sagrado del Inca. The alternative is reasonable if there is not enough time available or if the fitness level is lower. Hikers will enjoy quite an easy hike and groups normally spend one night near Huinay Huyana ruins before they reach Machu Picchu at sunrise time.
No matter what option you consider for hiking in Macchu Picchu, it is a good idea to stay around 2 days in the Sacred Valley, preferably in Cusco. This is because you want to get used to the elevation. You will need a good backpack, wet weather gear, hiking boots, a sleeping bag, sun block and preferably a flashlight.
Dates have to be chosen carefully. You should know that the most crowded period is June to October, the dry season. However, the weather is also great. May features the best mix of low trekker numbers and good weather. The other months are really wet and hiking is incredibly difficult. That is why the trail will be close for conservation and maintenance of the entire month of February, the rainiest of the entire year.
Do be sure that you book your trip ahead of time because there is a limit of 200 trekkers per day on the trail. Although this does mean that costs are higher than they used to be, the experience is definitely wonderful for the hiker.