The world-famous Inca Trail is one of the most sought out hiking experiences in the world – a world of Andean landscapes and lush forests awaits you. Passing through striking terrains, the Inca Trail is your gateway to check out the renowned Machu Picchu. But most people don’t even realize that the trail is more of a sight than a journey itself.
Lush cloud forests and alpine tundras, might condors that circle the mountains, thick jungles and impressive rock formations are all staples of the Inca Trail. Misty backgrounds give way to wild llamas, all-things-Peru.
One of the most sacred pilgrimages around the world, taking on the Inca Trail is a sacred 4-day journey around the Urubamba Valley. You’ll be taken through a spiritual journey of self-discovery and through the discovery of the Andean culture. Over 40,000 thousand kilometers of trails connect the distant corners of the Incan Empire in the most mind-blowingly beautiful way.
Your tour will be taking you through the hills and valleys of multiple Andes mountains, through Incan ruins, cities, and stunning natural formations. From beautiful landscapes, to challenging treks, to the most-rewarding of them all; the Machu Picchu, trekking the Inca Trail will always be an unforgettable experience.
The Most Important Tips
If you think you can plan this trip last minute, you’re absolutely wrong. The Inca Trail is not a last-minute trip decision to make, as it requires a lot of planning. The planning that is required is not just about when and how you’ll go, but it’s also about the fact that the Peruvian government restricts the number of people walking the Inca Trail to about 500 people a day.
Plan at least 6 to 7 months ahead, find a trusted travel company and start booking.
Important: While planning your trip, make sure that you spend 48 hours before you start the Inca trail so you can get accustomed to the altitude. I suggest doing that in Cusco.
Health and Fitness
The trek itself is not the most challenging in the world, it’s not that hard and pretty much 90% of people who trek there make it to the end. However, the high altitude makes it difficult to a lot of people. You need to make sure you have the appropriate diet, the rest you need, and intensive planning before.
A few weeks before you leave, start consulting your fitness trainer or health specialists about the things you can improve health and fitness wise. Try aerobics, walking, jog a bit more, hike uphill, swim, and do high intensity trainings.
You will be needing a permit as the local Inca Trail administration does not allow more than 500 people to start their Inca trail trek (and that is including the guides and the porters.). You should book those permits about 6 to 8 months ahead.
Make sure you book your permit with the passport that you’ll use. You can purchase the permit through any local operator, travel agencies or an Inca trail operator.
The best time to go
The Inca Trail is closed off the entire month of February for a cleanup. December to March is rainy season, making the hike a hard one and visibility of the ruins from atop impossible. June to September experience the driest weather but that also means that it’s high season. Despite the fact that it’s high season, the weather drops to 2-4 Celsius at night.
The best times would ideally be from October to November or from April to May.
Things you need to pack and bring:
- A duffle bag to keep your clothes in.
- Packing cubes will be life saviors for you when you need to organize all your clothing, and fit in as many essential things ass possible.
- Don’t pack more than 6 kg.
- Your porters will always be a bit ahead of you so you won’t always have access to your bags until the end of the day.
- This means you need to pack a day pack to carry all your belongings that you use all the time.
- Bring a warm jacket, an umbrella, rain jacket, waterproof shoes, sun screen.
- Rain ponchos.
- Water purification.
Extra things you need to know.
- Drink a lot of water while you’re hiking the trail – I’m talking about 4 liters per day. Specifically while you’re getting acclimatized.
- Don’t drink alcohol before the hike (48 hours before)
- Don’t eat salty food.
- Avoid tobacco a month before the trek.
- Eat very light meals as the heavier meals will cause havoc on your digestive system and may also mess up your sleep schedule
What you’ll see along the way:
Despite the fact that people hike the Inca Trail trek to specifically see the Machu Picchu, it’s just one of the dozens of sites you can see while hiking the Inca trail. From towns that rise above the sky, to sacred valleys and spaces, to discovering the secrets of the Inca people. While you hike the Inca trail, you’ll be told all about the history and the significance of the Inca story, the history behind the architecture and so much more.
A fortress overlooking the main Plaza and the Cuzco valley. Directly translating to the “House of the Sun”, this place is drenched with archeological and architectural magnificence. The whole site is actually a representation of a jaguar’s teeth.
Think beautiful scenery, incredible local villages, and green slopes around the fertile sacred valley.
This is where you’ll find Inca terraces that are too tall they soar into the sky at a height of 600 meters with the river snaking its way between them. The views of Pisac and the Urubamba valley are incredibly breath-taking.
An archeological complex meaning “high town” that has terraces, houses, and agricultural complexes. It was where the Incas used to stop when they were traveling from Cusco to Machu Picchu.
This site is thought to have been used as more of an inn, or a tambo where it was used for resting and refueling after the treks made by the messengers.
Commonly known as the “inaccessible town”, the site is surrounded by very steep drop-offs in three sides. You get to enjoy staggering panoramic vistas of the Aombamba Valley, and you’ll be able to explore the Sun Temple.
One of the seven wonders of the world awaits, the magnificent Machu Picchu citadel. Intriguing buildings, dry-stone walls and a spectacular location – the Machu Picchu is the highly-anticipated point of interest.
Huiñay Huayna (Wiñay Wayna)
This place includes the most complex system of Incan terraces there is, with incredible ruins and ancient houses. A lot of travelers report that these are the prettiest ruins that they have seen throughout the trek.
The Inca Trail is without a doubt one of the most sought out treks in the world and hiking it will be an unforgettable life experience. From the ancient ruins you will encounter, to the challenge of the trek, to the incredible views you’ll be met with….What’s there to not love about the Inca Trail? The remains of this great empire are bound to make you fall in love with the Incan culture, their traditions and their monuments.