Inca Trail is a legendary "Rite of Passage" for many, and is South
America's most famous trek. It's by far the most impressive and
challenging way to travel to Machu Picchu, Peru's most spectacular Inca
ruins. The trek normally takes three nights, though there is an
alternative "Mini Inca Trail" for those that just want one night
camping. The Inca Trail trek usually starts from km 88, which is just
West of Ollantaytambo, though many tour operators choose to begin the
trek at km 82, which is at Pisacucho. The hike is so highly memorable
due to a wonderful mix of amazing mountain views and Inca ruins. The
dawn views of Machu Picchu on your final day are quite spectacular -
aim to arrive as early as possible to avoid the tourist hordes that
descent during the day.
Practical Inca Trail Advice
Classic Inca Trail trek can be arranged by numerous Cuzco tour
operators, and generally costs about $300 per person. You will be
camping in designated campsites each night, porters will be able to
help you with baggage but cannot legally be overwhelmed and you can buy
any equipment you lack (or is not provided - depends on the tour
operator with whom you book) in Cuzco.
absolutely crucial that you allow time to acclimatize to the altitude
in Cuzco before your attempt the Inca Trail. Two nights in Cuzco or the
Sacred Valley is the absolute minimum, though three is highly
preferable. Do not attempt the trek after just spending one night in
Cuzco - you will almost have an extremely painful time on the trek and
the travel highlight of your vacation to Peru will be ruined. Altitude
sickness is indiscriminatory - your physical fitness and age has no
bearing on how you might be affected.
Check Inca Trail Availability
The Inca Trail gets booked up well in advance - do not expect to be
able to turn up in Cuzco and book a last minute package - your chances
are nil. Strict rules mean that there are now just 500 tourist
departures a day, and you will have to book in advance. Almost all Peru
tour operators can arrange the Inca Trail for you.
You can check the availability of the Inca Trail by clicking here.
You'll notice that the trek gets booked up well in advance - you'll
typically need to book at least 6 weeks in advance, though during
Peru's peak tourism seasons the trail can be fully booked as much as 3
months beforehand. Don't rely on last minute cancellations.
the Inca Trail is fully booked when you want to travel, there are other
wonderful alternatives such as the Santa Teresa Trek, Salkantay Trek,
the Lago Ancascocha route, the Choquequirao Trail and the Huchuy Qosqo
to Urubamba Trek.
When you do finally arrive in Machu Picchu, definately spend the night if at all possible. See the Machu Picchu section for advice on hotels there.