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Peru's Inca Trail

The 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

The 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.

It's 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.

If 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.

Peru's Inca Trail Trekking photos:
Trekking the Inca Trail
Most of the trail is stepped, though physical fitness is required for the Inca trail.

Peru's Inca Trail
The trek winds up and down mountains of the Sacred Valley for four days.

Inca ruins at Sayamarca
Trekking the Inca Trail you come across numerous Inca ruins such as these at Sayamarca.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is the final destination. Travel guides and travel tips - All rights reserved.