The ancient Incas
vast network of roads and trails that they called Capaq Ñan. Today
you can still hike on parts of this Incan road system that are paved with the
original stones that were placed there by the Incas. The
most popular of these Inca trails for hiking is the Camino Inca to Machu Picchu.
This ancient Incan trail starts near the town of
Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley and ends at Machu Picchu, the most famous
ancient ruins in South America. Some say that this Inca trail is more incredible
than Machu Picchu itself, in that there are
numerous amazing ruins along the trail proper. Thousands of hikers
from around the world make the trek each year with the assistance of Peruvian
Inca is Spanish for Inca Trail
and there are actually three different routes to the Machu Picchu Inca ruins:
The Classic Inca Trail (or Four-day Trek), the Sacred Inca Trail (or Two-Day Trek), and the Salkantay
Alternate Trek. The Classic Inca Trail and Two-Day Treks both meet up at the Wiñay
Wayna ruins and then proceed to the Inti Punku, the 'Sun Gate'
where trekkers get their first glimpse of Machu Picchu in the distance.
The Salkantay Alternate Trek is the
longest of the three and generally ends up below Machu Picchu in the Village of Aguas
Calientes rather than at Machu Picchu proper. Transecting the Andes
mountain range and the upper Amazon Rainforest, the Classic Trail passes many
important Inca ruins and outposts before ending at Machu Picchu mountain. The two
longer routes (Classic Trail and Salkantay) require an ascent to over 13800 ft (4,215 m) above sea level,
which can sometimes cause altitude sickness.
30 mile (48 Km) Classic Inca Trail attracts many backpackers from all over the world
who want to hike this ancient, scenic path to the ancient site of Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail wanders over high passes, offering incredible vistas of mountains
with glaciers and the bright green valleys of tropical rain forest. Along the
Inca Trail, you will encounter prehistoric Incan stonework and abandoned
settlements and sentinels until you arrive at the end of the trail at Machu
Picchu. Just before you arrive at the sacred site of Machu Picchu, you
will pass through the Sun Gate, just as the ancient Incas did over 500 years
ago. This trek involves substantial climbing (some passes are 14,000 feet in
elevation), especially during the second day of the hike, and takes about 4
Recently, new regulations have
been implemented by the Peruvian government in an effort to reduce the damage to the Inca trail caused
by erosion due to an excess number of hikers. Current regulations put a limit on the number of people
that can hike the Inca Trail each season, and have limited the number of companies that can provide
guided tours. Moreover, independent trekking on the Inca Trail is no
longer permitted and the use of commercial guides is mandatory. During the peak
season (June through August), advance booking for the Camino Inca is generally
required. By May, all reservations are generally booked as a maximum of 500 people (about 200 hikers and 300 porters and
tour guides) are allowed to be on the
Inca Trail on any given day. During the winter, rain storms can literally
wash out the trail, and the Inca Trail is closed for the entire month of February for
maintenance and cleaning.
For more photographs and information
on the various indigenous people and tribes of South America (and the world), please visit
To learn the "ins and outs" of
how you can arrange and book a tour to hike the Inca Trail, please visit Camino
Inca Trail Forum. In the Inca Trail Forum, you can learn who are the
best tour operators and how to obtain the best deal possible. Please feel
free to share your Inca Trail experiences in the forum.
Classic Inca Trail (Four-Day Trek)
Sacred Inca Trail (Two-Day Trek)
Salkantay Alternate Trek
Inca Trail Maps