Inca Trail Frequently Asked Questions
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is constantly considered among the 10 best treks in the world due to its beautiful landscapes, archaeological sites, and the incredible history of the last Incas of the Tawantinsuyo Empire.
Few places in the world can offer such a varied experience of nature, culture, history, and demand to cross the mountains and reach the mythical lost city of the Incas. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu can only be compared to the most important trails in the world, such as Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa or the Appalachian Trail in the United States.
What is the Inca Trail?
During the height of the Tawantinsuyo Empire, the Incas dominated a vast territory that spanned much of South America, including Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. To control such an extensive territory, the Incas built roads from south to north and from east to west to maintain optimal communication and trade. These roads today are called the QHAPAC ÑAN or Camino Real. These extensive roads connected the Inca Empire’s provinces with the great capital, the City of Cusco.
The Inca Trails were built between the years 1400 and 1500, reaching a length of approximately 40,000 kilometers. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to see these trails destroyed by nature and human activity in some places.
The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is only a small portion of 46 kilometers that was discovered in 1915 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham when he was conducting studies at Machu Picchu.
Why is he so famous?
The Classic Inca Trail of 4 days and 3 nights has become one of the most important in South America because it was lost for many years along with Machu Picchu; during this time, Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail remained intact, and nobody destroyed them as happened in other archeological sites that were looted by treasure hunters and destroyed by extirpators of idolatries.
What was the function of the Inca Trail?
Machu Picchu has two main accesses; one is by following the Urubamba river to the foot of Machu Picchu Mountain, and from there, you have to climb the steps to the citadel in less than a day. The other is through the Classic Inca Trail that crosses mountains and reaches Machu Picchu after 4 days.
The existence of simpler and easier routes, the archaeological sites, and the different religious sites in strategic places along the roads suggest that this purification path prepared visitors to reach the sacred city of Machu Picchu.
What are the most popular tours?
Classic Inca Trail: The 4 days and 3-night tour through the Inca trail is the most famous and demanded. The tour begins at Km 82, and you will arrive at Intipunku in the early morning of day 4, from where Machu Picchu can be seen for the first time. With a wonderful view at 5 km.
Premium Inca Trail: This is a slower tour of 5 days and 4 nights; it follows the same route as the 4 days and 3 nights. However, the last one is slower, and you spend more time exploring the archeological sites.
Short Inca Trail: the short version starts at Km 104 of the railway line from Cusco to Machu Picchu. To start this tour, you necessarily need to board the Ollantaytambo train. This tour is recommended for those who prefer a shorter walk or do not have time. The first day begins at Km 104, and you arrive at Machu Picchu at the Intipunku at sunset; the second day, you visit Machu Picchu.
How to buy the permits?
Inca Permits can only be purchased through Tour Operators Authorized by the Government. To enter the Inca Trail network, you always need to contact a Travel Agency and travel with a professional guide and porters (the short version does not require porters but does require a Guide). Book the Inca Trail Here
What is the best time to hike to Machu Picchu?
The best time of the year to travel to the Inca trail is in the dry season, which goes from May to October; the drawback is that this is the high season, and all the tourist places are full of travelers.
If you want an experience with fewer people, we recommend traveling between November to April, which is the rainy season; you need good equipment to avoid getting wet.
How much does the tour cost?
The cost of the Inca Trail tour varies greatly depending on what is included and what is not included. It is a difficult decision when choosing and even more so in a 4-day excursion through the mountains, you must be sure that the company you are talking about has all the necessary permits and equipment to organize a good tour.
The prices vary between 580 to 680 dollars; for a price less than that, there is a risk that the company, or is formal, does not pay what is owed to the porters. We recommend booking with a local operator. TreXperience is one of the best Inca Trail operators, and it offers complete tours with personal porter and panoramic trains.