Inca trail is, for sure, the most famous hike in South America and one of the most known trekking in the world.
The route is partially pavimented with stones by Incas, an ancient culture that dominated Peru and spread its empire until Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.
This trail used to connected the administrative part of the empire, whose capital was in Cusco, to the religious part, located at Machu Picchu.
The classic trail nowadays can be made in 4 days and has 42 km with the mandatory help of guides and porters.
On the last day, you can see the sunrise in Machu Picchu at the “Inti Punku” (the Sun Gate) and enter the famous lost city.
People around the world come every year to hike this trail. It combines the beauty of the Andes moutains, tropical forests and ancient ruins which make the Inca Trail very interesting. Peruvian government has limited to only 500 people a day to cross the rail, in an effort to control and preserve the place, which is an world historical heritage site, so you have to book in advance, using one of the official guide tour operators.
Peruvian guides say ancient Incas messengers used to cross the entire trail running in less than one day. If we think the triathlon athletes of today, it could be possible, but there are high peaks on the hiking to cross, being the highest point at Warmiwanusca Abra (4,200m Dead Woman’s Pass), which makes a lot of people to suffer from “soroche” (altitude sickness), so be properly prepared if you want to do it. In 2000, I stayed in Peru and Bolivia for about 45 days and had climbed higher mountains before the Inca Trail at “Cordillera Blanca”, so I had had enough “soroche” before Inca Trail and was acquainted. Once at this trail, this 4200 meters pass did not make any impact at me, but many trekkers didn´t do well at this point. Just prepare yourself properly and you won´t have problems, but do not despise that issue cause you need to be in good shape and good healthy condition to really enjoy this trekking.
Bellow, you have the itinerary of the first 3 days. The last one I did not photography cause you are supposed to wake up at night at about 4:00 to 5:00 am, to reach the Sun Gate before the sun rises, and it was damp and very foggy.
Note, too, at this epoque, I had a super digital Sanyo camera and was doing a test drive sponsored by the distributor in Brazil. Digital cameras were at their earlier days but today, a single iphone can made those pictures seems to be from another era, and they are. I could say, not only the place but the photos are historical. Anyway, image adjustements help a lot and you can sense the beauty and the adventure of this singular trail.
In my opinion, best time to trek this trail is winter (june, July, august) cause you will see beautiful landscapes as snowy peaks at the Andes, but it can be very cold. At summer, this photos are from 27 to 31 december 2000, you trek on a very rainny summer time.
Last comment, before closing this text, I would say people tend to be very friendly at Inca Trail, like people would be solidary in a boat crossing a tempest, because this trail is very emotional due to this beauty, to remoteness, to the complete cosmopolitan air engaged by diverse nationalities and to all the history that bounds human beings on this unforgetable trail.
km 88 Qoriwayrachin
Crossing the first bridge of Vilcanota River
Inca Tambo Pulpituyoq
Llaqtapata Patallacta, Agricultural Terraces
Entrying the Official Protected Area of Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
Wayllabamba or Huayllabamba Valley
Cloud Forest of Uncas (trees)
Warmiwanusca Abra (4,200 meters Dead Woman’s Pass)