For many adventurers, the allure of travel is in the land itself.
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Unforgiving and unforgettable; the Inca Trail is a heart pounding, head spinning trek into the Andes. Few other trekking holidays compete with the beauty of the snow-capped peaks, tangled cloud forest, wild orchid, humming birds and Inca ruins that rise from the mist along the Inca Trail.
Certainly no other trekking holiday can compete with it for its sense of history, as you tread the ancient road network of the Incas. And no other trekking holiday rewards you with the glory of Machu Picchu at the end. If you are fit enough, the Inca Trail is one adventure holiday you must make a priority in your lifetime.
Highlights of walking holidays on The Inca Trail:
Dead Woman’s Pass
The ascent to Dead Woman’s Pass, the first pass on the Inca Trail, is notoriously the toughest and most demanding part of the whole trail. Trekking to 4200 metres is slow going, relentless and requires every ounce of your stamina, especially if you’re still acclimatising to the altitude. Once you reach the top, usually on the second day, expect to be exhausted to the depths of your soul but totally uplifted by views of snow capped mountains, endorphins and a powerful sense of accomplishment.
It’s impossible not to feel enormous respect for the Inca workers who carved the stairways into the mountainside and laid over 14,000 miles of these Inca roads stone by stone. You’ll also be in awe of your fighting fit porters, the rightful descendants of Inca Chaqui messengers, who bound past you on the Inca Trail carrying bags, food and camping equipment without seeming to break a sweat.
After a tiring trek over the second pass and descent through exotic cloud forests you’ll notice the ancient Inca forts, store houses, tunnels and settlements begin to increase, a welcome hint that you’re nearing the end of the Inca Trail tour.
Phuyupatamarca, the ‘town above the clouds’ is a real landmark on the Inca Trail. Complete with a fresh running water system devised by the Incas and beautiful ceremonial baths, it marks a welcome stop before one last test of endurance; the tough bone-shaking descent down 2,600 worn Inca steps to Wayna Picchu.
Almost as beautiful as Machu Picchu itself, Wayna Picchu – “Forever Young” or “To Plant the Earth Young” – is set amongst verdant green Inca terraces made up of spring-fed stone baths and a waterfall tumbling from the peaks above. Stop here to offer thanks to the Inca Earth Goddess Pachamama for getting you this far, because nearby is the campsite you’ll call home before your final trek along the Inca Trail to Intipunku and hopefully your first, unforgettable, sight of Machu Picchu.
Intipunku and Machu Picchu
Most groups strike out for the entry point of the legendary Sun Gate of Intipunku in the dark in order to catch their first glimpse of Machu Picchu gloriously lit by the rising sun - a suiting end to your walk along the Inca Trail.
No matter how fatigued you are, no matter how badly your muscles ache, the moment you see the majestic sacred citadel of Machu Picchu laid out before you, birds singing in your ears and blood pumping through your veins – makes every step of the Inca Trail worthwhile.
NB: LIMITED INCA TRAIL PERMITS
There is a daily cap on the number of trekking permits available for the Inca Trail tour, and they sell out very quickly, especially for peak season treks. For this reason, we recommend booking your trek at least 4 months in advance, or 6 months for the peak trekking months of May to September. If permits do sell out, we do also offer an alternative route - The Moonstone Trek - which does not require permits and can be substituted for the Inca Trail on most trips.
See the trips below for a selection which visit the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu.