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The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – Peru, South America 4-6 Days
Text and watercolors by Frits Ahlefeldt, Hiking.org
The Inca Trail in the Andes Mountain range in Peru. The trail follow ancient Inca trails for part of the way to reach the famous Inca ruins from the 15th. century at the end of the trail. The Inca trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in South America. the classic hike takes the hiker through a varied landscape and last around 4-5 days. The most popular trail options are around 80km. / 50 miles long. But both shorter and longer variants of the Inca trail hike exist
The Inca trail starts at various points outside the town of Cuzco. From here the Inca trail accents to reach a maximum altitude at 4,215 m (13,829 ft), before it descents down towards the Inca ruins at Macchu Picchu at 2430m / 7970ft. Some hikers on the Inca trail experience Altitude sickness, especially on the highest parts of the trail. So it is recommended to spend some days in Cusco before the hike to adapt to the thin air ( altitude 3200m. / 10500ft. )
A permit is needed to hike the trail and there is only a limited amount of trail permits as the access to the Inca trail is limited to 200 hikers a day. The Inca trail is closed for maintenance in February every year.
The end point – Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is a mountain castle and terrace built fortress housing up to around 750 inhabitants, temples, living quarters and a huge network of terraced garden-field. The Machu Picchu was most likely built as a mountain escape for the Inca rulers, and functioned from it was built in around 1450 and for around a century. It was abandoned around 1572 at the time when the Spanish Conquest and new European diseases like small pox reduced the Inca population dramatically and made the Inca culture collapse.
The Machu Picchu site is build in classic Inca style with huge solid stones, cut and put together carefully without mortar in the most impressive way, and the site is not only a UNESCO World heritage site, but also one of the main tourist attractions of South America and considered one of the “new seven wonders of the world”.
The now famous historical site of Machu Picchu was only rediscovered by the world in 1911, though it was known by the locals all the time.
Other research links:
Practical info and operators / guides: IncaTrailPeru.com