Machu Picchu is no doubt one of the most famous sights in the world and prevails on bucket lists worldwide. Most visitors get there by taking the train to Aguas Calientes, the nearest town, and then heading up for a day visit. However, if you are looking for something a bit more adventurous, I would recommend hiking the 4 day Inca Trail.
The classic Inca Trail is the most famous of multiple treks that lead to Machu Picchu. It’s a hike of 43km that leads you through scenic valleys, majestic mountain passes, lush cloud forests, and of course Inca ruins. A permit is required for the hike and you must go with a registered tour company. Most of these companies offer similar experiences and include all food and camping gear, as well as options for hiring a porter to carry a portion of your things.
The trek is definitely challenging, but can be completed by most people with a basic level of fitness. The most important preparation is acclimatizing to the altitude, which reaches 4200m at the highest point. Spend at least 2 nights (I would recommend 3) in Cusco, which sits at 3400m, before starting the trek.
It sounds cliche but the Inca Trail was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. While Machu Picchu was an incredible sight, the trek itself was far more rewarding and the highlight of my trip.
Here are 10 photos from the Inca Trail that will convince you to get your hiking shoes out (or in my case, buy hiking shoes) and book your trek.
Ready to book your trek yet? Even though it was painful at times, I would go back and do it again in a heartbeat. We went in May 2017 with Peru Treks and I have nothing but positive things to say about them. Here’s a photo of our entire group with the guides and porters.