If you are thinking about doing a Machu Picchu tour, then the Inca Trail should be one of the first items on you itinerary. The Inca Trail is one of the most famous landmarks in Peru and is made up of different treks that all lead up to the historic Inca city of Machu Picchu. On the way up, walkers traverse along winding paths of ancient Inca cobbles, though forest and subtropical jungle. The trek also offers beautiful views of the mountainous scenery and the nearby ruins.
You can pre-book your Inca Trail experience any time, but the actual site is closed every year in February. This is to allow general maintenance of the area to be carried out, as well as a good clear up for the start of the new season. Due to the fears that the Inca Trail is being overused, the Peruvian government has put a limit on the amount of people that can visit the site each year. In line with the new regulations, only 500 visitors are allowed to start the walk each day, this number includes guides and porters so, if you want to travel to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail then pre-booking is a must.
The high season is between May and October. During these months it’s summertime on the Inca Trail. At this time, the weather is temperate and great for trekking. During the high season places get booked up very quickly, so you have to be prepared to book early to get a place. You may need to book up to 1 year in advance if you plan to travel to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail during the high season.
Off peak time on the Inca Trail is between the months of November and April, excluding February when the site is closed. During this time, places are a bit easier to come by and you may be able to leave it a little later before booking. If you travel to Machu Picchu during this time you’ll find yourself in the middle of the rainy season. While this means the weather may be a rather wet and cold, for those willing to brave the elements, the rainy season can offer a completely different experience, giving trekkers a real challenge and an extremely rewarding experience.
When you book your trip to the Inca Trail, you have the choice of four different trails. Each trail leads up to the same point and they even overlap along the way, but they are suited to different needs and abilities.
Because some of the trails reach high altitude, before you travel to Machu Picchu it is a good idea to acclimatise for a couple of days in the nearby city of Cusco. This will give your body a chance to adjust to the new climate and should help you to avoid the dreaded altitude sickness.
Drinking coca tea is also said to be a good way to avoid altitude sickness. The leaves needed to make the tea are available almost everywhere in Cusco, from street vendors to pharmacies. Even if you travel to Machu Picchu without your leaves, you shouldn’t have any problems buying them when you get to the site – it might be a good idea to take an insulated flask with hot water for brewing the tea though.
The most challenging trail is the Salkantay Trail. This 7 day trek gives walkers the complete Inca Trail experience, passing beneath a sacred, snow-capped mountain and going through lots of fascinating Inca ruins. If you want something a bit more easy going, the most moderate option is the 2 day trek, which still offers some great views without quite so much effort. Also available is the ever popular 4 day trek and 5 day trek option.
Whichever type of walking experience you want, when you travel to Machu Picchu you’re sure to find it on an Inca Trail tour.