Interactive Map of
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Satellite Image: Google Earth.
Walking in the footsteps of
the Incas is one of the world's oldest treks. The Inca
Trail is an exciting, high-mountain experience which
climbs up to 4,200m, passing glacial peaks and
descending into lush green forests above the clouds.
There are many well-preserved ruins along the way, and
hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world
make the three- or four-day trek each year, accompanied
Machu Picchu called the
"Lost City of the Incas" is a well-preserved
pre-Columbian Inca ruin located on a high mountain
ridge, at an elevation of about 7,864 feet (2,400 m). Machu Picchu is located above the Urubamba Valley in
Peru, about 44 mi (70 km) northwest of
Cuzco. See also
Machu Picchu Map.
The Inca Trail to Machu
Picchu is actually three routes, which all meet up near
Intipunku, the 'Sun Gate' and entrance to Machu Picchu.
The three trails are known as the Mollepata, Classic and
One Day trails, with Mollepata being the longest of the
three. Passing through the Andes mountain range and
sections of the Amazon rainforest, the Trail passes
several well-preserved Inca ruins and settlements before
ending at the Sun Gate on Machu Picchu mountain. The two
longer routes require an ascent to beyond 4,200 m above
sea level, which can result in Acute Mountain sickness,
also known as altitude sickness. Due to erosion wearing
down the ancient stone trail, numbers of trekkers are
set to be cut back significantly in the near future.
Survivor: the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu,
Machu Picchu Slideshow,
Most Popular videos of The Condor Pasa and Machu Picchu,
Most Popular videos of
The four-day trek
The four-day trail or
Classic Trail starts from one of two points; Km 88 or Km
82, from Cuzco, on the Urubamba River.
The first day is
relatively easy, covering no more than 13 km in a
few hours, passing by the Inca ruins of Llactapata,
a site used for crop production and which has
remained well preserved.
Day two is the hardest
of the four days: the ascent to Warmiwanusca or Dead
Woman's Pass, which, at 4,200 m above sea level, is
the highest point on the trail.
Day three starts with
the final climb to Dead Woman's Pass. The views from
the top provide excellent views of nearby mountains
such as Salkantay and Veronika. After a second pass
is the site of Sayacmarka, perched atop a sheer
cliff. After Sayacmarka the Trail continues through
thick cloud forest and jungle, filled with tropical
flowers and colorful orchids. Reaching a third and
final pass at Phuyupatamarka, one gets a first
glimpse of Machu Picchu mountain, roughly 13 km
The final day is another
easy day, mostly descending into the valleys and
passing through more colorful jungle and cloud
forest. Winay Wayna is an impressive and
well-preserved Inca site, climbing a steep-sided
mountain where the one-day trail meets up with the
Explore one of the most
intriguing destinations on the planet.
Take a road less traveled to Machu Picchu
Several alternatives exist to the Inca Trail, which has
become a victim of its own popularity
January 7, 2007. Source
Lonely Planet by Sara
Veiled by clouds high in the Andes, the mountaintop Inca citadel of Machu Picchu
is South America's top tourist destination. Each year almost 200,000 people
visit the ancient ruins, which had been abandoned to the Peruvian jungle until
U.S. historian Hiram Bingham stumbled upon them in 1911.
Although this grand and mysterious Inca site has kept archaeologists guessing
for nearly a century, many think that it had already been abandoned by the time
the Spanish conquistadors staged an invasion and killed the last Inca king.
One out of five tourists today at Machu Picchu arrives on foot via the Inca
Trail, which rates among the continent's premier trekking routes. The four-day
trail winds its way over breathtakingly high Andean passes, through cloud
forests flush with orchids, past pre-Columbian ruins and rural hamlets, where
llamas graze on coca leaves, and Peruvian moonshine, called chicha, is sold by
the dipperful out of plastic buckets.
Trail loved to death
The Inca Trail has recently become a victim of its own popularity. Overcrowded
campgrounds, ethical issues with porter welfare, the limited availability of
trekking permits and the rising cost of taking a mandatory guided trek has made
other, lesser-known routes look more tempting. After all, there were many
historic trails to Machu Picchu used by the Incas, not just one.
While the commercial Inca Trail is closed during February, and reservations for
peak season (June to August) are necessary up to a year in advance, alternative
treks to Machu Picchu and other Inca ruins in Peru's Andean highlands are easily
available year-round. They're often more rewarding, giving trekkers a closer
look at traditional Andean life and immersing them in the startling beauty of
the mountains, believed by indigenous peoples to be sacred deities.
For culture vultures, the pastoral Lares Valley trek lasts three to five days,
including a train trip to Machu Picchu Pueblo (aka Aguas Calientes), the town
below the famed Inca ruins. This less-traveled route connects Quechua-speaking
villages in the Sacred Valley while wandering past hot springs, archaeological
sites, river gorges and glacial lagoons, all with a backdrop of heart-stopping
Peru’s Legendary Inca Trail reopens March 1, 2006
On February of every year, the National Institute of
Culture in Cuzco (Cusco) closes the World Heritage site of the Inca Trail for
The historic Inca Trail which leads to the
Archeological Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (Cuzco) will remain closed to tourists
during the month of February, re-opening on March 1 in accordance with the Inca
Trail Usage Rules. The Management Authority of the Historical Sanctuary of Machu
Picchu determines that the area close every year for routine maintenance, in
keeping with Peru’s wider aim of sustainable tourism.
Adopted by the National Institute of Culture (Cuzco
Branch), the measure encourages natural vegetation recovery and gives time to
asses tourism on the route.
Moreover, the measure allows the maintenance of the
stone slabs lining the trail, the handrails, and the dozen of archeological
sites that are found along the trail, all of which are part of the main
attractions for visitors around the world.
The shut down begins close to the archeological site
of Piscacucho, Km 82, where tourists start their trek to the citadel. February
is chosen as there is a natural lull in the tourism that also coincides with the
rainy season in the Andes.
At almost 70 kilometers long, the Inca Trail travels
through forested and mountainous areas that are located more than 4,000 meters
above sea level. Around 500 people travel this stone route daily, crossing
mountains and rivers and climbing slopes until finally reaching Machu Picchu - a
trip that takes close to four days. Data supplied by the National Institute of
Culture in Cusco states that approximately 54,000 tourists (national and
foreign) traveled the route of the Inca Trail in 2005.
The Commission for the Promotion of Peru (PromPeru),
founded in 1993, leads the promotion of the Peruvian tourism product and the
country’s image both domestically and internationally. PromPeru evaluates,
develops and executes policies and strategies to promote internal and receptive
tourism. It also markets Peru as a tourism destination through advertising,
public relations and promotional activities.