The Inca Path is a world-renowned hiking site that draws thousands of trekkers each year to its ancient stone trail, stunning views, and rich history. The hiking site, which extends for over 26 miles (43 kilometers) through the Andes Mountains, was once a portion of the extensive network of roads built by the Incas, the indigenous people of Peru.
In this article, we’ll dive into the history of the Inca Path, depict the sights along the way, explain how to get there and give basic information on trekking the path.
Brief History Inca Trail
The Inca Path served as an essential communication and transportation network for the Inca Empire, which dominated much of western South America from the 15th to the 16th century. The path linked the Inca capital of Cusco to the sacred city of Machu Picchu, which was built around 1450 and served as a retreat for the Inca nobility. The hiking sight was too utilized to transport merchandise, such as food, materials, and valuable metals, between different parts of the empire.
The Inca Path was neglected and generally forgotten after the Spanish conquered Peru in the 16th century. It was rediscovered within the early 20th century by Hiram Bingham, an American pilgrim who lurched upon Machu Picchu while looking for the lost city of Vilcabamba. Bingham’s discovery started a worldwide interest in Machu Picchu and the Inca Path, and the location was announced as one of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Nowadays, the Inca Path is a well-known destination for trekkers and visitors worldwide, pulling in thousands of guests each year.
Description of the Sight
The Inca Path is a 26-mile (43-kilometer) hike through the Andean Mountains in Peru, leading trekkers from the antiquated Inca capital of Cusco to the dazzling archeological location of Machu Picchu. Along the way, trekkers are treated to stunning views, different scenes, and riches of Inca ruins and memorable sites.
The hiking site winds through rich rainforests, tall mountain passes, past waterways, waterfalls, and small towns. Hikers will experience a variety of greenery and fauna, including orchids, hummingbirds, and llamas. The Trail moreover offers fabulous views of the surrounding mountains, including the snow-capped crests of the Vilcabamba Range.
One of the highlights of the Inca Path is the various Inca ruins and archeological sites that explorers will experience along the way. These sites include the ruins of Llactapata, Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, and Phuyupatamarca, among others. Each of these sites provides a glimpse into the lifestyle and culture of the Inca people, with highlights such as terraced gardens, sanctuaries, and squares.
The foremost famous of these locales, of course, is Machu Picchu itself. The old city, which was deserted by the Incas in the 16th century and rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911, is one of the most iconic archeological sites in the world. The city is perched on a steep slope overlooking the Urubamba Waterway. It features a series of porches, sanctuaries, and squares that are accepted to have been used for religious services and administrative purposes. The location is surrounded by dazzling mountain views, making it an extraordinary sight.
Ways to Get There
Traveling to Machu Picchu is much easier now than when Hiram Bingham first arrived in 1911, thanks to international airlines, fast railways, and regular buses! There are several possibilities depending on your preferred mode of traveling to Peru. The majority of travelers arrive in Lima, Peru’s capital city. When you arrive in Lima, you have the option of taking a short connecting flight or a lengthy bus travel to Cusco.
Despite the lengthier trek, many travelers intending to see Machu Picchu hike up the Inca Trail to this incredible city, where they are rewarded with its breathtaking beauty, structural achievements, and the enormous natural background that envelops it.
Details on hiking Tour du Mont Blanc
Hiking the Inca Trail is a challenging but rewarding experience that requires good fitness and preparation.
The Inca Trail is typically hiked over a period of three to four days, with hikers covering around 10 miles (16 kilometers) per day. The Trail reaches its peak at the summit of Warmiwañusca, or “Dead Woman’s Pass,” which sits at 13,780 feet (4,200 meters). Hikers will also encounter several other high-altitude passes, including the Abra Runkurakay and the Abra Phuyupatamarca.
When to Go: Weather and Season
From late March to May and from September to mid-December are the most excellent times to visit Machu Picchu and trek the Inca Trail. These months occur before and after the rainy season, bringing fantastic weather and fewer visitors.
The dry season, from June through August, is also excellent, but it might be busy and challenging to obtain a hiking permit. The trekking routes and Machu Picchu are less crowded during the buffer months, and the weather is often pleasant, with occasional rains providing fantastic photo opportunities.
The rainy season is not recommended for hiking the Inca Trail because the Trail can be muddy and slippery during this time, and heavy rains can cause landslides and flash floods.
There are no hotels on the Inca Trail, so your only option for lodging is a tent and a sleeping mattress in the middle of nowhere.
The tents are all two-person, which means you’ll be sharing with either a friend/other half or a random member of the same sex. You can even pay extra for your own “one-man tent” for more privacy.
The porters carry all of the tents along the Trail, however your sleeping bag and mat must be included in your 6kg duffel bag limit..
Food and Water
When trekking the Inca Trail, make sure to have enough food and drink to last the entire journey. The Inca Trail is a multi-day journey that usually lasts four days, and you must bring all your supplies.
Here are some food and water intake recommendations for the Inca Trail:
Every day, bring at least 2 liters of water with you. Water bottle refills are available at designated water points throughout the Trail. You should also pack water purification tablets or a water filter in case of emergency.
Bring high-energy foods like trail mix, energy bars, or dried fruit that are easy to transport and won’t deteriorate.
Many tour companies will provide a cook to make meals for you. You will need to carry your own food and cooking equipment if you are not traveling with a tour operator.
It’s a good idea to bring some comfort food, such as chocolate or other delights, to keep you going on lengthy hikes.
Tips to know and do before Hiking Inca Trail
- It is essential that you build your leg muscles by stair climbing and walking up hills to withstand the strains of treading several kilometers across rugged terrain with slopes and challenging climbs.
- You should carry a backpack with extra weight when exercising to prepare your back muscles and increase strength. You should begin light and gradually raise your weight to your comfort level. Choose the correct backpack because an uncomfortable one will ruin your hike.
- Nearby, you can find rugged terrain and lengthy and steep uphills and downhills. Hike them for a few hours. Each day, Inca Trail walks last from 5 to 7 hours.
Tips to do during Hike.
- Arrive at least two days before the journey begins to allow for acclimatization to the high altitude. If feasible, sip coca tea at every meal while on the trek, and chew coca leaves on the second day when you reach the Trail’s highest pass.
- Because of the high altitude, the air is thinner than you are accustomed to. Take a break to catch your breath. It may seem dumb, but remember to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Walk in a zigzag style when trekking uphill. This lessens the Trail’s incline slightly. Take little actions to lessen the work required to push your body.
- Be cautious on highly steep descents, especially wet and loose stones. A good technique is to stand side-on and take one step at a time. If necessary, use a walking stick to minimize the weight on your knees by 30%.
- Go at your own pace and don’t rush because there is no urgency to get to the campsite.
- Eat well because you’ll be burning a lot of calories. Power bars, chocolates, and other light snacks should be packed in your backpack.
- To stay hydrated, drink at least 1.5 liters of water every day.
- A Camelbak or Platypus in your backpack helps you carry your water in a balanced and comfortable manner and encourages you to drink water by making the procedure easier.
- Take care where you walk. While walking, keep an eye out for several footsteps ahead. Many sharp waterfalls, rugged roads, and tiny stepping routes can be found.
- At the end of each day’s stroll, stretch your arms, legs, and back. This will relax constricted muscles and alleviate strain-related pain.
- Packing should be done with care. Pack as light as possible, including food and everyday basics, in easily accessible pockets or within reach.
- Bring proper attire. No matter what time of year you visit, it will likely be cold at night (or even during the day if it is gloomy) and rainy.
- Bring a rain jacket, jeans, and comfortable footwear (no blisters). Dress in layers and keep them accessible in your backpack because you will put on and remove garments frequently during the day.
- If you’re cold, go for a walk or eat some chocolate to warm yourself.
Completing the Inca Trail is a difficult task. Health issues are possible along the journey. The most common discomfort for travelers is altitude sickness, commonly known as mountain sickness. Furthermore, inevitable accidents may occur as a result of the trek.
Some of the most common health issues on the route are:
Mountain sickness is the most common health issue encountered on the Inca Trail. It has been reported that 90% of visitors visiting Cusco have mild altitude sickness symptoms such as headache, nausea, exhaustion, insomnia, and, most importantly, extreme agitation when exerting physical exertion.
Only persons from mountainous areas can cope with the symptoms of altitude sickness. In any event, the symptoms usually fade gradually as the person adjusts to Cusco’s terrain.
Tourists can better acclimatize to Cusco’s geography after 2 or 3 days of acclimatization. This alleviates altitude sickness symptoms. In any case, it is advisable to drink enough water (not alcoholic beverages) and avoid high-fat foods to alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness.
The fatigue caused by the 39 kilometers of roads can induce dehydration in tourists, and the maximum temperature along the route can reach 23oC; thus, it is recommended that visitors drink lots of water to boost their physical performance.
The Incas fashioned their routes out of stone and earth. Although these are in decent shape, certain areas have been damaged over time. As a result, some tourists frequently stumble, resulting in bruises and bruises on the knees and calves. Rubber-tipped poles and suitable hiking shoes are recommended. This helps to prevent falls.
Simple muscle injuries.
Walking’s physical weariness can result in a variety of musculoskeletal problems. The majority of injuries are minor, such as cramps, strains, or contractions. It is recommended that the walk be done in accordance with each person’s physical condition. Physically pushing yourself is not a good idea.
Walking falls, or slips can also stretch or tear the bones, resulting in mild sprains. The tour guides always carry a first aid kit to assist visitors in completing the trek and seeking medical assistance in the nearby location.
In conclusion, trekking the Inca Trail is a daunting but rewarding experience that offers trekkers a glimpse into Peru’s ancient history, stunning scenery, and natural beauty. The Inca Trail can be a safe and memorable adventure with proper preparation and precautions. So, pack your baggage and embark on the trek of a lifetime!