If you are looking for good places to enjoy Peru trekking, your first consideration might, or should be the Inca Trail. The Inca Trail Peru is arguably the best walk in all of the Americas, and it certainly is among the most adventurous and rewarding. Consider that the famed ruins of Machu Picchu are your ending point, and it’s easy to see why gobs of tourists come to Peru every year for this experience of a lifetime. The Inca Trail Peru is located in the Cusco department, and part of its route passes through the Sacred Valley, which is full of attractions all its own. In the past, hiking Inca Trail excursions could be done without a guide, but recent Peruvian government regulations now require that all trekkers go with a properly sanctioned group. There are numerous trekking companies that are licensed for trips on the Inca Trail. These companies are located in Cusco, where you can arrange your trip accordingly.
Much like natives do today, Inca Empire citizens used
roads like the Inca Trail for their primary routes of transportation. Walking
was the main way of getting around the mountains, as the
study of Inca history shows
that they did not employ the use of the wheel, nor did
they have horses. Only with the arrival of the Spanish
in the 16th century, would the Inca first see horses.
Pack animals, such as the llama, often accompanied Inca
travelers along their routes, and runners would relay
important messages by sometimes running as far as 150
miles between destinations. Within in the Inca Empire
and Inca history, the Inca Trail Peru was not exactly
the average road. Instead, it most likely served as a
sacred route, dedicated for religious pilgrimages. The
Inca Empire based its religion around nature, and on a
hiking Inca Trail expedition, you can still spot plenty
of ceremonial ruins that were intended for worshiping
the Andes Mountains, the cosmos
and everything else natural. The Inca were skilled astronomers,
and surviving monuments, such as the Sun
Temple of Machu Picchu, display means by which they
observed the solstices.
Many Inca artifacts have been uncovered along the trail and at the ruins which are found along its route. Most notably of all may be the Inca artifacts that Hiram Bingham found upon his excavations at Machu Picchu. Bingham exported thousands of these Inca artifacts back to the United States. Included among these Inca artifacts are statues, mummified remains, musical instruments and ornate statues. Peru has long contested the rights to these relics, which are on exhibition at Yale University’s Peabody Museum. A recent agreement between Yale and the Peruvian government deems that these artifacts be returned to Peru, where they will be housed in a museum in Cusco. Other Inca artifacts can be seen at various museums around the country, including the Museum of Regional History in Cusco. If you have the chance to visit historical museums before you start your hiking Inca Trail excursion, it surely helps to understand the overall impact and culture of the great Inca Empire.
While you can hike a small portion of the Inca Trail Peru route in just one day, many visitors prefer to engage in either the 2-day or 4-day treks. You can also choose the 7-day hike, though you should note that besides being long, it gets very high at points. Hiking the Inca Trail can be challenging in parts, and since parts of the hike take you to heights of over 12,000 feet above sea level, it is a good idea to spend a few “light” days in Cusco so that your body can adjust to the altitude. The peak months for Inca Trail hiking are June through August. If you are here between the months of December and March, bring waterproof gear, because this is the rainy season. In fact, light rains fall on the trail year round, and as far as temperatures go, it can be hot during the day and quite cool at night. Most, if not all, Inca Trail hikes start with your pickup at your Cusco hotel.
Depending on the length of your trip, different starting
points are accessed by your group and guides, among the
most common of which is found near Ollantaytambo.
In the past, there were no real regulations for the Inca
Trail, and you could hike and camp where you wanted. Overuse,
and the resulting damage, however, finally prompted the
Peruvian government to limit the number of people that
are allowed on the Inca Trail. Only 500 people are allowed
to hike the Inca Trail each day, and this includes the
some 300 porters and tour guides. Booking your hiking
Inca Trail excursion early is a good idea, especially
during the high season, when it fills up quickly. Camping
along the way is your only option for accommodations when
hiking the Inca Trail, so if you do not like to rough
it a bit, you might reconsider. Do not visit Peru in February
if you want to hike the Inca Trail, as it is closed all
month for clean-up purposes.