Hiking Machu Picchu is an experience that every adventure-seeker should have on their bucket list. Located in Peru, Machu Picchu is an ancient Incan city built high up in the Andes Mountains, and hiking to this UNESCO World Heritage site is a dream come true for many travelers. In this trip report, we will share our journey and give you some useful tips for hiking Machu Picchu that will make your experience unforgettable.
The first step to hiking Machu Picchu is to plan your trip in advance. We recommend booking your tour at least six months in advance as permits to hike the Inca Trail are limited to only 500 people per day, and they sell out quickly. Additionally, it is important to note that the Inca Trail is closed during the month of February for maintenance. There are alternative treks available such as the Salkantay trek or the Lares trek that are also stunning and less crowded.
Once you arrive in Cusco, the starting point for all treks to Machu Picchu, it is important to take a few days to acclimate to the altitude. Cusco is located at an elevation of 11,152 feet (3,399 meters) above sea level, and hiking at this altitude can be challenging if you are not accustomed to it. We recommend spending a few days exploring the city of Cusco and visiting nearby sites such as the Sacred Valley and the Rainbow Mountain.
When it comes to packing for your trek, it is important to pack light but also pack for all weather conditions. The weather in the Andes can be unpredictable, with rain and sun alternating frequently. Make sure to pack a rain jacket, warm layers, hiking boots, sunscreen, and a hat. You will also need a good quality backpack to carry your belongings during the trek.
Hiking Machu Picchu – Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is a four-day trek that covers a distance of approximately 26 miles (42 kilometers) and reaches an altitude of 13,776 feet (4,200 meters) at the highest point. The trek is challenging but also rewarding, with stunning views of the Andes Mountains and ancient Incan ruins along the way. The trail ends at Machu Picchu, where you can explore the ancient city and learn about the Incan culture and history.
If you are not up for the challenge of hiking the Inca Trail, there are alternative options such as taking a train or bus to Aguas Calientes, the town located at the base of Machu Picchu, and then hiking up to the site. This option is less physically demanding but still provides stunning views of the Andes Mountains and Machu Picchu.
When visiting Machu Picchu, it is important to be respectful of the site and its history. Machu Picchu is a sacred site for the Incan people and is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Make sure to follow the rules and regulations set by the park authorities and avoid damaging the site in any way.
In conclusion, hiking Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience that requires careful planning and preparation. From acclimating to the altitude to packing the right gear and respecting the site’s history, there are many factors to consider when embarking on this adventure. But with the right mindset and a sense of adventure, hiking Machu Picchu is an experience that you will remember for a lifetime.