Hiking the Inca Trail
Modern Peru is famously steeped in the history of ancient civilisation, the Incas. The legendary architecture left by this astonishing race is now a main feature in one of the top 5 hikes in the world. Constructions remaining include ruins, tunnels and paving stones; all of these features make up the iconic mountainside of Machu Picchu. A hike up the infamous peaks can lead you through varying terrains such as lush forest, jungle and grassy knolls. There are many trails to follow but the classic 4 day Inca trail which has starting point km82 and ending destination Machu Picchu itself is by far the most famous. The trek passes all of the most unmissable Inca sites such as the ruins of Llactapata, Runkurakay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca and Wiñay Wayna.
Planning a trip to Peru, specifically with the Inca trail in mind there are many things to consider. With a four day trek planned you should travel light and although a mountainside trek will mean camping, there are many modern versatile products to help the new age hiker as much as possible. So, short of hiring a Sherpa, make sure you keep your belongings to a minimal. Remember, although the general etiquette of camping is the same world over there may be slight subtleties to the rules in each country you visit. In Peru for example the locals don’t tend to see the act of camping as a recreational activity the same way we do here and in Europe. This means there are very few official campsites in the county as a whole but it is quite common to camp while on a trek.
Other considerations include permits for the hike; there are certain permissions you have to obtain for some of the trails. Try to fully plan your itinerary; you might need to go to a travel agent for this and it’s always better to be safe than sorry! The best time to go for a hike is during the dry season, this may seem obvious for living conditions but clouds and mist can also really spoil the views of the mountains you are hiking.
Remember to stay limber, perhaps if you’re not used to doing exercise you should get a little training done before flying out – this is a hike not a stroll in the park! Go through a check list of things you will need before you go. You may need the advice of your travel agent for this too, but essential items such as good trekking shoes, a first aid kit and waterproofs need to be your first priority.
Most importantly have fun, try to take lots of pictures as you won’t want to forget the experience and try to be a responsible tourist!